The Able Easy Button

Biohacks to Try Today
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The Able Easy Button

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It’s tempting to try a new, restrictive diet to reach a goal weight, but you know where that road leads! Either you can’t stick to the diet or the results don’t last. 

That’s why we created Able, a personalized program that adjusts to your lifestyle and addresses the needs of your body and mind in reaching your happy weight. It’s this comprehensive approach, centered on losing weight through behavior change and one-on-one coaching, that makes Able work for you in the long run. 

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But what can you do now to lose weight faster? There’s no magic elixir, but there are a few shortcuts you can try today! Read on to learn some tried and true biohacks techniques you can try now to speed up your journey to health and happiness. 

For starters, did you know?

Soon you’ll be seeing progress in your own data in the app and applauding your victories. After all, self-monitoring is correlated with successful weight loss. 

But until then, devour these biohacks to suit your lifestyle, body, and mind and get a glimpse of your goals today.

CHAPTER 1

Nourish your body

Is your food giving to you or taking from you?

Choosing what to eat is not about sticking to a particular diet. It’s about eating foods that benefit you rather than harm you. Put another way, you may not be able to follow a diet 100 percent of the time, but you can always pick the best food option available.

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How do you make the best choice? 

Think about the net loss or gain of your food choice. While an artichoke provides great nutrients, their benefit may be canceled out if the artichoke comes in deep-fried batter. In this example we would challenge you not to deprive yourself of fun options, but rather to find a way to enjoy the artichoke in a way that has more upside than downside for your body. 

Pick foods you like to eat

We stay away from diets because they’re too hard to follow long-term. Similarly, obsessing about the exact nutrition of every food item is too time-consuming and unnecessary for improving your health and reaching your weight goals. 

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So if you have food sensitivities, allergies or preferences for vegetarianism, veganism or keto, there are foods that will get you where you want to go. For example, nuts and seeds are tasty and even dark chocolate can boost your mental health! Not all foods get our green light however.. 

The cons of sugar outweigh the pros

Did you know that fruits and vegetables contain sugar naturally? Processed sugar isn’t a substance our bodies need. 

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In fact, sugar is more like cigarettes–an addictive drug that releases dopamine in your brain, which makes you feel excited. As you consume sugar, you need more and more to get the same effect. This is a problem because eating more added sugar increases your likelihood of having life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. 

On a more superficial note, added sugar causes inflammation, which means it speeds up the aging process. Sounds more bitter than sweet to me! The question to ask yourself is, are you controlling your added sugar intake or is sugar controlling you?

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Similarly, avoid eating carbs such as bagels, bread, pasta (anything with flour) and rice on an empty stomach because they will get digested quickly and spike your blood sugar. Such spikes increase inflammation and the risk of serious illnesses. As a hack, you can decrease blood sugar spikes by drinking one tablespoon of vinegar (for example apple cider vinegar) in a glass of water. 

Spot sugar by its different names

You may know that high fructose corn syrup is worse for you than honey, but it's best to keep things simple and avoid added sweeteners altogether. 

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That means saying no to foods with agave nectar, aspartame, dextrose, fructose and even honey near the top of the ingredient list on their nutrition label. While some forms may be less harmful than others, they can all cause you to feel craving for more added sugar. 

Say yes to plants

Do you like smoothies or stir fry? You know what tastes great in both? Plants with green leaves. I’m not talking about superfoods. No offense to the kale lovers out there, but have you tried swiss chard or beet greens? These foods have high nutritional value. That’s a net positive for your body!

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The more colorful the plants you choose, the better. Think about the brightness of a red cabbage, a purple eggplant, or dazzling blueberry. And here’s a shout out to the avocado–that bright green phenom providing a fabulous convo of fiber and fat to help with digestion and energy. 

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Get real with fruit

When it comes to fruit, make sure you’re eating the fruit itself and not the juice. Take a bit of a real apple because the texture in that bite is fiber, which helps to slow down blood sugar absorption. Slowing that absorption process prevents spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, which can be damaging to the body, mood and energy. What’s worse, high blood sugar levels can lead to an increase in inflammation and an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. 

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So go for the fruit you need to bite, and better yet, pair it with good fats or proteins to further prevent spikes in blood sugar. For example, try that mango with unsweetened greek or coconut milk yogurt, nuts or seeds.

