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Posts from the ‘Health and Fitness’ Category

20
Jul

Seriously Short Reminder No. 25: Always check the ingredients…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

That’s the lesson that I learnt today after finding out there was something nasty in my newly purchased vitamins.

We always take things for granted (at least here in the Muslim lands) but we really need to double-check everything that goes into our mouths.

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19
Jul

How to get more energy…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Yes, I know. The title sounds like it belongs to a health blog, which is what this blog seems to be turning into.]

That’s the million (zillion?) dirham question, isn’t it?

This past week, I’ve been plotting how to get energy because, whilst I have time alhamdulillah, my engine seems to always be running on empty.

And it can’t be this way during Ramadan.

So, I asked myself “What increases me in energy?”

A few notes before I begin:

– Energy, like everything else, comes from Allah, the Most High. So if we want it, we need to ask for it.

Yes, we have to take the means (which is what this post is about) but we don’t rely on these means, rather we put our trust in Allah.

– I am not a health practitioner so please check everything I say with one of them.

– I know many people who read things and then say “Oh we can’t do that!”. If that’s the attitude that a person has to any suggestion that is presented to them, then it would be better for them not to waste their time reading those suggestions.

However, if you read, try to read with a positive attitude and don’t dismiss everything immediately. Think about it for a while first.

[And no, I’m not just referring to what you read on this blog. This is general advice for any article or book that you read or any lecture that you listen to.

– Like all of you, I’m a human and I make mistakes. Therefore, not everything mentioned in this blog might be correct. It’s up to you to verify everything that you read here (or anywhere else for that matter).

1) Ibaadah (worship) and seeking knowledge.

They increase one in energy, you ask?

Of course.

Haven’t you even felt re-energised after an Islamic lecture or after performing taraweeh prayer?

Fasting is an act that gives us great energy (and it does not make us weak, remember?).

However, the first few days are somewhat tiring which is why, I once again highly recommend that everyone starts fasting BEFORE Ramadan.

Someone might say: “Well, why does productivity go down during Ramadan then?”

Does it? In the Prophet’s (salallahu alaihi wasallam) time, it used to go up.

Even if it goes down in this time, it doesn’t mean that it is due to the fasting. The problem is with us, not with the fasting.

2) Exercise

You know, I love exercise, really I do. The only thing that I love more than exercise is ibaadah and seeking knowledge.

Now I don’t always do exercise because of various reasons (laziness, being busy, etc) but I still love it nonetheless.

However, most people hate exercise which is most unfortunate, as exercise can really give one an energy boost.

There were days when I felt very tired, only to feel refreshed after working out.

Now, someone might say “Hey, where’s the time to work out in Ramadan? And we’ll be fasting!”

Firstly, if you don’t have time, then make time. Simple.

Secondly, the people of the past fought wars during Ramadan, and we have difficulty walking from one room to another. Why is that?

Just because a person is fasting, it does not mean that they should be inactive. I can’t understand where this concept of “resting whilst fasting” came from, because it’s not there in the Quran or the Sunnah.

Thirdly, I’m not asking anyone to workout for a couple of hours. A 10 to 30 minute walk daily would be a good start. You could also add some other exercises and therefore be done with the whole thing in less than an hour.

Also, if you can’t do it daily, then try to do it as much as possible.

When can you work out in Ramadan?

Excellent question.

I realised that the best time for me was to do it after Asr. I’ve trying it this past week and even did it whilst I was fasting.

It was excellent. I felt so tired when Asr came but I was refreshed by the time I  broke my fast.

I think this would be good in Ramadan because 1) I can eat within an hour of exercising and 2) I’ll be refreshed and re-energised for taraweeh prayers.

“What about iftar preparations?” scream the women.

Sigh. You can cook before that, can’t you?

Also, if you exercise right after Asr, for less than an hour, you’ll have over an hour and a half for all the iftar prep.

Not into this idea? Fair enough. You could also consider:

a) Before suhoor – This is a really blessed time though and should be used for prayer but if you want to take a brisk 10 minute walk, it’s up to you.

b) After Fajr – Everyone feels fresh at this time.

c) After Maghrib –  The time isn’t a lot so a person would really have to rush.

d) Any other time – This is for people who are used to working out.

Now, someone might say: “Should we really be wasting Ramadan, the month of ibaadah, doing exercises?”

Well, if you understand the meaning of ibaadah, then you’ll realise that exercising can also become an ibaadah if a person does it with the proper intention.

3) Healthy food

“Healthy” being the operative word.

Eating burgers after taraweeh? No wonder we’re tired.

