Friday Inspiration from Believers' Boxing Gym

I’m lucky. I’m one of those people who doesn’t have to force herself to go to the gym. I like my gym. Some of the people who are most important to me are there. These are the people who, along with this message on my locker, remind me WHY it’s important: not to punish myself, or wear the easy-but-false-identity of the latest diet. I’m there to feel ALIVE, and enjoy it, and be proud of what I can do today, and of what’s possible when we encourage each other to be our best selves.

Your wild and precious life is too short to let even one day slip by without feeling the excitement and energy of really living it. Even 30 minutes matters.

More Go-To Gear from Bklyn Bento

Another Bklyn Bento product earned its Glamour Shot. (Yes. Glamour Shots® is still around.)

I usually don’t like a wooden spoon, but this one totally works for me.

I usually don’t like a wooden spoon, but this one totally works for me.

Functionally, this container does what it promises: my chili was hot four hours later and no workplace microwave was involved. Nothing leaked into my bag, and the wide opening makes both eating and cleaning hassle-free.

But what Bklyn Bento over-delivers on is handsomeness. It’s just plain cool. The lid isn’t actually wood (in my opinion, a good thing), but so natural-looking you’ll think it’s real. The black textured coating makes this a strong, dark thing of beauty—like a good cup of coffee.

And don’t forget that a hungry child gets fed when you send in a glamorous-or-not picture of your Bklyn Bento lunch gear. Yet another beautiful thing in a world that really needs it.

So, do you need a handsome, double-lined, leak-proof container to have a “better” lunch? No. A paper bag for a peanut butter sandwich (plus two vegetables, of course) will do fine. Your 15 minutes spent on your quiet dream is just as precious. But when it’s time to treat yourself to new gear—especially if you live where colder weather begs for hot lunches—don’t forget about this little guy.

Your Last Bad Day Can Start with Lunch: Michael O'Brien

What does having a bad day mean to you? For many of us, it’s feeling discouraged about our jobs or worrying about our not-so-great habits. Maybe you’re just bored, but have accepted that grinding through another day that doesn’t “feel like you” is just the way it has to be.

Michael O’Brien’s “last bad day” was different.

You owe it to yourself to hear about it in his own words, and I guarantee you’ll be moved by the shocking event that became a beautiful story of rethinking one’s perspective on what matters most. And you’ll be inspired to act. Here are some ideas:

 
  • read Michael’s (short and insightful) book My Last Bad Day Shift (FREE + shipping or only $3.95 on Kindle)

  • remind yourself how important it is to manage your energy and let yourself recover by watching this 2-minute video tidbit

  • replace saying “I’m too busy” with “I have control over my time. It’s my most precious resource. I’m determined to spend it on the things that matter most.”

  • get serious by blocking off at least 30 minutes on your calendar each workday just for you
    (I bet he means lunch…)

Just like Box Lunch Lifers, Michael’s on a mission to end bad days. But, like, a million of them. Are you with him? Find him on Facebook, or share YOUR Last Bad Day story using #mylastbadday on Instagram and LinkedIn.

You don’t have to be famous to change lives. You just have to be the BEST YOU. Because everyone benefits when you are striving to become your best.
— Michael O'Brien, author, cyclist, dad, bad day slayer, hero
 

"How I Make My Lunch Every Day Without Losing My Sanity"

You suspect your delivered-to-you sub sandwich isn’t all that healthy, and you’re kind of bored with it anyway. What will it take to try—or get back into—cooking lunch for yourself?

In Bon Appetit, Christina Chaey explains what makes her homemade lunch routine both doable and enjoyable. Of her super-helpful (and funny) tips, I think this one is my favorite:

 

If I’m not deeply excited about what I’ve packed for lunch, I will actively look for any excuse not to eat it (and buy something else instead). No matter how noble my broccoli-and-lentil-filled intentions, I’ve learned that I need to include a “treat” in the mix to psych myself up for lunch as a whole. For me, this treat usually falls under my all-time favorite food group: simple ass carbs. Tucking some roasted potatoes, a couple of fritters, or some noodles into my lunch is usually sufficient to quell my starchy desires, which means I will happily eat piles of vegetables/whole grains/seeds/good stuff alongside. Again, it’s all about the mental trickery.

