Sticking to Your New Years Goals Part 3: “I want to eat breakfast everyday.”

While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, it is often the hardest to implement. Morning-times tend to be rushed; you overslept, you have to get the kids ready for school and make it to work on time, you can’t find your keys. It’s no wonder why so many people skip it.

However, adding breakfast into your daily routine may be worth it. A nutritious breakfast has been shown to:

  • Aid in a more nutritionally complete diet
  • Give a mental edge
  • Help with energy and alertness throughout the day
  • Provide more strength and endurance during physical activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Aid in weight control and appetite control

 

WHAT SHOULD BREAKFAST CONSIST OF?

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Adding a lean protein to your breakfast, such as eggs, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, will keep you feeling fuller longer. It may even hold you over until your lunchbreak at work!

Complex carbohydrates, like oatmeal or fruit, provide a slower-releasing energy which will last throughout the day.

Healthy fats, such as nuts, nut butters or avocado will not only provide you with extra energy during workout time, but will also promote the fat-burning process.

A little caffeine can give you that quick mental alertness that you so desperately need in the mornings!

 

HOW CAN I EAT BREAKFAST EVERYDAY?

  • Wake up early enough to give yourself time to prepare and eat breakfast
  • Prepare breakfast ahead of time: overnight oats are a great option
  • Have a ‘no-cook’ breakfast like Greek yogurt with granola or cottage cheese and fruit
  • Take breakfast on-the-go: Quest bar or a piece of fruit with nuts are good choices
  • If you are able you might even take some breakfast with you and eat it while you are at work

I hope these tips were beneficial and can help you to add breakfast into your daily routine, inshallah.


 

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2016 Summer Olympics

As we delve into 2016 we’re that much closer to the Summer Olympics. In 205 days more than 10,500 athletes from around the world will be lined up in Rio de Janerio, Brazil competing for their Olympic title. Rio will become the first city in South America to host the Summer Olympics. The other finalists included Madrid, Spain; Chicago, United States; and Tokyo, Japan.

The opening ceremony will take place on August 5 at Maracanã Stadium. While the opening ceremonies are often known to be quite extravagant, especially the ceremonies put on earlier in London (2012) and Bejing (2008), this year will be a low-budget production based on the countries current recession.

This year the Olympic program will feature 28 sports. The sports include: Aquatics, Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Canoeing, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Field Hockey, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Handball, Judo, Modern pentathlon, Rowing, Rigby sevens, Sailing, Shooting, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Triathlon, Volleyball, Weightlifting, and Wrestling. I don’t follow too many Olympic sports but I absolutely love watching track and field, gymnastics and diving. I love the athleticism and determination that radiates off out of these sports. I know I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, but watching them definitely gets me motivated to be my best.

Will you be watching the Olympics this year? And if so, what are your favorite sports!?


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Sticking to Your New Years Goals Part 2: “I want to cut back on sugar.”

If you’re looking to cut back sugar this year, then you are on the right track. Excess sugar, particularly added sugars, can not only lead to weight gain but also diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. In fact, even if you are thin and eating reasonably, you may still be consuming too much added sugars without even knowing it, which can harm your health regardless of being at a healthy weight.

Before we get started on how to cut back our sugar intake, let’s make a distinction between added sugars and natural sugars. Natural sugars are found in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. These foods are healthy and contain water, fiber and various nutrients. Added sugars, on the other hand, are those that are added to foods; foods which typically have little nutritional value.

Thus, in order to lose weight and optimize health you should do your best to avoid foods with added sugars. However, some sugar in your diet is unavoidable. According to the American Heart Association, men should get about 150 daily calories from sugar (9 teaspoons), and women should get about 100 daily calories from sugar (6 teaspoons).

Here are some ways to start reducing sugar:

1. Don’t add it to foods

The easiest way to cut back on sugar is to simply not add it. The biggest targets for adding sugar is cereal, coffee and tea. Instead, try to substitute with natural sugar substitutes. Use things like organic honey, agave or stevia in the raw.

2. Eliminate fruit juices and soda

Juices and sodas can seem harmless, but they contain tons of added sugars that benefit you in no way. While a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice may be OK once in a while, for the most part you want to eliminate soda and fruit juices. If plain water isn’t your thing, buy some all natural crystal light packets, or add some fresh fruit or even vegetables and herbs like cucumbers and basil, to your water to add a fresh flavor.

3. Limit fruits

While fruits contain fiber and good nutrients, they also contain quite a bit of sugar. Therefore, fruit should not be eliminated from the diet but rather limited to 1-2 servings per day. Go for lower-glycemic choices like grapefruit, apples and berries.

