Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 97

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 97

Last week on OTP: Mark Cheng on Fixing Forward Head Posture

I had a wonderful weekend. The weather in Utah is the kind where you sell your house and tell the new people “Yeah, it is always like this.” I start roadtripping again this week with a visit to NYC with Mental Meatheads.

I had a lot of positive feedback from my notes on training the older athlete last week. Be sure to read my blog post on Hammer and Stone and my new one on OTP this morning for more clarity.

So, let’s zip around the web.

Diet in the News!!! Dog bites man! I liked this article a lot. Very simple and to the point: don’t go into surgery right away.

“One small trial found that 44 percent of low-carb dieters were able to stop taking one or more diabetes medications after only a few months, compared with 11 percent of a control group following a moderate-carb, lower-fat, calorie-restricted diet. A similarly small trial reported those numbers as 31 percent versus 0 percent. And in these as well as another, larger, trial, hemoglobin A1C, which is the primary marker for a diabetes diagnosis, improved significantly more on the low-carb diet than on a low-fat or low-calorie diet. Of course, the results are dependent on patients’ ability to adhere to low-carb diets, which is why some studies have shown that the positive effects weaken over time.

“A low-carbohydrate diet was in fact standard treatment for diabetes throughout most of the 20th century, when the condition was recognized as one in which ‘the normal utilization of carbohydrate is impaired,’ according to a 1923 medical text. When pharmaceutical insulin became available in 1922, the advice changed, allowing moderate amounts of carbohydrates in the diet.”

This was sent in by Mike Rosenberg. It exploded on Facebook, then we all shrugged and went back to normal life.

“That summer, Fredrick Stare, chair of the nutrition department in Harvard’s School of Public Health and by then also an ad hoc member of SRF’s scientific advisory board, began overseeing two Harvard colleagues in what was dubbed Project 226.

“For a total of $6,500—or $48,000 in this year’s dollars—paid by the SRF, those scientists would publish their own research, consisting of a review of the previously published research papers, hand-selected by Hickson, linking sugar to coronary heart disease.

“A few days before submitting the draft of their review for publication, they sent it to Hickson, who was pleased. ‘Let me assure you this is quite what we had in mind and we look forward to its appearance in print,’ he wrote.

“In 1967, their two-part review appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. It concluded that there was ‘no doubt’ that to prevent coronary heart disease, the only dietary precaution to take was to reduce consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat. In other words: Don’t worry about sugar.”

To quote George Carlin: “They don’t give a blank about you….”

But, fish and mice do. This is just cool.

I had seen this Walt Whitman Diet before, but this was a lot simpler than the 100s of pages I had to flip through to get to the basics.


Paraphrasing Mr. Whitman, here are the basic tenets of the plan:

  • Eat a large plate of lean, rare beef unadorned with gravy or spices of any kind (save a small pinch of salt) for every meal.
  • Food (beef) should be eaten until one is pleasantly full.
  • For breakfast, in addition to beef, a person should feel free to eat a nearly raw egg with a slice of dry bread, or a boiled potato.
  • At lunch, meat should be eaten with a slice of stale bread. If one likes, every once in a while, lunches may consist of lean, rare mutton instead of beef, for variety.
  • There’s a bit more leeway with dinner sides: stale bread, toast, or fruit may be eaten as an accompaniment to beef. The actual meat for this meal should be served cold and should be eaten well before bedtime.
  • Before and during meals, the consumption of beverages should be limited or forgone. Between and after meals, cool tea and water—neither hot nor cold—are allowed. Coffee, soda, and lemonade should be avoided.
  • Then for exercise:
  • Upon waking, a healthy man takes a brief, cold shower and dries off with a coarse towel before embarking on a half-hour-to-hour-long walk, during which he carries progressively heavier and heavier weight. Dumbbell work and gymnastic movements are also recommended.
  • After breakfast, unless a man has a job he has to attend to, he should exercise some more. Boxing a heavy bag or sparring with another man is a good way to spend a few late-morning hours. So is rowing. A man whose occupation is rowing has been given a tremendous gift, Whitman says.
  • After lunch and a brief rest for digestion, still more exercise should be undertaken.

End quote

Speaking of the Lifehacker site, this looked familiar. See the link that supports the article.

Whenever I compete in the sun on long days, I wake the next week with earlobe creases. It means I am going to die. So did my birth….

