Sunday, September 11, 2016

Making My Morning and Making My Day

For a while I've been pretty obsessive about mornings. This started because I started feeling more and more like I was wasting my morning. I wasn't using my time wisely, wasn't making the most out of my day, and wasn't putting myself in the best position possible to have a successful day.

So for the last 6 months or so, I've been reading and listening to everything I can about successful people's morning routines. If I come across an article titled "SOMEONE SUCCESSFUL's Morning Routine" - I stop what I'm doing and either read or bookmark that article.

I read the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, listened to podcasts with Tony Robbins, read articles regarding successful people from a variety of walks of life, fitness people, business people, educators, all to figure out what people do with their mornings.

My big discovery - which should have been expected - is that there's no one way to do it.
While I'm still early in my research and expect to be fine tuning this routine until the day I die, I've come up with a routine that has worked well for me and I've been more productive and happier because of my morning routine.

This is what I do -
P90X3 Yoga is a common morning workout to fit this routine
  • Wake Up at 6:30am (an hour prior to when I used to wake up to work out - took this from the Miracle Morning)
  • Brush teeth and drink some water (also taken from Miracle Morning - this helps morning me from talking myself out of just getting back in bed)
  • Do an approximately half hour workout (this is taken from a lot of people) - I do a yoga workout almost every morning. I choose yoga for a couple of reasons -
    • It seems safer to do while I'm still waking up than a plyo workout or something with weights (I usually begin approximately 5 - 10 minutes after my alarm)
    • My flexibility is a weakness, so I'm working on this area of weakness first thing
    • Lots of the materials I've come across talk about the value of meditation - which sounds awesome and I'd like to get there, so while I'm not meditating yet - yoga has a certain meditative quality for me. I can drift away, empty my head and prepare for the day to come.
    • While I'm my least flexible when I first wake up, my thoughts (based on no research whatsoever) is that pushing myself when I'm my least flexible will help my overall flexibility. Instead of spending the early part of the day walking around like the tin man, 10 minutes after my alarm sounds my flexibility is improving. Then later in the day during my evening workout, I'm even more flexible.
    • We live in an apartment in an old, fairly rickety house. Yoga is the workout least likely to disrupt our neighbors
  • Make a cup of coffee and a light breakfast
  • Write or fine tune my day's To Do List
    • Ideally, I write my first draft of the list the night before, but sometimes I forget/it doesn't happen
  • Have my morning shake
    • Most often this will be Shakeology, maybe with some fruit
  • Shower and get ready for work
  • Head to work
Previously, I had found that I could really drag during the first hour of the work day. Getting up an hour earlier might not sound like the best idea if you're feeling tired in the morning, but these steps helped me feel a lot more with it when I got to the office so I could hit the ground running and not be so irritable in the morning. Now, my first hour of the work day tends to be my most productive. As everyone else is easing into the day, I'm plowing through my to-do list.

My morning routine might not be perfect for you, but my life is better off because I've made these small changes and made my morning deliberately planned. That's probably the biggest thing - taking a step back and deciding to be deliberate and intentional with my morning routine. Instead of rolling around in bed until the last possible second to get ready for work, I'm starting my day off with a plan. A plan that benefits me.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What We're Reading: #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur's Take on Leadership, Social Media and Self-Awareness

What We're Reading: #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur's Take on Leadership, Social Media and Self-Awareness
Author: Gary Vaynerchuk

He brings a humor like that of your funniest friend. He brings a positivity that is real and authentic. He tells stories that get into the nitty gritty while illuminating a BIG picture idea. He's Gary Vaynerchuk.

In July we went to Beachbody Coach Summit. We had been running around a lot the months leading up to Summit and weren't sure we were going to be able to make it, then about a month before our schedules came together and we realized we could make it. Then we decided to look into what was on the agenda for Summit and the advertised key note speaker was Gary Vaynerchuk.

I did not know who Gary Vaynerchuk was. Then I kept  throwing a "d" in his name so quick searches of "Gary Vanderchuk" did not answer many of my questions.

