I want to tell you about a fellow named David, a retired educator and part-time tutor of mathematics who works in the Math Learning Center, a place just down the hall from the Writing Assistance Center, the place I manage and often mention in blogs I write for Wise & Shine.
David is one of the most relentlessly positive people a person is ever likely to meet. He worked in public education in Texas for decades—this automatically makes him a total badass—and yet he never committed suicide or developed any sort of obvious neuroses. That he lived such a life and yet remained apparently unscathed is testimony to what sort of dude he is.
Having said all that, I will admit that he’s eccentric. That’s totally fine though. Heck, all the really cool people have at least of touch of the weirdness about them. Being odd and totally authentic are the opposite of being bad things. I’m rarely attracted to people who others like to refer to as “normal.”
I’ve been trying to figure out how old he is for a long time. Given what I know about his career and life, I’d guess that he’s anywhere from seventy-five to eighty-five years old. He once told me that he retired, spent a few years at home, and then decided that he wanted to work again which is how he ended up as a tutor at the college.
David is also lean as hell. He has the body of marathoner. He’s of average height but probably weighs about 130 pounds, if that. And when he walks, he moves about like a fellow in his mid-thirties.
The other day, when we weren’t getting many students coming in for help, I walked down the hallway to spend a few minutes chatting with David. We started talking about walking and exercise, and I heard his entire philosophy about how he maintains his shape and fitness. He then told me something I’d never heard of before. He shared an interesting life hack with me that I’ve decided to try myself and share with you.
David does what he calls “walking lunches” while he’s at work. Then, in the evenings, after he’s gone home for the day, he does “walking dinners.”
His walking lunches—I’ll be trying one today, in a couple of hours—work like this. He brings a sandwich or two to work, and during his lunch break, he eats his meal while he’s walking around and exploring the campus.
He explains that this forces him to eat small quantities because a person can’t carry a large bundle of food while he’s walking. Plus, he feels like his body becomes very efficient during such a meal. He burns the calories at the moment he’s taking them in.
Another reason I’m writing about David is that I love the way he embraces the unconventional. We’ve long thought that meals have to take place in a certain way at certain times and in an appropriate setting. We’ve even got special places (cafeterias, restaurants, and dining rooms) where meals are served and consumed. David’s walking lunches upend all that. When I asked him to share his thoughts about eating next to his computer, he became quite animated. Under no circumstances would he ever eat a meal while looking at a screen of any type. After all, the best way to consume food is in nature where one’s senses, including the sense of taste, are most alive and receptive to stimuli.
David has an almost spiritual feeling about his body moving through space. He thinks movement encourages awareness and keeps the senses sharp and engaged. Furthermore, food tastes more delicious when the body is most awake.
So much of what we do and how we do it is rooted in habit. John Irving, one of my favorite writers, has said that “Good habits are worth being fanatical about.” But what about bad habits or habits we never critically consider? David would likely say look at them. If they pass muster, keep them. If they don’t, find the nearest trashcan.
I just finished my first walking lunch and it felt great. Normally, I would eschew multi-tasking, but eating and walking make nice partners. In fact, the walking made the eating more enjoyable and the eating made the walking nicer. That’s a win-win where I come from.