Everyone is wrong about obesity, researchers recently decided

Links #5: a Bulgarian split squats trick, how to throw a punch with long nails, sauna suits, and "the jeans I wore at age 21."

I thought now that we’re all here, I might take a hot minute here to explain the loose themes of the sections of this newsletter. 

The Eat section is informational stuff that will help us approach or conquer the dumb little tasks that come with being alive: actual eating sometimes, but also lifting; sleeping; working when you must and the occasion calls for it; mental health. 

The Drink section is devoted to pettiness, gossip, stray invective, fitness-world-adjacent information that is more funny or ironic than informative, and things that I wish would stop, yet they persist. An important part of becoming strong is learning when to say no to things like “11 abs.” 

The Rest section is things that have brought me joy or put me at ease. Sometimes, that takes the form of retail therapy. Sometimes it’s good TV. A treasured part of lifting, to me, is the “letting your muscles recover” part (to the point that I do it probably too much), and I think everyone else should treasure it too. I believe in sitting down. 

I also forgot to say this in the previous Friday newsletter, but I know everyone can’t afford yet another newsletter. For every ten paid subs I receive, I would like to give one away to someone who wants it but can’t currently afford it. (Yes: If you subscribe, you are helping others who would like to, too!)

This means I have a boodle of them right now to give to folks who need them. If you would like to get the biweekly Sunday advice letter, access to the community Discord, and other benefits described here free for a year, email me at subrequest@caseyjohnston.net

We have a longie of a newsletter today so we are hopping right in—

Eat

I am on the Gear Patrol podcast this week, talking in large part about my outdoor gym setup! If it’s ever piqued your curiosity, this is pretty thorough. 

Few things inspire to me to go do my workouts like watching strong people be strong. Fortunately the IPF Worlds are happening right now, where the world’s strongest people are lifting, probably as you read this, AND there is a livestream. (If you miss it, archived streams are on their YouTube.)

~Beasties Discord Pick of the Week: We are revisiting the timeless 2008 thread where bros named Josh and Justin (and many others) argue about how many days there are in a week, and the iconic Jon Bois video about same.~

Which foods need refrigerating? Some of these I don't care, but here are my opinions—eggs: farm fresh no, all others yes; bread: on the counter and freeze after a few days; tomatoes: never.

How to throw a punch with long nails. It can be done, carefully!!

Muscle does not stop COVID, Marjorie Taylor Greene, but it does shorten hospital stays. Let your body be great. 

We are frequently trading Bulgarian split squat setup tips in the Discord chat, but this one from Sohee is one I haven’t seen before.

I’m literally counting the days until I can do these hamstring curls again (Sunday!).

I want this ham omelet sandwich

I never cool-down-stretch except when I’ve had some weed and don’t want the workout to end, yet I’m sad because I’m increasingly feeling more and more things pop and clip each other inside my hips. I need to cool-down-stretch.

Just a general PSA if you are on a hunt for a workout program—or curious what makes all those mysterious $10-$200 workout programs designed by various personal trainers from YouTube/Instagram all different—that Will Tennyson does very watchable reviews of lots of different (guys’) programs for sale, like this one for VShred. If you know of anyone doing this for women’s workouts with a similar perspective (informed about nutrition and muscle/training history), please email me!!

When the moment comes that people decide that the righteous path is in fact not "lose weight at any cost with aggressive diets and lite cardio, and only then maybe layer in exercise,” and that actually the righteous path is "just start working out because it can be done sustainably by most people and it's good for you," I want you guys to remember I said it first. Anyway, the New York Times is saying it now.

Not unrelated, I read this Stat News piece declaring “energy balance is not the cause of obesity” and went “good, finally they’re getting it” and then read “now the thing is the carbohydrate-insulin model” and went “oh no.” I fear that the gloss of this will end up being once again that “carbs r bad” and the whole keto/Atkins/paleo thing will start all over again. 

But taking the whole article together (which is extremely long), it seems to me researchers are knocking at the door of, essentially, achieving decent health through food intake only is a very fine, nearly impossible line to walk for many people. (To be very clear, our system not accounting for people who are “obese” but feel great and are happy, and/or pinning outsize blame on them personally, are just a couple of its many problems.) 

At the same time, they don’t mention physical activity, but it seems to me the difference they are circling is the one between "just eating less and better" and not being physically active, versus the opposite (physical activity interrupts a lot of the issues they are talking about with storing and using carbs). Another potential extension is the idea that having fat, specifically, is not the problem when it comes to health (or at least, the idea that more fat categorically means “worse health”). I don’t want to get out over my skis here, but both of these are big deals to me; I would love to see “diet alone” and “fat bad” die in one fell swoop. That said, I wonder if doctors will actually get there, given that their typical approach currently is to tell people to just lose weight and nothing more specific than that. Either way, this feels like a potentially big change in a very dominant health conversation. 


What Paid Subscribers Will Be Getting in Two Days: An advice column answering the following question:

I am coming around to the idea of increasing my strength/muscle mass for the health benefits. However, I’m anxious about possible joint injury, particularly knees / lower back. I come from a family of tall, unfit people, so there is a big family history of extensive joint problems & injuries, especially knee and spine issues. I'm a bit paranoid about the risk of quickly wearing out joints or bringing on an injury through weightlifting.

I wondered if you either had any tips on how to watch out for and avoid more general joint/back injuries when lifting?

Curious to know the answer? Smash that subscribe button.

I wanna know about joints


Drink

Follow-up on the nation’s weight loss app, Instagram: Facebook did a PR saying “It is simply not accurate that this research demonstrates Instagram is 'toxic' for teen girls,” and then released the data, which said Instagram only makes people feel worse if they already feel bad, and “most teens [of Facebook’s sample] report feeling a mental health issue.”  It does indeed seem like you have a problem, then! Also, a quote: “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rates of anxiety and depression among teens. This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.” 

I'll be honest: lab-grown meat always sounded like a fake concept, so I'm not surprised it's not going well at all; the companies have taken a ton of funding and no one has really delivered a product. However, I'd like to see it addressed in the context of like, solar panels or wind energy a few decades ago: "absurdly expensive" at the time, but now, suddenly reasonable, given all the events! Important to remember that money isn't real; results are, though. That said, DO I want to eat lab grown meat?... I’ll try anything once, I guess.

Will Facebook commit to ending finsta? And which senator will be brave enough to ask Facebook to commit to ending #ootd and #potd? 

Sauna suits. Sauna suits??? TL;DR these are not for anyone but people who need to train specifically for performance in high temperatures.

This is only pettiness but I can’t stand the Gymshark twitter account, and I see its tweets all the time because Twitter puts them in the “Fitness” topic and they show up in my feed. TFW you dab on the leg press machine fam!! 😂😂

I’d be so much closer to death now if I could still fit into the “the jeans I wore at age 21."

Rest

I watched the Yayoi Kusama documentary from a couple years ago this past week and I loved it so much. Everyone stole from her—Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg. I love an artist documentary; I love artists even when they are being corny. Other recent favs are this Hayao Miyazaki one and Shangri-La. If you know a good one (artist documentary or artist) you should tell me of it or them. 

I can’t believe Simone Biles kept going as long as she did with all that she was carrying. She shouldn’t have had to. This is a wonderful profile of her.

“Move to the Woods” Broken Brain Watch: I’m still looking very respectfully at all of these vanlife vans and shipping container homes

All typos and copy errors were to make sure you were paying attention.