So, long story short, when we saw Gary talk, I had no idea who he was and what he was about.

Longer story, shorter. I dug his stuff.

When you start getting into personal development you come across a lot of these big names in that space. While everyone has their unique slant, there are some traits that a lot of them have. I dig personal development, but sometimes there's a whole lot of fluff and not much stuff. Sometimes it's about making the reader feel warm and fuzzy.

Gary Vaynerchuk will not make you feel warm and fuzzy. Someone can feel free to put that on his next book jacket.

However, he will make you want to get up, get moving and get going. There's an aggressiveness to his approach. One of his previous books is called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and it makes perfect sense. He's a fighter and looks at business like a fight. He's in a battle and he plans to win.

Gary's story is that of an eastern European immigrant whose family settled in the northeast. His story is centered around hard work and its necessity for success. After hearing him talk, I've been reading some of his works, listening to some of his key notes, following him on social media and "get shit done" comes up quite a bit.

There is a practicality, a realness and an authenticity that really clicked with me right away. I'm from the Northeast, I believe that hard work is essential for success, and I think that sometimes you need some grit and some grime to get through the tough stuff.

So after I got home from Summit, I did what I always seem to do after Summit, I get the book from the keynote because I needed more.

Gary Vaynerchuk currently has four books available and his most recent is #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur's Take on Leadership, Social Media and Self-Awareness. The book is in some ways a companion piece and an extension to his popular #AskGaryVee YouTube Show. Because it was the most recent book, I went with this one.

There is a TON of material here. Gary answers question after question and provides an in-depth response for each one. The structure of the book is so easy to read with questions serving as section headings for the different topics that he covers. This way of organizing the book works so well for the way that I read as I often read before bed or read in short bursts. Instead of feeling like I have to read an entire chapter to cover an idea, I can read half a page to get some valuable information.

As a reader, you can decided to plow through the book in short order or you could read a question and response each day. This can be a great way to do daily, short bursts of personal development. This works well for me as I'm a momentum worker where once I get going, I really get going so doing personal development like this that could take just a minute or two helps me get moving. This half page or so of reading can help me get moving in the right direction for the rest of the day.

Gary's voice is accessible, real and makes it feel like you're talking to a friend. There's not a lot of vague "you just need to believe in yourself and you can do anything" feedback that can often fill up the pages of personal development reading. #AskGaryVee has the specific, actionable advice that is lacking in many of the books filling up the personal development section of the book store.

If personal development reading is not part of your regular routine, #AskGaryVee could be a great starter book. With it's short sections making up chapters, it's a very easy read that can be taken on in a variety of different ways. I HIGHLY recommend #AskGaryVee and this has proved as a great way to get into more of his work. It can also serve as a gateway to the treasure trove of material that Gary Vaynerchuk has already put out there.

Follow Gary Vaynerchuk at -

Facebook - Gary Vaynerchuk
Instagram - GaryVee
Twitter - GaryVee

Monday, August 1, 2016

22 Minute Hard Corps Program Review

I JUST finished 22 Minute Hard Corps.

Two months. 6 days a week. 22 minutes a day.

As I talked about in my review for the first workout - Cardio 1 - I came into 22 Minute Hard Corps thinking "22 minutes sounds super easy, I'm not sure it'll be enough." Immediately, I was reminded that I was an idiot. 22 minutes is plenty when it's an efficient and intense 22 minutes. Instead of going to the gym, doing a set and wandering around a bit until your next set, this is an essentially non-stop 22 minutes with limited, short breaks and lots of opportunity to push yourself further as you progress throughout the program.

The basic 22 Minute Hard Corps program includes 3 cardio workouts, 3 resistance workouts and 2 core workouts. The cardio and resistance workouts are all 22 minutes each. The core workouts range from 10 - 15-ish minutes and are paired as a suggested follow-up each day you do a cardio workout. The schedule is pretty simple, you have 6 days on, one day off/for meal prep. Each week has 3 cardio/core days and 3 resistance days with the types of workout alternating daily.

