Dyson DC44 Animal Cordless Vacuum Review

This is the second time I’ve given a Dyson vacuum a try, and the second time I’ve been let down. I was so excited to move into the world of lithium ion cordless vacuums and, for $300 on sale, I expected this thing to deliver, big time.

I knew what I was getting into in terms of battery life, and I wasn’t disappointed by that. It’s also quieter than I expected and comes with a tool for pretty much every job, plus it has a washable filter. Great great and great, but that’s really where the positives end.

So let’s get into the things I really wasn’t okay with at this price.

Continue reading Dyson DC44 Animal Cordless Vacuum Review

NSD Power Spinner Gyrosopic Exerciser Review

The hand and wrist exerciser market should certainly be considered “niche”, and trying to break it into sub-categories is an exercise in futility. In turn, that makes reviewing it difficult because if you’re already considering a gyroscopic hand exerciser this may not be particularly informative. Really, then, this is more of an educational walk-through of a product you’ve maybe never heard of, with enough background information to hopefully pique your interest.

Gyroscopic wrist exercisers have been around for a long time. I know I first picked one up in high school nearly 15 years ago, and they were around long before that as well. But most people probably have no actual use for the product, or, because it’s such a small market, didn’t know such a product existed to begin with. So stay with me here, because it’s actually a pretty cool device.

Continue reading NSD Power Spinner Gyrosopic Exerciser Review

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Cookware Review (MCP-12N)

After replacing many pieces of cookware that were either warped or had a non-stick interior that was flaking off, I decided it was time to make the switch to stainless. I read a bunch of forums and reviews and watched a lot of YouTube videos regarding this choice, and was well aware that my cooking habits would have to change a bit in order to cook good food without a huge mess on this type of cookware. But after all this research, I was convinced stainless was the absolute best way to go for cookware (with the exception of a few pieces that might be better in non-stick).

If you understand the pros and cons of cooking in stainless and feel like you’d prefer it over non-stick, this Cuisinart set is the one to look at if you want something to last a lifetime.

Continue reading Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Cookware Review (MCP-12N)

P90X Home Workout Program Review

It’s hard to keep the fact that you did P90X a secret. You devote so much time and effort into the program for 13 weeks of your life that it’s hard not to discuss it with people you know, offer up advice to people who notice you’re changing, and, frankly, feel a pretty good sense of accomplishment.

That’s how I felt too, and by the end of day 91 (the final day of stretching), I was both happy to be done and ready to keep myself more fit moving forward. That’s a pretty big deal for someone who hates exercise as much as I do.

If you’re reading this you already have a pretty good idea about what P90X is and you most likely want to learn if it’s worth doing yourself by seeing how I felt about the program and whether or not I got results. The simple answer is YES. It’s worth doing and YES I got results. If you’ve got the motivation, go buy it now, work hard for 91 days, and come back and share your results.

If you’re like me and are a bit more analytical, though, you might wonder whether or not the program is a good value, and more importantly whether it’s realistically feasible for you to accomplish in terms of requirements – material, physical, time, mental, etc.

GETTING STARTED

P90X is a 140 dollar, 12 DVD at-home workout program designed to get you in great physical shape over the course of 13 weeks (actually 91 days). The program provides a calendar of which DVD routine (all led by Tony Horton) you should be doing each day as well as a nutrition guide for you to follow throughout. It includes a booklet outlining the exercises, providing details about the program, and giving you space to write down your results as you go (for fit testing and general program progression).

Before you get started, you should also consider the fact that you’ll need a set of dumbbells (adjustable dumbbells like Powerblocks are HIGHLY recommended) as well as a way to do pull-ups in your house. The dumbbells are more of a financial burden because they can cost quite a bit of money up front, so this is something to consider if you can’t get yourself a used setup somewhere. However, I’ll be using these dumbbells for the rest of my life – and they’ll likely help circumvent the need for a gym membership – so it’s still worth it to get a nice set.

You should also consider where you’ll be doing pull-ups. Do you have a door near the TV you’ll use for the program? Is your door a width that can support a removable bar like the Iron Gym? My doors are too wide so I had to mount an old-school pull-up bar in my door frame which was a real pain, plus I find it less comfortable to use. I have a buddy who has to walk half-way down a hallway behind is TV to get to a door he can use. I know other people still who don’t have a doorway nearby at all. Between the dumbbells, the pull-up bar, and the program itself, the initial investment can be close to $500, so keep that in mind.

There’s also some optional equipment you can use like push-up stands (I have Perfect Pushups) and a yoga block (which I liked having around even though I didn’t really need it). You can even get some resistance bands to replace your pull-up bar and/or dumbbells, but I absolutely wouldn’t recommend this unless you need to work out while traveling.

