Jumping Over the Workout Hurdle

We all know those fitness freaks; the people who can’t live without the gym, who revolve their schedule around their workout, who show up late to plans because they couldn’t pull themselves away from the treadmill. What makes them this way? Why can’t I be like one of those people? It seems to be that some people are just born with the will to work out while others have to force themselves to get moving. Although genetics seems to be somewhat at play, the good news is that you can become one of those people. You just need to spend some time with your thoughts. Here are six tips to get you jumping over that workout hurdle.


Picture Your Ideal Self

What are your goals? Do you want to fit into an old pair of jeans? Do a pushup? Run for 1 mile without stopping? Be able to bend down and touch your toes? Whatever your goal may be, picture yourself having already accomplished it. How do you feel? This is a useful mental exercise to keep you motivated and determined. The more you imagine yourself in the situation you want to be in, the more you believe in it and the more real it starts to become. 


Zero In On the Perks 

Due to our human nature we tend to focus more on the negative than the positive. When it comes to exercise we are quick to think of all of the reasons why we shouldn’t workout. Next time, force your mind to shift to the positive. “I will be one step closer to my goal.” “It’s good for my health.” “Pushing myself will make me stronger both physically and mentally.” “I want to grow.” If you have to, write a list of all of the positive aspect of exercise and read it just before getting ready for your workout.


Believe in Yourself

Often times we consider laziness to be the culprit of skipped workouts. Although that may be part of the problem, the biggest hindrance to working out is a feeling of discouragement. Many people don’t actually believe they will ever change, or don’t believe they have what it takes. Everyone has the ability to change if they want to. If you trust in the process and practice consistency then you WILL see changes. Keep telling yourself that it will happen and don’t let doubt cloud your mind, for that is the biggest setback.




Form the Habit

Get in the groove! Once exercise becomes a habit, a normal part of your routine, it’s likely to become much easier to stick with. It’s just like work. No matter how much you love your job, it’s not always easy to get out of the bed every morning five days week and go to work when there are plenty of other things you’d rather be doing. But, we do it because we have to. Sometimes our five daily prayers become heavy on us, and we feel unmotivated. But we push through because we know that the reward at the end is greater. Keep that same mentality with your workout. Do it because you have to; do it because of the reward and the growth it will bring. Push through until it becomes a habit.


Accept Where You Are

phonto“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” This quote by Zig Ziglar is my absolute favorite quote because it is so comforting and true. Everyone has to start somewhere. It is truly OK to be completely and utterly out of shape. Maybe you can’t even do 1 pushup. Maybe you are out of breath after only 3 minutes running on the treadmill. Maybe you want to start yoga but you can’t even reach your toes in a forward fold. That is OK. Find beauty and solace in the place that you’re in. It gives you that much more opportunity for growth and improvement. It gives you that much more of a challenge to overcome. It gives you that much more of an inspiring story to share with others. Where ever you are now is OK. Giving up because you are not where you want to be is a sure way to stay in the same place. You will change. You will advance. You just have to accept yourself as you are and continue to work towards your goals.


Take Small Steps

Sometimes we want to reach a certain goal so badly that we take all of the wrong steps to get there. When I first started yoga I was dying to be able to do a handstand, to be able to bend my body in half like a pretzel, and to be able to hold myself in impressive arm balance poses. But I overstepped all of the most important means of getting there. How can I do a handstand without learning a headstand first? How can I bend like a pretzel without perfecting the most basic yoga stretch, the forward fold? How can I hold myself in arm balances without building up the necessary strength? I got so caught up in all of the advanced poses that I was going nowhere fast. As tempting as it is to push beyond our limits, we must master the basics or else we will easily give up. Build your foundation. Start small. Progress is not supposed to be fast. No matter what goal you are working towards, it will take time to get there. Islam did not come in one day, but rather it came over a 24 year period. Take your journey one step at a time and be patient.


Which Type of Yogi Are You?

Yoga seems to be growing immensely in popularity. Everywhere I look I find aspiring yogis. I suppose this has to do with its amazing physical and mental benefits. Yoga encompasses many important aspects of balanced fitness, such as strength, flexibility, relaxation, and perhaps most importantly, inner fortitude. Yoga is a practice of constantly challenging both the mind and the body. As I have taken an interest in yoga myself I have been getting a lot of questions from women asking where to begin with yoga.

The first and most important step in beginning a yoga practice is determining which type of yoga is right for you. Yoga is such a personal and individualized practice that is not a one-size-fits-all. The type of yoga I perform may not be right for someone else, and vice versa. It’s all about your interests, your goals, and your personal style. Here I will discuss six common forms of yoga. It is my hope with this post that you will be able to find your inner yogi!


Hatha Yoga







The term hatha yoga refers to a few different styles of yoga that are combined to create a simple class that teaches the basic poses. Although this form of yoga can differ, in general it is a gentle, slow-paced class that combines poses with breathing techniques. Hatha yoga is great for beginners but keep in mind that you may have to try out a few different classes to find one that suits your pace.


