Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 69

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 69

Newest on otpbooks.com: Taylor Lewis on how training specialized athletes helps in everyday client training

My daughter learned a lesson that I learned over a quarter of a century ago: taking your kids to Disneyland for the first time is amazing. The overstimulation does the opposite of what you would think: they fall asleep on rides!

It was a lot of fun being with them and my budget is broken for the next few years.

I read a lot of interesting stuff online this week. Some of it got me thinking in a couple of directions. This article gives an insight about how the human brain works.

“The pleasure budget. The receptor control theory goes beyond weight management to explain more generally the regulation of pleasure in your life.  If you have ample dopamine receptors, then a wide variety of stimuli– including food, social interactions, work, and other interests– should provide you with sufficient pleasure to make life not just bearable, but interesting.  However, if you end up with an undersupply of dopamine receptors — whether it be from birth, addictions or unremitting stress — then your baseline pleasure “set point” will be low and you’ll be vulnerable to depression, low self-esteem and other aspects of unhappiness. Addictive escapes may provide temporary (but unsustainable) bursts of dopamine, serotonin, and other feel-good neurotransmitters, but at the cost of further downregulating dopamine receptors and feeling worse later on.”

Ashley Palmer sent in something that takes addiction to another level. 

“At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was ‘as common as chewing gum’ among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

“But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.”

I always had my doubts about the War on Drugs. I never had a clear vision of what victory would have looked like in the aftermath. This article really highlights the human need for community and caring.

I seem to have read a lot about the human brain this week. This article gives us another set of insights about how we are wired.

“At the elite Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., they know how to figure out quickly who will be capable of accomplishing extremely dangerous underwater missions. They take young sailors and tie their hands behind their backs and bind their feet. They put the strap of a dive mask between the sailors’ teeth and then throw them in the Olympic-size pool. The challenge is to stay afloat and live. ‘The more someone struggles,’ Morgan tells me, ‘the harder it is to get air and the more tired they get. You just have to inhibit the powerful, incredible instinct to breathe and your anxiety and alarm.’ Morgan knows how scary it is because they also tied him up and threw him in so he could understand what the sailors were going through. Most trainees quickly realize that the only way to avoid drowning is to relax and sink to the bottom of the pool, kick off powerfully toward the surface, gasp for a little bit of air through clenched teeth and then fall back into the water and drop down to the bottom again.

“During this testing, a lot of sailors black out. They simply don’t get enough oxygen and lose consciousness. Morgan has watched many of them sink to the bottom of the pool before divers pull them to the surface. On the deck, the unconscious sailors are rolled on their sides, and as soon as they revive, an instructor shouts again and again: ‘Are you gonna quit? Are you gonna quit?’ Sailors are given 30 seconds to answer or they’re kicked out of the program. If they say they want to keep going, they’re given another 30 seconds to recover and then they’re thrown back into the pool. It may sound sadistic, but the Navy is simply trying to identify who will survive the most dangerous missions and who won’t. Through this grueling test, it finds soldiers and sailors who refuse to give up, who can suppress the need to breathe, who trust that they’ll be rescued if something goes wrong and who are prepared to lose consciousness—or even die—following orders.”

Finally, a fourth take on how the brain works, plus some insights on how to use this to deal with weight loss.

“One thing that happens with people who are overweight is that they often feel their situation isn’t solvable, and they are on the verge of giving up,” explains Wansink. ‘What we’ve found over and over is that making one small change, like eating off a smaller plate, leads to a small weight loss, and then that triggers making more changes. Within a year, a person’s lost 35 pounds without ever ‘dieting.’ That’s our goal.’

“Wansink coined the term ‘mindless eating’ with his 2006 bestseller, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Now he and his cohort are applying the values of “mindless eating” to weight loss, advocating that small lifestyle and food habits changes can be so easy that you don’t have to think about them for them to be effective. Best of all: Mindless eating negates the need for willpower.

Following up on this, this article has some simple and basic tools to expand upon those four basic ideas:


Add Eggs to Your Diet

“Eggs are the ultimate weight loss food. They are cheap, low in calories, high in protein and loaded with all sorts of nutrients. High-protein foods have been shown to reduce appetite and increase fullness, compared to foods that contain less protein (69, 70, 71, 72).

“Furthermore, eating eggs for breakfast may cause up to 65% greater weight loss over 8 weeks, compared to eating bagels for breakfast. It may also help you eat fewer calories throughout the rest of the day (4, 5, 6, 73).”

I have always thought that the Master Habit is simply “Showing Up.” This piece from Chelsea Handler really expands this thought.

“Later in life, my habit for reliability bled into my stand-up vocation. I kept showing up. When there were only two people in the audience at the Comedy Store at the 9 p.m. show, I showed up and did 10 minutes of material every time I got the 9 p.m. slot. (It turns out that if you can make two people laugh, then you can make two thousand people laugh).”

As I reviewed this week’s suggestions, there seems to be a lot on how the brain works. Oddly, I finished the week in Disneyland, which specializes in shaping and warping your senses. “Soaring Over California” adds smells to the ride to increase the experience, and the shakes and the twists of other rides give the illusion of speed, even though you probably go faster on your bicycle than you do on most rides in an amusement park.

It’s “something to think about.”

Until next week, keep lifting and learning.


Help me out—Share on Facebook!
Like Dan John's Wandering Weights: Issue #68 on Facebook