Quiz: Do you have Adultitis?

You could. And, man, is it SERIOUS!

Are you exhibiting any of these symptoms?

  • ignoring your dreams and passions to pursue the things that your mom/neighbor/society thinks you should do

  • have a wrinkled brow, hunched or droopy shoulders, a visibly frenetic pace, excessive frowning, or zombie-like stares

  • in a job that makes you want to shoot yourself out of a cannon into a brick wall, regardless of how much they pay you

  • habitually take yourself too seriously while neglecting things that make you smile

  • feel like a slave to what other people think, and mask your true identity from others

Kim and Jason Kotecki, the founders of The Cure Adultitis Institute, encourage you to get tested immediately. It only costs an email address, but isn’t it worth it to avoid succumbing to this potentially lethal disease?

If you don’t think anything on this website funny, I think it may already be too late for you.

If you don’t think anything on this website funny, I think it may already be too late for you.

Different fights. Same big win.

gloves resize test.jpg

Most people know that there are different boxing weight classes (e.g. featherweight, welterweight, heavyweight), but did you know that length of an amateur fight varies a lot, too?

For example, pee-wee boxers (ages 8-10) can go for three one-minutes rounds, and elite females (experienced fighters ages 19-40) can fight four three-minute rounds. And there’s a big difference between spending 3 minutes and 12 minutes in the ring.

But all fighters train pretty much the same way: push-ups, hand pads, heavy bag, burpees and sprints. (And more.) It requires the discipline to show up at the gym, and show up for themselves at home, like getting enough sleep. All fighters learn what it means to feel brave, and to feel afraid.

Whatever fight you’re trying to win is personal. Maybe your dream isn’t to show the world you’re still standing at the end of three sweaty boxing rounds. For you, it’s finally becoming a writer, or building something with your hands. Maybe it’s just being a person who can take a few deep breaths when you need them.

No matter what the fight is that’s so intimately our own, what we want is the same: to show the world what our best looks like. 

That’s means getting started the same way everybody else gets started, whether you’re a pee-wee or an elite, a pro or an amateur. Show up for yourself, and show yourself what your best can look like even if its for just minutes in what would otherwise be a typical day.

Tina Goes the Distance

Tina’s been building her Box Lunch Lifestyle for over a year! When she started, she was facing a better-food-slump caused by allergies:

Tina designed the BLL logo! Learn more about her work  here .

Tina designed the BLL logo! Learn more about her work here.

Struggling with food restrictions is the worst. When you can’t have foods like eggs or dairy, you tend to eat the same “safe” food over and over. I want to eat better, and now I’m a lot more creative about making dishes I like using food that I know won’t affect me badly.

But her lunch was about more than just food. 

With my goals, I’m not really that good at keeping them up, but Box Lunch Lifestyle has definitely made me think more often about taking time for myself.

Over the past several months, Tina’s started making beautifully-sewn projects again--something she’s loved doing since she was a kid. She’s spent lunch time looking for patterns and fabric, and now a lot of non-work hours go into what could be a promising side hustle. Or just being the artist that she’s meant to be.

Way to go, Tina! Be sure to show us the next beautiful, creative thing you put out into the world!

Looking for Your Quiet Dreams? Walk.

 
Like this? See more Ellida Photo originals  here .

Like this? See more Ellida Photo originals here.

 

Moving around for your 15 minutes of just-for-you lunch time can feel pretty good. Maybe that IS your quiet dream: to be someone who walks or gets outside more. Cool. Do it.

But if you can’t decide how to spend that time, walking (without media blocking out your surroundings) can spark ideas. Walking changes how you think by shaking up your senses: seeing new things or feeling the weather if you can be outdoors. This article in The New Yorker says we can even change the pace of our thoughts by walking faster or slower.

There’s nothing that you SHOULD be doing. So try getting a little more oxygen—and a little less ordinariness—in the middle of the day, and see where your wandering mind takes you.

I don't care how much you weigh.

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I think too many people worry about weight. I get that some people’s health may be in jeopardy if their bodies have an extreme amount of fat (either too little or too much). But every human body has fat on it. We all carry it differently, and will look like ourselves, whether we have more or less of it than [insert your celebrity of choice here].

When we feel dissatisfied with life, it’s too easy to think that changing only one part of our lifestyle is enough. I don’t think your weight is that “one thing.”

