Do your health goals for the new year often fall by the wayside by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around? This year, make sure you keep those resolutions with a few simple lunch break tricks to help you maximize your time. Lunch time is a perfect opportunity to stay on or get on track with your goals, no matter how long your break is.
1. Make Meal Plan
In the mad morning dash out the door, it can be easy to let making your lunch slide. However, that can lead to afternoon hunger, which can lead to vending machine snacks packed with sugar and fat. To stay on target and save money, it’s helpful not only to pack your lunch the night before, but to plan out your meals a week at a time.
Meal planning can be a fun excuse to try different cuisines and finally get some use out of your cookbooks. Using reusable, airtight containers, you can prepare multiple portions of healthy meals, such as salads or slow-cooker stews. You can also mix it up by replacing meals with a premade protein shake or smoothie. All you have to do in the morning is grab and go.
2. Go Out of Your Way
If you do decide to skip your sack lunch and eat out, you should look for a spot that offers healthy options. To ensure they do, check out their menus online before heading over. This can help you minimize time and stress of choosing helthy items to order.
And to really make the most of going out, be sure to choose a spot that’s far enough away that you’ll just have time to walk there and back. Walking for even 10 minutes three times a day can help you hit your target heart rate for aerobic exercise and get your muscles working, according to the Mayo Clinic. The walk back will help boost your energy level to beat that afternoon slump, so you won’t be tempted to hit sugary snacks at work.
3. Squeeze in a Workout
From a simple walk to a restaurant to a quick trip to the gym, there are a variety of ways you can fit in a workout during your lunch break and still have time to eat. If you don’t have a gym close by, you can always go for a walk or jog in your area. Even a quick climb up and down the stairs in your office building can be great exercise and even a great stress reliever. If the weather permits, take your lunch outdoors and do a short workout in a local park. A few reps of squats and lunges or a short yoga routine can make a difference when you do it every day. Plus, it won’t leave you so sweaty that you’ll need a shower before heading back to work.
4. Have Lunch with a Friend
Anything challenging is made easier when you have a support system. Instead of going solo with your new year’s goals, enlist a friend or coworker to join you. Share recipes for healthy lunches and take walks or exercise together during your break.
Just sharing a conversation over lunch can help slow down your eating. When you eat alone, you are more likely to eat faster and drink less water between bites. This could lead to you being too full and under-hydrated. A good conversation can be a perfect distraction that allows you eat slower and allows your stomach more time to digest each bite. Even more, taking sips of water between bites will make you feel fuller faster.
5. Be Consistent
One of the most important lunch break tricks to remember is that consistency is key. A healthy meal now and then or a workout once a month won’t go a long way toward meeting your new year’s resolutions, but if you’re consistent with your efforts, you’ll develop a routine that can make a big impact and may eventually become habit.
At the same time, recognize your achievements and, if you miss a week of your new routine, don’t give up. A new path takes time. In fact, it takes 66 days to form a new habit. Remember that it’s never too late to get started on the path to healthy living. If you plan out and prepare your meals in advance, make an effort to go the extra mile (literally!), team up with a friend and stick with your routine, you can make the most of your lunch break — and next year, you’ll see what a difference it’s made.