01 January 2018

The Decisive Dozen - 12 Habits to Conquer the New Year

The year 2017 is closed out, done, over, ended. 2018 welcomed me warmly with my beautiful 4 y/o daughter choosing to express herself through a full gamut of emotions. Flailing arms, tears, and a cacophony of disagreement captured in piercing screams and rebelling no’s, all at four hours past midnight. At least I was up early, and not confronted with a hangover reminder of last night’s escapades – no offense, or judgment for that matter.

In typical New Year fashion, along with the rest of the goal-setting Resolution Army, it is standard practice for me to outline some objectives. Usually, I look back and reflect upon the highs and lows of the previous year while capturing lessons learned. Then I do my best to not repeat my past year failings. But I’m not going to do that. I mean, I’m going to try and not repeat mistakes I’m just not making a lessons learned list. I have instead purposed a list outlining key mindsets and habits to focus my attention on as we embrace the coming months.

I am sharing them here to encourage, help, guide and lead anyone else who is also seeking to continuously learn, grow, and improve. The list stems from the concept of “sowing and reaping” and my adopted outlook on how to be effective in life.

Note: Here is a bit of Wisdom to help you start your new year. To be effective in life, first and foremost determine a focus. Identify and prioritize the most important things and work towards them. After establishing a focus, develop rhythm by instituting the keystone activities that allow you to function best. Lastly, maintain balance. Find and practice healthy ways to remain at rest and peace. 

The Decisive Dozen (in no particular order):

1. Maintain a pocket notebook. Planning, scheduling, capturing ideas, jotting reflective thoughts, building lists, recording training, logging important information, whatever your needs, having a method for immediately storing pertinent information is paramount. I have been a proponent of using the “notes app” on my Smartphone. However, I noticed that I have a habit of deleting notes prematurely, and often after writing a note I will get wrapped up messing around on my phone with no purpose, a total waste of time.

2. Sleep has to be a priority. Everyone is finally starting to realize just how important sleep is for recovery, performance, mental health and wellbeing, stress mitigation, and optimal function. Yet, it’s still ridiculously hard to prioritize sleep, especially with multiple children, work commutes, career responsibilities, fluctuating schedules, evening extra-curricular activities, etc. Try to counter some of these life obstacles to healthy sleep with these three habits: set realistic but non-negotiable wake and bet times, DO NOT PERMIT screen use two hours before bed, and get-up as soon as you wake up!  

3. Read real books. Moving forward an overarching theme for me is going to revolve around grossly reducing reliance on technology. One way I have found success in decreasing my exposure to screens is by returning to a healthy habit of reading for pleasure, finding manuals or guides to improve or build upon skill sets, and reading books to my children every night. There is something grounding in setting aside time to read, focus, and actually finish something you start. 

4. Drink tea. Hanging out in coffee shops is pretty hip – I get it. Like posting up at your local watering hole, the environment dictates that you also imbibe the local brew. Coffee, espresso, caffe latte, breve, crème, con panna, cappuccino, Americano, macchiato, café au lait – what in the world! Besides requiring the majority of small bills in your pocket fold, anything that complicated should be reassessed. Tea on the other hand is steeped (get-it) in long standing tradition. There is something to be said for the patience required to allow the tea to set before you can sip. Its cheaper, travels well, can be medicinal, is user-friendly, and accessible, need I say more. 

5. Foster a spirit of gentleness, mindfulness, and patience. Expectation often determines our attitude, perspective, and reaction to the majority of life circumstance. Most of the time unmet expectation unfolds in the opposite responses of impatience, aggressiveness, and disconnection. There will always be situations that test our patience, distractions that fight to destroy our focus, and people that challenge our ability to respond out of love. This is a fact. Nevertheless, we get to choose, every single time, how we respond. By making a habit of practicing gentleness, mindfulness, and patience in all areas of our life we are more inclined to revert to these attributes when it counts.  