So, what should we eat?

a) Prophetic Food

This refers to all that stuff mentioned in the Sunnah. Ibn Al-Qayyim’s book contains a lot of information.

Amongst the foods and drinks that should be part of our menu: talbeenah (drink made of barley), dates, zam zam, black seeds and honey (pure, not that fake stuff from the supermarket). [All of these are mentioned in the book.]

Also, apart from the food, you might also want to try cupping. That would be very good for someone who suffers from bad blood circulation.

Note: A person doing it for the first time will feel tired for the first few days which is why I’d recommend you do it at least a week before Ramadan.

b) Fruits and vegetables

Yep.

c) Nuts

For those memorising the Quran: try almonds and walnuts. They’re supposed to be good for the memory.

d) Drink enough water

Feeling tired all the time? Perhaps it’s just dehydration.

If you follow the 8 glasses a day rule, you can try to drink 2 glasses during suhoor and 6 glasses between maghrib and the time that you go to sleep.

Coconut water is also good for dehydration.

e) Dairy

We need calcium, really we do. I’ve noticed it really helps fight fatigue (at least for me).

f) Vitamins and other food supplements.

I think that these really do help especially for those of us who don’t eat all types of food.

One supplement that does give energy is those ginseng tablets. You can feel the effects a few days after you start taking them. However, I noticed that the effect only lasts for about 3 weeks.

So, if you are really short of energy, try to take them in the second week of Ramadan so that they work for the last 10 days.

Flax seeds are another good supplement. They contain omega 3. As I’m not in the medical field, I’m afraid that I can’t explain more than that. All I know is that they give ENERGY.

g) Leave the useless food.

You know, burgers, hot dogs, etc.

Also, leave high glycemic index foods.

If you really can’t leave without the fast food, then at least try to stick to “decent” fast foods like Subway, pizzas, etc. 

Pizzas are decent, you ask? Well, not the Pizza Hut ones, but the ones from restaurants, depending on their topping, are relatively decent, especially if you take one with lots of vegetables.

You might also want to say bye to the caffeine. If you really need some, try to switch to green tea, which has many health benefits.

When should we eat all the above? We can split it between suhoor and iftar.

One final note: If you start doing all the above ASAP, remember that it will still take some time to show the results, perhaps 2-3 weeks, insha-Allah.

So, there was nothing groundbreaking in this post. I think most people know about these ways. We just need to apply it, that’s all.

18
Jul

A Pictorial Summary of what we REALLY need during Ramadan

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

What do we need, you ask?

Why do we need more energy?

Well, because everyone I know complains that they always feel:

We need energy to do all that ibaadah (worship), so how do we get it?

Well, that’s for tomorrow’s post, insha-Allah.

PS. The pictures are, as always, from Google Images, unless explicitly mentioned.

24
Jun

Seriously Short Reminder No. 22: Drink lots of water…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Please, don’t even think about drinking less than eight glasses a day, especially if you live in a country where summer is40+ degrees.

Otherwise, you’re going to be fatigued (due to the dehydration). Some people might also contract UTI.

So, be a good girl/boy and drink lots of water*.

[*In the first few weeks, you might need to make sure that you are within running distance of a toilet.]

3
Jun

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #3: Some tips to get into shape…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

In the last Prep Tip post, I pointed out that we really have to get fit.

So, how do we go about doing that?

Well, here are some tips:

1) Sunnahcise our health plans.

“Sunnahcise”?

Yeah. Do it the way the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) did it.

For example, suppose you want to get fit because you want to have more energy to worship Allah. So, your workout now becomes an act of worship (assuming your pure intention is still intact).

Why stop there? Add something from the sunnah into your health plans so that you can please Allah even more.

For example, some of the prophetic foods include dates, black seeds, talbeenah (drink made of barley), honey, etc. Try to incorporate those into your diet.

Why? Well, if it is recommended by the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam), that means that Allah loves that we eat them.

Also, there are certain activities that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) encouraged like archery, horse riding, etc. You can add these to your health routine as well.

In addition to these, there is also the prophetic guide on not sleeping too much nor eating too much.

2) Move.

Did you know that French women don’t go to the gym? Apparently, they get fit just by walking around.

“Walking around?”

You know, park a bit farther away from the destination so that you can walk more, use the stairs, go to your colleagues to ask them something instead of using the phone or gchat, etc.

To my fellow denizens of the UAE, our dear government has actually set up airconditioned walkways so that we can get fit by using our feet, instead of getting fat by using the car.

Where are the walkways, you ask?

I haven’t a clue. I just happened to read about it in the newspaper one day.

