What You Should Know Before Starting a Keto Diet


A ketogenic diet means that most of your calories are coming from fat, you are eating a moderate amount of protein, and keeping carbs low – around 50 grams net carbs. In my opinion, when done correctly this type of diet is best for controlling and preventing chronic disease – most notably diabetes and obesity – and can make you feel awesome!

Note: I advocate for a little more protein and a little more carbs than the traditional hardcore ketogenic diet (i.e. carbs under 20 grams) and I am a proponent of a cyclical ketogenic diet which means carb refeeding 1-2 days per week – more on this below and in a future post.



Here are some things to know before starting a ketogenic diet:

1. You need to increase your salt intake


When you are in ketosis your body will rapidly be shedding electrolytes, most notably sodium, from your kidneys. Unless you have a medical condition by which you are forbidden to eat salt, add sea salt or Pink Himalayan Salt to your meals, and opt for bouillon balls and/or bone broth as other ways to get salt into your body.



 

2. You need to increase your fluid intake


Water follows sodium, so as your kidneys are shedding off more sodium you are going to lose more water as well. Carbohydrates also hold onto water, so eating less carbs means less water stored in your body, and that you need to increase your water intake. Shoot for 2-3 liters of fluid per day at least.



 

3. Don’t eat too much protein


It’s hard to eat too much protein, but it is still good to know that yes, you can have too much. Too much protein can cause your body to convert the excess amino acids to sugar, and sugar triggers the release of insulin (fat storage hormone) which can lead to fat gain.

A rough estimate of how much protein you should be getting is 0.7-1.0 grams per pound of body weight. More protein is needed for an individual who exercises hard daily, because more amino acids will be needed to repair the muscle that has been broken down.



 

4. Expect the keto “flu”


As your body switches from sugar burning to fat burning for fuel this can cause what is known as the “keto flu.” It means you may feel lethargic, foggy, and run-down. Do not worry – this will not last long but does happen when switching to this type of diet.



 

5. Stick to healthy fats


Ketosis does require most of your calories to come from fat, that being said, you want to stick to the good non-processed, grass-fed, natural fats. These include eggs, fatty fish, coconut oil, olive oil, full-fat dairy, avocado, and nuts. Things to definitely avoid include processed meats and processed cheeses.



 

6. Consider increasing carbs one or two days a week


I am a huge fan of a cyclical ketogenic diet which means you are increasing your carbs 1-2 days per week, or having a “carb-refeed.” Individuals working out hard everyday or few days a week will burn through their glycogen stores faster, and may need to increase their carbs twice a week or more. The hormone leptin which helps to regulate appetite, can also become low on a ketogenic diet and is boosted up when you eat carbs.

Women are especially susceptible to leptin changes and should definitely be re-feeding carbs 1-2 days a week at least. Probably the only group of individuals who may not see a benefit from increasing carbs once a week are men who do zero exercise – which hopefully fits the description of no one reading this because exercise is great for your body and mind!



 

7. You might develop dry eyes


This happens when you are eating very low carbs for a long time because tear production requires some glucose. This symptom actually happened to me long before I understood a keto diet could cause this, and can be very irritating and even lead to more severe eye problems. When your eyes are getting very dry this may mean you need to up your carbs a little more daily, and increase the number of days you do a carb-refeed.



 

11 Bite-Size Banana Recipes You Need To Try





Bananas are the perfect food to refuel with after a workout because they are high in electrolytes, most notably potassium and magnesium, and high in carbohydrates. The high magnesium and potassium content in bananas helps to prevent muscle cramps that can happen at night after strenuous workouts. This is because after an intense sweat session, your body will rid itself of electrolytes, and electrolytes are needed to keep your muscles relaxed.

In addition to being great as a post-workout snack, ripe bananas are also great for digestion and help to get things moving.

Here are 11 simple, 3-ingredient recipes using banana as the base powered by EatCleanBot (found in Facebook Messenger).





 

 

1. Baked Oatmeal Soaked in Almond Milk

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup almond milk

Instructions:

Mash the banana with the oats, spoon out onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firmed. Place the baked banana-oats mix in a bowl and pour the almond milk on top, dig in with your spoon.



 

2. Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 banana
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.

Health Hack: Cinnamon acts to decrease your blood sugar when eaten with a meal.