6. Sustain recognition. Recognition is an incredibly powerful tool. Recognition is the forerunner to awareness. I invite you to recognize:
  • The importance of “the process”
  • The end goal or objective of what you are trying to achieve
  • People as people
  • Other peoples’ trials
  • What you “can do” over what you should or have to do
7. Sow seeds. Start now. Invest – time, money, energy, sacrifice, hard work, all of it. Build community. Be there for friends when they need you. Lend a hand when you see someone struggling. Be kind continuously, deserved or not. Listen. Save. Encourage others. Pay a compliment. Buy someone a coffee or tea (see above). Be selfless. Read books. Try something new. Do something you’ve been afraid to do. Be courageous. You reap what you sow – this is a truth. Sow accordingly.

8. Build healthy relationship. Life is not about accomplishment rather it revolves around relationship. The things we do merely serve as a platform to allow us to connect with others. So plug into the communities you have around you. Share yourself, be open, and be receptive. Encourage others by sharing the good in you. Have friends over for dinner. Tackle projects, adventures, or traditions together. Laugh together. Cry together. Pray for each other. Be present.  

9. Practice gratitude. An attitude of gratitude overcomes adversity. Take your thoughts captive and center them on thanksgiving. Your fears, worries, and anxieties will have no place in you.  

10. Limit technology. I enjoy the convenience of rapid access information. But content without context, addiction to social media pseudo-affirmation, and information overload that induces paralysis by analysis is absolutely unhealthy. Technology is a tool and should be respected as such and treated within the confines of user safety, with set parameters. When the creators of tech and apps are limiting their personal use and sending their kids to high-end schools that ban and restrict children’s use of tablets, Smartphones, and classroom screen time, that speaks volumes to the level damage these devices are wreaking upon our little ones’ development. Think about it.

11. Be outside more. For two years now I have found nothing but peace and a renewed presence when, immediately upon waking, taking a walk outside. No matter the weather, hot or cold, pitch black, precipitating or what have you, each elemental factor serves to ground me in the moment. Furthermore, I have had the privilege of initiating a quarterly outdoor adventure with the guys I work with, camping, backpacking, endurance hikes, etc. Being in nature refreshes the spirit, provides rest from the world, and tests resilience.  However, if you’re not up for tackling the wild, simply spend sometime outside on walk, throwing or kicking a ball around, soaking up some sun or a fresh bite of brisk winter air, or take your workout outdoors.    

12. Protect your downtime. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but if I’m being honest I have an underlying desire to be awesome at everything! This is difficult because at 5’8” I’ll never be awesome at reaching things on high shelves or being a man since my buddy claims you have to be 6 foot and over 200lbs to be a man. Nevertheless, I find that it is not easy to run in a hundred different directions like I tell myself I need to, in order to keep up with my own and self-perceived expectations of others. This grossly drains any semblance of free time or rather downtime to just “be” and “rest.” Fortunately, I have begun to mature over the years. I recognize the value in letting go of this ridiculous drive, and instead allow time to recoup, refresh, reflect, decompress, and grow by “being”, instead of “doing.” No one will give this time to you, as everyone else is running the same race. You need to proactively take the time and protect it – it’s worth it.  

16 February 2017


Strength Endurance
Complete as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of:
5x Strict pull-ups
10x Push-ups
20x Pistol squats, alternating
10x Ring rows
5x Ring dips

Note: Movement integrity, applied consistently, tested with intensity! Never sacrifice range of motion or correct form for faster times or more reps, NEVER! Protect yourself now, and later you will thank yourself.

15 February 2017


Every minute on the minute for 20 minutes:
Odd minutes - 20x Lateral hurdle jumps over a 24 in obstacle
Even minutes - 60yd Pro shuttle drill

Note: Use a box, wall, actual hurdle, or any other obstacle roughly two feet high and laterally jump back and forth over it during the odd minutes. Be explosive and minimize ground contact, try to rebound immediately as your feet touch. For the 60yd Pro shuttle drill set up 4 cones with the first as your starting point, the second 5 yards out, the third 10 yards out, and the fourth 15 yards out. To complete the drill sprint from the start to the second cone, then back peddle to the first cone, sprint to the third cone, the again back peddle to the start, sprint to the fourth cone, and then finally back pedal to the start. Be fast, be explosive, be more than a gym rat!

