The final part of our 3 part series on weight loss will be 10 practical tips for weight loss and confidence.
1) Our Prophet (PBUH) once said that cleanliness is a part of our faith. Of course we know this as ghusl and wudhu have been made obligatory in our lives – but how often do we consider it outside of what we perceive? When many people are asked about what makes them feel good about themselves they say it is the fact that they really do feel good externally, which has an impact on how they feel about themselves internally. Now I know how easy it is for hijabi’s to let their hair get greasy to a point of no return (I know how it is with the oil!). Or the moustaches and mono-brows peeping through, and I’ve seen how men let their beards and moustaches look astray. However it’s surprising how tiny little things like that can make a huge difference to your everyday – and it’s not a sudden process, it’s a gradual process. So ladies it’s okay to ‘let it go’ but make sure you get yourself some pick me up! Splash out on that shampoo, go ahead and get that yummy smelling body wash, and you know you want that plush loofah. Men, it’s also okay to get good washing products, and those fine bladed razors, and making yourself smell good! You’re here to impress yourself and Allah – Allah loves beauty, so make yourself beautiful!
2) Are you presentable? I’m not saying you have to be prim and proper when you’re at home (If any of you reading this saw me at home, you would either laugh, cry or be totally disgusted!) but it’s nice to “look good”, within boundaries of course – there’s no need for luxurious brands, but just to “look good”. I know how easy it is to just slip any old jilbab and that same old hijab with the same bag and the same shoes – and I’m pretty sure men are the same too. However, when I have felt really down before, I give myself something worth complimenting myself about! It’s not vain to say “Yeah, you look good today!”. If you can compliment yourself about something, it gives others a reason to compliment you too! (Not that you’re doing it for the attention, it’s still nice though) Whether you’re meeting a group of friends, going shopping, a coffee date or even jummah – it’s nice to make an effort for yourself, and others. You’ll feel great, and you’ll begin to carry yourself more confidently. So, spice it up a little!
3) Have you got that vibe around you? Scientific studies have shown that friends can have an impact on how you feel about yourself and how healthy you are. More importantly, Islam says this too. The Prophet (pbuh) had stressed that the company we choose has a massive impact on our imaan – which of course influences how we feel about ourselves and how we live our lives. If you’ve got friends that don’t give off a good vibe about confidence, or even put you down a lot for all the wrong reasons – then maybe it’s time you become the friend that changes everything. Having friends for the sake of Allah helped me hugely and I couldn’t thank Allah more. My ladies and I work out together, send each other motivational quotes, recipe ideas, and tag each other on Instagram (it’s a lifeline for us) and all sorts. It’s different when someone really understands – and especially the society I live in where it is difficult for Muslim women to be physically active and generally healthy, so we all cram into my summer shed and get our sweat on! (It’s also been proven having a workout/diet buddy increases success – motivational bonus!)
4) It’s NOT a temporary change. We’ve all been there where we just go cold turkey, try every diet, routine and timetable out there and it’s because we expect a change, and fast. However, you can’t treat it like a ‘go to slimming world’, you have to treat it like a lifestyle, and a lifestyle takes a while to change, so have patience, set long term goals, and go with the flow. You’ll find that the more you pace yourself – the less urges and cravings you’ll have and the more strength and love you have for your new lifestyle (and your new self!). When a brother told me this, he also mentioned that you should take everything with a pinch of salt. Just because something worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. Everyone’s body is different, has different requirements and works with different things – that’s why making it a lifestyle will ensure that you find what works best for you.
5) “Water, water, water! Make water your best friend. Before I eat a meal I always drink a huge glass of water and another glass half way through (the sunnah is 1/3 food 1/3 water 1/3 air).” Water has so many benefits, and I think we all secretly know this but we are just too stubborn to drink a few more sips a day. I have a few friends who were very anti-water, but started drinking a few more glasses each day, and now can’t live without a 2 litre bottle by their side! So it’s all about baby steps. You can even make things a little bit more exotic by adding mint leaves, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, cucumber and all sorts so you can detox at the same time. You also know water is your best friend when it keeps you full and stops you from unnecessary snacking.