Last but not least, Beachbody (the company who makes P90X) is going to try and up-sell you on a bunch of other equipment and supplements. Don’t pay for their overpriced stuff, but do consider buying some protein powder (like ON Gold Standard) that you can drink with milk, because you’ll want to boost your protein intake during the program.

THE PROGRAM

P90X is broken down into three “months” (4/4/5 weeks each). The first and second month has you doing 3 weeks of resistance/aerobic routines followed by a “rest” week which cuts out the resistance component. Month three is four weeks of resistance/aerobic routines before your rest week (and final week of the program).

During the infomercials for P90X, Beachbody talks a lot about “muscle confusion” and how it’s a good idea to switch up your routines so your muscles don’t get used to the same exercises and start seeing diminishing returns. What’s weird, though, is that the only difference between months is the swapping of two upper body routines for two others. This means that the weekly routine is identical for the other 5 days a week for all 3 months (with the exception of the rest weeks, but all 3 rest weeks are identical as well). Not really a lot of muscle confusion if you ask me. I’d love to have seen more variety throughout the program.

The routines themselves have a good bit of variety and many exercises which I’d never done before. The first month was the most “exciting” because I was curious to see what else I’d be doing. One thing I did learn, though, was that Yoga X sucks. It’s 91 minutes of slow movements set to new-age music. And some of the movements are just brutal. Between roughly 45 and 60 minutes on the countdown clock you’ll be like “oh dear lord please let’s get on to the second half”.

I also wasn’t a fan of Kenpo X despite its higher-energy pace. I didn’t feel like it did much in terms of challenging any of my muscles but instead just made me feel like a big dork. I usually wouldn’t consider myself a self-conscious person, but kicking and punching by myself in my living room just didn’t do it for me. Close your blinds for this one, folks.

The rest of the routines were fine and provided a good variety of challenging moves without ever feeling impossible. Plyo X is especially tough for the first month or two and good luck finishing Ab Ripper in its entirety if you haven’t worked on your abs much before. Also, be prepared to do a lot of push-ups…and pull-ups.

With all that said, the second primary component of the program is the eating plan. I’ll throw it out there right away: I did not follow it to a “T”; not even close. Why? Because I don’t really believe in diets. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to alter my eating in a way where it not only becomes healthier but it’s also realistically sustainable for a lifetime. Am I going to be realistically buying all the ingredients to make myself a breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of my life? Absolutely not. Call me lazy, but it’s just not going to happen. Similarly, there’s no way I’ll be getting enough vegetables at every mean. It’s simply not going to happen, and I’d rather be teaching myself good lifelong eating habits (more on that in a second).

The plan that comes with P90X, by the way, is one that I find convoluted and far more complicated than it should be. There are a bunch of ingredients required for every meal of every day, and the entire layout of the plan with its multiple phases and fat-burn zones and whatnots is just ridiculous. The time it would take to follow this meal plan exactly would easily double the amount of time you’re spending doing P90X-related “stuff” – maybe even more!

If you want a simple meal plan that’s easier to follow, I found the one included with Insanity MUCH easier. You just pick any of their breakfast, lunch, and dinner options each day, and use their snack guide. You don’t have to worry as much about “what do I need to eat on X day?” stuff, and each of the meals tend to use significantly fewer ingredients.

Instead of a meal plan, though, I’ve worked on my eating habits in general. One of the best things I ever did was start picking up books from the “Eat This, Not That!” series. I know it sounds corny, but it has really helped me understand how nasty a lot of stuff I was eating was for my body and provide a lot of good suggestions for alternatives. For example, I tend to avoid creamy dressings and mayonnaise-based stuff now and I save a ton of calories and fat from that.

I’ve also learned that if you make your own creamy sauces using plain, non-fat Greek yogurt as a base, you’ll have a low-fat (or non-fat), high protein sauce that’s actually good for you. And if you mix together the right stuff, it still tastes awesome! Making smarter choices like that seems a lot more sustainable than living my life on a diet plan or eating tons and tons of vegetables (which I hate, but I try and force myself as much as possible). So for me, the “Eat This, Not That!” diet is what’s worked best so far. Give it a try!