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CC’s kind of mental trickery syncs up nicely with our Box Lunch Lifestyle intentions. The more we can make each day about moving towards the things we like—food- and time-wise—and stop punishing ourselves with “no,” the more satisfied with life we’re likely to feel. Being a person who seeks out what you enjoy on a typical day can be a nice new identity to try on.

If the idea of any kind of cooking makes you sigh, try thinking about it as a pursuit of what you really want rather than a chore. Do you really want another dry sub sandwich? Or whatever’s on the cafeteria menu? Once you get going, I think you’ll start to crave your easy homemade favorites and wonder why it took so long to wrangle the food part of your better lunch.

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Podcast Pick: The Happiness Lab

“Happiness” is a loaded word for me. It feels hard to define, and out of reach, so I tend to think in terms of “better.” A new podcast with Dr. Laurie Santos makes this messy topic clearer in ways that might feel familiar to Box Lunch Lifers:

  • Episode 1: You Can Change
    Acting just a little bit differently in the world pays off, and just smiling more often can lift a person’s mood. When we build a better lunch instead of just grinding through another day, means not having to remind ourselves to smile.

  • Episode 2: The Unhappy Millionaire
    When people think they’re dream has come true, it’s usually what we call a Loud Dream, like the money or fame that other people see. Those things matter, but they don’t often make us as happy (or happy for as long) as we think they will. Feeling satisfied at the end of the day happens when we feed our Quiet Dreams.

  • Episode 3: A Silver Lining
    Focus on the process, not the outcome. Enjoy the doing of it. Enough said.

If you love the podcast, more episodes are on the way. You could also join the 433,247 people already enrolled in Dr. Santos’ free online class. Will you let me know if you sign up? That would make me happy.

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Lunch with a ❤️: House of Charity

 

Your leveling up your food choices with Box Lunch Lifestyle means “homemade.” But what if you have no home?

 
 

House of Charity in St. Paul, MN, makes “homemade” happen for people dealing with homelessness, poverty, and mental illness. House of Charity makes lunch matter by providing it for free to people who might otherwise not eat at all that day. It’s typical that out of about 350 diners, this will be the only meal for 140 of them.

But their work is about more than feeding hungry people. They educate all of us. Each Monday, they bust a different popularly held myth about the people they serve.  For example:

Myth #27: “People who don’t have enough food don’t work.”

Fact: According to the US Department of Agriculture, 75% of food insecure households include one full-time worker, and often someone working part-time as well.

How will your lunch matter today? To you? To others? Make it count.

 

Shooting the Wrong Stuff

 

It’s easy to take pictures of pretty food. And if you’re making pretty lunch food from scratch, then good on you. Be proud!

But the reason that food matters is that it’s the fuel to help you be the You you’re meant to be. What quiet dream are you pursuing? How does it feel to finally say, “I am a writer” or “I am an app-builder” after being curious and wanting to give it a go for so many years?

Those are tougher pictures to take. How will yours look?

 
 
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Do Beans Count as Vegetables?

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Whether or not something is a vegetable is murky.

Green beans? These are fruits of a bean plant, so not a vegetable.

Kidney beans? A bean, a kind of legume, which is not a vegetable.

Peas? Also a legume, so, technically not a vegetable.


Does it really matter?

Part of the Box Lunch Lifestyle leveling-up-with-your-food challenge is eating two vegetables at lunch time. Vegetables, we can all pretty much agree, are not bad for you.

But if you like beans, or legumes, or peas, or whatever, eat them. Count them as one of your “vegetables.” Beans have nutritional value that fast-food French fries do not. So if you’re serious about practicing a Box Lunch Lifestyle, don’t get hung up on the details, and don’t be distracted by anti-bean lifestyle diets. Decide for yourself. If beans alongside vegetables fit into your homemade lunch routine, then a sustainable, enjoyable menu of those foods is what’s “better.”


Don't Be "That Guy"

Who’s the work martyr on your team? This is the guy who never takes vacation, and then replies to work email within minutes when he finally does take a day off. He’s the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave—and makes sure you know it. There are other signs, too, that work has taken over in some pretty unhealthy ways.

What’s the difference between this guy and a workaholic? He’s victim-y. All the talk about hard work and long hours is just as likely to mean he’s feeling insecure as it is evidence that he’s 110% engaged. So he talks about this inability to step away and unplug as though he has no choice. But he does.

