Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 41

I’m back from Strength Matters. We had a Summit in Chicago and it was brilliant.Georgie Fear and Josh Hillis both weighed on the importance of habits in fat loss, and it really popped my eyes open about long term success in anything. Diets are impossible, but good habits are gold. Coach Maughan told us: “Make yourself a slave to good habits.” This is still fine advice.

When I arrived home, Laree had this video for me. Just enjoy this video…steal some of the ideas, but what fun!

Greg is back at it again. I like this simple list.

“Eating just a small amount of cinnamon with your food every day is a great way to keep your testosterone levels up. Plus it tastes pretty good too. Basically what it comes down to is that cinnamaldehyde, a key component in cinnamon, increases insulin sensitivity so your body does not have to produce as much insulin. When your body is not producing as much insulin, your testosterone levels will stay high while dieting. Sprinkle cinnamon in your morning coffee (it doesn’t have to be a lot) and you should be good to go.”

Ben Ford has a nice blog. The information is simple, but always pretty fun.

“Just Eat Real Food. Ditch the processed stuff. Eat organic meats and fresh fruit and vegetables. Don’t succumb to mid-afternoon lulls.”

I have no idea about what to do with this, but I found it to be interesting. The idea of self esteem shows up at workshops all the time. I was taught at a conference years ago that self worth was what we wanted. The researcher explained that in high school the kids with the high GPAs and academic awards tend to have low self esteem. Oddly, kids who sell drugs and are date rapists tend to score very well in self-esteem tests. Just a thought.

You might need a rinse after reading that, so try this. This site is a pioneer and few would know it. Enjoy your time here. Frank Forencich deserves to be in everyone’s Top Ten list of fitness pros. A favorite post…

“This is the vital difference. Lifestyle intelligence isn’t really about the particulars of diet and exercise. Rather, it’s about creating health out of whatever conditions we encounter. Sure, our health tends to improve when we choose good food and good moves, but this is only a starting point. Life is always throwing monkeywrenches into our schedules and our plans. We can fight back against this fact or we can practice some improv. Ultimately, health is a series of judgment calls; the sooner we get that through our heads, the better.”

It goes along with dropping bad habits. This post from the Art of Manliness ties in as well:

“Or as Berkshire Hathaway Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger put it, ‘It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.'”

“I know a few very smart and talented individuals whose lives are in utter shambles despite their gifts. And it’s because they keep making stupid and avoidable mistakes. They consistently add wholly unnecessary downside to their lives.

“If they had done nothing really positive, but had simply avoided the DUIs, the drug arrests, the out-of-wedlock births, the affairs, and the consumer debt, their lives would have been vastly superior to the ones they have now.

“Let that sink in: doing nothing would have given these people a better life than they have now.”

Now, that’s powerful.

Since we are on a roll with strong advice, look at one of my favorite Nick Horton blogs.

“Your gains are like your real education.

They can’t be seen on paper.
They can’t be taken away from you.
They have nothing to do with anyone else but you.

“Built skills. Don’t chase points.

“Now go lift something heavy.”

Finally, I have a good friend, Bob, who might not survive this week. In 1999, I wrote a column about him and, if you don’t mind, I would like to share it with you. He is a WWII veteran, and I’ve seen him get those long stares when something reminds him of the horrors he has seen.

Walking on Thin Ice

For once, I thought I had everyone beat. You know how it goes: family and friends sitting around the dinner table and we all take turns telling how lousy life has treated us or a brush with death or some such story. I thought I had a winner.

My wife was in Washington, DC, visiting her sister April. So, as a good Mister Mom, I took the dog and my two daughters for a walk. Now, my dog Lexie, absolutely loves the Jordan River Parkway. Filled with countless ducks, and their droppings, she is in puppy heaven. There is a small oxbow that is near our house and the girls call the area ‘The Fort.’ We tend to walk that way most of the time. This time, however, my dog discovered that she could walk on water. The pond had frozen over and she had a great time following the duck paths. Until, of course, the ice cracked and she crashed into the water.

Besides a set of puppy eyes, I had two pairs of blue eyes staring at me to do the right thing. Now, my first impulse was not to save the dog, but most of us know the influence of two daughters on a father. There is a lady psychiatrist on the radio that has listeners call in and say: ‘I’m my kids mother/father.’ Now, I am not sure what others would do, but I know that this ‘father’ was about to venture into thin ice. The dog had managed to fall right through the ice in the only completely inaccessible spot on the pond. As I began to skate/slide/walk across the ice, a physics problem came into my head: If the dog, at fifty pounds, fell through all the way over there, I, at 210 pounds, should fall through now.

I was up to my waist in pond muck and my upper body was soaked in ice water. Fortunately, the dog had an extra long leash and I was able to tow her out. She leaped up on solid ice and sprinted away. No, she is not Lassie. It then occurred to me that I was stuck and very cold. Fortunately, an insight passed through my head: ‘If you die, your children will be on national television because you are an idiot.’ So, I grabbed some tree branches and pulled and kicked my way out. I lost some clothes, some vital functions, and some pride, but it was a good story, probably the best at the dinner table.

Until my friend, old Doc Warnock leaded over. ‘I’m dead.’

Dang, that’s a good one. It seems that Social Security decided that Doctor Robert Warnock had died, and informed the bank to return the checks without notification. Only when Bob started getting bounced-check notices did he discover his untimely passing. Of course, no one let him know he was dead. It makes sense.

To make things right, Bob had to prove he was alive. With a bureaucracy, this is difficult, but ultimately, Bob sold his story and they believed he was alive. In the official record, Bob had been ‘resurrected.’

And this is exactly what drives me crazy about the past few decades. The most sacred of religious terms have been secularized to mean the near antithesis of the original meaning. Public officials scramble to avoid any mention of Saint Nicholas, Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany to appease anyone who might find offense. ‘Seasons Greetings’ has become a celebration of snowmen, evergreen trees and candy canes. Candy canes will be on the chopping block when people discover they actually represent the bishop’s crook of Nicholas.

Easter, the celebration of the Risen Lord, the ‘Resurrected’ Lord, has been trivialized into a celebration of colored eggs and a large bunny that seems to be a chocolate addict’s codependent friend. The feasts of All Saints and All Souls disappear behind plaster of paris pumpkins, bags of treats and slasher movies. As the son of an Irish woman, I blanch when I see what has become the feast of the Saint who brought the faith to Ireland. It is a sad day when Thanksgiving, not a religious feast, seems to harbor the best in religious traditions for most families.

We seem afraid to stand up for the great traditions while at the same time we allow the secular world to grab sacred concepts and trivialize them. Bob’s resurrection, although I am happy for his survival, is just one example. The sugar coated Santa of this decade is a far cry from the harbinger of judgment day from tradition. Treats for good children and coal for bad ones should not be used get kids to sleep: it is a warning of one’s eternal life.

Here in Utah, we have an ongoing debate whether to let the kids ‘Trick or Treat’ on the Halloweens that occur on Sunday. As an odd personal insight, my father died on October 31. That is the day I celebrate his life, no matter what day of the week it hits. By trivializing the days we set aside for the Saints and the Souls, we begin to argue over when kids should get pillow sacks full of gooey, sticky candy. It’s worth thinking about appropriate ways of keeping the sacred times of the Liturgical Year sacred.

If we don’t, we are walking on thin ice.


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