4. Read food labels

If you want to reduce sugar consumption, a good place to start is by knowing where all that sugar is hiding in the first place. Start reading food labels and avoid foods that have a lot of added sugars.

You may want to consider tracking your sugar intake for a few weeks. You will start to realize how much sugar you have actually been consuming and where you need to cut back. You will learn which types of foods are better and which should be limited or avoided.

5. Cream over milk

Believe it or not, milk is filled with more sugar than cream. Whole milk has 12 grams of sugar per cup, which is equal to 3 teaspoons of sugar (that’s half of the recommended daily sugar intake for women!).

And don’t be fooled by skim milk. Once all of the healthy animal fat is taken out, skim milk is essentially a sugary water. It may have less fat but it doesn’t have less sugar. Next time your drinking coffee or tea, add cream instead of milk. Unsweetened almond milk is also a good choice but may not give you the sweet taste you are looking for.

6. Contemplate complete avoidance

Some people are great with moderation. Other people have a hard time exercising willpower and can’t stop at just one. If you are one of these people, you may consider completely avoiding sugar altogether.

Sugary foods stimulate the same areas in the brain as drugs do. For this reason, people who would consider themselves ‘sugar addicts’ may lose control upon consumption. Instead of cutting back, consume healthy versions of your favorite sweets. You can use things like cocoa nibs, mashed banana, whole wheat flour, nuts and dark chocolate to make up healthy desserts.

7. Reduce or eliminate processed carbohydrates

Most processed carbs – like white bread, pasta, rice, crackers etc. – are loaded with added sugars and spike blood sugar levels quickly. Complex carbohydrates – things like brown rice, sweet potato, and whole grains – have less sugar content and release a longer lasting energy, so you don’t see that spike in blood sugar. Replacing simple carbohydrates (processed carbs) with complex carbohydrates will help reduce overall sugar intake.

8. Kick out trigger foods

Stay away from foods that will make you lose control! Nutella and ice cream are my triggers and I cannot keep them in the house. 1 tbsp of nutella turns into half of the jar and a bowl of ice cream turns into 4 heaping scoops. Get these foods out of your house and stay away from them at all costs.

9. Cut back slowly 

Unless you are a sugar addict who can’t control themselves, your best bet is to cut back slowly, otherwise, your cravings may worsen. For example, if you can’t imagine life without soda, start by drinking half regular soda and half diet soda. As time goes on increase the diet soda until that’s all your drinking, then start cutting back on that until soda is eventually eliminated from your diet altogether.

If you like your coffee sweet, start by using half of your normal sugar amount and half stevia or truvia. Use the same process with the soda and eventually you may even come to enjoy a sugarless cup of coffee.

In conclusion

While sugar may taste delicious and give you a temporary feeling of pleasure, it’s not worth the health risks. Cutting back on sugar and getting as close to the recommended daily servings as possible is one of the best things you can do for your health.

11 Ways to Stay Healthy All Year Round

It’s that time again; time to get ready for the New Year. Out with the old and in with the new. It’s really a refreshing feeling to be able to reflect on the previous year and look ahead to something new and exciting and different. Write out goals, create a plan, take advantage of a fresh start, begin your journey and start the things you haven’t gotten around to.

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The New Year is not about becoming a new you, rather it’s about becoming a better, healthier version of you. We often get confused by the word health and think it means weight loss or exercise. In reality, health encompasses all aspects of human nature from physical and mental health, to spirituality, to human relationships, even to hygiene. An important New Year’s resolution is to cultivate a well-rounded health plan to help you look and feel your best. Here are 11 ways you can maintain complete health and well-being all year round.

 

Eat right

Commit to healthy eating. Choose real foods over packaged foods, cook with fresh herbs and spices rather than overloading dishes with salt, cut back on sugar, drink more water and shop at your local farmers market whenever you can. Want help getting started? Download my Free E-Book here which includes everything you want to know about healthy eating along with a Free Meal Plan!

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Exercise

That’s right it’s time to get moving. If you’re already into working out, set some goals that will keep you motivated and challenged throughout the year. If you’re new to the game, commit to at least three times per week of any type of workout you enjoy. The fun part is exploring. Try a yoga class, hit the weights, take a fun group fitness class, get together with some friends for a hike and a picnic. Make it enjoyable and you will be more likely to stick to it year round.

 

Sleep well

A good night’s sleep is essential to your health. Sleep is your body’s time to recharge and to build the immune system back to where it should be. Sleep helps ward off fatigue, depression, anxiety and laziness. Turn off your phone, drink a hot cup of sleepy time tea, and devote 8 solid hours of your night to sleep.

