Friday, 21 March 2014

My first 10 km, Weight Maintenance & Looking Forward

On Wednesday evening I finished my first ten km race! In my very first blog post here at Ceara's Kitchen I discuss how I've grown from a state where I'd lose my breath attempting to run to catch the bus at the end of the street towards becoming one of those crazy people - you know who are you are ;) - who actually look forward to their morning jog. This post is a bit of a catch up of how I am doing running wise, in terms of maintaining my weight and what goals I am looking forward to in the upcoming future. If you need a catch up on my "before and ever-continuing after" I talk about overcoming my past of yo-yo dieting and continually working towards living a healthier lifestyle here.



My first Ten K: 
Let's just say Wednesday evening was amazing. I ran my first ten km race and completed the goal I initially set out for myself by finishing strong at 63 minutes! This race was different - I ran it alone, in the middle of the week, with a group of people I do not know, without any fancy finishing medals, or friends or family physically present to cheer me on at the finish line. I'm happy to say, I ran this race for myself and for all the times in my life that I felt as if I could not run.
                                                                                             
All in all I felt great during the race. I tried my best to start the race "slowly" but there is something so instinctive about running in a large group of people. With my adrenaline pumping, my tunes blasting as well as overhearing the sounds of the hundreds of feet quickly thumping against the ground - starting slow just did not seem like an option for me at the time. I started the race feeling strong, happy and a bit like Katniss from the Hunger Games with a long braid in my hair. It also probably helped that this amazing-girl-power song started right as my feet started moving {Let's go girls!} and at that very moment I knew it was going to be an awesome run! I gave myself a little bit of a break at around kilometer six (3.7 miles) where I slowed down and allowed myself to catch my breath and prepare mentally and physically for the final stretch. Around kilometer seven I started to speed up my pace and by kilometer nine I was running as fast I could to pass through the final finish line.

A thousand thoughts were zooming through my head as I was running. At one point, when we were running on a wonderful path, in between a small forest of tall trees, I remember thinking "This life and this world are beautiful". This could have very well been when a blast of happy hormones were released into my brain because at that very moment I also felt as if my legs could take me anywhere. Some might call this "runner's high" ;) At another point in the race, I contemplated how I got to this very moment - somewhere so far from where I was a couple years ago. I imagined myself racing past the finish line, with a huge smile in my race and a jump in my step, knowing that I've worked so hard to get where I am today. The mantra that carried me through my entire run was the very thought that "I can do this, I am capable, I got this". After zooming through the finish line, just like I imagined it, I walked home from the race, through crowds of students, and contemplated how surreal it felt that it was all over. I smiled to myself knowing that I've come so far and knowing deep down that I am capable of accomplishing my next big goal - a 16 km race at the end of April! This 10 km race was just what I needed to prepare mentally, more than anything, for the next big race day.

Maintaining My Goal Weight:
I've been meaning to write about maintaining my goal weight for a while now because I truly believe that it is a topic that is not talked about enough especially among people who have lost a considerable amount of weight. The media focuses so much on weight loss (often in unhealthy ways) that the actual lifestyle of healthy living and activity is often tucked under the rug. I recently shared some of My Healthy "Weight Loss" Tips in terms of living a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I think it's important to share my take on weight maintenance, as I've lived it, over the past several months.

When you are overweight and out of shape, losing weight (in a healthy way) can almost feel like a game where you are watching the numbers go down on the scale as well as often enjoying the look & feel of experiencing the many benefits of healthy weight loss. Once I reached my comfortable "goal" weight and my weight loss naturally slowed down the second part of my journey began. It was definitively an adjustment going from a state where I would look forward to seeing my latest results each week to learning to figure out what works best for my body in terms of staying at my current weight. Weight loss, for me, was just the beginning of my path towards becoming a more health-conscious individual. I continued to enjoy all of the amazing and energy-boosting fruits and veggies I worked into my day-to-day when I was losing weight but also started to rely less and less on "diet" foods. Though these low-cal and low-fat quick fixes initially helped to kick my cravings, I no longer wanted to rely on the fake and manufactured ingredients found in the "100 calorie" snack packs. Around this time I also started to move towards eating a vegetarian diet after reading about its health benefits and its positive effects on the environment. Since then I continue to keep making small improvements in my health that made me feel better about myself and the ways in which my food choices affect how I feel as well as the world around me. 

