Digestable #35: Christmas Song, Chronological Snobbery, Lindy Effect, My Physical Practice, Emotions Create Habits

Hey!

Welcome to another edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where we follow our curiosity and share good Christmas music.

What’s on my mind:

Christmas Song: there’s a little-known song written and performed by Dave Matthews that makes it into my Christmas music rotation every December. Enjoy:

Things I Want My Kids to Know: Here are a couple of heuristics (rules of thumb) that have served me well and that I would like my kids to have in their toolkit:

  1. Chronological Snobbery: This is the fallacy that leads us to think that our generation is smarter than previous generations, and that what is new is intrinsically better than what is old. The technological advancements we’ve experienced since the Enlightenment make us particularly susceptible to this fallacy and mistakenly lead us to believe cave men, or hunter-gatherer tribes were (or are) cartoonishly dumb.

    In his book, Surprised by Joy, C.S Lewis defines Chronological Snobbery as: “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age, and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account, discredited.

    We need to keep in mind: “Our own age is also a period, and certainly has like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likely as to lurk in those widespread assumptions that are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack, or feels it necessary to defend them.”

    Whenever you hear the words, “we all know that …” what comes next is a “widespread assumption” where chronological snobbery could be lurking. Pair this principle with the Lindy Effect:
  2. Lindy’s Law (Lindy Effect): The longer something has been in existence (and by extension, useful), the longer it will continue to be in existence (and useful). If something has survived 5-years, it is likely useful enough to survive another 5. If something has survived 100-years, it is likely to survive another 100. This only applies to imperishable items, like ideas and technology. This doesn’t mean that everything new is inferior, but it means that what is new runs a higher risk of causing harm or becoming obsolete. It is unproven. It means that old books of wisdom are a safer bet than new books of wisdom. Rather than being a chronological snob biased towards what is novel, consider being biased towards what is old as a reasonable life strategy when making decisions and managing risk.

    How to use it in a sentence: “Hey, man, can I grab you a coke?
    Nah, bruh, I only drink beverages that have been around for 500 years or more. Do you have any water, tea, wine, or coffee?
    Dude, that’s so Lindy.”

My Physical Practice: Many of you have asked about what my workouts look like these days. Just kidding, nobody has asked me that. But just in case there is something here that helps you, here’s how I train these days.

What makes a good exercise program? One that is designed for your goals. With that in mind, what I’m sharing may not be suited for your goals. My goals in this program are: well-rounded athleticism (ready for anything, not sport-specific), developing high-quality movement patterns and posture, cortisol/stress management, general health & longevity, and aesthetics/body fat maintenance (to allow for extra Christmas treats).

On Sundays, I create a column in my notebook where I list all of the movement practices I would like to fit into my week. To the right of that, I create a mini calendar with all of the days of the week (see photo). Then I plot all of the movements from the left-hand column into my week based on what will fit well with my calendar for the week. I keep an eye on which days will I have the most/least time, what equipment or terrain will I have convenient access to, and when will there be opportunities to exercise with other people.

Weekly Workout Planner

Here’s what I plan to fit into each week (the left-hand column):