There are a lot of things about work that we can’t control, and that’s why it’s so important that we control what we CAN. Like lunch. If you’re feeling lost, find yourself again for just 30 minutes and eat something a little fresher and do something that feeds your spirit. Your Box Lunch Lifestyle will remind you that you are more than your work.

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Friday Inspiration from Believers' Boxing Gym

Thank you to Rachel Schley at  Believers’ Boxing Gym  for always being that person who gives more and takes less.

Thank you to Rachel Schley at Believers’ Boxing Gym for always being that person who gives more and takes less.

Being a little afraid is okay. Don’t you think I was a little scared to get in a boxing ring for the first time?

That “scared” can also be the little spark of excitement that’s been missing lately. And the payoff of going for that thing you’ve quietly dreamed of is worth a facing little fear. Whatever arena is waiting for you, I hope you’ll eat something good at lunch today, then get the heck in there. You can, because you’re stronger—and braver—than you think.

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Guess What? You Can Do Better.

 

What does yesterday’s list of ingredients add up to? The McDonald’s® Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad.

To be fair, this isn’t the worst of all lunch food options. Some days grab-and-go is as good as it gets. But if your every-day convenience foods are made with ingredients you wouldn’t want a mouthful of, you deserve better.

With a tiny bit of planning, you can assemble a simple meal for yourself made from food you can actually spell. Here are some alternatives to the take-out habit for you to chew on. (Pun intended.)

WORKWEEK LUNCH RECIPE: THE GO-TO BURRITO BOWL

SIMPLY ORGANIC: SOUTHWEST SALAD

A PINCH OF HEALTHY: CHICKEN BURRITO BOWLS

ELISE MUSELES: BEAUTIFUL MEALS IN BOWLS

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Guess this Lunch

 
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These ingredients are in a lunch that I bet a lot of “healthy eaters” have tried sometime, or might even grab regularly for lunch.
Can you guess what it is?

(This list is NOT in most-to-least order, but it comes from a reliable source.)

 

Chicken, water, salt, sugar, garlic powder, lemon juice concentrate, honey, onion powder, natural flavor, dried vinegar, rice starch. butterfat, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, distilled vinegar, olive oil, soybean oil, freeze-dried orange juice concentrate, salt, freeze-dried lime juice concentrate, cilantro, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, garlic powder, spice, propylene glycol alginate, onion powder, citric acid, romaine lettuce, baby spinach, carrots, baby kale, various lettuces, roasted corn, black beans, roasted tomato, poblano pepper, water, lime juice concentrate, lime oil, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, potato starch, corn starch, dextrose, powdered cellulose, calcium sulfate, natamycin, enzyme, corn/soybean/sunflower oil, salt, maltodextrin, sugar, dried tomato, dextrose, spices, onion powder, green bell pepper powder, citric acid, autolyzed yeast extract, malic acid, paprika extract, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, natural Flavor, lemon extract, and spice extractive, salt, and pepper.



A Better Lunch (Almost) Every Day

 
Made with  Dave’s Killer Bread . Mmmm. (And the vegetables are on a separate plate. I swear.)

Made with Dave’s Killer Bread. Mmmm. (And the vegetables are on a separate plate. I swear.)

 

The 80/20 Rule is one way we describe our expectations of other people, or circumstances of which we are not the boss. We accept that what happens is often the result of less-than-100% effort. And we’re okay with that.

We can think about lunch this way, too. Just on workdays, eat a little better and be proud about finally pursuing that thing you’ve always promised yourself you’d do. If you work five days out of seven, there’s your 80%. (I know the math doesn’t exactly work out, but I was an English major.) The bottom line: 80%-ish of something is better than 100% of nothing.

And if we’re willing to be realistic and honest about what we expect from other people, why not show ourselves that same kindness?


Muy Bueno, Joe!

 

Joe is a busy executive, vice president kind of guy. His Box Lunch Lifestyle means a chance to practice his Spanish whenever he can—like during lunch.

Even though it's not easy, I find that even 15-20 minutes of Spanish practice over lunchtime makes the lunch break more meaningful. Focusing on something other than the problems of the day is like cross-training for the brain. Even if I only practice for a few minutes, I find that it helps to clear my brain for the afternoon's work.

Joe says he’s still working on making more meaningful food choices at lunch, and to make bringing his own lunch a habit. But progress is progress!