At my boxing gym, your weight doesn’t matter much. The telling-your-weight taboo has been trampled to death, and now I don’t blink when a stranger asks me how much I weigh. My coaches won’t assign a “right” weight for me. (I’ve asked. They always reply with, “How do you feel now?” And that’s up to me. Not anyone else.)

For boxers, weight is about competition. They care about how you’ll fight based, in part, on your size. It’s not about YOU. It’s about how weight could change what you DO.

Your weight may not often matter in boxing, your BODY always does. To keep it healthy, need sleep, and water, and a good attitude. It helps to have fun. Be happy.

Winning is your body on a full-potential trajectory, not a measure of fat, water, and flesh.


You have a body so that you can do the things you’re meant to do. So what is it that you physically can’t do because of how many pounds your body weighs? Play with your kids? Write a novel? Take a trip? If you want to be a person who runs marathons, you may be at a disadvantage if you have more fat on your body. But if you want to play the cello, that seven pounds you’re trying to lose isn’t keeping you from success. Does this thing you’re meant to do honestly require so much of your energy going into a singular goal like losing weight? 

The lifestyle choices that make you a marathon runner are probably different than those that make you a cellist. But my point is the same: you eat to create the body that can change the world by doing what it loves. That’s WHY you eat. So, if you want to be a cellist, you can be a cellist right now by playing a cello instead of worrying what the scale says.

I don’t care how much you weigh. Getting honest about promising yourself to “eat better,” isn’t about size. I think it’s a distraction for most of us, and not the kind of motivation that keeps us going we. I think what we need is to start with a better lunch.



Go-To Gear: Cuppow! Turns Jars into Lunchboxes

 

Lunch practicality meets charm meets eco-friendly meets a cool name like Cuppow!

This small container rests inside any wide-mouth canning jar. It inspired Kiva to bring her lunch to work again: nuts and dried fruit in the top compartment and yogurt in the jar. Next she might try overnight oats with cream.

A quart-sized wide-mouth jar is big enough for salads or other 2-at-lunch vegetable options. Same lid, big or small jar!

 

Make a 5-Minute Food Plan

Five minutes is enough time to give yourself a fighting chance at a better lunch.

If you’re heading into a busy weekend, or just kicking off your Box Lunch Lifestyle, don’t freak out about Meal Planning. A neatly laid-out plan for the week would be lovely, but that doesn’t always happen. You can still win.

Take five minutes right now to think: what easy-to-make food can you get into your kitchen so that it lands in your next workday lunch?

Try picking two easy vegetables first. My lunch favorites are bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower (to cut up myself), and mini-cucumbers. Some good go-to “no time” go-with options are: eggs (for boiling), canned tuna or salmon, frozen peas and canned chick peas. I’m tough enough to eat any of these plain if I have to, but it’s easy to keep a “better” dressing option on hand.

 
Need ideas?  Take a peek.

Need ideas? Take a peek.

I can grab these at any grocery store in a heartbeat, and I can assemble the food the night before in less than 15 minutes.

Pick up just three items while you’re out and about and you can be proud of your lunch food the next work day—which is a BIG win especially if it’s harder post-weekend one to face than usual. Your made-for-you food will give you more energy AND you’ll have 15 minutes of time left to catch your breath and be you (instead of spending it in the car getting take-out).

Working-on-Holidays Gratitude

My sincere thanks to Evan Johnson and Gene DiLorenzo for capturing this July 4th moment.

My sincere thanks to Evan Johnson and Gene DiLorenzo for capturing this July 4th moment.

Today’s a national holiday in the U.S., which means that federal government employees have the freedom to change up their Box Lunch Lifestyle routine.

But there are as many as 28 million working Americans who don’t get any paid vacation or paid holidays. If you’re working today—whether or not it’s by choice—thank you for driving ambulances and selling us hot dog buns and fueling up our airplanes. We see and appreciate you.

Planning for Chaos: A Tip from James Clear

 
Atomic Habits   is a great, super-practical book. Do I get $ if you read it? No. What matters to me is that it could change how you see what’s possible for you.

Atomic Habits is a great, super-practical book. Do I get $ if you read it? No. What matters to me is that it could change how you see what’s possible for you.

Finish something today, even if the scope is smaller than you anticipated.
— James Clear
 

In this post, JC talks about a great weapon for fighting typical-day-chaos: reduce the scope, but stick to your schedule.