While the 22 minute workouts are by no means easy, it's a lot easier to get yourself going when you're dragging a bit to start a 22 minute workout at home than an hour or longer workout. Another benefit of these workouts is that with all the extra time you can either add in other workouts, have extra time for other activities, go for a run, or whatever else. Sometimes it can be really tough to work in those other active habits when in the middle of a routine that regularly takes up an hour or more each day. For me, I started doing yoga each morning, a habit I had been looking to develop for a long time. Knowing that I had a shorter workout in the evening made this the perfect time to work this into my daily routine. So each morning I'd wake up and then do something from DDP Yoga, a PiYo workout, or a yoga routine with Tony Horton on Beachbody on Demand.

The schedule and routine is pretty straight forward. Days alternate between cardio days and resistance (weight) days. Then when you feel like you have some extra to give, it is pretty easy to double up workouts since they're only 22 minutes. "Hard Corps" comes from the military-inspired motif for the workout with cast members being former and active military personnel and shot on locations on battleships, bases and hangers. There is a great variety of the moves throughout the different workouts and a focus towards functional fitness. This is the Beachbody program I would direct someone to if they were looking to use a home workout program to train for an obstacle course race (OCR). Many of the moves felt well suited for training for obstacle course racing and with the short workout length, it would be easier to also work running into your training schedule.

Equipment Needed
  • Weights (either dumbbells or fill up the sandbag that comes with the program)
    • For what it's worth, I only have a set of select tech dumbbells that have a max of 20 pounds, while I'm by no means a big muscle guy, I never maxed out over the course of the program since you're doing so many reps and there's an element of cardio even for the resistance days
  • Pull Up Bar
    • Our apartment is in a weird old house so we cannot set up our pull up bar, to get around this I did rows using my barbell and plates. Is it the same? Not at all, but it allowed me to do something similar-ish rather than just sit and watch the screen. Generally, I'd add an additional 15 reps of rows to the number of pull ups the cast was doing. 
  • Yoga Mat/Carpeted floor
    • For the core stuff and some of the resistance work, you'll want a cushioned surface to work with 
I've written before about how I got into home fitness through Tony Horton's P90X program and through the years I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Horton. His routines have helped me a lot as they've pushed me to work on all areas of fitness and not just do a bunch of curls in front of the mirror. I would have probably never done a yoga workout and never seen it's incredible value had it not been for P90X. But after doing a couple of rounds of P90X, I kind of got sick of Horton for a while. In the last few years, I've come back into the fold and really appreciate his perspective and his workouts. Now, when Horton comes out with something it's a "must try" for me. P90X2 is one of the most demanding and well-rounded programs I've ever done. P90X3 was a perfect addition to my library to work everything without wasting any time. His book "The Big Picture" was a valuable personal development read that moved and I'll read again soon. 22 Minute Hard Corps has been another great routine from the guy who really changed my life through his programs, talks and written work.

While only 22 minutes, you have the opportunity to push yourself more and more each workout. You can up your weights, try to hit 100% of the workout or even add in reps if you're really getting ahead. There are very limited breaks so it's on you to push yourself and get everything done.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Protein French Toast

Decided to have some fun with breakfast this and made some seriously tasty protein French toast. Usually this kind of breakfast lacks any redeeming value, but I used some of my favorite ingredients to load up on fiber, protein and healthy fats. They turned out so good!! Yummy and even moderately healthy. 


Whole grain bread, 6 slices
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology
3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp each of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (for cooking)
Raw unfiltered honey (topping)
Sliced mango and banana (or other fruit)


1. Thoroughly mix eggs, Shakeology, ACV, seasonings. Be sure to get the powder fully mixed in!
2. Warm pan until EVCO easily coats pan, keep on medium heat.
3. Dip bread to coat well, place in pan and cook on medium for about 3min per side. Egg should be pretty set and not raw.
4. Top with 2-3 tsp honey and sliced fruit.
5. Enjoy!

Feel free to swap out your favorite protein powder if you don't have Shakeology, though I highly recommend connecting with us and at least getting yourself an inexpensive trial pack to try out. Shoot us an email at!