Don’t forget fats

Contrary to common belief in the 80s and 90s, eating fats such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado, or grass-fed butter or ghee with each meal benefits your body. These ‘good” fats help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from the vegetables you eat and also help curb cravings and improve your mood!

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So try starting your day with good fats and protein such as eggs or smoked salmon with avocado. Choose this over carb-heavy or sweet breakfasts like waffles and maple syrup to–you guessed it–prevent those blood sugar spikes that can lead to inflammation. Steadying your glucose levels for the day with these fats means fewer cravings, more energy, and more fat loss (rather than fat storage).

Now let’s talk about the protein you pair with those good fats.

Up your protein intake

Protein provides a slow energy release, helping us power through our day and recover physically. In fact, we recommend consuming protein and carbs in a one-to-one ratio. For example, have three ounces of meat with three ounces of rice. For vegetarian protein sources, double the protein. For example, eat 6 ounces of edamame with three ounces of rice.

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How protein is treated matters

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Why should you care where your meat comes from or what processes it went through? This isn’t about your conscience. It turns out, these details make a difference to your body. For starters,

And speaking of stress, the next section explores what you can do today to stay in optimal mental shape.

CHAPTER 2

Feed your mind

Your brain takes up 20 percent of the calories you consume, so what you eat affects your mental health. Eating healthier makes it easier for your brain to make new connections during your entire life. 

Use nutrition to feel better

Medication has been known to help people suffering from persistent low mood and low energy, but it doesn’t work well alone and it doesn’t work for everybody. Talk therapy, diet and exercise make a difference. In fact, what you eat can change your genome!

For example, eating omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish can increase the size of your hippocampus, helping you manage emotional reactions. And speaking of fat, eating more good fat in general–such as grass-fed butter or ghee–can improve your ability to think quickly. 

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Foods that are rich in carbs and trans fats, such as perogies and ham croissants, lead to inflammation in the body, playing a role in depression. They also counteract the benefits of probiotic foods we’ve mentioned before, such as yogurt with live cultures. The colorful foods identified earlier in this ebook have the opposite effect of the pierogi; they decrease inflammation. 

Your gut wants you to be happier

Let’s talk a bit more about the previously mentioned proteins and fermented foods. They also keep the connection between your gut and your brain strong, ensuring that signals of fullness get through. Without a strong gut-brain connection, you’ll act from a place of fear and exhibit lower cognitive performance. In fact, studies correlate a lack of microbiome diversity with more serious symptoms of depression. 

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We’ve talked about veggies and fermented foods so let’s add another layer of gut-loving goodness with starches. Another way to ensure a healthy mind-gut connection is to consume starches such as sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins. This is because, unlike some other foods, these starches remain intact when they enter your colon. And your colon benefits from their helpful bacteria.

Beware of BPA

Unfortunately plastic particles also remain intact when they enter our bodies. When we handles items such as single-use plastic bottles, to-go containers, tea bags and tupperware, we risk negatively impacting our hormones. And hormones change our behavior. Some plastic containers contain a chemical known as BPA, which has been correlated with increased risk of early puberty, infertility, diabetes and even cancer. 

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To avoid unnecessary exposure to plastics, choose paper tea bads, glass and steel containers. This way, you’re also preventing plastics from ending up in the ocean as well as in the food you eat every day. 

Happiness comes from “all of the above”

What you eat is important, but it isn’t everything.

When it comes to increasing happiness, there’s no substitute for cultivating active social relationships, making time for what matters to you and practicing an attitude of gratitude. 

Connect with yourself to connect better with others

Did you know that the number one determinant of a successful romantic relationship is not how well-off your partner is or even how they communicate, but how satisfied they are with themselves and their life prior to forming the relationship? It makes sense, considering that the only person you can really change is you. 

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In other words, happier people form better friendships and partnerships. And you’ve taken a great first step in taking care of your body and mind, putting you in a great position to develop and improve relationships that will take your happiness to the next level. 

In fact, the weight of those around you correlates more highly with your own weight than your parents’ weight does. So take care of yourself, invite others to activities you already enjoy and be generous with others–in that order!

Express thanks here and now

Depending on the study you read, it takes anywhere from three to 10 positive actions or thoughts to offset negative actions or thoughts. That sounds like a ton of work on positivity! And we certainly wouldn’t suggest that you pretend to be someone you’re not. 