13 February 2017


Work Capacity
3 Rounds:
200m Farmer walk w/75# dumbbells < each hand*
5x Tire flips heavy

*If unable to complete 200m unbroken, you incur a 20x burpee pull-up penalty.

Note: Each farmer walk MUST be completed unbroken, if you fail to complete the distance without putting the weights down you will incur a penalty that will be added on to the end of the training! Use a tire that is challenging to flip one time, then dig deep and get through it. As always train safe and know your own limits, but do not shy away from "difficult." At the end of the session complete any burpee pull-ups incurred (total should not exceed 60x).

Thought to contemplate:
Instead of daydreaming or fantasizing about what it would be like to (fill in the blank) - TRAIN.
Instead of proclaiming through words or social media posts - BE.
Instead of dwelling on could have, should have, and would have - ACT.

12 February 2017


5 Rounds:
5x Single leg RDL w/dumbbells, each leg
5x Bulgarian split squat each leg, as heavy as possible
8x DB row each arm, as heavy as possible
20x Standing barbell Russian twist, 45lbs

Note: I am becoming more of a proponent for unilateral training. It could be argued, that the barbell is the single greatest tool for scalability in strength applications. However, there are many disadvantages that stem from its sole use in a long-term training program. Weakness and imbalance between the opposing sides of the body may be masked when using a barbell, as the dominant half of the body makes up the difference. Furthermore, the opportunity to experience a heavy load that is dynamic and shifting is never experienced. This highlights the importance of never becoming attached to one tool, or one training methodology. There is something to be learned and gained from every new challenge. Remember challenge does not just come in the form of adding resistance to stale movement patterns that are never evolving.

09 February 2017


Work Capacity
Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes:
1x 20ft rope climb
10x Overhead squats w/50% bodyweight
1x 20ft rope climb
10x Front squats w/bodyweight
1x 20ft rope climb
400m Run

Note: Climbing a rope is a life skill, use each rep as an opportunity to refine your skill. Consider challenging yourself with no feet on the first climb each round, or all reps depending on your skill level. The loading on the squats should be manageable. As the volume accumulates hold yourself accountable to solid form. Get after it on the run!

08 February 2017


6 Rounds for time:
1 minute treading water no hands
100m swim

Note: Just a little work on our swim skills today. Depending on your level of ability treading water, with out hands may be devastating or ridiculously easy. If it is far beyond your ability tread water for the full duration, but alternate eliminating one hand every so often. If no hand treading is simplistic then grab a weight off the bottom of the pool each set and egg-beat your little heart out, this way increasing intensity is limitless. As soon as a minute has passed take off in a sprint for the 100m. Enjoy this break from the gym.

06 February 2017


Work Capacity
5 Rounds:
100ft Car push as fast as possible
100x Double-unders
Rest 1 minute

Note: Fun one today and a lung burner. It doesn't seem like much, but then your legs start burning, your lungs seem to crave oxygen, and then you need to compose yourself so you can deftly negotiate the jump rope. Enjoy!


2x Hang full cleans AHAP

For time with a partner:
100x Stone-to-shoulder AHAP

Note: Warm-up to a solid working weight at about 85% of your 1RM for the hang clean. For the stone to shoulders switch back and forth with your partner every two reps, alternate shoulders every rep. This is for time so move with purpose. The heavier the stone the more purposeful and deliberate your rest should be to allow for safe lifting. Good old fashion work!

02 February 2017


Every minute on the minute for 20 minutes complete the following:
Odd minutes: 1x Turkish get-up each arm, as heavy as possible
Even minutes: 30sec side plank each side

Note: Finishing the week with some total body stability and midline stabilization. Concentrate on your form on the TGU. Punch your fist into the sky with your wrist locked in (not flopped back and disengaged). Open your hips and bridge all the way on the ascent AND the descent. Eyes remain fixated on the kettlebell during the movement. Enjoy your weekend, be safe!