6) My personal favourite thing about a healthy lifestyle is cheat day! Yes, even health and fitness instructors have encouraged one day of the week or even every 2 weeks you just let it go! No exercise and eat whatever you want! (With consideration, don’t over eat and don’t eat your whole weeks intake of calories!). My tips for cheat days after much trial and error is have one grossly fatty meal in your cheat day, whether it be a full English, a burger and chips or a pizza and a movie, I choose one of the 3. For the rest of the day I choose things that are slightly higher in calories or carbs than what I usually would have e.g instead of veggies, I’ll make potato wedges, or instead of grilled chicken, a juicy steak. I also choose a few snacks in my cheat day that I’ve been craving all week, such as crisps (they are my ultimate weakness). Cheat days give the body a small break, and will make the body work harder the following day. This also prevents me from over indulging and cheating myself during the week. However, only give yourself a cheat day if you know you deserve it, don’t cheat yourself!
7) Assure yourself! One thing that never came to mind that a sister told me who had been struggling with her weight for many years is that you need to convince yourself that you can do it. Don’t simply ‘tell’ yourself that you should become healthy, and you ‘can’ get through these last 10 squats – rather you need to scream from where it burns! You will do this! She told me that nothing helped her more than being her own motivator, and no it’s not crazy to talk to yourself. She said that she would ask herself if she was really hungry or really needed that Krispy Kreme donut, and she would think about how hard she worked to then throw it all away with an unnecessary treat. Whilst she worked out, she would push through the burn and say to herself “Tomorrow will be easier. Tomorrow I will do one more. Tomorrow I’ll be stronger. I will do this”. It’s mind over body!
8) Say no to carbs, yes to protein. I used to live off fresh bread, and pasta, and so it was really difficult for me to even comprehend not eating them on a daily. However, I found my lifesaver, complex carbs! I still have all the same carbs I used to, but a healthier and much tastier alternative. Everything I have is wholemeal, brown is good! Paired with proteins such as chicken, eggs, lots of fish and fat burning vegetables and fruits such as kale, spinach, grapefruit and more – all vegetables and fruits are excellent. Healthy alternatives are not expensive, and are actually much cheaper! I never used to cook before, but now I love it, I know exactly how many calories and how much protein I’m consuming, and I enjoy experimenting with herbs and spices. I feel like Jamie in my 15 minute meals sometimes!
9) My workout buddy made a very good point in our morning workout the other day which gave me more motivation to work harder and strive for better. We were talking about Ramadhan whilst stretching and she said “when I put on more weight, or stop working out for a little while, I get lazy in everything. It’s really bad, I keep salah to only fardh or last minute, I procrastinate in all my work and I just find it difficult to focus or get up generally”, and I totally agreed with her because it does happen. She carried on saying “but when I’m active like this, I find that I have more time, I’m more awake, my salah is on point, and I have much more gratitude. Let’s get fit for Ramadhan, because the sahaba used to spend months in advance preparing for Ramadhan spiritually, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it physically? We spend a long time standing in taraweeh, and our posture needs to be correct, we also spend long periods of time reading Quran, dhikr, and on top of that we still need to work and do our normal chores. If we can build up our stamina and pace now, it will help us spiritually because even now, being healthy helps me – we’ll fly through Ramadhan In Shaa Allah.” – motivation alert!
10) I actually received this tip a long time ago, and I didn’t really take notice of it until recently because I didn’t think it would help a lot. How many of us are on social media? From Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or whatever else there is out there now, and whatever we may use it for, personal or business, we could take advantage and use it for our health too! Recently I cleaned out my Instagram and started following healthy fitness profiles, not ones that promote extreme weight disorders, and it has a made huge impact! I usually have a quick flick through Instagram in the morning whilst I’m making breakfast, or whilst I’m walking or have a spare minute – and it just gives me a quick inspiring boost! I either see an inspirational quote, a short workout video, or a healthy recipe – and I feel much better than what I did when I used to ogle at clothes and jewellery as a time passer. Have a social media clean out! The point is to have positivity and inspiration in all aspects of your life.
I hope these tips help all of you that are reading, and although that most of them may seem simple and straight forward, everyone is different and so take healthy baby steps. Try to make one small change every day, and by the end of the week you’ll already be a new you. This is a lifestyle journey, so set small goals to achieve to become stronger, healthier and fitter. Remember that it’s okay to flop every now and again, but don’t treat it as a failure, simply an experiment where you don’t have to start from the beginning – just pick up from where you left off. Be an example for all, not just for Muslims, but everyone who struggles with weight loss and confidence issues – and show people who you are and what you can achieve.
If you have any advice or tips that worked for you, then a generous comment below will go a long way!