Lyengar Yoga


This gentle form of yoga is slow-paced and very detail-oriented, really emphasizing proper alignment in order to strengthen the muscles while protecting the joints. These classes often use props like yoga blocks and straps in order to help the practitioner get into the poses. For these reasons, lyengar yoga is another great style for beginners who want to learn proper technique, as well as people who suffer from pain. However, if you are experiencing pain due to some type of neck, back or other injury, you should always consult with a physician before taking up any form of physical activity, including yoga.  This class is often quite long, between 90 minutes to two hours, and includes standing, seated and twisting asanas (poses) as well as inversions like shoulder stands and backbends. Don’t let the inversions scare you away! They provide many benefits to the physical body and your teacher will always help you to modify and work your way up.


Kundalini Yoga


A very soft form of yoga that is more about the emotional experience, rather than the physical one. Classes include a mix of meditation, breathing techniques, chanting, and yoga poses. Kundalini yoga is great for those who are looking to gain the relaxation benefits of yoga.


Bikram Yoga


Also known as hot yoga, this is a more challenging type of yoga where you do a sequence of 26 poses in a very hot room that is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). Hot yoga is great for those wanting to increase flexibility, as the heat tends to loosen up the muscles, which in turn increases one’s ability to stretch further.


Vinyasa Yoga


Also known as power yoga this type of westernized yoga is somewhat like hatha in that it contains a mix of different yoga styles, but is more fast-paced. This is a very athletic and challenging form of yoga and is great for those who are ready to move at a faster pace and those who want to lose weight. Power yoga is based on the sequence of poses in the ashtanga yoga series which we will get to next. This yoga class will include vinyasa’s (sequences of continuous movement), standing and seated asanas, and even some inversions.


Ashtanga Yoga


This is probably the most physically demanding of all yoga forms. Ashtanga includes a non-stop series of vinyasa’s and asanas combined with a breathing technique to connect the mind and body. This style of yoga is deeply rooted in tradition and is practiced the same way every-time with the practitioner mastering poses one at a time as they are physically able. This form of yoga is great for those who are relatively experienced in yoga as well as those who like structure and challenge.





Beginners Push/Pull Full Body Workout

During this workout, we are going to be focusing on movement patterns during strength training. There are many different way to categorize weight training exercises: (1) exercises can be categorized based on muscle groups being worked, (2) compound vs. isolation exercises or (3) exercises can be categorized based on movement patterns of the body. I like to focus on number three. Movement patterns are the best way to ensure you are training your entire body. Movement patterns in strength training are based on the natural movements of the body.



There are hundreds of different types of exercises in existence, which is why coming up with a workout routine can be so overwhelming. In reality, however, the human body is really only capable of 6 types of movements (with a 7th miscellaneous group that I will explain later):










A pushing movement is any type of movement where you are pushing a weight away from your body, or where you are using your body as resistance to push it away from something (like the ground). Push movements can be divided into two groups: horizontal push and vertical push. Here are some examples of both:

Horizontal Push


A horizontal pushing exercise is any exercise where you are pushing an external weight away from your body in a straight-ward motion, or where you are pushing your mass away from the ground. A horizontal press tends to emphasize the pectorals or chest muscles. Think push-ups and bench press.

  • Push-ups (variations: regular, wide, narrow)
  • Bench Press (variations: flat, low incline, decline)
  • Chest Flyes (variations: incline, flat, decline)

Vertical Push


A vertical pushing exercise is any exercise where you are pushing an external weight away from your body in an upward or overhead motion, or where you are pushing your mass away from the ground. A vertical press tends to emphasize the shoulder muscles. Think shoulder press:

  • Overhead Shoulder Press (variations: standing or seated)
  • Lateral Raises
  • Front Raises
  • High Incline Bench Press
  • Pushups with feet elevated


A pulling movement is any type of movement where you are pulling a weight towards your body, or where you are using your body as resistance to pull it towards an object. Like pushing movements, pull movements can be divided into two groups: horizontal pull and vertical pull. Here are some examples of both:

Horizontal Pull


A horizontal pulling exercise is any exercise where you are pulling an external weight towards your body in a straight-ward motion, or where you are pulling your mass towards an object. A horizontal pull tends to emphasize the back muscles. Think rows.

  • Bent Over Back Rows
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Single-Arm Back Rows
  • Chest Supported Machine Rows
  • TRX Body Row

Vertical Pull


A vertical pulling exercise is any exercise where you are pulling an external weight vertically towards your body in a downward motion, or where you are pulling your mass upwards toward an object. A vertical pull tends to emphasize the latissimus dorsi muscles (lats). Think pull-ups:

  • Pull-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Lat Pull Downs



A quad dominant exercise is any type of exercise where your quadriceps are the primary mover. A quad dominant exercise very obviously emphasizes the quadriceps muscles. Think squats.

  • Squats
  • Front Squats
  • Split Squats
  • Lunges
  • Leg Press



A hip/hamstring dominant exercise is any type of exercise where your hamstrings, quads, or the posterior chain as a whole are the primary mover. A hip/hamstring dominant exercise emphasizes the hamstrings and gluteal muscles. Think deadlifts.