 

3. Cocoa ’Nana Oat Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 banana
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.



 

4. Chia Seed ‘Nana Oat Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.



 

5. Almond Butter Oat Balls

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup oats

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.




 

6. Toasted Coconut Oat Bites

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup oats

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.





 

7. Chia Coconut ‘Nana Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • 1 banana

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.



 

8. Vanilla Coconut Cookies

Instructions:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • 1 banana

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.



 

9. Almond Butter Coconut ‘Nana Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.



 

10. Vanilla Banana Oatmeal Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup oats

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.



 

11. Cinnamon Coconut Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup coconut flakes

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together, spoon out into 2-inch balls onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until slightly firm.



8 Books To Help You Succeed In Life And Business





Looking to get ahead in both your life and in business!? Books are treasure troves of useful information. Learn from some of the best with our book recommendations to help you succeed. Add one to your reading list today!

Don’t have the time to sit and read? We recommend trying out audiobooks with Audible.




1. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

The #1 New York Times bestseller that examines how people can champion new ideas—and how leaders can fight groupthink, from the author of Give and Take and co-author of Option B.

In Originals he again addresses the challenge of improving the world, but now from the perspective of becoming original: choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity, and buck outdated traditions. How can we originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all? Get it here.



 

2. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished.

Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory-known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)-holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful. Get it here



 

3. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” Get it here




 

4. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.

People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment. Get it here



 

5. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Most people believe that the best way to motivate is with rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, says Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others).

In this provocative and persuasive new book, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Get it here



 

6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

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In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives. Get it here



 

7. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler

Nudge is about choices—how we make them and how we can make better ones. Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioral science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions. Get it here



 

8. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle

 

What is the secret of talent? How do we unlock it? In this groundbreaking work, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle provides parents, teachers, coaches, businesspeople—and everyone else—with tools they can use to maximize potential in themselves and others. Get it here



 

 

The Tiger and the Strawberry: A Short Zen Story About Living in the Present Moment





Let’s stop and have a think on this old Zen parable about living in the present moment…the only time that really matters!

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran, but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice…

As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine…

Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth…

It was incredibly delicious, the best strawberry he ever had!



 

The Takeaways





  • The strawberry represents all of the amazing things around us in life. The vine symbolizes the timeline of life (between the cliff = birth; precipice = death). Choose to celebrate the strawberry (the good things in life), always.
  • Forget the past, don’t worry the future, and live in the present moment. Only by that way can we live happily.
  • Reminds me of this Mark Twain quote, “I’ve had many worries in my life, most of which never happened.”





 

 

24 Nutrition Tips To Get Your Diet On Track





Below is a list of our 24 research-based nutrition tips that will help you get your diet on track and have you feeling great! 

1. If you are sensitive to dairy products but you love butter, try clarified butter which is pure butterfat with the milk solids removed.




2. When you eat almonds, 20-30% of those calories are lost to digestion. This means even though the nutrition label reads 170 calories in one serving, you will only absorb about 120 of those calories.

3. Vitamin C helps to boost your immune function and protects against free radical damage. Good sources of Vitamin C include oranges, red peppers, and broccoli.




4. Getting enough magnesium may help prevent migraine headaches. Good sources of magnesium include almonds, spinach, and avocado.

5. Tropical fruits are high in sugar. These include bananas, mangoes, and pineapples. Stick to a ½ cup serving when eating this type of high sugar fruit.

6. If you are finding yourself hungry within 2-3 hours from your previous meal, this may be a sign that you need to increase your protein. Aim for 20-25 grams of protein with each meal to keep you satisfied longer.




7. DID YOU KNOW? Avocados are a great source of fiber – ½ cup has about 5 grams of fiber!

8. Fish with lowest amounts of mercury include salmon, black sea bass, scallop, shrimp, skate, tilapia, cod, oyster, and crab.

9. If you are going to eat cereal in the morning, look for cereal with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving – anything more is like eating a bowl of candy. Guidelines recommend no more than 25 grams of sugar per day.




10. Tuna is an excellent source of Vitamin B12, selenium, Vitamin B3 (niacin), and protein – about 20 grams of protein per 3 oz serving.