When it comes to workday lunches, you can often stick to your schedule even when the details don’t come together perfectly. Where is your day’s small win? Can you reschedule your break? If you don’t have homemade food, can you still slow down and just eat for 15 minutes? Can you spend 5 minutes on your aspiration instead of 15?

On chaotic days, don’t teach yourself that you can’t. Show yourself how you CAN. (I know you can do it.)

Psst. If you haven’t already, make a schedule to stick with! Put those 30-minute promises-to-yourself on the calendar at least three days in advance.

Quiz Follow-Up: Grit

I posted a link to researcher Angela Duckworth’s grittiness quiz a couple weeks ago. Understanding how grit is related to motivation can help us pick better strategies—at lunch, or anytime. Did you try it?

Being gritty—persevering through slumps and past roadblocks when the payoff for that work isn’t immediate—counts the most when that perseverance serves the things that matter most to YOU. Do you think of yourself as gritty about your personal aspirations, and will you call on that grit today when someone needs whatever takes you away from your lunch break? Will you be gritty when it’s tempting to set aside your homemade lunch for the take-out pizza in the break room? (It’s probably cold by now anyway…)

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Wherever your grit score falls, this article tells you how to use it to your advantage. I say that your Box Lunch Lifestyle means you’re already on the right track:

  1. You are “that person” today. You talk about yourself as the writer, or podcaster, or Italian speaker you are. Because you did it. At lunch.

  2. You look for like-minded people to join you. They don’t have to love what you love. They just need to have aspirations—like you do. You notice and connect with other people who won’t let one more day slip by unnoticed.

  3. You have a “how can I?” mindset. Before you say “no” to a lunchtime aspiration or food-related obstacle, you’re first honest with yourself about “how.”

  4. With each small step you remind yourself that you, indeed, CAN. Every workday you have another chance to prove it to yourself.

  5. Giving yourself credit is a valuable part of your Box Lunch Lifestyle practice.

Grit can help you build your satisfying Box Lunch Lifestyle, but equally essential is kindness. Many of us might wish we had more grit, but a little more self-love might be even more helpful to us as eaters, artists, bus drivers, and coders. Even boxers. Being kind means giving ourselves credit when the day doesn’t go as planned, and realizing that we used to call “failure” is a chance to learn. That’s a win, so let’s call it that.

Better food at lunch: It’s just the beginning.

The finding that healthier food choices at work may impact food choices throughout the rest of the day presents a unique opportunity for the workplace to have a positive influence on not only the employee’s health but also the health of the employee’s family.
— Anne Thorndike, MD, MPH, vice chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and associate professor at Harvard Medical School

Last week, the American Heart Association and Aramark released the results of a lunch-related survey conducted by The Harris Poll. About 1000 people responded. Here are some tidbits:

  • 35% eat a less healthy lunch when the workday is extra stressful

  • 77% make healthier decisions at other times of the day if they eat a better lunch

  • 86% prepare work lunches at home at least some of the time

Interesting.

Here’s a Box Lunch Lifestyle enthusiast’s take on this data:

  • 35% of these people let stress be the boss of them

  • 77% know from experience that lunch choices impact the rest of the day

  • 86% of them already have one foot in the door for making real change happen

You already know this stuff. 100% of people living a Box Lunch Lifestyle are investing in themselves by planning ahead and eating the food that’s best no matter what stress the day brings. Good on you! Give yourself a little pat on the back and keep going. It matters!

Enjoy (Homemade) Treats, Too

Eating better doesn’t mean giving up treats. Homemade cookies, for example, are better than the ones from the vending machine. Better cookies don’t have to taste “healthy,” either, even if you make them without wheat. And these cookies you can eat at lunch and still fit pasta dinners into your Box Lunch Lifestyle.

If you’re looking for ways to sneak them in,  here’s a cookie made with THREE vegetables . (I’m skeptical. If you try them, please let me know and I’ll share your results with everyone.)

If you’re looking for ways to sneak them in, here’s a cookie made with THREE vegetables. (I’m skeptical. If you try them, please let me know and I’ll share your results with everyone.)

I put cacao nibs (because I had them and didn’t know what else to do with them) in half of the cookie dough, and raisins (for my no-chocolate husband) in the other half. Delicious and easy.

There’s nothing bad about eating a cookie—especially if you already have two vegetables in your lunch and eat fewer refined/wheat-foods overall. That’s better. You’re winning when you eat (and enjoy) a cookie made for you by YOU.