  • Deadlifts (all variations)
  • Bridges
  • Hyperextensions
  • Good Mornings
  • Leg Curls (standing, seated or lying)



An elbow flexion exercise is any exercise where the elbow joint in being flexing in order to move an external weight towards the body. An elbow flexion exercise tends to emphasize the bicep muscles. Think biceps curls.

  • Biceps Curls (standing/seated)
  • Cable Curls
  • Preacher Curls



An elbow extension exercise is any exercise where the elbow joint is being extended in order to move an external weight away from the body. Elbow extension exercises tends to emphasize the tricep muscles. Think triceps extension.

  • Laying Triceps Extension
  • Overhead Triceps Extension
  • Triceps Cable Press-downs
  • Overhead Triceps Cable Extensions
  • Tricep Kickbacks



The movements that fall into the miscellaneous group are other movements that (1) don’t fall into any of the other categories and (2) don’t need to be emphasized as much as the other movements. The other movements, especially the first two, should be paid stark attention to in any weight training program. These miscellaneous movements may or may not be added in. This category includes exercises such as calf raises, rotation/twisting movements, ab exercises, rotator cuff work, etc.



As mentioned above, movement patterns are movements that are natural for the human body to perform. It is imperative to highlight at least one exercise from every movement pattern (or at least the first 2 categories aka push/pull) into your workout routine in order to ensure proper strength training, progress, and symmetry in your overall body composition. The simplest way to come up with a full body routine is to pick one exercise from each category.



This routine is a full-body weight training routine utilizing the push/pull movements. It is perfect for beginners as it is very basic and includes all of the big compound exercises which are the foundation to any well-developed strength training routine. This routine would produce the best results if it were performed three times per week. This routine is not a one-time workout. You may use it for however long as you are seeing results! Don’t be afraid to up the weight once it starts feeling easier.

The amount of weight you use is based upon your body. You should be able to perform the minimum number of reps without being able to exceed the maximum amount of reps. If you cannot complete the minimum amount of reps then your weights are probably too heavy. Likewise, if you can do even just two or three more than the maximum amount of reps then your weight is likely too light.

You will perform this routine by executing the first exercise for the prescribed amount of reps. You will rest for 1-2 minutes, then perform that same exercise again for a total of 3 sets. Once you have completed 3 sets of the first exercise, you will move onto the next exercise and repeat the process.

*Note there are two workouts here. The first version is a beginners full/body workout utilizing just the push/pull movements. This workout may seem short and sweet, but I promise it will produce results. The second workout is an extended version where I have utilized all movement categories rather than just push/pull. This version is great for those who are still considered beginners but who have mastered form and technique and who have already been successful with the first version.

I have pasted some links at the bottom of the page in order to show you what some of less well-known exercise should look like.


Version 1: Full Body Push/Pull Routine

1. Squats (Quad Dominant): 3 set of 8-10 reps

2. Push-ups (Horizontal Push): 3 sets of 8-10 reps

3. Back Rows (Horizontal Pull): 3 sets of 8-10 reps

4. Deadlifts (hip/hamstring dominant): 3 sets 8-10 reps

5. Assisted Pull-Ups (or Lat Pull-Downs) (Vertical Pull): 3 sets of 8-10 reps

6. Overhead Shoulder Press (Vertical Push): 3 sets 8-10 reps

Version 2: Full Body Extended Routine 

1. Squats (Quad Dominant): 3 set of 8-10 reps

2. Push-ups (Horizontal Push): 3 sets of 8-10 reps

3. Back Rows (Horizontal Pull): 3 sets of 8-10 reps

4. Tricep Kickbacks (Elbow Flexion): 3 sets of 10-12 reps

5. Calf Raises (miscellaneous): 3 sets of 10-12 reps

6. Deadlifts (hip/hamstring dominant): 3 sets 8-10 reps

7. Assisted Pull-Ups (or Lat Pull-Downs) (Vertical Pull): 3 sets of 8-10 reps

8. Overhead Shoulder Press (Vertical Push): 3 sets 8-10 reps

9. Biceps Curls (elbow flexion): 3 set of 10-12 reps

10. Crunches (Miscellaneous): 3 sets of 10-12 reps


Back Rows – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFq5jdwWwX4

Triceps Kickbacks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGwUy_JFM54

Deadlifts – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N3yn4JUozI

Assisted Pull-ups – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgulY7UkwIs

Confidence: What Every Woman Needs

Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to reach your goals? Why it seems impossible to become the healthier person you’ve always wanted to be? Confidence might be the key to finding that motivation you need to reach your fitness goals, and unfortunately this quality is generally low in women. I recently finished reading a very interesting book called “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, in which these two journalists sought out highly professional women in order to determine what gives them the confidence that most other women are lacking. They interviewed women with leading roles in sports, politics, the military and arts; women who seem to have it all put together. Sure enough, they found that even these powerful, highly educated and determined women are lower in confidence than their male counterparts. Although this can come as a surprise, we realize that when it comes to success women are under the microscope. There is much more pressure to prove themselves worthy and there is a great deal of doubt surrounding their success.