11. Oats are gluten-free in themselves. HOWEVER, oats can become contaminated if grown side-by-side to wheat fields, or if they are processed on equipment that also processes wheat. If you are strictly gluten-free, look for oats with a certified gluten-free label.

12. Fiber slows down digestion and makes you feel fuller longer. Healthy adults should aim or 25 grams of fiber per day.




13. Dairy products highest in lactose include milk, ice cream, whipping cream, coffee creamer, cream-based soups and sauces. Best to avoid these food items if you have an intolerance to lactose.

14. Cheeses that have the highest amount of lactose tend to be the soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, Brie, and mozzarella. The higher the lactose content, the greater the chance of stomach upset if you have some degree of lactose intolerance.

15. One thing that nutrition experts can agree on is that artificial trans-fats are dangerous. They increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other chronic diseases.

 





 

16. One cup of sliced avocado contains 10 grams of fiber and 21 grams of fat – most of that fat being the very healthy monounsaturated fat. Eat up!

17. Net carbs is total carbohydrates of a food minus the fiber content. Fiber is not absorbed by the body, meaning the calories are not absorbed and it does not raise blood sugar or stimulate the insulin response.

18. Soluble fiber attracts water to form a gel-like substance and slows the digestion of food. This slowed digestion allows for the body to be able to absorb all nutrients passing through. An example of soluble fiber is the fleshy inner part of an apple.




19. Cold pressed juice is considered to be more nutrient dense compared to traditional centrifuged juice. This is because centrifugal juicers generate heat which can destroy enzymes, and also force in air which can compromise nutrients.

20. Matcha contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG which has shown to be a potent metabolism booster as well an appetite suppressant.

21. Avoid quick or instant oats which are the most processed of all the oat varieties – meaning less nutrients and higher blood sugar when consumed. 18. DID YOU KNOW? Your body will absorb more calories from cooked and processed foods than raw foods.




22. Non-fat or “skim milk” has a surprisingly high amount of sugar. Most brands have about 12 grams per cup – this is almost half the amount of total sugar that is recommended you ingest each day!

23. Egg yolk contains the majority of vitamins and minerals found in an egg – don’t skip the yolks.

24. Wheat raises your blood sugar higher and faster than any other carbohydrate including table sugar.




Bringing an Idea Into a Tangible Tech Product





So you just came up with the next big app idea to hit the market since Uber…and lucky for you, you’re friends with a software developer who is actually going to spend their precious free time to help you build it. Fantastic.

Note: This is a rare occurrence and although not widely known, most developers also have great ideas they are working on and will more than likely not want to build yours. So if you need to hire someone, try here, or here.

Perhaps this is the first time you’ve actually worked with a developer and are unaware of the fact that you can’t just tell them, “hey, build me an app that let’s people order dinner from an amateur chef’s home kitchen” without actually spelling out the various requirements you want to see in the application. So if this is the case, sorry it’s not that easy, but we’ll get there…

What you do need to do is be able to provide your developer with a prioritized feature “to-do” list, or what we call in Agile, a Product Backlog. The goal here of the product backlog is to break the big-picture vision of your app down into manageable increments that can be executed by a developer.



Think about if your boss just asked you to put on a global conference for all employees in your company. This is a huge task, but with some thought can be broken down into smaller, more actionable items like: Hire a keynote speaker, Cater lunch, Set the conference agenda, etc.

 

User Stories


The way to organize each “to-do” list item in your product backlog is in the form of a User Story. User stories are simplified requirements that are used to capture a description of a software feature from an end-user’s perspective.

For user stories stories we use this basic format in Agile:
As a <type of user>
I want <some goal>
So that <some reason>

Here’s a real life example of a user story I’d expect to see from Facebook (circa 2006):

As a logged in user
I want to post a photo to my profile
So that my friends can view it and see what I am up to

The <type of user> in this case is a user of Facebook that has successfully logged into the application. When writing your user stories, it is important to accurately define the user type, or “personas” as they are commonly referred to, so the developer knows who should have access to this feature.

The <some goal> of this feature is to allow users to post a photo to their profile. Here we are describing the action the user is doing in the application.




The <some reason> in this story is that your friends can view it and see what you are up to. This is often the value proposition of the feature. Tip: If you are having trouble with this part of the user story, there is a chance that this feature is not as important as you once thought and may want to consider not including it and/or de-prioritizing it.