Extra tip: You can also get an pedometer to see how many steps you take per day. When I used to use one, I would make sure to walk some more just so that the number on the screen would increase…

3) Get some fresh air.

This is an issue which really affects those of us here in the UAE as we have the air conditioner switched on all the time.

In the car, in the office, at home, etc. All the time.

When are we going to get the fresh air?

Try to take a walk early in the morning or in the evening or let the windows down whilst driving (in winter, not in summer!*).

[*For those in cold countries, that would be: in summer, not in winter!]

4) Eat properly.

Everyone always said that to me but I never understood what they meant until I started to eat properly.

[It means “Eat healthy food and stop the junk food.]

How do you know that you’re eating properly? Well, perhaps it’s when every Tom, Dick and Harry stops pointing out that you look tired and pale?

5) Have a fixed time for exercise.

When ?

Whenever you want, just be sure to do it.

I think that the morning time is the best because 1) you can get it out of the way and 2) you have more energy for the rest of the day.

[Oh and 3) you have another motive to stay up after Fajr.]

I would also have added something like “work on each muscle” but I don’t want anybody to start an exercise that they’ve never done before and then proceed to feel some pain…

More tips?

Well, you may check this post and this one as well.

Now, after reading all of this, you might be thinking “Hey, I know all of this. This is old news.”

Of course, it is. Now tell me, are you fit?

If not, then what is stopping you from applying this “old news”?

Subhan Allah, there is a big difference between knowing something and then actually getting around do doing it.

We all know this stuff but most of us don’t do these things, and even if we do them, we are not regular.

So, let’s all try to be regular in getting some exercise so that we can be a bit healthier by this Ramadan which means that we will be able to do more ibaadah (worship), insha-Allah.

21
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit a week – Habit No. 1 – Part 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

5) Steps to be taken to solve the difficulties mentioned above (contd. for Part 1)

c) Remove any hurdles that are present in waking up for Fajr.

Well, there are many hurdles that people face. Different people have different issues. 

I would like to mention one of the hurdles though (and I apologise if it sounds crude but it needs to said) and that is something that many married people (especially newlyweds) face.

Many of them delay doing the ghusl for janaabah (the full bath to remove ritual impurity) until the morning. And what happens in the morning? Well, many of them feel too lazy to wake up and so they end up oversleeping and not praying Fajr. So, I would advise such people to do the ghusl BEFORE they go to sleep.

Of course, someone might point out that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) sometimes did ghusl before he slept and sometimes he did it after he slept which means that it is permissible both ways.

That’s right and I never said that it wasn’t. However, for those that end up oversleeping Fajr due to the ghusl issue, it is better for them to do it before they sleep.

It’s similar to the case of Witr. It’s permissible to do it before you sleep or after you wake up (before Fajr). The best time is at the end of Qiyaam Al-Layl. However, if one is generally unable to get up for Qiyaam Al-Layl then it’s better that he/she prays it before sleeping.

d) Get out of the bedroom and go to the kitchen.

And I say that as a person who loves her room and hates the kitchen…

If we stay in our rooms at this time, then all we’ll be able to see are our nice cozy beds. And after a few minutes of staring at our beds, we’ll hop back in to them.

So, what we need to do is get out of the room and go to the kitchen. [For those of you who live in studio apartments, at least try to move further away from the bed and closer to the kitchen area…]

Why go to the kitchen? Well, because it’s so uncozy (yes, a new word) and so uninviting and it’s also where the caffeine is.

Yes, I know that I said that we need to get over our caffeine addiction but first I think we need to solve the post-Fajr nap problem.

e) Keep blaming yourself the whole day and tell yourself about the amount of time you lost.

Yes, we need to feel bad for wasting so much time sleeping. If we feel bad, we’ll put in more effort to get up and stay up the next morning.

f) Start working on something important.

Have you ever noticed that when our mind is engaged in something, we forget to be sleepy?

So, working on something really important and difficult might stop us from resnoozing (yes, another new word).

Also, for those who wanted to work on the other habits, then the time right after Fajr would be the best time.

If someone spent 15 minutes reciting the Quran after Fajr, then they would also be able to cultivate a habit of reciting the Book of Allah daily.

Also, for those who want to walk daily, then you could do it for 15 minutes and you could recite the morning adhkar (remembrances) at this time.

For the brothers who pray in the masjid, you could use the time between the adhan and the iqaamah for recitation. And if you can’t stay in the masjid until the sun rises, then you could recite the morning adhkar on the way back home.

Also, if you walked or cycled to and from the masjid instead of using a car, then that would double as a form of exercise. And you’d also get lots of fresh air.

6) Suggestions for those people who might not be able to stay awake.