Can't go wrong with a superfood-packed breakfast that tastes like dessert!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Having a Nice Wedding on a Budget

When we were planning our wedding we read a lot of articles and did a lot of searches. Some articles were helpful, others were frustrating. So we'll try here to provide a pretty helpful post on low stress, low cost wedding planning.

One thing to add right away, from the start we knew we wanted to take care of everything ourselves. Our families offered multiple times throughout the process to help out, but we would always decline. We wanted to take care of everything and took the position of "our families have done enough, we're in our 30s, they don't need to pay for a party for us." This helped make it so there were only two voices in the planning process throughout. This helped. If people are helping out with paying for the wedding, you need to figure out how you'll navigate that. Do they get in a say in the planning? If not, make that clear before agreeing to accept money from family. Admittedly, after the wedding, our families gave us generous wedding gifts, but everything was done at that point.

- Keep the goal in mind - No one got on one knee and asked, "Would you like to host an extravagant party with me that will cost a foolish amount of money, but we need to beat our friends so we'll go ahead and spend it anyway?" You asked someone to marry you. To build a life together. To be teammates taking on the world together.

Keep your focus on the marriage and not the wedding. One of the biggest causes for divorce is financial hardship. Starting off your marriage with debt or financial burden due to a big party is a poor first step.

Listen, weddings are fun and they're a memorable day, but are not required to be a costly event. That's a decision you make together and just make it a deliberate one. If you're game for spending more than you think you should, go for it, just know what that entails. Don't let other people's weddings impact the choices you make. It's your wedding and more importantly, it's your marriage.

This is the biggest point of all and everything else stems from this one. The goal is the marriage not the wedding.

- Create a Budget - With your goal in mind, you have to then determine a budget for your wedding. After we got engaged, we asked around a bit and basically got a theme of "make a budget, then understand you're going to go over it." Which totally makes sense. You start looking at locations or menu items or whatever and you talk yourself into not letting "a few dollars here and there" getting in the way of the biggest day of your life. Like I get it, it's something that we did here and there throughout our process, but instead of making a budget that we figured we'd go over, we created a budget that we felt comfortable with and then subtracted 25%. We made that new number the "budget."We knew we'd likely not stick exactly to that number, but we made that the number we'd talk about when referring to our budget. That was the number that was highlighted on all our Google Docs related to the wedding. If you talk about something enough it becomes your reality, so our kind of made up budget became "the budget."

Due in large part to being weird wedding people, we actually stayed pretty much on our planned budget. So as we neared the end of our wedding planning we felt more comfortable going a little bigger on our honeymoon than we had originally planned.

- More People, More Money - Have a big family? Can't really help you there. We are fortunate that we both have smaller families so it helped keep our overall number of attendees down quite a bit.

Our total guest list ranged from 40 - 50 people. That also helped us in our venue search as many places were far too big for a wedding of this size. We were able to hone in on venues that could accommodate a wedding of this size. Obviously, the fewer people invited, the fewer meals that you're paying for. For us, the most expensive cost/potential cost was the food and drink per guest.

This led to us inviting our immediate family and close friends. Another great benefit of this was that we actually got some time with each of our guests. We had time to eat our meal. We had time to appreciate what we were celebrating.

Having this low number of total attendees led to us coming up with "rules" more or less for invites. We opted to not invite anyone we worked with. We knew with our numbers we were not going to be able to invite everyone we worked with so we instead opted to invite no one from work rather than a few select individuals. This also helped us avoid any hard feelings with one person in the office being invited and another not getting the invite. Perhaps it created hard feelings elsewhere, but we felt being consistent across the board was the most considerate and clear way to plan.

Also, to help shape our guest list, we thought a lot about what we wanted our wedding to be. Neither of us is particularly serious and find the grand spectacle of weddings to be a little silly. We wanted to have a fun party with those closest to us. So we invited people we thought would be fun to have around for the day.