We all have negative thoughts, including about our bodies, our eating habits and how we think. Our negative responses are natural holdovers from a history in which fear protected us from real mortal danger before the agricultural and industrial revolutions. 

Identifying what is beneficial in our lives and what we have in common with others is a great way to counteract the negativity that naturally arises in our daily lives. Similarly, appreciating someone for something can instantly lift our mood. 

This is because identifying these positives focuses our mind on what’s working in the present moment. We’re reminded that in this instant, we have enough physical and emotional safety.

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Practicing meditation or simple mindfulness–noticing your inner state and surroundings without judgment in the present moment–is proven to improve our response to negative stimuli and increase life satisfaction. One way to practice mindfulness is by concentrating on your breathing. For example, you can boost your mood and decrease stress by breathing in, holding your breath and exhaling over and over again in roughly equal time increments. You can also try sighing–taking a deep inhale through your nose and releasing all the air in your lungs through your mouth. 

Do what gives you energy

Increasing happiness doesn’t require drastic life change. Instead of selling your belongings and moving to a desert island, try approaching your current life in a different way. 

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You may not have a vacation planned next week but can you go outside? Sunlight is proven to spur production of hormones that cause us to feel happy. And sunlight is one of the ways you can get vitamin D, which helps with blood sugar regulation. Combining sunlight with greenery is even better. Do you have a green space nearby? Try “forest bathing” and notice your heart rate drop and your tension leave. 

And, contrary to what you might think, taking those steps outdoors will actually boost your energy rather than tire you out. Taking even a two-minute walk can leave you feeling more energized. So what are you waiting for? You can even up your game by putting an outdoor adventure on your to-list and crossing it off when you’re done, contributing to that euphoric sense of accomplishment. 

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While exercise isn’t necessary for weight loss, it can boost your mental health. We’ll talk more about movement in the lifestyle section of this ebook.

CHAPTER 3

Small lifestyle tweaks create lasting result

Sustainable change isn’t sudden. Turning down a donut today won’t guarantee you longevity, but countless doable decisions like that one add up to big results that you benefit from for a lifetime. 

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In this section, we’ll move beyond the brain and body and into the realm of daily habit. They say the only form of permanence is repetition. So goes your routine when it comes to its impact on sustained health. 

And just as with your food choices, your lifestyle choices can even have an impact on your genes! Even if you have a genetic predisposition for a health condition, healthy lifestyle changes decrease your risk. Let’s take a look and the most impactful tweaks to try today. 

Movement matters more than exercise

Do you sit at a desk all day? Do you unwind by sitting in front of the television? We hate to scare you, but adults who spend the majority of their days seated have a mortality rate that is 50 percent higher! And an hour at the gym every day or a jog outside doesn’t cancel out all that sitting. On a more superficial note, sitting also lowers the rate at which you burn calories. 

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So what can you do?

Moving food through your body

To optimize your digestive system, the order in which you eat different parts of your meal matters. For the best results, eat your fiber first, your good fats and protein next, and carbs last. For example, have your roast vegetables, then your salmon with avocado, then your sweet potato. 

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And here’s another way to smooth out blood sugar levels: Contract your muscles after a meal. Try walking for 10 minutes and see how your digestion improves. 

But what about at night when we’re not moving at all? How does it affect the big picture?

Sleep is a game changer

Have you ever pulled an all-nighter to get something done? Or listened to a friend or colleague brag about the incredible time they had or how productive they were when they stayed up till 4am? 

You rarely hear about the next day when they exhibited less mental acuity, had less willpower to eat healthy foods and made poorer decisions overall. 

Losing sleep harms your mental state more than you might think. For example if you lose a fifth of your night of sleep, you lose a whole third of your mental alertness! Scientists have even observed the impact of poor sleep on expression of your genes!

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Sleeping well isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary, top performers average over 8.5 hours of sleep a night. And people who sleep efficiently are less likely to develop the common cold. 

An overnight reset

When and what we eat can interfere with our sleep. Experiment with having your dinner further away from your bedtime, which can help you sleep better. Similarly, allocating more carbohydrates to dinner than to breakfast or lunch can contribute to a deeper sleep. 