Massive user stories, like the example I gave of setting up a global conference, are considered ‘Epics’. Epics are not ready to be executed and require further refinement into smaller user stories over time. It’s ok to include these in your backlog as a placeholder, but understand that developers will not be executing them as the requirements are not yet defined.

An example of an Epic user story for Facebook (prior to launching an app) would be:

As an iPhone user
I want to view Facebook in a native iOS app
So that I can stay informed on the go

 

Acceptance Criteria


So you have your user story written out, but as Charles Eames (creator of the Eames chair) famously said, “The details are not the details. They make the design”. If presented with just the user story about posting a photo (and no additional context) you will be flooded with follow up questions by your developer…



So where in the app can the friend view the photo (news feed, profile, etc.)?
Can the user add a text caption? If so, how does the caption appear?
What happens when a user clicks the photo? Does it enlarge?
Can friends comment on the photo?You get the point.

In order to provide more clarity, we like to enrich our user stories with what is referred to as Acceptance Criteria.

Acceptance Criteria are the conditions that a software product must satisfy to be accepted by a user.

I personally like to use the GIVEN/WHEN/THEN format as it provides a scenario for the developer to easily understand (and later test). Here’s an example of some of the acceptance criteria I’d expect to see for the Facebook story we used above:

GIVEN a logged in user is on their profile page
WHEN the user clicks the photo icon
THEN the user is prompted to upload a photo

GIVEN a user is prompted to upload a photo
WHEN the user selects the photo from their files AND selects the Post button
THEN the photo will appear AND allow the user to add a caption

GIVEN a logged in user is friends with the user that posted a photo
WHEN the user is on their news feed
THEN the photo will appear and display the caption (if added)

GIVEN a user views a photo in their news feed
WHEN the user clicks on the photo
THEN the photo will enlarge to the original size

As you can see, this begins to clarify how the feature will be implemented and what behavior you expect to see once it is. Be sure to get into the details here as it is how you want others to ultimately use your product.



 

Prioritization


It’s expected at the end of the user story exercise that you’ll have a laundry list of features in your product backlog. While this is great, and means you’re full of ideas, your developer can’t build them all at once and will look to you to prioritize each feature to be built. This simply means putting the most important feature on the top, and working your way down to the least important. I really enjoy this phase as it makes me think through the real value of each.

If you are building an MVP, minimum viable product, you may just choose the 20 or so “must-have” features to bring to market, then roll out the others over time in various versions.



 

Handing over the backlog


You did it. You’ve created your list of the must-have user stories to bring your app to market, each with detailed acceptance criteria explaining how you want to see them implemented.

I personally like to organize my backlog in a Google Sheet and share it with my developers. They of course will have plenty of questions throughout the development process and using a collaborate tool like Sheets helps keep the backlog as a living document.

You can also use a more sophisticated paid tool like Jira or Rally, which will help you further organize and manage the development of your feature list.



If you want a free and more DIY solution to track the development process, you can also use Trello (which has a free app too).

 

Prototyping (Bonus Points)


If you’re the creative type who wants to control more of the look and feel of your product, I suggest going the extra mile and building a simple prototype (or mockup) to accompany your product backlog. This will give the developer support in the visual representation you desire and not force them to interpret your written user stories alone.

A few tools I like to use:

  1. InVision — this is for the more detailed approach and allows you to really build out the visual representation and workflow of the product.
  2. Balsamiq — this is a more low-fi option, but is useful when it comes to placement of features within the product.

So What’s Next?
Now that your app development is in motion, it’s time to for you to think about the future and build out your product roadmap (how you expect your app to evolve over time).




 

MeditateBot: Creating a Daily Meditation Habit in Facebook Messenger





Over the past few years, Facebook Messenger has become the go to place for over a billion people worldwide to engage in their daily conversations. Though over the past year, it’s also quickly become the place where these same people are getting their daily news, weather updates, booking travel, style advice and much more.

This phenomenon began back in April 2016 when Facebook opened up their API for developers to create chatbots — programs to simulate human conversation. The rise of chatbots are giving brands an entirely new way to communicate with their audience at scale, a way that is so innately human…through conversation.