Lunch in the World: Japan's "Lunch ON!"

Thank you to  Missy Fredrick  for the  article  that turned me on to Lunch ON!

Thank you to Missy Fredrick for the article that turned me on to Lunch ON!

Imagine this:

Your job is physically demanding and psychologically stressful. Your boss appreciates your work so much that he makes your lunch from scratch a couple times each week. And not just for you, but for everyone on the project. And not just any food, but “better” lunch food than your typical quick-grab option: a “jumble” of vegetables, noodles and fresh seafood. Together, everyone sits a long table, takes a deep breath, and talks about something other than the workday’s demands…or the next deadline…or the latest social media rant.

Well, it happens. See for yourself.

“Lunch ON!” is a seriously charming public TV show about workday lunches in Japan. (Not kidding. I couldn’t believe it either.) In one episode, a company president cooks for his team, new hires are welcomed with impressive lunch events, and special 50th birthday bentos are made by daughters for dads.

Lunch matters for these Japanese workers, and maybe in a much bigger way for all of us.

Also in this episode, a group of coworkers takes turns sharing homemade lunch food, but they bicker because their different food backgrounds: Chinese, Japanese, and Taiwanese. Each prefers their noodles cooked differently. I didn’t know this, but now I do.

What you could learn from a coworker about his homemade lunch of Japanese food? Or Somali food? Or Russian food? Or Iowan food? (It’s different.)

The possibility of fresh conversations about cultural diversity? Nurtured by lunch? I love it.

Setting the Pace

In boxing, you have a better chance of winning by being the one who sets the pace of the fight. You're at a disadvantage by just reacting over and over again to whatever gets thrown at you, or to the level of boxing intensity that’s comfortable for your opponent.

It helps to get into the ring thinking, "Here's how it's going to be."

You decide how quickly—or in what direction—you want to move. You decide when your first punch gets thrown. Even when you feel overwhelmed, there’s almost always a chance to interrupt what’s not working for you and steer it in a direction that’s…better.

So what does that have to do with lunch?

You’re not completely at the mercy of a typical day, either. Start by being honest about what you know and don't know about each work day’s lunches. How many of them do you know will happen at a predictable time/place? How many lunches are wild cards? Those brawler lunches—who knows what they’ll throw at you. But you can plan for those, too, when you call it like you actually see it. You can still be the boss of lunch.

If you haven't already, be sure those one time/one place lunches are on your calendar ASAP. That’s one way to start setting the 30-minutes when+where lunch pace that works for you. You’re immediately on track to win.

 
Thank you,  Believers’ Boxing Gym , for preserving this gem. You can hear it in the  BLL app,  too.

Thank you, Believers’ Boxing Gym, for preserving this gem. You can hear it in the BLL app, too.

 

Gretchen Rubin Reads

I love Gretchen Rubin.

I’ll confess, though, that some days I’m super-jealous of what this woman accomplishes. For example, here’s a tidbit from this morning’s email:

Every Monday, on my Facebook page, I post a photo of all the books I've read that week using the hashtag #GretchenRubinReads.

It surprises me how much satisfaction I take in doing it. I love reading the comments from readers, and I've gotten many great suggestions, too.

I also love to read, but what can I report from last week? I read one-third of one book. It’s a challenging and insightful book, but no matter how much I love what I’m reading, I generally don’t spend as much time as I’d like doing it.

What if I noticed, though, not that GR is whooping me in reading volume but that she gets satisfaction from doing and sharing what makes her feel alive? Why be jealous of that kind of satisfaction? She has it today, but I can have it, too. We all can.

During today’s lunch break, I’ll read another 15 minutes of this book. I’ll be a person who reads, and that matters just as much as how much I can read in a week, or what I eat today, for example. It counts, and I bet GR would agree.

What brought YOU satisfaction last week? Be honest: think real satisfaction, not whether it feels brag-worthy on social media? (And, to be clear, GR isn’t bragging. She’s being GR. She’s setting an example of how good it can feel to live more of the life we’re meant to experience.)

Do you think she makes her own lunch, too? All the more to love.

GR and her sister Liz host  a podcast  that’s a do-not-miss for me, full of tips to make your life a little happier—including  ideas for overcoming a lunch break stumbling block .

