Why being a plus-size does not hinder Nadia to have an active lifestyle

Nadia Ahmad is an avid runner and participates actively in running events. She started participating in running events in 2011. We were given the opportunity to interview her and understand what motivates her to run and how she overcomes her shyness so that she can be out there and have an active lifestyle.

muslimah nadia


What type of sports do you participate?

I am not a hardcore athlete but I play a bit of everything from badminton, Frisbee throwing, bowling to a 30 minute brisk walking. I play just to get myself moving.

How frequent do you exercise?

It depends. Sometimes it’s just 2-3 times a week and I do have my lazy days. Honestly with the recent Raya celebration, I have fell off the wagon very hard i.e. haven’t exercised for the past 2 months. So, I’m slowly taking those baby steps to start sweating the weight off.

Who do you exercise with and why?

I usually do it with friends, family and colleagues. I am surrounded with active people. At the office, I have to climb 6-8 flight of stairs daily to meet colleagues. During the weekends, it’s a brisk walking activity (or actually a race) with my mum and brother around the hilly city of Johor Bahru. Meeting up with friends are usually done at shopping malls so we can meet up, do some retail therapy  and at the same time get some footwork activity.

The reason why I started exercising was just to get healthy. My family and I was shaken up after the passing of my dad of the eve of Raya Puasa 6 years ago due to diabetes. Since then my family have started to be health conscious and just made it a point to get healthy together by having brisk walking session every weekends. So usually the whole family will spend around 1-2 hours walking around the Istana Garden area or Johor Bahru city. We walk at our own pace (usually it’s just me chasing after my mum and my brothers are at their own speed).

What motivates to you exercise?

Initially the intention of exercise was to loose weight. I was so inspired after watching the biggest loser.  I did lose 10 kg by proper diet and exercise. After a while (due to limited knowledge) 5 kg of the weight came back. So I got bored with the aerobic and the normal brisk walking route. I told myself, if I were to participate in a 5 kilometer run, maybe I would lose more weight. I took part in a running event and it surely was a confidence booster. I felt great about myself. Accepted my body for what it is (mind you I am  a plus size muslimah) and I didn’t bother about trying to look thin.

When did you start participating in running events?

The initial idea to participate came up while I was on my way to attend my part time classes in Kuala Lumpur (KL). On a normal routine, I would reach KL around 8 am and I would still make it in time for class. However, on that particular Sunday, I was caught up in traffic. So I was sick to my stomach knowing I am already late for class and suddenly a flood of people was passing by. When I looked up, I saw these people were wearing the same running shirt/vest from the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, running and walking. From there, it just crossed my mind that I would like to join such event one day.

Thus, when I got bored with my usual routine of aerobic and brisk walking route, I braved myself to register for a 5 kilometer event which I thought I could not complete. In order to kill the fear of going alone, I managed to drag my colleagues and brother to join as well. So 26 June 2011 was a date to remember where I finished my first 5KM in 40 minutes.

I am still gathering up my courage to participate in an actual marathon event either full marathon (FM) distance of 42.195KM or half marathon (HM) distance of 21.0975KM. So I am getting there. Right now it’s just participating in running event with distances between 10-15KM

How many running events  do you plan to participate in a year?

I haven’t set any specific number of events but the basic rule of thumb is at least 1 running event per month. So if I can get 20 events per year is already a bonus and earn me some bragging rights

How do you do to prepare yourself for a run?

Like I said previously I am no athlete so I don’t have any proper training methods to get ready for a run. I have been told that if I were to train for a half marathon, my weekly mileage should be about 40-50KM and for full marathon, it should be around 70-80KM. It’s a matter of how you build your stamina. Sometimes, I go hiking to conquer hill running and occasionally I do Zumba just to get the heart pumping fast.

What is your sporting goal?

Insya-Allah my goal is to conquer ultra marathon distance i.e. 100KM before I reach 40. In the meantime, conquering half marathon distance will be my 2014 target and a full marathon for 2015.

What do you wear and what are your gears while training?

Usually, I wear my yoga pants and running event tshirt with the inner inside. My spi belt to fit in my car keys. My phone and my headphones are kept in my armband which is a must to get me moving when I am so not in the mood to sweat it off. Come to think of it that’s a lot of items

What do wear and what are your gears you need to have with you at a marathon?

I basically wear the same yoga pants since I can’t find a compression tight in my size. Not forgetting Nashata Riada shirt. I like the Nashata riada shirt because I don’t have to worry about my phone and headphones bouncing about. If it is a morning event, I bring a towel or running cap with me. If it’s an evening event, a towel would usually be enough.

Any advise to our sisters who want to start having an active lifestyle?

For those muslimah who wish to have a start on an active lifestyle but are still hesitating, just bear in mind that Allah has amanah this body or vessel to us. Thus it is our responsibility to take proper care of it to ensure that we remain healthy to continue our ibadah to Him.

Honestly, I am not an athlete. I am not a school runner. I am just a normal muslimah who makes time for herself to get healthy. Maybe I can’t speak for those muslimah who are mothers and wife (which I  truly applaud them), but I can speak for those muslimah who feel shy to get active.

Believe me when I say I had the same mindset but I changed that mindset when I told myself that this is my body and those people who are teasing or mocking will not pay for my medical bills when I get sick. Since I am a plus size muslimah, those taunts will haunt me but then again I have nothing to prove but myself. Once you cross that finish line of any event, the feeling of accomplishment regardless how long it took will be worth it (plus some bragging rights!)


So go on and get active. Losing weight is one thing but feeling good about yourself and your body is another.


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