RESULTS AND COMPARISON

I do a bit of comparison to other programs in my video review as well, but what you need to know is this: P90X is really effective. You will put in more overall effort between the workouts and the eating plan than you will with the other routines I’ve completed (specifically Insanity and Supreme 90 Day), but you will most likely get better results. Remember that this routine does require a set of dumbbells and a pull-up bar, though, so it might not be a good fit for someone who needs to travel away from home in those 91 days (unless you go the band route). Insanity would be a better program for traveling, but also won’t get you the same level of muscle definition (it’s more cardio and core). Or, if you’re on a tight budget with both money and time, Supreme 90 Day (less than $15 for the program itself and only requires dumbbells and a stability ball for equipment) is the cheapest program with the shortest average routine length (around 35 minutes).

So did P90X work well for me? The answer to that is absolutely. Don’t be so surprised – I’ve never put this much effort to any sort of workout program in my life, so it’d be a shame if it didn’t. Take a look at my video to get just one example of my results. After finishing day 91, there was no question I was in the best shape of my life. Chances are you will be too.

Was it easy? No, not at all. Working out at home really just makes it more convenient than going to the gym because you don’t have to drive there and back, you don’t care what you look or smell like, and you have all the amenities of home while you work out. But with that said, you still need a solid level of motivation to complete this. Day 1 is hard. Your body will hurt. Your body will hurt continuously for the better part of the first month if you’re really putting in your all. Then suddenly, it all becomes routine. You get used to working out each day and eventually it just works into your routine and becomes less of an “event” each time you have to work out. Well, except for Yoga X. There was a lot of procrastination on Yoga X days that led to a few 1 AM workouts.

If the advantages of working out at home are enough to keep you motivated through 91 days of tough workouts, then you should definitely get (and complete!) this program. It’s $140 well spent if it gets you in the best shape of your life.

If you found my review helpful and wish to purchase P90X or any of the aforementioned workout paraphernalia from Amazon, please click here to buy P90X, click here to buy Insanity, or click here to buy Supreme 90 Day. Also, you can pick up some Powerblocks here, pick up a pull-up bar here, or pick up a cheaper alternative to Beachbody’s recovery drink right here.

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Griffin Reveal for iPad / Incase Convertible Magazine Jacket Review

I probably would not have spent my own money on an iPad, but I certainly didn’t mind getting one as a gift for Christmas. Once I did, one of the things I wanted to do right away was get a case on it that protected (at least) the back and edges. That aluminum finish is just too sexy to mess up.

[click here to read entire review]

Filco Majestouch and XArmor U9BL-S Review and Comparison

If you don’t know what a mechanical keyboard is, stop reading now; surely you won’t understand why anyone would spend upwards of $150 on something you can get at any local Wal-Mart for $9.99. Google “mechanical keyboard” and you’ll find a plethora of information to help you better understand the advantages. The truth is, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t appreciate a mech keyboard unless you’re a pretty big nerd. And I am.

So much so, in fact, that I had a pair of keyboards worth around $300 sitting next to each other just dying to go head to head: the Filco Majestouch 104 NKRO Cherry MX Brown and the XArmor U9BL-S (also Cherry MX Brown).

[click here to read entire review]

Powerblock Sport 5.* Stage II Kit

The Powerblock Sport 5.0 (or 5.5) Stage II Kit is a little bit of a unicorn. Look for it on the Powerblock site and you won’t find it. Call Powerblock and — so I am told — they will tell you the only upgrade available for these blocks is the heavier core for $150.

Well some time earlier this year, in the February/March time frame, someone mentioned these to me as a comment on YouTube. I had not heard of this kit before, so I checked it out, and lo and behold, it was on clearance sale direct from Powerblock for $79! I immediately called up my local dealer (the same one I had used to buy the blocks) to see if they could order them for me (and save me the cost of shipping). Fast forward about three weeks, and now my Sport 5.5s go up to about 80ish pounds. Awesome!

[click here to read entire review]

Gobblet Classic Edition Board Game Review

I’d never played Gobblet before, but the “Deluxe Limited Edition” looked “classy” in pictures and the game itself sounded interesting. I figured I could leave it out on a coffee table, since it’s easy for two people to pick up and play — much more accessible than Chess. Now that I own it, I wouldn’t suggest buying this game thinking you are getting a super-high quality, well-built, classy toy. I was very disappointed in the build quality.

[click here to read entire review]

Timbuk2 D-Lux Laptop Messenger Bag (Small) Review

Anyone who is familiar with the Timbuk2 brand and the familiar “whimsical spiral” logo know that they make good, quality products. Some people may find them a bit too “casual” for many applications, though. I, however, like that touch of “casual”, even in my business life, which is why I decided to head back to Timbuk2 after having a much more boring and “corporate” bag for my computer before. I did have a Timbuk2 model a few years back that I didn’t really love, mostly because it lacked in the pocket department — both the number of pockets and the shape of those that were present.

[click here to read entire review]