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Apr 2, 2018

Eating to Live not Living to Eat

By: Costin Shamble, BGR! Nashville Member

Growing up in a Southern food-focused family, I was accustomed to mindless eating until my mid-30s. I honestly did not begin to think about my less than healthy nutritional habits until almost seven years ago.  I had run two half marathons and numerous 5K races and took high impact courses at the local YMCA for several years but was at the heaviest weight of my life.  After my mother passed away in 2011, I realized that I had become an emotional eater.  Boredom, grief and uncertainty were surefire triggers for emotional mindless eating. 

I sometimes found myself eating foods I really do not even like as unsuccessful attempts to counter whatever unpleasant or uncomfortable emotions I was experiencing.  I wish I could say that I snapped my finger or wiggled my nose to instantly overcome this.  However, it took much soul-searching, prayer, and addressing the roots of my emotions to counter my unhealthy and mindless eating habits.

The first step that I took to move in a better nutritional direction was to create a food log of everything that I ate and drank.  I logged everything whether or not it was nutrient-dense or junk food with little nutritional value.  I also noted my mood at the time that I ate and drank everything that I consumed.  I found that I tended to eat more salty, fatty and sugar-laden foods when I was stressed, upset, or bored. I also realized that eating these types of foods only temporarily made me feel better but were followed up with feelings of low energy and sluggishness. 

After noticing this pattern, my next step was increasing my water intake.  I have always drank water regularly but realized that I was not drinking enough to complete my very active lifestyle.  I have never been a big soda drinker but have always loved fruit punches and juices.   I started cutting back on these by diluting fruit drinks with water.  I drink water exclusively about 95 percent of the time today and may have a fruit drink once every eight or nine months. 

The most important step that I took that helped me to eat more mindfully was beginning to meal prep.  I began by prepping breakfast every day.  Later, I prepped began prepping lunches too.  I found that I would do well during the workday only to come home and eat whatever was quick and easy to access for dinner.  It often resulted in me feeling lethargic all over again.

Today, I make it a priority to meal prep breakfast, lunch and dinner for four to five days a week.  There are weeks when I make this goal and others when I fall short.  Meal prep takes time and effort but I realize that I am more than worth it and feel so much better when I eat better.  It also saves money and allows me to control the ingredients in my meals.  I have ups and downs even now but remind myself why I made these changes as a motivating factor to get back on track when I veer off course.

Ladies, I challenge you to invest in yourselves by committing to consistent meal prep.  If you are currently prepping, I applaud your efforts in investing in your wellness.  If you are not yet meal prepping, I challenge you to start sooner rather than later.  You do not have to commit to go from zero to one hundred by prepping 100 percent of your meals but start small with one meal at least two to three times per week and build from there.  Be proud of your efforts to be and feel better because we all are more than worth it.

To get you started on your meal prep journey, I would like to share a quick and easy recipe that is perfect for lunch or dinner. This easy protein, non-starchy vegetable and starchy grain is simple to make and quite tasty.  Check out Pinterest and for other meal prep ideas. 

Stay hydrated, safe, and well!