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Floss daily

Flossing once a day is extremely important in terms of dental hygiene. Not only does it help with fresh breath, but it removes plaque from the areas between your teeth that your toothbrush doesn’t get. This helps to prevent cavities and gum disease. It doesn’t matter when you floss, as long as you do it daily and do a thorough job you are on your way to having healthy teeth.

 

Skin care

Developing a regular skin care routine will help you to look and feel beautiful and clean. You can even develop a regimen based on your personal skin care needs. Everyone should wash their face twice per day (morning and evening) and should use a minimum of a face wash and moisturizer. Adding serum and toner to your skin care routine will provide added benefits. For oily skin use gentle cleansers as harsh ones that dry out the face can trigger the production of more oil. For dry skin use gentle, fragrance-free washes and use warm rather than hot water. Anti-aging products are great to slow down the appearance of those unwanted lines.

 

Stay hydrated

Water is not just important during the hot summer weather. It’s imperative to stay hydrated all year round. Water acts as a lubricant in the body and helps ease the process of digestion. It also regulates body temperature, removes harmful toxins from the body and transports oxygen and other valuable nutrients throughout the body. Everybody is different and may need different amounts of water, but in general it is recommended to drink about 2 liters of water per day (this is equal to ½ gallon or eight 8-oz glasses).

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Care for your hair

Hair care is crucial not just for keeping it looking nice but to avoid damage to hair that may result in hair loss. So how do you take proper care of your locks? It is recommended to trim dead ends every 6-8 weeks to prevent the look of unhealthy and frizzy hair. Use a shampoo that is designed for your hair type. Brush your hair daily but do it gently by starting with a wide-tooth comb and never brushing while it’s wet. Avoid using a hair dryer, curler or flat iron as much as possible. A healthy diet will also promote healthy hair.

 

Grow spiritually

Don’t just use Ramadan as the one time of the year where you work on your relationship with Allah (swt). As Muslims we should be in a constant state of becoming better, seeking more knowledge, and getting closer to Allah (swt). Set some goals that you can perform all year round, such as reading Qur’an every day, not missing prayers, making dhikr, and memorizing some Qur’an.

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Fix relationships

Relationships and human interaction are an important part of our health. Use this year to work on those relationships. Fix broken friendships. Apologize to those who you lost touch with. Visit your relatives, especially those that are old or sick. Develop strong trust and communication within your relationships. Foster new friendships by introducing yourself to new people when you’re out or at social events. Good, healthy relationships play a key role in mental health as well as influencing our actions. Surround yourself with those who you can learn form but who also share some common values and interests.

 

Perform good deeds

There is a reason why zakat is among the five pillars of Islam. Charity and good deeds have been linked to health, happiness and longevity. Not only do good deeds help you grow religiously, but they are beneficial to your health, subhanallah! While zakat refers specifically to payment to the needy, Islam stresses the importance of all types of righteous acts. Performing good deeds all year round is very easy. Visit the sick, volunteer at a local children’s hospital, set up a fundraiser, donate to your favorite charity, adopt a cat that has no home. Let your year be filled with kindness and good acts.

 

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Keep your mental health in check

This is the aspect of health that is often left to the side. With our busy schedules, stressful jobs and heavy responsibilities we forget to tend to our emotional well-being. This coming year, pay attention to how you are feeling. Take some time each day to do something for yourself. Whether it’s lying down for 15 minutes in silence, reading a book with a cozy pair of socks and a hot chocolate, spend some time caring for yourself. Use some relaxation tactics when things are getting stressful, talk to someone you trust when you’re having a tough time. Pay as much attention to your mental state as you do your body.

 

May we all constantly work to become better in each aspect of our lives. May the New Year bring on an abundance of health, happiness and laughter…and many more years to come. Ameen.

6 Tips to Staying on Track

It’s easy to get started, exciting actually. It’s Sunday afternoon and you sit down with a cup of coffee and your last cookie, and begin to plan out the next week. Healthy meals. Gym sessions. You have everything all set up and ready to start your new journey on Monday. The week goes really well, but then it begins to fall. You’re sick of the eating the same meals and your schedule is way too crammed to keep up with these workouts. You lose all motivation and eventually fall back into old habits.

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This is a very common scenario for someone starting down their healthy journey. The slip ups become more frequent and eventually discouragement and hopeless take over the once so lively enthusiasm. It seems to be that other people live up to their goals but you are just not made to do it.

Maintaining motivation it the hardest part of any fitness journey. But, it is not impossible! Many times, people are just going about it in the wrong ways. Here are some pointers what will help you to stay on track all the way to your goals and beyond.