This got me to thinking about the success of women when it comes to their fitness goals. Countless women struggle everyday with their weight, their bodies, their ability to stick to a consistent routine or a healthy eating regimen. We are often quick to blame this on laziness. “You just need to motivate yourself,” we will say, “just get up and do it!” There is no argument that motivation and determination play a significant, in fact crucial role in developing a healthy lifestyle. But what if there’s more to the story than that? What if confidence, this critical quality that many women lack, is the key to developing our success both in the work field and in our fitness life?


I truly believe that in order acquire the motivation and determination needed to reach fitness goals one must be able to see a finished product at the end of the road. I think the problem is that most women don’t actually believe they can obtain these goals and therefore aren’t able to imagine themselves the way they want to be. This absence of confidence creates barriers; if they don’t believe that they can achieve the goal they want, how can they constitute the motivation they need to go out and work hard for those goals. We can dream about the person we want to be, but if we don’t actually believe we can become her then we probably never will.

It sounds completely hopeless, I know, but I have some good news. In their journey to find out where confidence comes from, Katy Kay and Claire Shipman found that confidence is fickle. Although it is partly influenced by genetics, it can be built if it is lacking. It can be built by first making the choice to be confident. It can be built by choosing to please yourself instead of pleasing others. It can be built by stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks. It can be built by accepting failure and learning from it.

If your struggling with getting to the gym or becoming the healthy person that you’ve always wanted to be, I encourage you to perform a self-check. What are the underlying reasons that you are not fighting for your goals? Are you afraid that you can’t accomplish what you want? You can truly do anything you set your mind to. Start working on building up that confidence. Set an image in your mind of the person you want to be and KNOW that you can get there. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of positive self-assurance but I promise you can get there. Every woman deserves to be healthy and happy!

Women and Weights Part 4: Putting It All Together

So far we have examined the myths of weight lifting for women, the benefits of weight lifting on the mind and body, and how weight lifting can aid in athletic performance. To close out this series I would like to discuss how to put it all together and actually incorporate strength training into your weekly routine. Here is everything you need to put together the optimal weight training program!



In order to successfully create a weight training routine you need to first assess your goals. What is the main objective you want to achieve? Of course, this can vary greatly depending on the individual. For this reason we can combine goals into two categories: looks and performance. People who fall under the category of looks have some type of goal pertaining to the way their body looks; building muscle, losing fat, getting a six-pack, toning up their arms, etc. People who fall under the category of performance have some type of goal pertaining to the way their body performs; improving running speed, jumping higher, building strength, etc. Your training routine will be based upon your individual goal.


Muscle Groups

It’s important to have a general and basic understanding of the major muscle groups in the body when training with weights. This knowledge will help you to understand which exercises work which muscle group, as well as how many times per week each muscle group should be worked…which we will be getting to next. The major muscle groups to consider while resistance training are the shoulders, back, chest, biceps, triceps, abdominals, and legs (including calves). Now let’s take a look at how many times we should work each of these muscles per week.


Training Frequency

Training frequency is the amount of times each muscle group is worked each week. There are three types of training frequencies. A once per week training frequency is when each muscle gro

up is worked once per week.This is ideal for people who want to maintain their current fitness level, without any goals of

photo build muscle, strength, or changing their appearance. A twice per week training frequency is when each muscle group is worked twice per week. This is ideal for intermediate and advanced trainees with any type of goal. A three times per week training frequency is when each muscle group is worked three times per week and is ideal for beginners with any type of goal.

Types of Resistance Training

There are three different types of resistance training exercises one may engage in: free weight exercises, body weight exercises, and machine exercises. Free weight and bodyweight exercises both allow you to engage in completely natural movements, as well as works the abdominals, other muscles, and is ideal for gym and home use. Machine exercises on the other hand, are known as isolation exercises, as they target the specific muscle being worked. They are not, however, a functional type of exercise so other muscles aren’t engaged, nor are the movement patterns natural. So, how do you know which type of exercise is right for you?

If your goal is performance related (e.g., building strength, improving speed, etc.) then your routine should consist mostly of free weight and body weight exercise, with machines kept to a very minimum and possibly none. If your goal is looks related (e.g., improve body composition, get ‘toned,’ lose fat, etc.) all three types of exercises work, but again, the best bet is to use free weights and body weights as the majority of the workout, but machines are a completely fine alternative.


Now, with all of this information in front of you, you’re ready to go out and train those muscles. I hope, through this series, that I was able to inspire some of you to add strength training into your routine in order to experience the amazing benefits it will bring you, inshallah.



Tricks for Battling Your Sweet Tooth

Sugar cravings are something we are all too familiar with. Sweets tend to be the biggest intercessor when it comes to sticking to a diet. There are many reasons for this. People generally crave junk food more than anything else; it is even the first taste humans prefer at birth! Because of its pleasing nature, people usually reward themselves with sweet foods, causing a further psychological attachment to it. However, the problem doesn’t lie in the sweet foods themselves, rather, it lies in our inability to control how much of it we are putting into our mouths. Indulging in sweets every so often is perfectly fine, after all we need to have a little fun right? The trick is learning how to stop after a few bites rather than allowing a binge. Here are some simple tricks to controlling your sweet tooth.


