The lunch crunch
How to make the most of your break … the healthy way!
Let’s face it, the morning cup of coffee only gets us so far in the day. By lunchtime, our bodies need some good, healthy input to help us power through the afternoon and remaining productive.
Lunchtime is the perfect time to refuel both physically and mentally. The following are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind so that you can make this time work for you.
• DO allow yourself a break, even if it’s a short one. Sitting for long periods of time not only is monotonous, but also it's not good for your circulation, your muscles, and your waistline.
• DO consume healthy, lean protein sources like baked or grilled chicken or turkey, to name a couple of good options. Protein provides satiety, which will help you through that mid-afternoon slump.
• DO find an accountability buddy, if weight loss is your goal. Spending some time together at lunch may be the difference between making a healthy option to eat publicly and sneaking in the break room for a bag of cookies.
• DO take a few moments to do some simple stretches. You don't have to go into a full on yoga session, but a few stretches of muscles in the lower legs, back and neck may feel invigorating as you get your blood circulating.
• DO drink water, if possible. A nice cold glass will perk you up, hydrate you, assist with digestion, and provide a mental boost knowing you're doing something good for your body. How often does your soda do that?
• DO NOT use your hour for a power walk that leads you to the large milkshake at the ice cream store nearby. In no way will you burn close to the calories you are consuming, so you can't justify it (even if you try!).
• DO NOT skip the meal. As much as you may want to (and sometimes feel you need to) plow through your work to-do list, even a short break could be the difference between surviving the day and fizzling out.
• DO NOT consume heavy, fried foods. They may sit heavily in your stomach, and even upset it, making for a long rest of the workday.
• DO NOT hit the local fast food restaurants every day. It's expensive, and even their seemingly healthy options are not the most healthy. Restaurant salad dressings are loaded with unhealthy fat and calories, taking away from any nutritional gains you'd make with the chicken and vegetables tossed in.
• DO NOT just sit there. Move around, if possible. Sometimes a simple walk around the office or campus can clear your mind and provide enough of a mental break so that when you sit down after lunch you are refreshed and rejuvenated.
Healthy choices—even small or simple ones—all add up. Whether you have the luxury of a whole hour and can hit the gym for a quick cardio or weights session or need to squeeze in a few stretches while eating your nutrient–dense lunch in the 5 minutes between meetings, it all contributes to a better, healthier, more productive you.
Please consult your physician before starting a diet and exercise program.
Marci D’Alessio is a certified personal trainer.
May 17, 2011