Upgrade Your Human Machine: Take a Lunch Break (The Benefits of Mindful Eating)
In this 4 part series, we’re going to look at some steps you can take to upgrade your complex human machine. In part one, we’re going to talk about taking lunch to the lunchroom and the benefits that come from taking a break.
Where do you like to take a lunch break and how does taking time away from your desk help you? Tell us in comments and thank you for subscribing and sharing! Sign up to have parts 2-4 delivered right to your inbox.
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Use your "You Time" for an Upgrade.
Did you eat lunch at your desk or in front of the TV? Did you eat lunch at all? Was your only outside time today going from vehicle to building? Are you reading this blog on your phone in the restroom at work? Is your neck and/or back sore? Do you have to re-read paragraphs more than once because your brain is 10,000 miles away?
If you are a human adult, and you work, chances are that these odd questions aren’t really odd at all. What does eating lunch, going outside, the restroom at work, aches, pains, and concentration have in common?
If you work, you care about things, and you have other responsibilities (spoiler: this is all of us) then, at some point you have answered “yes” to at least one of the questions above. The situations that these questions are born from are products of our modern world that we all participate in.
These things are NOT “normal” for human machines:
- Mindless speed-eating while multitasking
- Focusing on repetitive tasks for a long time with consistent efficiency
- Staying in a box for 8+ hour durations
- Hunching forward for extended periods of time, seated or standing
- Extended periods of intense stress - physical, mental, and emotional
The human machine is not designed to handle these kinds of stresses. We all experience them; our modern condition presents itself to all of us this way, regardless of our profession. As human machines, we’re better suited to evolve and adapt rather than fight the system. Much like it’s easier to float down a river with the current rather than paddle upstream, human machines are designed to evolve and learn and grow to move forward.
We all have the right to evolve to be the strongest we can in the world we live in today.
- It’s "okay" that you sit at a desk.
- It’s “okay" that you are stressed out.
- It’s “okay" that you don’t have hours per day to spend at the gym.
- It’s “okay" that you don’t have time to cook every meal fresh, locally sourced and organic, from scratch, three times a day.
It’s “okay" because it’s what it takes to maneuver in the world…
...But it’s really just “okay."
It’s “okay,” but it can be better.
It’s possible for life to exceed your most outrageous dreams. (and you still don't have to spend endless time slaving away in the gym or kitchen.)
It’s possible to “upgrade” your human machine. And, you don’t have to “upgrade” your whole system in one day. You don't have to quit humanity, move your family off the grid, and dress in burlap to give your body what it needs. That's the beauty of the evolving, adapting nature of the human machine. You can “upgrade” one step at a time and customize your whole platform.
Let’s start with fueling that complex machine.
Eat lunch in the break room or, outdoors.
When you have a mandatory meeting, a massive deadline, or a sudden upheaval to your schedule that makes you panic, the last thing that you think you have time for is a lunch break.
It’s probably the MOST important time to take a break though.
Will you have time later in the day when heartburn strikes? Do you have time later in the week to be home sick with that flu that’s going around? Are you trying to lose weight and feel like it’s more difficult than it could be?
Skipping meals or eating too fast can impact digestion, the immune system, and prevent fat loss. In, Eating and shift work — effects on habits, metabolism, and performance published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, Lowden, Moreno, Holmbäck, Lennernäs, and Tucker write specifically about shift work, however their commentary applies broadly to any workplace. The authors write:
…it is necessary to consider the organizational and social context in which eating takes place. The timing and content of meals are constrained by task demands in the workplace and social, domestic, and rest requirements outside of work.
…eating is a social activity and so a shift worker’s eating habits will be influenced by this of their family, friends, and work colleagues. It is also important to consider the role that the social context of eating plays in health promotion and obesity prevention. For example, eating in a relaxed ambience promotes the activation of anti-stress systems.
THIS IS NOT THE LUNCHROOM...
Your desk will be there when you get back.
Using some strategy can help you take back mealtime.
Schedule in your lunchtime on your shared calendar and treat it like any other appointment. Putting lunch on your calendar also lets others know you take that 30 minute break seriously.
Bring lunch from home - you will save time from having to “go get food.” The food will be drastically more nutritious than whatever you can have delivered to you, and you will enjoy sustained energy. How many times have you or your coworkers desperately ordered subs to be delivered because you just don't have time to "go get food"? There are other options.
Lunch from home can be easy – leftovers from dinner, salad in a Mason jar, or how about hors d’oeuvres for lunch? Hard-boiled eggs, sliced veggies, hummus, almonds, fruit, and some sliced lunchmeat is fun at parties and also fun and easy (with no cooking) at lunch. Don’t forget the ranch dip. Fancy snack plates and dips win every time. Hit up your local farmers market, and wash up your veggies when you get home. Store them in the fridge, and then just grab and go.
LOCAL FARMERS MARKET
You can also take lunch one-step further. Invite your teammates to “BYO” lunch or potluck together. Leave meeting agendas behind and just bring the taco dip. Sharing meals together will build camaraderie, and great conversations over shared meals turn into great brainstorming in a natural way. Human machines are designed to share meals together. The ideas will happen - that is the side effect of creating a quiet space in your team’s schedule so that creativity and teamwork can get a foothold. Keep it fun, and let the magic happen.
Whether you choose to take back lunch as a quiet time to individually recharge, an opportunity to team build, you’ll be the “office good guy” for not eating steamed broccoli or fish tacos in the open office environment. No one wants to smell that. Not a lot of people enjoy listening to chewing either. Be a good guy and take it in the break room.
Lunch is your time, so take it. Lunch is your time, so make it what you want. Lunch is your time, and you can share that gift with others. Join us. Bring an extra sandwich to work. Invite someone who you see wearing “never get up from this desk” as a badge of honor to eat lunch with you in the break room. Leave the PowerPoint behind and share some great food. You’ll be changing what we all hate about the unrelenting race of the modern world and the stress it puts on us - from the inside. You can feel great knowing that you’re fueling your human machine for a fantastic upgrade. You’ll feel even better knowing that by taking a short break with a coworker who needs it, you’ll be helping someone who needs that space to upgrade his or her human machine too.
You can do it.
We believe in you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
Karen Gasparick worked for 20+ years in design offices. While slaying PowerPoint presentations and bringing bad-assery to the holiday potluck lunch, Karen also found fitness and real, honest wellness. Karen lost 130 pounds, and gained ROBOT Level Strength!
Karen is now “H.R.I.C.” (Head Robot In Charge) at The PurpleROBOT Network. Contact us to learn about workplace wellness workshops, seminars, and training today! Karen is an RKC Certified Kettlebell Instructor, loves outdoor adventures, and lives in Milwaukee, WI. She can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org