Tips From The Top

Feeling Down? Overwhelmed? Stressed? Biohack yourself!

Question: What’s on the floor next to your bed?

Mine has quite the precarious pile of books that I’m in the middle of reading. And perched on the very top is my Kindle reader!

My Kindle reader (which happens to be an Android tablet) is stocked full of my “brain candy” of choice: Da-Vinci-Code-esque thrillers, murder mysteries, whodunnits.

If you aren’t averse to reading from a reader, I’d like to recommend BookBub.com to you. On this website, you can choose the Category of books you’d like delivered daily; BookBub finds books that are offered at less than $2.00 that day and deposits a list in your email inbox. I only download the interesting Free books – it’s brain candy, after all!  In case you weren’t aware, you can download a free Kindle reader app for any computer/cell phone device from Amazon.com. Then you’ll have books on hand if you’re stuck in a waiting room, airport, or even when none of the “real” books on the floor next to your bed look enticing!

Many people wonder why authors/publishers offer their books for free download. The short version is that Amazon offers them a deal for agreeing to give it the exclusive online distribution rights for a number of months. If you give Amazon the exclusive, it will give you a percentage of the income from the Category/Subcategory you’ve slotted your book into during those months. Your percentage of the monthly “take” depends upon how high your book ranks that month on Amazon in your Category/Subcategory. So if you can push it high-high-higher through giving it away for free, you get more of the take. If you get 5-star reviews, you get even more. That’s why authors will often offer their book for free if you “promise” to give them a review. Interesting, huh?

So what are some of the “real” books (that I actually paid for!) piled up under my Kindle reader, next to my bed?

Currently, most of them have to do, to a greater or lesser extent, with bettering your Self by making small but hugely impactful changes in your life, newly coined as “biohacking.”

What’s it mean to “biohack”? HERE is a fantastic TED talk about it; HERE is a “Biohacking 101” Podcast from a guy I listen to on this stuff. But in general, you “biohack” by changing what you eat, do, and think, to affect how your DNA expresses itself.

Example? There are little ends to the “shoelaces” of our DNA called “telomeres.” (Know what the plastic-end-thingie for a shoelace is called? An aiglet. How do I know that? Because I just looked it up. Dictionary.com – so love it!)

Telomeres are also known as “repetitive nucleotide sequences located at the termini of linear chromosomes of most eukaryotic organisms” – if you’re Wikipedia.

Chromosome-shoelace-end-thingies. What about’em?

Got short aiglets? Aging, cancer. How can you affect the length of the aiglets? Do nothing, eat crap, stress out – shorten’em. Do certain exercises, eat certain things, meditate – lengthen’em! “Biohack” your DNA – make a better you – by the way you move, eat, or act.

As I indicated above, there are a myriad of podcasts on this subject, which I listen to when doing mindless things like washing dishes or driving. Try BulletproofExecutive.com for an example – the guy is a little extreme, and his listeners are obviously not 50+ year old wives who would rather just hang out like Yours Truly, but you’ll get the idea . . . and it will give you a lot to chew on when you’re stuck in traffic, instead of listening to the traffic report every eight minutes on KCBS.

So back to the books next to my bed. They include oldies but goodies like The YOU Books by Dr. Oz (YOU On A Diet, YOU The Owner’s Manual) as well as Younger Next Year which is by a doctor and a patient – fun and fabulous! You can get the unabridged version of Younger Next Year For Women on CD from the San Rafael library and download it to your iPod/MP3 player for free, too, if you like. I also have the new Thinner Next Year – by the same guys – on my Kindle and yes, this one, I paid for. More on Kindle books in a second.

Also stacked in there with the “oldie but goodies” newer ones like the weighty tomes of The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss and the hugely entertaining and informative books by T.C. Hale (Kick Your Fat in the Nuts and Kick Menstrual Cramps in the Nuts).

As I’m super interested in nutrition and how it affects us (especially as I managed to put on a lot of weight over the past couple years), my bedside books used to include Kim Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution … that one has now moved to the kitchen. I’ve begun implementing some of her suggestions (particularly food ordering), and have lost 15 pounds in the past couple months.

Where do I get these books? If you don’t know about half.com, you might want to check it out. I always go there first when I’m on the hunt for a book, CD, or DVD that I want to keep, and do things like highlight and take notes in (yes, I’m one of those readers). Libraries, bookstores, and regular folk sell on half.com at a fraction of the cost. Plus, I feel a lot less guilty getting bored and giving a partially-read book to Hospice By The Bay as a charitable donation (you know about that, right?) if I’ve spent $2.00 on it than if I’ve spent $22.00 on it. Then again, sometimes I have to explain to the nice Hospice volunteer Why a great majority of my donations come sheathed in plastic with Dewey Decimal numbers on them . . . castoffs via half.com from a state library far, far away. . . but I digress (gee, how unusual).

In the countdown to Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of my book pile, perhaps it’s time for you to put a “line in the sand” and start a new eating, moving, or thinking tradition. Let me leave you with a few suggestions:

Eating: For two years now, we have had a fully gluten-free Thanksgiving meal, because I didn’t like what I was reading about gluten, but mainly because I found an entire set of very yummy recipes on HippKitchen.com. I’ve linked them HERE. The stuffing is particularly fabulous. Another suggestion if you’re so inclined is to really record what you eat – a great website is MyFitnessPal.com (they also have free apps). On MyFitnessPal, you can “friend” folks who are also using the app, and it will let you know how they are doing (and it will let them know how you are doing – e.g., if you haven’t logged in in a while, it will notify them that perhaps they should contact you to remind you).

If you’ve watched The Biggest Loser or read any of Jillian Michaels’ books (they’re all there, in my pile!), you know that keeping yourself accountable and on track regarding what’s going into your mouth is immensely important. I personally use the BodyBugg and subscribe to Jillian Michaels’ website for personal accountability. But if if you want to lose weight and you’re more motivated if others are involved, try DietBet.com. This is a 4-week social dieting game. Check it out.

Moving: There are a ton of goal-setting sites and apps out there now. Stickk.com is one of the best. It really works if you set a goal that includes in-between goals, like “make lunch and bring it to work every day” between now and your “lose 15 pounds” date goal. How does Stickk.com work? You set a goal, tell a support group, enlist a “referee” to judge your success, and set stakes. The stakes are usually monetary – lay $50 on the line and keep it if you make it. But if you fail, the funds automatically go where you say they should go – to a friend, a charity, or (best!) an “anti-charity” (e.g., a charity whose mission you do not support). You can use it for any goal. Also, care of the Bulletproof Executive Podcast, I just disocvered lift.do – which I plan to investigate.

Thinking: One of the simplest freemium apps out there is the Insight Timer. (“Freemium” means that you can get a robust app for free or you can pay a bit and get some premium features if you want them). This app helps you focus on just being still and meditating/taking a break from stress. You set the time, then close your eyes. You don’t have to watch the clock – Insight Timer rings a meditation bell when your time’s up. An added plus is you can see everyone worldwide who is using the app when you are – this is particularly heartening if you’re using it during a 3 a.m. sleepless episode (“I’m not alone!”). There are a few “guided” meditation sessions you can even listen to. The Insight Timer app is a great way to take a quick break, whether you’re at your desk or on public transportation (not in the car, please!)

Here’s to a great Fall to all of you – I’d love to hear what books are next to your bed!