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1. Don’t Rush

The biggest reason for a lack of motivation is that people try to do too many things at once. Think about the years of unhealthy habits you have down your belt. You can’t try and change them all in one day and expect to keep it up. Take small steps. Don’t go from laying on the couch everyday to 6 days a week of intense exercise. Start with 2-3 days per week, even for only 10 or 20 minutes. After about a month, once you feel it’s become a habit and your body is more accustomed, start adding in a bit more and overtime you will be a pro!

 

2. Plan Ahead

Don’t go into the week blindsided. Go over your schedule for the week and plan your meals and workouts around your schedule. Take one or two days to do some food prep for the week. Schedule your workouts on days where you have more free time and schedule your rests on busy days. If you have any plans to go out to dinner, check on the menu ahead of time and plan out your meal. Having things written out will make the week a lot easier.

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3. Make the Time

This goes along with planning ahead. While you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, you also don’t want work and other responsibilities to take over your YOU time. If you really want to be healthy, make the time. 10 minutes of fast-paced exercise is better than nothing.

 

4. Have a Plan B

There will be many times when uncontrollable situations might ruin your plans. Always have a backup plan. Design a few quick at-home exercise routines in case you can’t make it to the gym. Keep smart food items in the house that will be there in case you have no time to cook. Examples of back-up foods I always keep in my house are canned beans, non-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, cans of tuna, and frozen vegetables. Just because you have to throw something together quick doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy.

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5. Modify When Needed

Never be ashamed to modify. If you don’t have the time, modify your workout. If you’re trying a new workout class that is a little too intense, ask the instructor to show you some modifications. It’s great to push yourself, but when you go too far beyond your limits you may discourage yourself and drop out. Stop right at the edge of your comfort zone and work there.

 

6. Make a List

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Write a list of your reasons for beginning a health journey. Don’t be afraid to make it personal, after all, it’s only for you. Whenever you need a little pick-me-up, dig out your list and remind yourself of why you started in the first place. This can be a powerful tool to bringing motivation levels back up.

 

Most importantly…have fun. There will be times when you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. There will be times when you will have to force yourself to work out when you are dreading it. But always remember to keep it balanced. Push yourself, but not over your limits. Recognize the times when you have to listen to your body and just take a rest. The most important means of staying on track is enjoying the journey.

 

xoxo

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7 tips to gain weight the healthy way

The words “fitness,” “health,” and “dieting” are often associated with weight loss, although they do not apply only to those who want to drop pounds. Fitness and health refer to keeping the body and mind in a state where it can function optimally, and dieting is defined simply as the types of foods one eats, whether healthy or not-so-healthy.

Whether one wants to lose weight, gain weight or simply maintain their current state, these goals can all be reached through the fundamentals of a healthy diet and exercise.

 

1. Define your why

The first thing you want is to identify your why. Why do you want/need to gain weight? Some people are naturally thin and want to increase their weight, while others may be recovering from an eating disorder or other disease.

Do you want to put on muscle? Do you want to reach a healthier weight? Are you trying to overcome a bad relationship with food? Defining your reason will give your journey a purpose and thus make it more meaningful.

If you suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or any other medical condition, you should always consult a professional first. These are tips that are meant to be used as a general guideline.

 

2. Set small and realistic goals

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Setting small and realistic goals can help you to stay on track without overdoing it. Acknowledge each goal you reach by giving yourself a reward.Gaining weight may not be as easy a task as it seems. Just as with weight loss, weight gain can be a  slow process. Take everything step by step and rather than trying to reach one big goal, set small, reachable goals along the way.

Don’t try to go from eating 1200 calories to 2,500 in one day. Increase your calories slowly and overtime you will reach the larger goal.

Setting small and realistic goals can help you to stay on track without overdoing it. Acknowledge each goal you reach by giving yourself a reward.

For example, your goal might be to increase your calorie intake by eating 200 more calories everyday for a week. Once you hit this goal you might ask some friends out to dinner or go shopping and buy yourself the outfit you’ve been wanting. This will help you to stay motivated and keep going.

 

3. Supplementation

I’m not a huge advocate of supplements. Sure there are some out there that are great, and individuals who experience nutritional deficiencies can certainly benefit from supplementation. But in general a healthy individual can usually get what they need from their diet.

However, for individuals who are underweight supplements can be a great tool to start with until you build up your diet. For example, many people who are under-nourished often experience iron, potassium and calcium deficiencies.

I recommend getting a check up from your doctor to identify any nutritional deficiencies, if any. From there decide if you need to take any supplements until those levels get back to normal.