Have some fun.

If you truly enjoy those sugary foods, allow yourself to give into them a little. Granted there are some people who simply can’t control themselves when it comes to sweets and might be better off quitting them cold turkey, but for the most part this is not necessary. Many times this leads to the person giving in at some point down the road and going on a junk-food-binge. Treat yourself here and there, just practice control.


Know the difference between hunger and cravings.

Hunger and cravings are two completely different things. Hunger is physical; it is the body’s biological need for food. Cravings, on the other hand, are psychological; it is the brain’s desire for a reward. Try to be mindful of how you feel when you are experiencing one of these two feelings and decide whether you are actually hungry or if you are simple craving food. If you are truly hungry, try eating a meal to satisfy your body, rather than turning to sweets.


Mix sweets with healthy options.  

Combining healthy foods with the craving can be a really great way to tame that sweet-tooth. Try dipping a banana in some chocolate sauce, drizzle some caramel on top of an apple, add chocolate chips to your yogurt, or mix some Eminem’s with nuts. This not only limits the amount of sweets you are consuming in a given time, but it will satisfy your craving while adding in the nutritious benefits of healthy items!


Keep individually portioned bars in the freezer. 

Switch out the ice cream cartons for individually portioned bars such as fudge bars, creamsicles, or pops. These single-wrapped desserts typically only have between 25-70 calories. Instead of filling your bowl with too much ice cream, this trick gives you just the right amount to be satisfied and free of guilt.


Substitute your ice cream.

There are many healthier options to substitute in for ice cream such as sherberts, sorbets, frozen yogurt, gelato, and custards. These contain significantly less calories than ice cream and are much better for you. The best types of substitutes are those that contain natural ingredients. You may also buy these in pre-portioned containers that way you force yourself not to eat too much. Look for items that contain 100 calories or less.


Go for ‘better’ sweets.

Choose healthier sweets, such as fruits, smoothies, flavored yogurt, oatmeal cookies, or dark chocolate. These are great ways to satisfy your sweet-tooth with less calories and more nutrition! To satisfy night cravings, try a bed-time tea. I’ve seen bedtime teas carried in so many delicious flavors such as apple cinnamon and sugar cookie! Check your local supermarket to see what flavors they offer.


Make your own desserts.


Nowadays you can find almost an infinite amount of healthy dessert recipes online (pinterest is my secret!). Start having fun in the kitchen and bake healthy desserts. You can even follow normal dessert recipes and add your own healthy twist by substituting wheat flour for white flour, honey or agave for sugar, unsweetened apple sauce for oil, etc. Get creative and start having fun.


Do something else.

If you really feel like staying away from sweets but are having a hard time, try occupying yourself. Go out and walk, read a book, or do something else that you really enjoy. This will help take your mind off of the craving.


Eat periodically throughout the day.

Sometimes, waiting too long to before eating your next meal can really highlight those sugar cravings. When people get very hungry their body will start craving fats and sugars. So, in general try to eat between 3-6 meals per day to keep yourself satisfied.


Sweets do not have to be scary, nor do they have to control your life. The most important aspect of any eating regimen is balance, moderation, and enjoyment!


Women and Weights Part 3: Strength Training for the Runner

Many people consider weight training and cardio as two separate entities; cardio is for burning calories while strength training is for gaining weight, right? Well, not necessarily. If you’ve been following this series of “Women and Weights” you’ve learned that strength training may in fact be an altogether superior method of fat burning (I’d like to point out that when I refer to weights I am using it as a general term to describe any type of resistance training, including free-weights, machines, resistance bands, or bodyweight). This is not to say that running, or any other type of steady-state cardio is ‘bad,’ but it certainly isn’t the only way of reaching your fitness goals. In fact, hitting the weights can actually improve running and other athletic performance significantly. Here’s how:



Strength training has been shown to help improve speed in both short and long distance runners.  As you build and grow your muscles they become better able to exert more runner-546896_640force in quicker time periods. Strong legs help with that extra push, a strong core aids in balance and stability, and upper body strength helps maintain that speed. This was proven in a study done that tested the correlation between explosive strength training and 5-km running time in endurance athletes. In the experiment, 18 endurance athletes trained for 9 weeks. While both groups kept the same training volume, 10 of these subjects trained with simultaneous explosive strength training and endurance training, while the other 8 subjects participated in endurance training only. 5K time was improved in the well-trained endurance athletes who participated in simultaneous explosive strength training and endurance training due to improved neuromuscular characteristics.



Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of your heart, lungs and blood vessels to efficiently deliver oxygen to your body tissues for use as energy. Believe it or not, resistance training actually increases the body’s ability to use oxygen. In one study that tested the effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy, endurance athletes who incorporated both running and strength training into their routine improved their performance whereas endurance athletes who did not incorporate strength training had no change in performance. These results are congruent with many other previous studies of the same nature.



