ADVENTURES IN FOOD & FITNESS: Fort Wayne native’s ‘Lunch Break’ taps into yearning for smarter work/life balance

Kyle Ellis, a 2005 Northrop graduate, is the founder of Lunch Break, a newsletter dedicated to creating a smarter work/life balance. (Courtesy photo)
Eating a healthy lunch and spending time outdoors are two of the ways successful people create a midday reset for both mind and body, according to Lunch Break founder Kyle Ellis. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s Note: We corrected a previous version of the story which incorrectly identified Mr. Ellis’ place of business. He works for American City Business Journals. We apologize for the mistake.

How do you spend your lunch break?

It’s your time, so obviously you can use it however you like. But is that what’s really happening – or are you just going through the motions of taking a break, without any real purpose or benefit?

After a particularly stressful morning earlier this year, Kyle Ellis found himself “relaxing” by munching vending machine chips and scrolling through Instagram.

“That kind of bummed me out,” said Ellis, a 2005 Northrop graduate who’s now a senior product manager for American City Business Journals in Charlotte, N.C. “I wish I’d done something more intentional with my time,”

Researching what successful people do on their lunch breaks, Ellis discovered some definite patterns. A common theme: The importance of creating a midday reset for both mind and body.

Ellis has since packaged his discoveries into a weekly newsletter. Lunch Break is equally divided between smart reads on lifestyle reengineering, simple but healthy meal ideas and amusing or intriguing “daily distractions.” Popular articles that have appeared thus far include “how to read a room” before giving a presentation and how to relax at work without leaving your desk.

Two months in, Lunch Break already has over 2,000 subscribers. Ellis likes to think he’s building a community of people yearning to live and work smarter with less stress.

“There’s all this talk about self care, as if it’s a glass of wine and a face mask after work. But there’s more to it than that,” he said. If you wait until the workday is over to rejuvenate, you’re likely squandering your afternoon effectiveness.

And if you use your lunch hour to work toward a goal, that adds up to around 250 hours in a year’s time.

The project has made Ellis much more aware of his own habits. He now avoids the vending machine, for instance, and is more apt to notice if he’s gone more than a meal or two without eating veggies.

He’s not the type to work out during his workday, though he might walk a few blocks to Starbucks or meditate using an app called Headspace.

“I’m not the poster child of health and fitness,” he admits.

But Ellis says the point of Lunch Break is not to strive to imitate others, but to become the best version of yourself. He likes to think his personal shortcomings give his newsletter more authenticity.

“The goal,” he says, “is to live your best life, but in a way that is authentic and approachable and real.”

These days, Ellis is most likely to spend his lunch break working on Lunch Break. (The interview for this column, for instance, took place at noon.)

But Ellis wasn’t “working through lunch,” chained to his desk. He’d left the office and walked outside to draw a definite line between work and personal time. After the interview, he planned to eat a healthy pasta dish he’d packed from home, along with a kale salad.

“Working on Lunch Break has made me better at my day job,” Ellis said. Not only has he become a tighter writer and improved his marketing skills, but he inevitably returns to work feeling energized.

“I”m not really looking to monetize it at this point,” he said. “Right now my mission is to build something that people find value in. This is something that I feel pretty passionate about.”

It’s still early, but he’s already thinking about fun, low key ways for his readers to connect.

“Maybe at some point we could try Lunch Break meetups in different cities,” he said.

To learn more

Check out Lunch Break at betterlunchbreak.com.

Tanya Isch Caylor blogs about postfat living at www.90in9.wordpress.com. Contact her at tischcaylor@gmail.com. This column is the personal view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.