New Habits are Hard
When launching a new technology product, one of the biggest challenges is getting people to use it daily. New apps struggle with this often. Think about all of the times you’ve downloaded an app, used it once or twice, then deleted it or never opened it again. It’s hard to create that stickiness that keeps people coming back.

This same issue product makers face with getting people to use their apps daily, we all face in our lives with trying to creating a new positive habit.

Want to start working out? Ok, you go to the gym three days straight, then something comes up and you can’t make it, then again you miss it. A few weeks later the thought of going to the gym is so far in the back of your mind it never resurfaces.

In my opinion, the key to forming and sustaining any new habit is two fold:

  1. Making the barrier to entry as low as possible.
  2. Working it into your existing daily routine.

An Idea
As I thought through this with one of my own habit struggles, meditating daily, I decided to test the forming of a new habit by leveraging the power of Facebook Messenger — a place which already had my eyeballs as it was quickly becoming part of my morning routine for news, weather, etc.

The end result of a weekend personal hack-a-thon was MeditateBot — a Messenger chatbot that teaches the benefits of meditation, surfaces a variety of meditations, and even lets you schedule a daily reminder — all for free within Facebook Messenger.



I’m extremely happy to say that after 4 weeks since launch I have successfully meditated daily using MeditateBot. And more importantly, so have over 25,000 other people 🙂

Here’s how I made it habit forming enough for me keep it up a daily practice for 4 weeks and counting…

Schedule a Daily Reminder​

This feature is the linchpin to the entire experience. By asking what time works best for people and sending them a reminder daily at that time, they are empowered to make meditation work for theirschedule. At the scheduled time, a simple push notification is sent that gently nudges them to kick off their daily meditation.





I personally check Messenger in the morning while I’m eating my breakfast, so I schedule my daily practice reminder at 8:00am every day. It fits nicely into my routine and I know I’m not distracted at that time.

Analyzing the data of scheduling on MeditateBot, it was insightful to see that user’s reminders were almost perfectly distributed across all times throughout the day — morning, afternoon, and evening. This proves that everyone has their own “best” time. Make it work for you!

Showing the Benefits

Some people needed a little backing as to why daily meditation would be good for them, especially those that may have just stumbled across MeditateBot after it was featured in Messenger (grateful for that!)



Succinctly explaining the benefits of meditation, then having a CTA (call to action) immediately after to meditate has resulted in a >70% conversion to completing a meditation. Priming with benefits is important for driving action. 

Having Options, But Not Too Many

Too many options is too much, make it simple and don’t let the mind wander when the attention is already there. I’ve seen too many apps that have an endless amounts of options, this makes it hard to select the “right” one — which causes frustration (not a good primer for meditation!).

For MeditateBot I’ve kept the categories high level and made sure all speak for themselves. No explanation required for the three types:

  1. Breathing
  2. Body Scan
  3. Self Guided

Time Variations

Another important option in building a new habit is to not bite off more than you can chew. If you’re forcing yourself to do a 20 minute meditation daily out the gate, you will get frustrated. 
Why is my mind wandering? Is it over yet? Am I doing this right?

Having the option to choose a length that your willing to devote, keeps the barrier to entry low. Even getting 1 minute of that meditative state is shown to bring a heap of benefits.



I continue to believe in the power of technology applications that present themselves in channels where users already live — Facebook Messenger is just one, great, example of this. You can check out all of our creations for: Alexa, Chrome and Messenger — here

Turning Your Web Browser Into A Motivation Tool!





Being stuck behind a computer for the better part of the day my mind tends to effortlessly navigate from one thought to the next, guiding me to tackle many different tasks at a time, and in turn forcing me to open up a new browser tab about once every few minutes.

Most of the time I don’t even realize how much I’m “multi-tasking” until the text that normally appears on the browser tab is no longer even displayed, thus causing an extremely hard time to navigate between each — something I refer to as “Tab Roulette” (pictured above).



 

Why so many browser tabs? Science explains.


As someone interested in the human condition as a whole, as well as my own self-growth, I started looking for an answer to this multi-tasking behavior. Many, many browser tabs opened later, research showed that we as humans are biologically programmed to be rewarded each time we complete tasks (no matter how simple they really are).