Lifting weights isphysiotherapy-595529_640 a great way to burn body fat. Now, cardio certainly does burn a significant amount of calories, however, those calories stop burning off as soon as that hour or so of cardio is finished. With strength training, lean muscle mass is built, which aides in the body not only burning calories during periods of exercise, but also while that person is at rest! Clearly, a body with more lean muscle and less fat is going to be lighter, aiding in speed and also in better body composition.

It is well known that many runners, especially elite runners who engage in intense bouts of physical activity, burn off a lot of muscle due to the extreme forms of cardio. Strength training can help to counter this problem, but won’t result in a significant amount of muscle gain because the continued endurance training will hinder muscle hypertrophy. So for those distance athletes who do not want gains to slow them down, no worries, strength training won’t add on significant size!



Engaging in resistance training not only helps to strengthen and build the muscles, but it also helps to equalize them. Many times people are weaker on their left (or non-dominant) side which can cause a runners stride to be off key, or they have muscle imbalances somewhere in the body. Lifting weights helps to equalize strength and power within the legs and the rest of the body, which helps prevent future injuries. The benefits of strength training on injury prevention was shown in a study testing hamstring injury occurrence in elite soccer players after preseason strength training with eccentric overload. The study revealed that preseason strength training for the hamstrings would have positive impacts on the player’s performance and injury prevention.


Strength training is one of the most beneficial workouts to engage in, especially when combined with other forms of working out such as endurance running, sprinting, and other types of cardio. It helps to improve many aspects of performance including speed, cardiovascular fitness, proportion of lean muscle to body fat, and to decrease likelihood of injury. To all of my runners out there, take even just 3 days per week and add some resistance training to your fitness regiment and see how you can benefit!







Askling, Carl, Jon Karlsson, and Alf Thorstensson. “Hamstring injury occurrence in elite soccer players after preseason strength training with eccentric overload.” Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports 13.4 (2003): 244-250.


Millet, G. P., Jaouen, B. E. R. N. A. R. D., Borrani, F. A. B. I. O., & Candau, R. O. B. I. N. (2002). Effects of concurrent endurance and strength training on running economy and VO~ 2 kinetics. Medicine and science in sports and exercise34(8), 1351-1359.


Paavolainen, L., Häkkinen, K., Hämäläinen, I., Nummela, A., & Rusko, H. (1999). Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power. Journal of applied physiology86(5), 1527-1533.

Healthy Substitutes for Your Favorite Foods

As I receive many emails from women looking to eat healthier, I’ve noticed a few common problems. First, many people don’t actually know the difference between healthy foods and unhealthy foods. Now in the broad sense we all know that home-cooked meals are better than fast-food, that veggies and fruits contain a lot of nutrients, and that sweets, for the most part, are the enemy. But when it comes down to specific food groups, people generally aren’t aware of healthier food options.

The second problem is people’s perception of the word healthy. The general public thinks healthy means either sacrificing taste or giving up the foods they love, neither of which are true. There is no legitimate definition of “healthy eating” as it is a subjective term based on person preferences, likes, and beliefs. To one person healthy might mean vegan, to another it might mean gluten free, and to us Muslims, it includes staying away from pork and alcohol. In reality, healthy should include getting the majority of your daily calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods, while maintaining a balance and still allowing for some of the things you love.

For these reasons, I have put together a simple list of healthy food substitutes. What I do want to make known is that I am not advising anyone to completely CUT OUT the foods being substituted. It’s not that these foods should be off limits, it’s simply a guide for those who may benefit from the knowledge of healthier options. As mentioned above, healthy is about a diet containing a majority of the healthier options, while balancing it with foods you love.

So without further ado, I present to you a list of healthy substitutes for some of your favorite foods!


Carb Smart

In very basic terms, there are two types of carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are those that are made up of only one or two sugar molecules (a simple structure), whereas complex caboydrates are made up of a longer chain of sugar molecules (a more complex structure). Typically, simple carbs are absorbed and digested quicker, spiking up blood insulin levels, while complex carbs are absorbed and digested more slowly by the body without creating that spike in blood insulin, while also creating a greater sense of satiety and lasting energy.

In general, complex carbohydrates are also a bit more nutrient-dense. Simple carbohydrates are processed; a method during which many important nutrients, such as fiber, are stripped away. So, while simple carbohydrates do not have to totally be avoided, complex carbs do have an advantage in terms of micronutrients.


Therefore, this list contains some healthier carb options.

  1. Brown Rice over White Rice
  2. Quinoa over Couscous
  3. Whole-Wheat Bread over White Bread
  4. Sweet Potato or Yams over White Potato
  5. Whole-Wheat or Brown Rice Pasta over White Pasta
  6. Spaghetti Squash or Zucchini Noodles over White Pasta
  7. Mashed Cauliflower or Turnips over Mashed Potatoes
  8. Granola over Croutons
  9. Rolled or Steel-Cut Oats over Cereal or Instant Oats
  10. Rolled Oats over Bread Crumbs
  11. Crispy Lettuce Leaves over Taco Shells or Tortillas
  12. Dry Beans over Canned Beans
  13. Whole Wheat Flour, Oat Flour, or Nut Flours over White Flour


Proteins: The Good and the Better

The reason I say the good and the better, is because there are not really “healthier” substitutes for meats, aside from halal meats that are organic and fresh as opposed to non-halal meats. Certainly there are some meats that are much more advantageous than others, but in general it comes down to which meats have more or less fat. Thus, we are going to focus on lean versus fattier meats. Now, there is not a significant difference between lean and fatty meats in terms of nutrients, rather it is a matter of certain types of meat containing more fat and calories than the other.

