Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 86

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 86

Most important link this week: Dan’s great article on Shark Habits

My friends, Bill and Kay Witt took us on a wonderful tour of Gettysburg. As I am getting ready to send this edition of WW to Laree, it is amazing to think about the events of that day. With the “Brexit” last week and some of the problems on the world scene, it is sometimes wise to reflect on the moments of the past that shape us today. And, it might be nice to not repeat the mistakes.

It was a quiet week in Lake Wandering Weights. A tip of the hat to Garrison Keillor who retired this week—I have been listening to him since college. That is shocking enough, but the quality of the work was always excellent. If you don’t know the show, go to Prairie Home to catch a few episodes. It’s very good.

I have no issues with failure. It’s what you do after failing is the key. This article teaches a very proactive method of failing.

Since I’ve started aiming for rejections, not acceptances, I no longer dread submitting. I don’t flinch (much) when I receive inevitable form rejection emails. Instead of tucking my story or essay apologetically into a bottle and desperately casting it out to sea, I launch determined air raids of submission grenades, five or ten at a time. I wait for the rejections, line up my next tier of journals, and submit again.

I met Martha Graham. In fact, I still use her “Sky, Earth, “Man” in my stretching programs. I thought was a nice article from James Clear.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

If you have never heard of Martha, this article gives some of the basics. 

My friend, Rick Stevens, sent this article in.

“On the same track where Baker fell, a student from Monroe High School died during a high school meet in May. While these incidents are unrelated, I hope that the death of the student and the survival of Baker will lead us to think seriously about how to better prepare to deal with future emergencies.

“In talking to the doctors who saved Baker’s life, they all said they hope that what comes out of this is an awareness that the emergency care they provided could have been offered by anyone that night with basic CPR training.

“Nace said that when she thought afterward how they could have improved the response, she said, ‘Why aren’t we teaching this to more people in the community?'”

This article does a nice job visually explaining supplements. I don’t want to turn this into Doctor Oz, but if you do take supplements, it would be nice to know if they work.

Vitamin D, Fish Oil, Omega 3, Probiotics…for the win.

You may have seen this blurb from OTP on my new DVD “Now What?” and this piece on Shark Habits.

Shark Habits is part of four concepts I use to help people with following up and moving down the road for any set of goals. Shark Habits are really the foundation for practically any kind of goal, but from there other concepts are needed. The key for sports, and many aspects of life, is Principles.

For WW readers only, here is part of my section on Principles:


Coach Ralph Maughan, WWII vet, NFL player and Olympian, stood in front of us and told us the secrets to success:

“Make yourself a slave to good habits.”

“Little and often over the long haul.”

“Lift weights three days a week, throw (or hurdle or jump or…) four days a week, for eight years.”

Coach was giving us the secrets to success in life and collegiate track and field. He was teaching us how to win, how to succeed and how to take first.

Anytime you start discussing “to take first,” you are discussing Principles. Now, I grade my students down when they use the dictionary, but in the case of Principles it is illuminating:

The word “principle,” comes from the Latin, principium, literally, “that which is first.”
It is also argued that the “ciple” part of the word is from the same root as “capture,” which gives me the nod to claim: “Principle means ‘to take first!’”

Principles are those magic keys, golden nuggets, and perfect diamonds that are the secret to success in any endeavor. Master and measure and monitor the Principles and success (or failure) becomes a matrix, a flow chart, to improve performance. Principles are the universal standards that support excellence.

You might have had a principle wash over you and missed it. I heard this in hurdling the first time I was taught the basics:

“Attack with your lead knee.”

Later, Coach Maughan applied the same phrase to our college’s hurdlers, then noted that it was true in the high jump, long jump, pole vault and triple jump. Principles have a funny way of working in all kinds of endeavors.

“Little and often over the long haul” is as true in finance and relationships as it is in performance. Dick Notmeyer’s advice to me about maintaining a “Tranquil Mind” would help me perform better on the lifting platform.

It was also perfect advice for handling two teenage daughters!

I own a copy of one of the original American football coaching books: “Heisman on Football.” The book certainly is dated in some aspects as my copy is from 1935, but his Principles stand the test of time. To win in football, he expected three things:

·      Block
·      Tackle
·      Fall on the Ball

Blocking, tackling and keeping possession of the ball remain the three keys to game nearly a century, in addition to thousands of rule and equipment changes, later.

When I first met Dick Notmeyer, he explained the “secret” of great Olympic lifters:

·      Strong legs
·      Powerful Pull
·      Tranquil Mind

When I am asked about the Principles for a strength coach, I use these three:

·      Standards (Simply, are they up to standard?)
·       Gaps (Are you doing Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Loaded Carry and Sixth Movement?)
·       “Everything Else” from the actual sport work.

I wrote a book about my assessment process for athletes, literally just the question: “Can you go?” If you know your game and prepared for days, months, years or decades, all I can really ask on Game Day is “Can you go?”

If it is “yes,” go! If not, well, we are done.

As much as I love Principles, they don’t always work perfectly. For that client who weighs over 300 pounds or needs to get the waistline under half the body height, Principles come up sadly short.

Art Devany famously answered a fat loss question with “Don’t get fat in the first place.” Although it might seem mean spirited, it is correct and could be a tool in working with college aged or twenty-something employees.

Mad TV spoofed the “most true” principle of fat loss: Eat Less, Move More. The woman was angry because they had “Eat Less” on one side of the card and “Move More” on the other.

She had to flip it over.

So, yes, Principles are the heart and soul of performance and performance sports. But, for areas of life like health, longevity and fat loss, Shark Habits and Pirate Maps might be better. True, the Pirate Map for fat loss will end up with “Eat Less, Move More” Principles, but most people will follow Pat Flynn’s list better than the principle here.

Principles can be summed as: “To take first…Do This!”

And, have some method to measure your ability to “Do This!”

Until next week, keep on lifting and learning.


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