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Refraining from eating altogether surrounding your sleep can also yield benefits. For example, try finishing dinner by 7pm and having breakfast after 7am. The result will be the same with 8pm and 8am respectively. This 12-hour reset can reduce inflammation, thereby lowering your risk of ailments such as heart disease. In the nearer term, this reset can reduce your cravings and improve your sleep. 

Get your Rapid Eye Movement (REM)

Just because you lie in bed doesn’t mean you’re getting the sleep your body and mind need to function well. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, occurs naturally in your body, but is signaled to release in the evening once the sun sets and evening falls. 

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This is why avoiding blue light from screens, creating darkness around you and avoiding distractions (even a restless puppy in your bed) can help you to sleep better. The stage of sleep called REM helps you process thoughts and difficult events. To ensure you get enough REM, 

Careful with caffeine

Your body needs 6-8 hours to get rid of half the amount of caffeine you consume. This means that the espresso you have after dinner may well be affecting the amount of REM sleep that you get. 

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That’s why we recommend avoiding caffeine consumption after 12pm. And we’re not just talking about coffee. Did you know that chocolate has caffeine too?! Adjust your consumption according to your best sleep-wake cycle.

The right way is what’s right for you

A mountain of conflicting guidance overwhelms us on the internet. With this information overload, change is hard. Picking a path and sticking to it appears daunting. That’s why tailoring your action plan to what’s doable for you is the only way to set yourself up for long-term success. 

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If you’re eager to start, you can narrow your focus by writing down your top three concerns related to your well-being along with some options you’ve discovered in this ebook that you are willing to try. 

And remember to be compassionate with yourself. It’s not easy to eat differently after over a decade in your parents’ “clean plate” club. And your standing desk may not arrive tomorrow. So just focus on what interests you and what you can do right now. Think of it as an experiment. You’re trying out some actions, you’ll make a note of what works and continue building upon that.

CHAPTER 4

To improve it, measure it

Let’s face it. If you’ve received a wake up call regarding your weight and well-being, chances are that doing whatever you feel like doing hasn’t been working out so well for you. Is this a failure of intuition? Why can’t you trust your gut and go from there? 

In previous sections of this ebook we’ve extolled the benefits of getting in touch with your body and your mind in the here and now. And we’ve suggested foods to improve your mind-gut connection. When it comes to trusting your gut to make decisions, however, we’re steering in a different direction.

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As it turns out, intuition cannot be trusted to make the best decisions. Rather, intuition can be trusted to make us feel good about the decisions we make. Did you get that? You may make a decision using your intuition and feel relief about having relied on it, but that doesn’t mean it was actually the right decision for your health or well-being–especially in the long-term. 

So what do you do? Continue practicing mindfulness and exploring the why behind your past decisions and today’s craving. On top of this, objectively monitor what’s going on. 

Self-monitor for better outcomes

Dozens of studies show the link between successful, sustained weight loss and monitoring of eating patterns and behaviors. Whether study participants used paper diaries or mobile apps like Able, the act of recording health factors such as foods consumed, exercise, mood and water consumption had a positive impact on weight. Why? 

We may say that we are aware of what we are eating and how we are moving or sleeping, but until we make a conscious note of it on a regular basis, we are making assumptions about what is going on. And we are relying on intuition to “feel good” (in most cases reinforcing currently held beliefs) about our current choices. 

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Chronicling our current state breaks this cycle of assumption and allows us to see what the real problems are. Perhaps more importantly, documenting what we do shows us our progress toward our goals, delivering the emotional benefit we need to stay motivated. 

Compounding the positive effects of self-monitoring, information easily obtained from online tools and trackers can be shared with your coach and your community so you can enjoy even greater reinforcement for choices that support your best self.

CHAPTER 5

A lifetime of daily decisions

We hope that this ebook has brought you closer to demystifying the connection between your body and your mind, showing you strategies you can try today to feel great in your own skin. The suggestions for what you eat and how you adjust your lifestyle are simple, from eating more protein and leafy greens to getting quality sleep. 

We keep these recommendations simple because simple is doable, but more importantly, the simplest suggestions are the right ones for lasting overall health. As you experiment with these changes in your daily life, remember that the biggest rewards come from today’s smaller strides. Cheers to you and your journey to optimal health and wellness!

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