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4. Exercise

To exercise or not to exercise? Depending on your starting weight, you may want to hold off. If your body is quite weak I would suggest starting with a few days a week of exercise. Definitely stay away from any high-intensity cardio as that burns a lot of calories.

I am a huge advocate of yoga as it is low-impact and works on strength, flexibility, relaxation and endurance all at once. Start with some easy beginners yoga workouts. If you’re not a yoga fan then start with some light weight-lifting and/or bodyweight exercises.

Once you’re body starts getting used to the extra calories you may feel your strength is improving as well as your energy-levels, sleep, skin, hair and mental state. Once you get to this point, maybe after about one or two months, you can begin to add to your workouts. Start to do more intense versions of yoga such as ashtanga yoga or power yoga, or begin lifting heavier weights.

Make sure you are still taking it slow and work your way up over time. It’s still a good idea to stay away from high-intensity training or long bouts of cardio.

 

5. Eat frequently

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Eating frequently, about 5-6 meals a day will help ensure you are getting in enough food. There will be times when you don’t feel hungry but want to make sure you are eating enough calories. Eating every 3-4 hours is a great way to not only get all of your calories in but also to get your body used to eating regularly.

Here is a sample meal plan:

  • Breakfast: 2 whole eggs, oatmeal with all natural nut butter, piece of fruit
  • Snack: whole fat Greek yogurt, sprinkle of granola, some berries
  • Lunch: lean beef, sweet potato, side salad
  • Snack: handful of nuts with fruit
  • Dinner: salmon, brown rice, vegetables
  • Snack: glass of milk and a dark chocolate bar

6. Go for full-fat

In weight loss diets you are always hearing about “low-fat” “non-fat” and “sugar-free” options. Remove these words from your vocabulary for the time being and focus on full-fat yogurt, milk and cheese. If you enjoy juice go for the sugary variations rather than the chemically altered, sugar free drinks.

 

7. Healthy but dense foods 

Although you want to nourish and repair your body with healthy foods, you always want to get the best bang for your buck. Choose healthy foods that are rich in calories and pack a lot of protein, carbohydrates and fats into a small amount.

Here are some options:

  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Healthy oil
  • Dried and fresh fruit
  • Starchy vegetables

For a quick and delicious snack make a homemade trail mix by combining some nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips.

 

A few last words

Weight gain will take time. The best advice I can give is to go slow and let the process happen with time. Listen to your body and never move onto a bigger goal until you’ve mastered the smaller one.

If you end up gaining a little too much weight, just cut your calories back by about 200 until you get where you want. You can also add in some HIIT training and cardio if too much weight gain occurs.

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Lessons from Experience: Tips for Living a Healthy Lifestyle

My knowledge of health and fitness stems far less from any education or certification than it does from my own personal experience. I will never consider myself a master in this field because I believe that there is always more to discover. However, I have learned quite a bit through my journey. The road to where I am today was long and hard. I started off not knowing a single thing about healthy eating or exercising, and just began learning on my own, step by step. I experienced many falls and discouragements. There were times when I didn’t believe in myself at all. I even fell into some very unhealthy habits in a desperate attempt to look good. But each time I fell I got back up. And these falls have taught me some of the most beautiful lessons.

 

I truly believe that the lessons and the strength one gains through a healthy lifestyle permeate into even the most intricate facets of life to allow for growth in all senses of the word. For this reason, I want to share with you some of the important lessons I’ve learned on my path to a healthy lifestyle.

Lesson 1: Listen to Your Body

 

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Beginning a healthy lifestyle is really a decision to respect your inner body. It’s about a desire to feel good, to age well, to set an example. We should always take the greatest care in paying attention to what our bodies are telling us. Whether you get injured, or are feeling discomfort in a certain area, take the time you need to recover. Don’t ever force your body into something that doesn’t feel right. Injuries, pulled muscles, pain and other restrictions are inevitable with regular exercise. Be sure you understand your body and treat it with the respect it deserves.

 

Lesson 2: Practice Consistency

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If you are not consistent with diet and exercise, your results will be inconsistent as well. Fitness is a lifestyle, which means it needs to become a habit in order for us to reap it’s amazing benefits. Coherence to a regular routine of balanced eating and exercising is what will get you feeling your best. Practice a healthy lifestyle everyday to form that habit. Of course you will get off track from time to time, maybe a lot at first, but keep bouncing back and with time you will start to notice the changes to both your inner and outer being.