That was an attempt at humor.

This article does a nice job with heart disease “oddities.” Floss your teeth, stinky breath. Oh, and my ear wax is nicely wet, if you were wondering!

I like this matrix here. It’s funny how we make some foods “healthy” and years later, after logic and research argue the opposite, we still feed people this crap on planes.

“Of the 52 common foods that we asked experts and the public to rate, none had a wider gap than granola bars. More than 70 percent of ordinary Americans we surveyed described it as healthy, but less than a third of nutritional experts did. A similar gap existed for granola, which less than half of nutritionists we surveyed described as healthy.

“Several of the foods considered more healthful by everyday Americans than by experts, including frozen yogurt, a SlimFast shake and granola bars, have something in common: They can contain a lot of added sugar. In May, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new template for nutrition labels, and one priority was to clearly distinguish between sugars that naturally occur in food and sugars that are added later to heighten flavors. (You’d be surprised how many foods contain added sugar.) It’s possible nutritionists know this, but the public still does not.”

This is downright brilliant. I love this idea. Any time you make a plan, or a menu, or a celebration, people stop just eating and begin dining again. Isabelle “Izzy” Libmann:

“I realized that in order for me to love the meals I would be eating at home, I needed to plan better. So I started with one of my favorite meals! Here are the 4 biggest ways Taco Tuesdays have made me enjoy meal planning and dining at home more:

  1.  As Josh’s book states, fat loss starts on Mondays. Or, in my case, Tuesdays. (Josh, cookbook idea: Fat Loss Starts with Tacos.) I start planning with Taco Tuesday because it takes the pressure off or planning for the rest of the week. I know that, at the very least, my dinner on Tuesdays is going to kick serious ass.
  2.  It gives the week an anchor. Taco Tuesday is something we got to practice doing again and again so we could get mega good at it. The meal gets broken down with which protein takes focus and then which veggies and toppings will go well with it. Then I can make a grocery list and shop! Once the skill of producing Taco Tuesday became pretty simple, it made planning for the rest of the week that much less daunting. (Disclaimer: I shop for almost everything in one shopping trip for the week because I don’t make time to go multiple times per week. Planning for the whole week at once took a little while to get good at. I have to admit there have been some dud meals in the mix. But it’s all about getting the reps in, right? It’s OK to start with one day.)
  3.  It’s something to look forward to! Which I find makes me more aware of the other things I’ll be eating for breakfast and lunch and makes reaching for a snack so much more unappealing.
  4. It’s a versatile dish! There are a zillion ways to make tacos which means there are many ways to make them super decadent (think fried fish tacos) or much lighter (like grilled fish tacos). There are many ways to make them veggie-heavy or protein-heavy or carb-heavy, depending on your taste/goals/budget/etc. And, since it’s planned and a list is made, portions are pre-determined so I know I can thoroughly enjoy my plate without overdoing it like I could in a restaurant.

End quote

Busyness. Mike Rosenberg was on a roll last week and sent me this, too. It is a great insight about life.

“If there’s a solution to the busyness epidemic, other than the universal enforcement of a 21-hour workweek – it may lie in clearly perceiving just how irrational our attitudes have become. Historically, the ultimate symbol of wealth, achievement and social superiority was the freedom not to work: the true badge of honour, as the 19th Century economist Thorstein Veblen put it, was leisure. Now, it’s busyness that has become the indicator of high status. ‘The best-off in our society are often very busy, and have to be,’ says Gershuny. ‘You ask me, am I busy, and I tell you: ‘Yes, of course I’m busy – because I’m an important person!’

“Busyness that has become the indicator of high status

“To see how absurd it is to value sheer activity in this manner, consider a story told by the behavioural economist Dan Ariely, about a locksmith he once met. Early in his career, the locksmith “was just not that good at it: it would take him a really long time to open the door, and he would often break the lock,” Ariely says. Still, people were happy to pay his fee and throw in a tip. As he got better and faster, though, they complained about the fee, and stopped tipping. You’d think they would value regaining access to their house or car more swiftly. But what they really wanted was to see the locksmith putting in the time and effort – even if it meant a longer wait.”

So, I’m going to start taking a lot longer when I say things like “To get stronger, lift weights.”

Until next week, keep lifting and learning.


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Publisher’s note:  New this week: Dan on Longevity in the Weightroom