Okay, I think we should all understand something. When somebody makes a general suggestion, it doesn’t have to apply to everybody. A person should be able to know what works for them and what doesn’t.

So, for example, when I spoke about forming this habit, I was NOT talking to all the readers.

Why not? Because for some of them it might be more productive to go to sleep after Fajr.

For example, for those who work night shifts (like doctors), it’s not possible to ask them to stay awake in the mornings because that is their sleeping time!

Also, there might be people who suffer from insomnia. What happens if they haven’t been able to sleep the whole night? They won’t be able to function unless they get some sleep. I know this because it has happened to me frequently.

Also, there might be someone who works the entire morning and studies at night (or vice versa) and they might only get a few hours of sleep in the night as a result of this. So, this kind of person might be more productive throughout the day due to getting that extra bit of sleep.

Now, I mentioned in Part 1 that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) asked Allah to bless his ummah in the early part of the day and that he himself never slept after Fajr.

So, someone may ask, wouldn’t sleeping after Fajr be opposing the sunnah? Well, no, because they have a valid reason.

Also, sometimes one might give up something good in order to achieve an even greater good in its place.

For example, I recall a lecturer mentioning that Abdullah ibn Masood (radiallahu anhu) used to get very tired when doing nafl (optional) fasts which left him unable to do much recitation (his strength). So he decided to stop doing that, so he could focus on reciting the Quran. So, he left one good thing for another good thing which he happened to be better at.

However, I still have some suggestions for the people mentioned above (those who need to sleep after Fajr):

a) If you work at nights, then try to pray some rakaahs of Qiyaam Al-Layl. Also, try to remember to do dua (last third of the night) and istighfar (the time before Fajr). Also, try to remember to recite the sleeping adhkar and surahs before you go to sleep.

b) Try not to sleep until you’ve recited the morning adhkar.

c) Try to stay awake remembering Allah until sunrise and then sleep after that.

I recall reading that this is what Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen (rahimahullah) used to do and this is what most of us do when we are in itikaf.

This is because the time between Fajr and sunrise has a lot of virtue (a good time to recite the Quran and memorise it) so it would be better to stay awake during it and sleep after sunrise.

d) For those who might not get the chance to pray Dhuha later, try to stay awake 15-20 minutes past sunrise, then pray Dhuha and then go to sleep.

These are just some suggestions. If anybody has anything else that they’d like to add, then please feel free to do so.

Insha-Allah, I hope that we are all able to cultivate this habit at the end of these 3 weeks.

19
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit a week – Habit No. 1 – Part 1 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Note: Lots of you asked me how my “break” went and wondered if I had lots of “rest”.

Let me be clear: I took a blogging break so that I would have time to do other work. So far from a break, I was actually slogging away!]

So, you voted for the habit that you wanted to change and it seems that No. 1 (i.e. Do Fajr early and don’t go back to sleep after that) wins because:

1) The majority wins

2) As a few of you pointed out, it is the most challenging one. So wouldn’t it be better to start with the most challenging one rather than the easiest one?

3) If we can accomplish this, it will actually help a great deal towards establishing  the other habits mentioned.

4) I wanted to start with this habit. [Look, I run the blog. That has to count for something.]

Okay, so let’s do this step by step:

1) Aim

  • To wake early for Fajr and not go back to sleep afterwards.

2) Length of time

  • To do this for the next 21 days, insha-Allah.

I had originally said 14 days but I think that it might be too short.

Now, you’ll notice that I said “21 days” and not for the rest of our lives. Why? Because it’s easier to focus for 21 days, and then keep extending this time for a few more days. By then, insha-Allah, it would have become a habit.

If we think of this as an “all my life” sort of thing, we will 1) Get exhausted early and 2) Be deluding ourselves as our lives may end before the 21 day time limit. We should just take things a day at a time, insha-Allah.

3) Benefits gained from achieving this objective

  • It’s the sunnah (the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam did not sleep after Fajr, rather he took a short nap in the afternoon).
  • Gain barakah (blessings) as the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) asked Allah to bless his Ummah in the mornings. [The hadeeth is mentioned in this question. However, I should point out that there seems to be a difference of opinion on the authenticity of this hadeeth. You may check the Dorar results here.]
  • Have more time in the day
  • Have more energy throughout the day
  • Be able to pray all the 5 prayers at their earliest times
  • It will helps us get up for tahajjud. If we can’t get up early for Fajr, then praying tahajjud will be difficult as it’s even earlier than Fajr!
  • Benefit from Ramadan instead of sleeping the whole day (yes, this happens to quite a few people. They sleep after Fajr and get up somewhere towards the end of Dhuhr!)