 

Lesson 3: Find Your Why

 

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A healthy lifestyle is not possible without a why. You need a reason, a motivation to push your body and mind to their limits. What is your why? Try to find a deep-seated incentive, rather than a superficial one. Of course, we all want to look good, but there needs to be something more. If it’s all about looks, trust me, it won’t stick. Maybe you want to be in-shape so you can run around with your children. Maybe you are at an unhealthy weight and you want to become healthy enough to live a longer life. Maybe you want to set an example for your children or your family. Maybe you want to feel more energized and full of life. Whatever your reason, make sure it is unique and important to you.

 

Lesson 4: Be Patient

 

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Patience is a virtue. There is a reason why Allah (swt) puts so much emphasis on sabr. Patience is the key to unlocking opportunities and doors; it is the foundation of a deep-rooted faith. In terms of fitness, the most common reason for giving up is that people don’t see results quickly. There is nothing fast about change; it happens slowly, overtime, with a lot of effort, hard work, persistence, and PATIENCE. The body needs time to adapt and grow, and in listening to our bodies as we’ve already discussed, we need to give it the time it needs. Be patient and don’t give up on yourself.

 

Lesson 5: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

 

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Please, don’t stress out about small things. So you ate a chocolate when you weren’t supposed to. SO WHAT? We all make mistakes and no one can be perfect, no matter how much they might seem so from the outside. A healthy lifestyle is no easy task, and by adding unnecessary stress into the mix it becomes dreadful. Enjoy it, have fun, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Missed a workout? No problem, make it up later in the week or, if you don’t have the time, try to improve yourself the next week. Cheated on your diet? That’s OK it happens, food is delicious! Don’t use it as an excuse to beat yourself up and ruin all of your hard work; simply start fresh with your next meal. Take the edge off and enjoy the ride, no matter how bumpy it may get.

 

Lesson 6: Love Yourself First

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Don’t begin a healthy lifestyle because you hate your body, or you hate something about yourself. Begin a healthy lifestyle because you LOVE yourself so much so that you want to become the best version of yourself that you can be. It’s fine to have ideas of what you want to work on, but counteract those negatives with some positives. Make a list of things you want to change and also a list of things you love about yourself, or things you are good at. You will never treat yourself good if you do not like yourself. Find your beauty and watch yourself blossom.

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5 Tips to Determining the Right Workout For You!

There are so many different styles of workouts, from yoga, to kickboxing, to rowing, to spinning, to running, and so on. It can be hard, and quite overwhelming, to determine what you should be doing in order to reach your goals. So, with hundreds of different ways to exercise, how do you know what is best for YOU? Here are 5 tips to help you determine which workouts are right for you!

1. Determine your fitness goal.

Determining your fitness goal is essential in coming up with a workout routine. Is weight loss your main priority? Then you might want workouts consisting of a mix between strength training and cardio. Do you want to build up a significant amount of muscle? Heavy weight lifting is probably the way to go. Do you have a dream of running a marathon? Cardio and endurance-based workouts are in store for you. Determining your fitness goal is the most important step in determining your perfect fitness regimen.

2. Decide how much time you can invest.

The amount of time per week you are willing and able to invest is also a critical factor. If you are able to dedicate 10-12 hours per week to exercise then it’s possible to mix up your routine with different workouts, such as mixing strength training and cardio. If you are only able to hit the gym 3 days a week for short workouts, you might find that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) will work best for you and your schedule. This type of training should not be done more than 3 days per week, and is an extremely efficient way of burning fat as these workouts can be as short as 10 minutes and probably no longer then 30 minutes. You may also fall somewhere in the middle. You may have a few days where you’re able to stay 1-2 hours at the gym, but other days may be so busy that you can only get a quick 20 minute workout in. This is perfectly acceptable as well.

You should always take your schedule into consideration and take the time to plan your workouts according to your schedule. You need to be realistic with yourself. I know we all want to be able to get a workout in 5 days a week but many times this is simply not possible. It is important to be sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with too much otherwise your workout plan will fail in the end. If three days a week is all you can manage you are not shorting yourself in any way; you can get a great work done with a 3 day-per-week workout schedule so long as your workouts are smart. It is recommended to try and get a workout in at least three times per week, no less than twice per week.

3. Figure out what kind of atmosphere you like.

The atmosphere you workout in is more important than you may think. Are you the type of person who enjoys solitude and likes to workout alone without anyone around? Maybe home-based workouts are best suited for you. Do you enjoy the atmosphere of a gym? Would you prefer working out alone at the gym or do you enjoy the camaraderie of a fitness class? Or maybe you are someone who loves being out in nature. If so maybe trail running or hiking would be good for you. Figuring out what type of atmosphere you like being in can really help you to narrow down your exercise options.