Muy bueno, José! (Oops, Joe.) ¡Sigue adelante!

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Meal Planning Resource: Paprika

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“‘Homemade’ is too hard. I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Fortunately, a lot of other people have already done the “get started” part for you. Paprika is just one example. Here’s what Box Lunch Lifer Tina has to say about this recipe-finder-and-manager app:

I love Paprika. It’s everything food-related that I need to make lunches (or anything else): menus, a recipe book, and the ability to search for recipes and save them right from the site—no copying and pasting from another app.

If homemade is new for you, Paprika helps you recipes AND connects you to other resources with the BLL mindset, like 100 Days of Real Food. Lisa Leake reminds us why we want to keep cutting down on too-processed foods, and inspires us with the resources to DO IT. An example of a totally doable two-vegetable recipe is Easy Butternut Squash Salad with Feta. (When’s the last time you ate squash? It’s better than you remember, and it really deserves a better name.)

Paprika will save your favorite recipes from any site and add the ingredients to your grocery list. One step at a time, apps like this one can get you closer to your Box Lunch Lifestyle “better food” goal.

Don’t be stopped because you don’t know where to start. The sooner you get going, the sooner your better lunch food can fuel those quiet dreams. If you give this a try, or have another app to recommend, don’t be shy! I’d love to hear from you.

 

Note: I don’t get paid by Paprika or 100 Days of Real Food. I just want you give any tool a chance that will get you one step closer to a better lunch.



Before and...Now

The hero in this Men’s Health story lost a lot of weight and really leveled up in the “better health” department. By eating the same homemade chicken-vegetable-rice lunch for four years, Ian Sullivan lost 145 pounds.

I always would say my lunch box saved my life.
— Ian Sullivan, on losing weight

When people hear stories like this one, they say, “Wow! That’s amazing!!” Ian’s story IS amazing, but it’s not a Box Lunch Lifestyle kind of success story. 

The discipline it takes to live a Box Lunch Lifestyle isn’t about losing weight. It’s about who you want to be today no matter what the scale says. There are no Before and After pictures because there is no “After.” The lifestyle you build for yourself keeps going. You choose again and again.

What we want is to feel excited about life right now. So, do something today that matters to you and eat something that gives you the energy to do it. The rest of the world probably won’t even know, but today (not four years from now) you’ll be saying quietly to yourself, “Wow! That’s amazing!”




Go-To Gear: GoEat™ Salt + Pepper Set

 
 
 

Some people buy shoes. My shopping weakness is lunch gear. Do you need a salt and pepper set for your lunch? Maybe. Do you need one that’s any fancier than this one? No.

But these little guys are so intentionally and cleverly designed, just like all the other not-cutesy stuff from Joseph Joseph. The canisters are easy to fill (and not necessarily with salt and pepper), and they stick together end-to-end like magic. Or like magnets, actually.

Being the person you want to be at lunch might mean being someone who gets spoiled a little bit sometimes. You don’t need anyone else’s permission for a little “something nice” at lunch. You’ve got You.

 

Showing Beats Telling

Another big thank you to Evan Johnson @  Ellida Photo  for this one.

Another big thank you to Evan Johnson @ Ellida Photo for this one.

This article is just one of a ton that talk about how much people appreciate being appreciated at work. (Are we surprised by this?) Lots of places have some kind of formal system to show appreciation for the work people do, but do people hear that they are appreciated just for being...themselves?

A “loud” message probably won’t work as well as one that’s sincere. Something honest and simple—like Box Lunch Lifestyle—could be a great way to show, not tell, your team they matter as people. It isn’t complicated, expensive, or risky. It’s just lunch. You don’t need the board to sign off on this. You could start tomorrow. And when you start encouraging people to make their own food and take time for themselves—and do it yourself—your team will hear messages like these: 

 “I appreciate that you need to refuel. I’ll help make sure you have some time to eat (and hopefully something better for you than cheap takeout pizza).”

 “I think you’re worth investing in, so this time is yours to do something that matters to you as a person.”

“You should feel strong at the end of the day—not exhausted—and taking a real lunch break will help. What you do after the work day ends matters, too.”

By not subtly sending this message, aren’t you subtly NOT sending this message?

When you’re ready to see this kind of please-take-care-of-yourself change happen where you work, let me know. I’d love to help. 

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