 To create our invite list we created one master list and then broke people into the following categories -
  • Must Invite - immediate family, very close friends
  • Could Invite - friends, people from a far distance (often "very close friends," but we knew the travel could be a challenge)
  • Consider to Invite - old friends, fun people
It might be kind of cold to break people into those categories, but in having a small wedding it helped us to efficiently create our invite list.

- Open Bar or No Open Bar - One of the things we wrestled with most was over having an open bar or not. For whatever reason, I really did not like the idea of having our guests pay for drinks. It was one of those things that was a hang up for me. Then we looked at the cost of having an open bar for the entire night and the cost was and it seemed like the price was too high compared to the value. Our venue offered a few different options: a cash bar, a completely open bar, or essentially an open bar where we'd settle the bill at the end of the night.

Instead of just diving in and getting the open bar, we did a little educated guestimating to get an idea of how many drinks our guests would have over the course of the night. We determined that it was most likely that the entirely open bar would cost far more than the open bar where we settle the bill at the end of the night. That said, there was still something nerve-wracking about not knowing the cost of something that could end up being pretty significant at night's end. We talked to our awesome wedding coordinator from our venue, explained our concern and asked for her opinion. She pointed out that we could just put a cap on the Open Bar where we settle up at the end of the night option; we'd pay X amount and then once that limit was hit the bar would turn into a cash bar. We also set it up so our day-of coordinator would connect with us once we got within X% of our cap. We thought it could be kind of awkward having the bar turn into a cash bar, but were confident that either A) it wouldn't happen B) our closest friends and family wouldn't care because they're cool C) if it was close to the end of the night, we determined an amount that we were comfortable adding to that total.

We didn't even come close to the cap we set up. Our venue reimbursed us a few days after the wedding. During the cocktail hour we did a full open bar - this was when most of our guests had their drinks. Not too many guests were staying at the hotel/staying in the area so the drinking slowed down significantly after the cocktail hour with guests having between 0 and 3 drinks during the dinner.

- DIY Where You Can - A lot of articles about saving on your wedding rely on your cousin the DJ, your parents with the beach house, or your godmother the gourmet chef. The articles will just gloss over the fact that those aren't exactly typical networks, but it does point out how you can use your network when planning a wedding.

Is there someone in your family with a great home or spacious backyard? Maybe you consider getting hitched there. Your venue will likely be your biggest cost.

Do you have someone close to you who is talented in the kitchen? Maybe you tap them to try to help out.

To our knowledge, these weren't things we could look to our network for. Some of the things we took care of on our own were creating our kind of stupid, but fun for us centerpieces. We put together themed centerpieces highlighting some of our nerdier interests and using Pop! toys. These led to us being able to create themed place cards that tied back to the particular centerpiece. It allowed for a clear visual along with being something that was fun for us. We also weren't stuck trying to get people to take giant, abstract flowery things home with them and instead got to take cool Pop! toys home with us that now have sentimental value too!

Another major cost can be the bride's hair and make up. If a salon or makeup artist knows that you're there for your wedding, the cost of service somehow goes way up regardless of the requested service. Places know that you get "wedding brain" (the cousin of "vacation brain") and that most people just assume they have to dish out a lot of money for a wedding.

To get around this a bit, Doro did her own make up. She was able to purchase some higher end make up that she had been interested in, practiced a bit before the big day and then had a bunch of cool make up that was all hers after the wedding.

To take care of her hair, she went to a local salon, explained that she was going to a wedding (NOT a lie) and got her hair done the way she wanted. It was way less expensive than if she had hired someone to come and do her hair before the wedding or had gone to the salon and said it was for her wedding. The hair stylist also received a substantial tip, partly for the high quality service and partly to help us feel better about us not being the most truthful we've ever been. 

These are just a few tips that we took away from our wedding. The biggest thing, again, was keeping the goal in mind. We were doing this whole thing because we wanted to be married, not because we wanted to have a wedding. So if it's out at sea with a captain marrying you, a backyard BBQ with your coolest friend performing the ceremony, or heading down to City Hall and a diner after - it kind of doesn't matter. Figure out what makes sense for those getting married and go do that thing.