4. Do you need accountability?

Some people need accountability or they won’t get it done on their own. Maybe you need to pay for a gym membership to force you to get to the gym. Many gyms have signup slots for their classes. Maybe putting your name down and taking up a slot will help you wake up for the 6 am spin class! Sometimes getting a workout buddy can be a great motivation so long as they are as determined as you, if not they can actually hold you back. Hiring a personal trainer might be another way to hold you accountable for working out. If you enjoy fitness classes or yoga you might find a studio that you love. These studios usually sell class cards that often times have to be used in a certain time frame. There are countless ways to hold yourself accountable for working out, you just have to figure out which way is best for you.

5. Always, always, always, do what you love.

Of course, this is the most important. If there are certain types of workouts that you love, then always do that. There truly is no bad workout. If you love yoga, do yoga. If you love running, run. If you love biking, bike. No matter what your goal, you will never reach it if you are forcing yourself to engage in workouts that you don’t enjoy. Doing what you love comes above anything else. If you’re new to the game and you have no idea which type of workout you like, I recommend trying out a few different styles and eventually you will find something you enjoy.  

Bosu Ball Stability Workout

Today our workout is going to focus on strength, stability and balance. The only piece of equipment you will need is a Bosu Ball, as that is what we will use for each of our exercises today. Although this is a full-body workout, you will really be targeting the core in order to stabilize and balance the ball during this workout. Note that any of these exercises can be modified by performing them without the bosu ball. This workout can be done in home, at the gym, or outside at your favorite spot in nature.

As with many of the other workouts we have done, this is a circuit workout. You will perform each exercise down the list once, back-to-back, with little to no rest in between. Once you finish the entire circuit you will rest between 30-60 seconds, and will repeat the same routine again for a total of 3 times! If you are a beginner, start by doing the circuit only once and work your way up to three sets. Remember that these routines can be done and modified by anyone, regardless of fitness level. As always, I will post descriptions of each exercise below. I will also paste some links to YouTube videos showing each exercise (note that these are not my personal videos). Here we go:

 

30 Second Bosu Mountain Climbers 

10 Bosu Push-ups

8 Bosu Burpees

10 Bosu Balancing Squats 

15 Bosu Bridges 

1 Minute Bosu Plank Hold 

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Bosu Mountain Climbers – Start in a full (straight-arm) plank with the round side of the bosu ball down on the ground and yours hands on tops of the flat side. With the shoulders staying directly over the hands, begin by bringing one knee in towards the chest, then switch legs. Continue doing this at a fast pace for 30 seconds. Use your abs to stabilize the ball.

Bosu Push-ups – Again you will begin with the round side of the ball down and your hands up on the flat part. With shoulders directly above the hands, perform a push-up just as if you were performing one on the ground. Really squeeze and tighten those abs to keep the ball steady. You may drop down to your knees if this is too challenging. Perform 10 repetitions.

Bosu Burpees – These are just like regular burpees (or should I say death!) only you will be holding the bosu ball the whole way through. Start in a standing position holding the flat side of the bosu ball overhead. Lower it to the floor by putting the round side down. Continuing to grip the flat side, jump your legs straight out behind you into a plank position, then back in and come back to a standing position bringing to bosu ball overheard once again. Complete 8 of these.

Bosu Balancing Squats – Begin with the bosu ball on the ground, round side down. Step your feet onto the flat side of the ball (you may need a wall to help you get onto the ball). Once you find your balance, begin squatting by keeping the weight in your heels and dropping down as if you were sitting in a chair. Go down as far as possible. Note that the ball will shake, this is OK and normal. Tighten your core the entire time for balance and stability. Continue on doing this 10 times.

Bosu Bridges – This time we are going to have the flat side of the ball down on the ground (yayy!)…don’t get too excited yet =). Lay down on your back with your feet on top of the bosu ball, legs bent. Use the heels of your feet to lift your hips up off the ground, squeexing the glutes at the top, then slowely and steadily lower back down. Repeat this 15 times.

Bosu Plank Hold – As if we haven’t worked our abs enough during this workout, we are going to end with a 1 minute plank hold. Perform a full plank with the round side of the ball down and your hands on the flat part and hold for 1 minute.

YouTube Videos (in order by exercise)

 

 

 

The Truth About Dieting

Often times, the first thing that comes to a person’s mind when considering weight-loss is a workout routine. While exercise is extremely advantages both mentally and physically, it is not the top propriety of a well-constructed training program. The most essential and critical part of any fitness regimen is nutrition. This is true for any type of fitness goal, from losing weight to gaining muscle to building endurance and strength, to simply maintaining health. Nutrition is not only going to give you the energy you need to perform well in your workouts, but it will help with optimal recovery as well as aid in better body composition.