Any others that you’d like to add?

4) Difficulties that may arise when trying to attain this objective

  • Difficulty in getting up for Fajr to begin with
  • Too tired to stay awake due to a late night and a long day ahead
  • Not being able to do this day in and day out

Any others that you can think of?

5) Steps to be taken to solve the difficulties mentioned above

Okay, so how can we get up and stay up?

a) Dua

Yes. This is the first step that we need to take. We need to ask Allah and keep asking Him to help us achieve this objective

b) Give ourselves enough time to sleep in the night

Firstly, anyone who still believes in that myth about humans needing 8 hours of sleep should be ashamed of themselves. I’m sorry but that’s one third of the day! Did the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions ever sleep that much???

Secondly, what time one sleeps depends on a) when one needs to wake up and b) the type of sleeper that one is.

The adhan of Fajr in Dubai is currently 4:05 am. I am the kind of person who needs at least 4 hours of sleep at a stretch, meaning that if I sleep at 2am, there’s a 99.9999% chance of me oversleeping Fajr. On top of that, I’m also an insomniac.

So, that means that I should at least try to sleep by 11pm (and it’s already 12 as I type this!) in order to get enough sleep.

Of course, sleeping early is one of the main issues that people have due to a variety of reasons (work, children, household chores, too much socializing, etc).

So, at least what one should start to do is try to sleep earlier than usual step by step. So, if you normally sleep at 2, try to sleep at 1:45. If you sleep at 1:30, try to sleep at 1:15. Try to do this (i.e. sleep 15 mins earlier) every few days.

The reason that I mention the step by step approach is that for many people their sleep time depends on when their families sleep. So, if your whole family is the type that sleeps at 1am, it’s going to be REALLY difficult for you to disappear at 11, isn’t it? (Especially if you’re the mother and you need to put the kids to sleep first.)

So, the only way to get the whole family to sleep earlier might be to do it the gentle way (i.e a few mins earlier every day).

Insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll talk about some more techniques that we could all try to wake up for Fajr and stay up.

I would have typed it out now but I need to wake up early for Fajr tomorrow, insha-Allah.

To be continued…

PS. When is the first day of this challenge? Let’s make it from Saturday onwards (day after tomorrow), insha-Allah.

18
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit at a time

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, there are less than 10 weeks to go before Ramadan.

And they say habits take 14-21 days to form (supposedly).

So, if we assume that changing a habit takes 2 weeks, we can change about 5 bad habits to good habits before Ramadan.

So, I thought that perhaps we could all tackle this together because I have a sneaky suspicion that most of us share the same bad habits.

How will this work, you ask?

Well, I was thinking about doing it the following way:

1) I list out a bunch of ideas for the habit that we need to change this fortnight.

2) Everyone votes.

3) The habit that “wins” is the habit that all of us (those that commented) need to start implementing for the next two weeks – for ALL fourteen days. [That’s assuming that you are not already implementing it, of course.]

4) I mention subtle reminders about this habit for the next 2 weeks.

5) At the end of the two weeks, everyone (at least those who want to participate) mentions how they did, what difficulties they had and how they overcame them.

6) After this, we move on to changing another habit.

Of course, this all depends on how many people participate…

So, let me start by listing out a list of habits that we could work on. Whoever is interested in participating should vote for the habit that they’d like to start changing first.

Here goes:

1) Wake up for Fajr (early) and not go back to sleep – If we stopped doing that, we would have loads more time and energy on our hands.

2) Stop the caffeine (tea/coffee) addiction – This way, we won’t snooze through the first week of Ramadan (because our bodies are getting used to the lack of caffeine).

3) Recite at least one page of the Quran daily with the translation (for those that don’t understand Arabic).

4) Pray all five prayers at their earliest times – This is one of the best deeds.

5) Walk for at least 15 minutes – If we need energy, we have to do this.

We can use the Habitator to keep track of our daily progress.

So, what do you think? Which habit should we all start with? I’m inclined towards no. 1 as that will end up helping with the remaining 4 in the long run.

29
Mar

A Pictorial Summary of our favourite form of exercise…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

In the last Ramadan  2011 Prep Tip, I mentioned how important fitness was and how unfit the majority of mankind is.

Most of us don’t exercise much.

However, there is one type of exercise that all of us seem to indulge in:

Ah yes.

Twiddle, twiddle, twiddle…..

At least the blood circulation in our hands will improve…

[Of course, a certain group of people twiddle their thumbs more than others…]

It’s no wonder that we have no time. We’re too busy twiddling our thumbs…