To be perfectly candid, weight maintenance has its ups and downs. Some days feel like a piece of cake (ha!) and other days I feel as if I've slipped and given into mindless cravings or have forgotten everything I've learned about consciously eating. Even though some days seem harder and some easier, I always remind myself of how far I have come and never let myself feel guilty about enjoying something I love. I continuously try to find ways to squeeze in more activity and increasingly find more balance in my love affair with food as well as my relationship with my body and mind every day. I've learned through listening to my body that I feel best when I keep track of what I eat (in my head or by writing it down), eat lots (and I mean lots) of fruits and veggies, get my energy off of a variety of vegetarian & plant-based, real & whole food sources as well as being active every day. My weight is also easiest to maintain when I weigh myself weekly or bi-weekly (I feel that when I weigh myself more I become too “obsessive” with the number and I never want to feel as if I am “a slave to the scale”). I've discovered that the most important part of weight maintenance is continuing to try and make healthy improvements to my diet as well setting new goals that I look forward to in the future! As I mentioned before, "my after" is something I am always trying to progress towards through becoming more conscious about what works well in terms of how I feel and my body.

Looking Forward:
I am getting to the point where I sometimes forget how far I have come since the days when I felt trapped within an unhealthy and inactive lifestyle. It hits me sometimes at the strangest moments like when I was weighing my suitcase at the end of the Christmas break before coming back to Belgium - when I lifted it up (barely) to put it on the scale, I thought "woah, I actually used to carry that around with me day in and day out!". I am now trying to focus my energy on setting new goals for myself in the near future. My next major goal will be to run a 16 km race at the end of April and then hopefully a half marathon this summer! I am also working on improving my strength through making strength training a priority in my workouts (something I really need to work on!). I’ve been starting with simple strength training workouts on top of my yoga practice and am looking forward to seeing some great results soon. Here's to feeling strong, healthy and great about ourselves from the inside-out! :D

Healthy...
{Source: Pinterest}

Wishing you a great week  Let me know what you think or if you try this out in the comments, I love hearing your feedback!



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10 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post, Ceara! First off - a HUGE congrats on your first 10k! That's impressive! Although I've been active in a number of sports and different athletic pursuits all my life, I never really enjoyed plain-old-running all that much (unless it was on the soccer field) - until my little daughter came along. She loves running and from a young age has participated in a youth cross-country team. She inspires us all, and has given my husband and me the kick-in-the-pants we needed to get running, so that she would have chaperones to run with her. My body (and my little pup!) thank her for it! I've never run more than 5k races, though, and I totally admire your commitment to reaching further as you've finished this 10k - you go, girl! I also applaud your healthy, balanced, sensible words on maintaining a desired weight and staying healthy. There are often way too many fad diets and marketing campaigns that lead people down the wrong path and away from a long-term, sustainable lifestyle. Hey - hope you have an awesome weekend! :D

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and the congratulations Shelley :) I love to hear that you enjoy running as a family with your daughter and hubby - that is amazing and something so special that you can enjoy together! Your daughter sounds so inspiring! Whenever I'm back home I try to squeeze in a couple runs with my family as well, I love finding active things we can enjoy together (especially when a little push to get out the door is needed!). Hope you and your family are enjoying an amazing weekend as well! :)

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    1. Thanks Ilona! I think we all have to just find something we love doing and I know running is definitively not for everyone :) By the way, your homemade granola looks amazing!!

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  3. I am so proud of you and your accomplishments baby! ♡ Love Dad (another 10k-er)

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    1. Thanks Papa aka "Mr. I run/bike 10 km to work everyday" ❤ xoxo Looking forward to running a race together this summer :)

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  4. Congrats on running 10k and finishing!!! Maintaining your weight is such a wonderful thing, I always seem to fluctuate.

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    1. Thanks Shundara for the support and kind words - it was a blast :) I know what you mean about fluctuation - it is something I am continually working on!

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  5. Yeah 10K!!! That is so so awesome. You should be so proud of yourself :) Cheers to your ongoing strength, health and happiness!

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    1. Thanks for the love and kind words Cara - it means a lot :)

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