GR and her sister Liz host a podcast that’s a do-not-miss for me, full of tips to make your life a little happier—including ideas for overcoming a lunch break stumbling block.

Fighting the "I Can't Take a Break" Mindset

We’re humans first before we’re employees. We have needs. Even at work.

Imagine hearing this from your boss: “I suppose if you need to use the bathroom during your shift, you may, but it would be more convenient for everyone if you didn’t. Not today, please. Won’t you have time to use the bathroom after you get home? I’d prefer that you not take any minutes away from the project to evacuate your body’s waste.”

Wouldn’t you think that was strange…and cruel? 

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Refueling isn’t optional. Better food and a break for your brain is important to your body just like eliminating waste. This is what humans in “human resources” do: eat, breathe, think for themselves, experience emotions, and have bodily functions.

For most of us, work is difficult whether it’s the kind that’s tough on your body, tough on your brain, or both. If you do mostly “knowledge-based” work, you need a mid-shift break just as much as people with physically demanding jobs. You may not always feel like you need break, but not feeling it isn’t the same as not needing it. And pushing through doesn’t mean you’re strong or of better character. It could mean that you’re…well…kinda mean to yourself. You deserve better.

Taking lunch seriously can prevent exhaustion and bitterness. You’re not helping anyone by burning yourself out in an otherwise wonderful job—or starting to resent the people there. 

What ground do you think you’re losing by recharging? You’re putting yourself at an advantage over those who don’t realize it’s essential. It’s just 30 minutes. You can do this.  

Same food? Or different food?

There ARE people who eat the same lunch food every day, and I’m okay with that, despite what the writer of this article thinks:

But in my mind, eating the same thing for lunch each day represents a sober reckoning with the fundamental sameness of office life. It seems like an honest admission that life will have some drudgery in it—so accept that and find joy elsewhere instead of forcing a little bit of novelty into a Tupperware and dragging it along on your commute.

Ouch! This guy doesn’t understand Box Lunch Lifestyle: the anti-drudgery solution.

Lunch is about more than food. This meal is a tiny version of your lifestyle—and that means both what you eat and how you spend your time. Why are you here? Who do you want to be? What you need most (at lunch, and maybe in life) is food that makes being that person possible. Maybe for you it’s the same (homemade + 2 vegetables) lunch food every day. It has it’s advantages:

  • If you know what lunch food will fill you up, you can stick with it.

  • No cooking experimentation necessary.

  • Shopping and food assembly are about as dummy-proof as it gets.

  • It frees your brain up to think about stuff that’s more important than lunch food.

Here are some tips for same-food eaters from this article:

Mix up the details. Maybe your lunch is always a baked potato. Try different toppings.

Eat a variety of foods at other meals. For Box Lunch Lifestyle, that would include NOT eating wheat foods if your go-to lunch is a sandwich or wrap, for example.

Pick a lunch that works for you and your body. You make the rules that work for you. And if you have lunch food that’s easy to make and fills you up, what’s wrong with that?

If you are a same-food eater, let me know what same-food you eat. I’d love to share your ideas and suggestions in a future post.

Lunch with a Big ❤️: Shobi's Table

It’s noon. It’s a beautiful Minnesota day and people are sitting down to have lunch together. Everything on their plates—from the ham mac + cheese to the granola bar—was prepared from scratch by people who care. The salad greens were a gift from a local farm, and the even dressing was homemade. Nobody’s checking email. Nobody will feel like crap later from eating too much fried food. People were invited (some personally) to come, sit down for a few minutes, and eat something “better.”

THIS is the lunch dream I dream. And yesterday I saw it come true with my own eyes.

Shobi’s Table serves a homemade lunch to roughly 60 Saint Paul, MN, residents twice each month based on the core values of One World Everybody Eats, including:

  • Pay-what-you-can pricing

  • Patrons choosing their own portion size

  • Serving healthy, seasonal food whenever it’s available

  • Hosting a community table

This particular community table sits between two neighborhoods: one mostly of people employed by the state capitol and major medical centers, and another mostly of people who don’t.

Who should be sitting down together in your city, or neighborhood, or workplace? Everybody eats. What a lovely way to start a conversation.

P.S. Who’s Shobi anyway? In the Bible, a man named Shobi provided food to King David and his people when they fled Jerusalem. Shobi’s Table is a Christian outreach ministry, but the lunches they serve are about lunch. No theological or other strings attached.