This section also will not apply to everyone, rather it will vary based on individual goals. If your goal is to eat a significant amount of protein with fewer calories, than lean meats are probably better suited for you. If someone is not worried about calories, or is trying to gain weight, than fatty meats are a perfectly fine option.


Therefore, this list contains leaner substitutions for fattier meats.

  1. Chicken Breast over Chicken Thigh
  2.  Turkey Breast over Turkey Thigh
  3. Ground Turkey or Chicken over Ground Beef
  4. Bison or Leaner Cuts of Beef like Sirloin over Fattier Beef
  5. 93% Lean Ground Beef over Fattier Ground Beef

Other (Non-Meat) Healthy Options for Protein

  1. Egg Whites (or 1 whole egg mixed with egg whites) over Whole Eggs
  2. Fat-Free or Low-Fat Yogurt over Whole Yogurt
  3. You can also use some of the above mentioned carb choices as protein if you are not a meat-eater, e.g., beans and quinoa can be a good protein source for vegetarians!


Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice

Included here are some  baking hacks and healthy substitutes for sugar and sweets, fats, condiments and other miscellaneous items.


  1. Honey, Agave, Truvia or Stevia over Sugar
  2. Unsweetened Applesauce or Fruit Baby Food for Oil
  3. Mashed Avocado or Banana over Butter
  4. All-Natural Nut Butters over Low Fat or other Nut Butters
  5. Evaporated Skim Milk or Coconut Milk over Cream
  6. Skim, 2% Milk, or Almond Milk over Whole Milk
  7. Kale Chips or Popcorn over Potato Chips
  8. Dark Chocolate over Milk or Semisweet Chocolate
  9. Pureed Avocado or Non-Fat Plain Yogurt over Mayonnaise
  10. Frozen Yogurt over Ice Cream
  11. Low-Fat Cottage Cheese for Sour Cream
  12. Low-Sodium Soy Sauce or Rice Vinegar over Soy Sauce
  13. Seltzer Water over Soda
  14. Organic Crystal Light Packets (for water) over Juice
  15. Olive Oil over Butter


Top Young Muslimah In Marathon

Nur Nahsuhah, a medical student, who flew in from Sibu, Sarawak for the Malaysia Women Full Marathon finished 7th for Emerald Category, and 48th position overall. A week prior to that, she finished top 2 at her virgin full marathon  X12 Dark Run at Nexus Karambunai Resort & SPA, Kota Kinabalu. Her personal best time was at MWM : 4 hour 49 minutes, and this included a few minutes of Subuh praying time. Her run at MWM was 5 minutes faster than her first full marathon!

Nur Nahsuhah at MWM 2015

Nur Nahsuhah at MWM 2015

We got to know Nur Nahsuhah up-close and personal during MWM. She was all excited to meet other runners, most of whom she got to know via social network.

Nahsuhah, now 22,  is the second child of seven siblings. She grew up in Taiping and later went to SMK Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh, Perak. Since school, she enjoyed running long distance and participated in the school cross country runs. A hardworking girl, Nahsuhah scored all As for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and was awarded scholarship to study medicine at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). While at university, Nahsuhah always find time to run. She runs with her lecturer and sometimes alone.



Nahsuhah has been participating the running events since she was in school such as school Sports Day and Cross Country event. She began to slow down her participation on running events after she left the school but still does her training everyday to build her stamina. This continues despite her commitment on studying her foundation in medical course. She rose up and started participating in running events when she was in the first year of degree in medical school because this was where she owns her free time.  Prior to her virgin full marathon she ran several half marathons and other runs mainly in Borneo. It’s amazing for a 22 year old lady to participate in running events. You’d typically see ladies mid-20s and above in running events. To Nahsuhah, running makes her happy.



  • She is motivated to run basically because she is in medical field of study. Here, she learns how disease can be spread, the pathophysiology of it, and majority depends on the eating diet and whether you are being active or not. Healthy lifestyle is something that should be compulsory in everyone’s life.
  • Besides, her passion on running has always driven her to run in whatever emotions. It could be when she’s sad, stress or even happy. The feeling when she sweats and achieved her running goal always excites her despite exhaustion.
  • The part on making her parents proud of what she is capable of; like scoring in academic and sports is what she aims for. She realised that her achievement on being a successful strong woman could be highlighted  for other muslims in motivating them to stay healthy while being modest. It shows that muslimah does not need to wear tight and short clothes exposing their aura to win the race. She also mentioned,”Running is sunnah, isn’t it? Lets be blessed in whatever things we do because our goal is to enter Jannah, insyaAllah.”



