The evil genius behind jm Curley’s foie gras-glazed jelly donut may not seem the likeliest candidate to co-found a wellness app. “I cook the food that I love to eat,” says chef Sam Monsour, who recently left the Downtown Crossing bar to pursue new projects. “I’m also highly aware that that isn’t the food that you can live off of.” At home, he and his wife, personal trainer Astrid Bengtson, practice a paleo diet. “We’ve really investigated what that paleolithic-style life might be as well,” Monsour says. Launched this month, their resolution-ready app, #true28, sets a 28-day challenge encompassing food, fitness and personal growth. In February, they’ll lead a #true28 course at the Boston Center for Adult Education—but first, they gave us a peek at the four-part program.
Provisions: “You’re not going to convince someone to change the way they eat if you can’t figure out how to satisfy their craving for fried chicken,” Monsour says. “The goal is to push the scope of what the paleo diet is, because a lot of recipes out there are elementary.” Expect recipes that use paleo ingredients but retain the big flavors Monsour’s known for. There’s even grain-free pizza. “It’s good hot out of the oven, and it’s also good cold the next day, a big selling point for me.”
Power: “Power is essentially the workout aspect, though I’d rather call it movement,” says Bengtson, founder of the North End corrective-exercise studio Bodytalk Factory. To tap primal strength and counteract postural problems from all those hours we spend stuck behind a desk, she developed four weeklong programs of planks, lunges, squats and stretches. “It’s funny she doesn’t want to call it exercise,” Monsour adds. “I can barely get through week one.”
Presence: “Modern Western society has made us all ‘too busy,’” Monsour says. Presence, he says, is meant to help users “start reincorporating on a daily basis our intrinsic goals: our desire to help, personal growth and strengthening relationships.” Bengtson adds, “These are things that we’re hard-wired to do. We need them to feel happy.” So the app offers daily practical challenges—say, respond directly to each person in your life who sends a message your way, be it by text, tweet, Facebook post or in person.
Progress: The last component helps users track effects of interventions and decide what does (and doesn’t) work for them. “We want you to have your data at the end: OK, when I ate these foods I felt great, and these were my favorite recipes,” Monsour says. “It’s a way for each person to individualize their results, because a month’s worth of life can be a lot of information to take in.”