What is actually happening there is that each time we complete a task, our brain gets a “hit” of dopamine (the pleasure chemical). We love dopamine, which makes it addictive to get rewarded for even the most menial tasks.
Checking email → Dopamine
Booking dinner reservations → Dopamine
Responding to a chat message → Dopamine




 

But I have bigger goals.

Understanding the science of why I’d multi-task, it was obvious that throughout my day I’d get so caught up in the wormhole of completing tasks that I’d often forget to step back and think of the big picture. This was frustrating to me because I had much bigger goals than these small tasks, but they often seemed to slip my mind — something like a “motivation blackout”.



Maybe even worse than not being reminded of these goals was the fact that I’d feel drained (a side-effect of multi-tasking) by the end of the day and lack the motivation to work towards them. As someone looking to be a high performer at work and on my own projects, I needed to find a way to keep my motivation level high even when I’m stuck in the task wormhole that often comes with the 9–5.

 

Don’t argue with Science, hack it.


Knowing that my body was likely not to change in the near term, I instead decided to hack the process and inject a subtle hint of motivation into my day to day. What I’d often find myself doing when I lacked motivation was searching for inspiring quotes by known leaders, something that is apparently common practice. The problem was, doing this required me to be proactive and realize that I was running low on motivation, something that I often overlooked.

So by putting some of my (basic) coding skills to work, I built an incredibly simple Google Chrome Extension that delivers a motivational quote each time I open a new tab and appropriately called it New Tab Motivation.



 

New Tab Motivation

So now, whenever I’m attempting to complete various tasks, I’m delivered a low-touch jolt of motivation in my browser. This boost didn’t require me to download an app, pull out my phone and check Instagram for a motivational post, or even search for inspiring quotes to get me through the day, but instead was right there seamlessly into my daily routine.

In developing technology products over the years, one of the major themes I’ve realized is that creating an entirely new behavior for people is incredibly hard to do. Instead, building something that is already part of a routine (i.e. opening browser tabs) is the best way to engage and create a useful tool that people will actually use daily.



**Check out New Tab Motivation (free) for Chrome**

 

10 Quotes to Motivate You Today





We love quotes, if that wasn’t already obvious ;), because they are such simple and quick ways to help improve our mindset. Below are 10 quotes handpicked to help motivate you today, enjoy!

1. “Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” – Napoleon Hill

 

2. “An enterprising person is one who sees opportunity in all areas of life.” – Jim Rohn




3. “First say to yourself what you would be, then do what you have to do.” – Epictetus

4. “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt



5. “You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action.” – Tony Robbins

6. “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius



7. “Your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

8. “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha



9. “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca

10. “A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before we changed.” – Earl Nightingale



What To Order At The Mexican Restaurant





I get questions from patients all the time about how to eat at a restaurant without derailing their diet. Of course cooking your own food is best because you can control everything that goes into it (not to mention you save a lot of money!) but when you want to be social and go to dinner that’s ok too!

​Here is what you should order to stay healthy when eating at a Mexican restaurant:

 

Appetizer

  • Guacamole – Carve out 2-3 spoonfuls onto your plate and dig in or add some salsa on top. Guacamole is full of healthy fats with zero carbs and will keep you much better satisfied than a basket of chips.

 

  • Ceviche – This consists of raw fish (normally sushi grade) in citrus with maybe some diced tomatoes – you can’t get much healthier than that! This is a light, tasty, and low carb way to start your meal.





Main Course

  • Fajitas – With lots of grilled vegetables, pico de gallo, and salsa as a topping to add flavor. Skip the rice and tortillas and see if they can substitute in extra veggies instead. If you are going to keep the beans go for black beans rather than refried because they have gone through less processing and contain more fiber. If you are low carb, skip the beans and ask for a side of avocado or guacamole instead.

 

  • Grilled chicken – With lots of vegetables. Skip the rice here as well, instead add add a side of avocado or black beans.

 

  • Grilled fish – With lots of vegetables. Skip the rice here as well. Top with salsa or consider adding a side of avocado or black beans.


​Drink


    • Tequila on the rocks – A shot of tequila has around 70 calories and will take a longer time to sip.

     

    • Skinny margarita – Tequila w/ soda and lime is great because you get the bubbles from the soda water and a hint of lime to pair with the tequila. This will also be easier to sip rather than a sugar bomb of a margarita – a margarita can have a whole days worth of sugar and calories!