  • Always go for training everyday or at least 5 times a week. Each session she always spend 30 to 45 minutes for 5 to 8km and only training for my long run during weekends, twice a month others only short run. Training keep her fit and make her confident to sign up the event.
  • Always take healthy food to keep her body doing well especially for an athlete, the food is very important. She always have her oat+raisin+milk for my breakfast, rice+vege +protein for lunch, and for dinner she will have wholemeal bread or biscuits with milk. She will make sure she drinks 3L of water everyday to keep her hydrated. In between meal she will have fruits as snacks.
  • Proper attire is utmost important especially if she’s doing long run. She said, “That’s why I choose Nashata. I love the fabric so much. I will sweat like buckets but my attire still feels light and comfy. It helps to shade off the sweat unlike cotton clothes, you will end up feel heavy and not comfortable”. She also said she likes the Nashata hijab too. It is simple, nice and keeps her looking good even after 3 to 5 hours run. And Nashata provides a lot of colour variation that can always match up with running event theme. Since she is a student she is trying to save up for more Nashata collections.


Nahsuhah is very particular about her attire when she runs. She runs in Nashata Ultra Top and Riada Pants as they are modest, lightweight and comfortable for long distance running. She does not wear additional attire or gears to support her run. She only carries a phone to entertain her while running. That is how simple running for performance is for Nahsuhah!


Nahsuhah at her Runs



Since she spends a lot of time at the hospital, she eats what’s serve at the hospital. Most of the time, they are healthy food with little oil and a lot of soup. Even prior to that, while growing up Nahsuhah claims her mother discouraged snaking in between meals and did not allow having drinks with ice. With a father from navy background, Nahsuhah like her other siblings are trained to be disciplined and hardworking. They too are performing excellently in their studies. Her younger brother who sat SPM recently, also followed her footsteps scoring all As!

Soon to be doctor and a winning runner, Nahsuhah will soar high, InsyaAllah.


Badan naik selepas kahwin?

Sedar atau tidak, kebanyakan wanita berat badannya bertambah selepas berkahwin. Ingin tahu kenapa? Mengikut kajian terhadap  lebih 125,000 orang, mereka yang berkahwin lebih cenderung untuk bertambah berat badan. Antara faktor-faktor utama :

Fat Transformation copy

1) Perubahan Hormon

Semasa mengandung, Si ibu akan lebih cenderung risaukan kesihatan anak dalam kandungan. Bukan hanya makan untuk seorang tetapi makan untuk 2 ORANG. Maka si ibu akan cepat berasa lapar dan letih kerana baby dalam kandungan berkongsi khasiat dalam badan. Doktor juga menyarankan makan kerap dan mengambil makanan yang berkhasiat, tidak boleh sesekali mengambil makanan bergas, berajinamoto ataupun makanan yang tinggi kandungan pewarna dan perasa tambahan. Di sebabkan itu juga, berlaku penambahan berat badan yang mendadak dan kita sering lihat si ibu makin montel dan comel

2) Dah ada ‘peneman’ setia

Sebelum kawin, punya la risau akan berat badan gara-gara takut tiada siapa yang nak. Tapi apa yang berlaku lepas kahwin, penampilan diri entah ke mana kerana sudah ada suami tercinta. Perlu di ingatkan, berhias untuk suami adalah menjadi satu ibadah. Kalau terasa tidak mahu suami mencari pasangan lain, mari kita sama-sama exercise dan mengubah cara hidup sebelum terlambat. Anda cantik, pastinya menjadi kebanggaan suami

3) Sering ke dapur

Adalah menjadi tanggungjawap perempuan menjaga kebajikan si suami selepas berkahwin. Anda sering ke dapur untuk menyediakan makanan untuk suami dan anak-anak. Jika mereka lapar, anda pasti risau. Oleh kerana anda sentiasa memasak di dapur, andalah orang pertama yang besar kebarangkalian untuk menjadi gemuk kerana makanan di depan mata! Oleh itu, kawal pemakanan, dan sediakan hidangan mengikut waktu tertentu.

4) Malas bersenam

Ini bukan sehaja berlaku pada wanita selepas berkahwin, tapi yang belum berkahwin juga ada yang malas bersenam kerana tidak peduli tentang kesihatan. Wanita yang lepas berkahwin kurang kesedaran untuk menjaga kesihatan kerana sudah memiliki keluarga dan lebih fokus kepada kewangan dengan jumlah ahli keluarga yang makin berkembang dari masa ke semasa. Mereka juga kurang mendapat dorongan dari suami kerana suami sibuk bekerja walaupun hari weekend lebih selesa duduk bersantai di rumah bersama keluarga tanpa melakukan sebarang aktiviti.


Cara-cara mengatasi:

cara mengatasi

So kalau tanak makin membesar, JOM kita bersukan beramai-ramai. Its ok walaupun sekejap atleast kene bersukan sekurang-kurangnya 2 kali seminggu.

Keep fit and maintain your body!



Sumber rujukan dari : Women’s Health Online