  • Core stability/glute activation: 30 minutes, twice per week. At least one of these sessions is a mat Pilates video (Alo Moves app), and the other session are exercises I’ve received from my physiotherapist to help with my low back injuries. I consider these sessions “maintenance,” like flossing.
  • Bent Arm Strength: 45 minutes, once per week. If you aren’t familiar with the term, “bent arm strength,” think push/pull upper body strength like pull ups, push ups, dips, muscles ups, etc. I use a rings program by GMB for this, I have rings set up in my garage and try to do this session with my sons. It’s a great program that transfers well to climbing and filling out your sweaters.
  • Straight Arm Strength: 45 minutes, once per week. As most aren’t familiar with the term, “straight arm strength,” think of the iron cross, levers, planches, and handstands. Many people would associate it with “core strength.” Straight arm strength unfortunately doesn’t seem to improve unless you specifically target it but it is critical for well-rounded strength, injury prevention, posture, and movement quality. As above, I use a gymnastics rings program by GMB and do it in my garage with my sons. Once per week is only enough for maintenance, if I wanted to progress faster I would need to increase that to 2-3x/week.
  • Leg Strength: 45 minutes, once per week. As I am rehabbing low back injuries much of this is single leg work. 3 sets of 8-12 reps of Bulgarian split squats, weighted step ups, pistols, shrimp squats, and light deadlifts with a belt to help me with proper core bracing. In between sets I’ll throw in some plyometric long jumps, sideways jumps, and box jumps.
  • Shoulder Strength: 30 minutes, once per week. Straightforward enough, I work on shoulder press, push press, push jerk, and handstand push ups.
  • Zone 2 Cardio: at least 45 minutes, 3 times per week, with one of those sessions being a longer endurance session (presently 100 minutes). Zone 2 refers to the heart rate zone ideal for fat burning, and it also improves VO2 max. Zone 2 is an enjoyable pace that I can maintain nose breathing and keep a conversation (ideal to do with friends!). I will typically jog, go for a ruck, a swim, or cross country ski. At least once per week I do a longer session to improve endurance. I’ll try to increase the length of my endurance session by about 5 – 10 minutes per week to gear up for some long days of alpine touring coming up Q1 2022.
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): 20 minutes, once per week. These days it often consists of a 4×4 protocol with 1 minute of all-out effort followed by 3 minutes of recovery effort, repeated four times. I’ll use burpees, XC skiing uphill, run or swim sprints, or an elliptical machine. On my wish list is an Airdyne bike for these sessions. HIIT workouts are great for fat loss, improving VO2 max, and mitochondrial biogenesis, but they are taxing on your stress systems. I am in a high stress season with a high work load so I limit HIIT to once per week. Since it is such a short workout I’ll save it for my busiest day. Make sure you smile during the 1-minute of pain!
  • Grip Strength: 2 minutes, 2 times per week. Usually this is just a dead hang on a pull up bar until I fall off, but I’ll also do suitcase carry and farmer walks. Grip strength is the type of strength that has the highest correlation with longevity and it helps with my climbing.
  • Kettlebell Swings: 2 minutes, 5 days per week. I’m using a “grease the groove” protocol as part of my low back rehab to increase my hip hinge strength. This week I will increase the number of consecutive swings by 5 for a total of 55 swings.
  • Mobility/Stretching: 10 minutes 6 days per week, 45 minutes 1 day per week. These days I am focusing on hip flexors (couch stretch), outer hip (pigeon), and posterior chain. Often a few minutes before bed when I am watching FailArmy with the kids, and the longer session on the weekend.

Depending on your situation that may sound like a lot to fit into a week. It can be, and in any given week 10-15% of those sessions end up not fitting in when the day gets away on me. That’s ok, I’m not a pro athlete.

I try to sprinkle these sessions throughout the day to avoid being a “sedentary athlete” that is a couch potato when their daily workout is over. KB swings, pigeon stretch, or a dead hang until failure are quick 2-minute hits that can recharge you in the afternoon hump. These sessions don’t deplete me or require will-power, I love movement and they are indulgences that I look forward to. I keep it playful. I also try to incorporate other people as often as I can. Exercise with others is good for the soul and prevents you from becoming too self-centered in your time and training.

Quote I’m Pondering: “In my own research, I found that habits can form very quickly, often in just a few days, as long as people have a strong positive emotion connected to the behavior… When I teach people about human behavior, I boil it down to three words to make the point crystal clear: emotions create habits. Not repetition. Not frequency. Not fairy dust. Emotions.” – from Dr. BJ Fogg’s Tiny HabitsCredit to Mark Frauenfelder for sharing this quote.

Where did your curiosity lead you this week? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again for following along. I’m having a riot putting these together, so if you are enjoying this newsletter I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two and we can keep the great conversations growing.

Yours truly,
Jeff

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