     

    • Light beer – If you can’t see yourself not ordering a Mexican beer with your Mexican food, then go for a light version such as corona light.





     

    Decrease Stress and Anxiety Now With 10 Simple Tips




    Anxiety is another way of saying excessive worry about future events. Worrying is literally one of the worst things you can do to yourself because it doesn’t help anything and only makes you feel worse. Those anxious thoughts are not only causing stress on your mind, but also causes a stress response throughout your entire body – not good!



    Below are 10 quick and easy ways to stop anxious thoughts right now:

    1. Take deep breaths 

    Yes, this is super simple, and that’s the point! Stop thinking, just take a few very deep breaths and focus on your breathing for a minute or two. This focus on your breath allows your mind to focus on something other than your anxious thoughts, even if for just a couple minutes, can be greatly beneficial and make you feel less stressed going forward. Try it anywhere!



    2. Take a walk

    This is a great one for work, when you have been sitting all day and need to stretch your legs anyway. Walking just ten minutes gets the blood flowing and releases feel good hormones and decreases stress hormones. Get up and go for a walk now or take a walk at lunch time rather than just sitting at your desk.



    3. Take a workout class

    Go to a workout class at your gym or watch a video on YouTube or DVD. This way your mind is actively engaged in the workout rather than whatever you are stressed about. I don’t advise running or some other type of steady-state cardio because sometimes this causes you to think too much – I know that’s true for myself! Being told what to do in a class makes you focus on the workout and not on your thoughts. Working out also increases the feel good hormones and suppresses stress hormones, increasing focus and mental clarity.



    4. Meditate 

    This goes along with deep breathing, but if you find yourself unable to focus on your breath, try a guided meditation which tells you what to do! Anytime of day works great for this, but most individuals will find the morning or right before bed to be the best time. Again, this does not have to be long, taking just 5 minutes to meditate really helps to reduce stress. Try MeditateBot found in Facebook Messenger which sends you a daily reminder to meditate.



    5. Watch mindless television 

    When you don’t want to think, mindless TV (aka all reality shows) can be great. Instead of thinking about your own stressors, watch someone else’s! Not only will it get your mind off your own anxious thoughts, but might also make you think of your stress as not such a big deal compared to some of the stressful situations we see in the silly TV shows.




    6. Avoid the news

    Of course it’s great to be informed about the world, however, the news can be extremely depressing more often than not. You are not helping anyone, including yourself, following every news story out there, all it does is cause more stress and worry that may not even directly affect you.



    7. Avoid caffeine

    Coffee has many awesome health benefits, however, stress relief is definitely not one of them. Avoid caffeine if you are super stressed, because when your brain is already bouncing off the walls with thoughts, caffeine is just adding fuel to that fire. Caffeine is highly stimulatory which is great for certain situations, but not for when you are stressed out.




    8. Avoid sugar

    When you are stressed, the last thing you need is a roller coaster blood sugar level. When you eat sugar, it raises your blood sugar which gives you a short bout of energy, but then your blood sugar quickly shoots back down even lower than with what you started with. When you get super low blood sugar, that’s when the dreaded hypoglycemia kicks in which physically causes a stress response in your body. That stress response presents itself as restlessness, jitteriness, MORE anxiousness, sweating, feelings of anger and hunger. So what do you do to calm this stress response fast? You eat sugar, and yes you will feel immediately better, however, the cycle above continues. Instead of sugary foods, reach for protein and healthy fats that keep your blood sugar nice and stable to prevent the dip in blood sugar.



    9. Make a list

    Physically use a pen and paper and write down things you need to do rather than making a mental list. The act of putting your thoughts onto paper helps to get those thoughts out of your brain and helps you to stop thinking over and over of all the things you need to do. If you are keeping your list of things to do in your head, this means you are going to have to constantly remind yourself of each and every one of them.




    10. Take Action

    Ok great, you made your list, now take action! Procrastination is one of the greatest causes for stress and anxiety, the longer you wait to do something means the longer you have to think about the thing you don’t want to do. If you are dreading making a call, or dreading a  presentation and keep putting it off, the best and only way to relieve that stress is to get it done. Tackle your to-do list now and feeling amazing after.

    Try one or more of the above today! Your mind will thank you, we promise.