Nutrition is likely the biggest reason why people fail to reach, or give up on, their goals. There are so many different opinions out there, all seeming to come from ‘experts’ themselves. Eat clean. Go vegan. Paleo is the way to go. Cut carbs. Avoid fats. Eat this, this, and this, but don’t have this, this, this and that. Catch my drift? People have many different ideas based on what they believe to be the best type of diet. In reality, no one should be forced into someone else’s beliefs. There is a general guideline to proper nutrition and it is up to that person to choose which foods they would like to add into that guideline and which foods they want to avoid. I, for example, don’t eat pork as my religion forbids it. However, if I am training a client who doesn’t hold the same belief as me I would not tell them that pork is off limits. The same goes for vegetarianism. Just because I generally get my protein intake form animal sources does not mean I would tell a vegetarian they should do the same, just as a vegetarian should never prohibit meat to others just because they don’t eat it themselves.

The first step to learning about proper nutrition is to rid your mind of these ‘fad’ diets. If you want to eat organic, go for it. If you want to consume a strictly plant based diet, be my guest. If you want to limit your food sources to what the cave men ate thousands of years ago, that is up to you. None of these diets are wrong, nor are they right for every person as each individual differs in beliefs, tastes, cultural dishes, etc.

Proper nutrition is simple; it is made up of five types of macronutrients (macros), which are nutrients that our bodies need in large amounts, as opposed to micronutrients which are nutrients that our bodies need in small amounts such as vitamins and minerals. When we think of nutrition, we really only need to consider our macronutrients because if we are eating those properly then we will typically get all of the micronutrients we need. So, what are macros?

There are five types of macronutrients which can be divided into two categories. The first category of macronutrients contains carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and these are the macronutrients that provide us with a lot of energy and the bulk of substance we use to build up our tissues. The second category is made up of fiber and water, which provide us with little to no energy but are nonetheless good for our health.   Every day we should be consuming a certain amount of protein, carbs, fats, fiber and water. Pretty simple right? You are so close to becoming an expert in proper nutrition! All that’s left to learn is how each of these macronutrients works in the body and how we can appropriately balance them in our diets.

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Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source for the body and brain. Although they have received a bad rep with all of the ‘low-carb’ diets out there, the truth is your body needs them to run and perform they way you want it to. Cabohydrates are made up of foods such as rice, wheat, oats, barley, beans, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. The majority of your carb intake should come from wholesome carbs such as whole grains, brown rice, sweet potato, ect. The exact amount each person needs will vary based on individual differences and goals, but in general, 45-65 percent of your total diet should be comprised of carbohydrates.

Protein-rich_Foods

Protein

Proteins are essential for growing and building tissues within the body such as muscles, blood, bones, organs, hair, skin and nails. Protein aids in building and maintaining muscle, satiation, and helps to burn calories due to its thermogenic properties. All foods from meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products beans soy products, and nuts are considered proteins. It is a good idea to select a different variety of proteins to improve the health benefits. Healthier proteins are those which are lean and lower in fat such as chicken or turkey breast, leaner cuts of beef, white fish, and low-fat yogurt/milk. As with carbohydrates, the amount of protein one should eat will vary by person based on their age, height, weight, etc, but in general, 10-35 perfect of your total daily calories should come from protein-rich foods.

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Fats

Lipids, or fats, provide the most energy out of all the macronutrients. The overall diet should consist of approximately 20-35 percent of fats. The majority of your fat sources should come from the ‘healthy’ fats, also known as unsaturated fats. These come from foods like salmon, olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.

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Fiber and Water

Fiber does provide us with a small amount of energy, but not much. It is, however, good for intestinal health and it influences some metabolic reactions within the body. Women should be eating about 25 grams of fiber per day while men should consume around 35 grams per day. Fiber comes from nutrient-rich plant foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Water is an essential means of survival. There are a lot of different opinions in the diet world about how much water one should drink. The truth is, there is no single rule for everybody; some people need more water than others and some people need less. A general rule of thumb is to drink whatever is comfortable for you, making sure that you are keeping hydrated and are not feeling thirsty. An approximate amount of fluids to drink per day is between seven and eight glasses, but again it will differ based on the individual.

Now you know everything you need to know in order to eat healthy, balanced, and according to your preferences. The world of fitness likes to make everything complicated by using personal beliefs about nutrition or foods and trying to apply these beliefs to everyone. All you really need is this general guideline of macronutrients and you can tailor food choices to your needs. I hope this has inspired you to stop limiting yourself to unnecessary diets and eat the foods you love with balance and control!