Stronger Together

The postpartum journey has surely been a very long road ahead, especially in terms of going back to the initial weight before being pregnant. We are sold this idea of snapping back in just a matter of weeks post having the baby which is completely false and an unrealistic mindset that is fed to us via social media. In reality, the average person would take months to years to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight. Yet because of these impractical expectations we women have set for ourselves, we find it hard to come to terms with the truth that it will take time.  In fact, we are hard on ourselves daily for not achieving these unrealistic goals.  Sometimes it’s not just us that are hard on ourselves but the very people around us that scrutinize us for not losing the weight fast enough.

However, the journey for weight loss is a very personal one, whether it be weight loss to be achieved postpartum or weight loss for the sake of improving your overall health. Every single one of our bodies is different which means that it will take us varying amounts of time to achieve different or similar weight loss goals. No time limit should be put on weight loss because at the end of the day even if it takes you weeks, months, or years to get there, the most important part is that you are taking the first step.

So this brings me to the question of what improves the success of achieving our weight loss goals? Obviously, aside from having realistic goals the second biggest factor is support. After having my son Ali, I had gained a whopping 55 lbs and I knew I needed to make a lifestyle change if I wanted to lose this weight. It took me almost a full year and a half to drop 40 lbs and I could not have done it without the support of family and friends. Initially, I had the great support of a fellow mom who was my neighbor, we made sure to stay active while on maternity leave by getting out at least 3 days of the week. Then I had the support and motivation from my cousins, friends, and sister when it came to healthy eating. We would give each other new recipe ideas and set weekly goals for ourselves to achieve whether it be nutritional or physical activity goals.

When we do things alone, we can easily find ourselves falling through the cracks as we get demotivated. In the Quran we are told by Allah”….Help each other in acts of piety and righteousness….(5:2)” (1). By taking care of the very body that Allah has granted us and helping one another to achieve such goals we are doing acts of righteousness which is something we should continuously foster within ourselves and our communities. Furthermore, even science supports the notion of supporting one another as research has shown that individuals who participated in weight loss programs with family and friends did a better job of keeping the weight off in the long-term (2). So with this being said, why not stand together to support each other in achieving our goals as we are stronger together than we are alone!

Written By: Raya Haddass



Keeping Yourself in Mind

Salam my fellow readers. It’s been 4 months since I last got the chance to write to you and A LOT has happened since then. We have had the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19 which has taken a toll on many of us both physically and mentally. For the majority of us, we have had a significant lifestyle change as we transition to working from home and even homeschooling for those with kids. We are also well into the blessed month of Ramdhan and are trying to make the most of it without the amazing physical support of our community that we are so accustomed to. All of these transitions can be quite overwhelming for everyone of us as we try to get through each day by accomplishing our basic tasks at hand.

As we try to juggle these competing priorities, we may find ourselves neglecting our mental and physical health during this time. However, we must understand that by neglecting things such as our nutrition, physical activity, and self-care this will eventually leave us drained and completely burned out. By taking care of ourselves through consuming healthy nutrients, participating in physical and self-care activities we are fueling ourselves so as to have the energy to be present in our day to day life.  Remember that loving yourself is loving Allah (God) as you are taking care of the body that he has blessed you with(1). In Surah Al-Rahman of the Quraan we are asked numerous times “So which of the favours of your Lord would you deny?”. Yet we see that out of the many bounties of blessing that Allah has blessed us with, our heart and very selves is the one we most neglect(1).

To ensure that we are taking care of ourselves no matter how busy our days may seem we have to first and foremost make it a priority. The next step is to carve out time and pre-plan your days as much as possible. When it comes to physical activity especially during the month of the Ramdhan it is best advised to do it at the following times:

  • Before Suhur
  • An hour before iftar
  • Right after iftar (ingesting a small snack before)
  • 2 hours after the main meal at iftar

There are a multitude of benefits of staying active especially during the month of Ramdhan such as, improved sleep quality, promotion of good digestion, increases energy levels, improved mental health (due to increase in feel-good hormones) etc.(2). Now the exercise does not have to be long or aggressive, it can even be a short 30 minutes walk or a brief 20 minutes online workout video. The main thing is that you are active.

When it comes to nutrition which is the one most people struggle with particularly in the month of Ramadhan, we still have to make sure we are eating what will nourish us. There are many health benefits to be reaped from fasting such as improved blood sugars, improved cholesterol levels, weight loss and so forth, however, this is all dependent on the foods we consume (3). When we overindulge and do not practice self-discipline and self-control, we can easily find ourselves at a great disadvantage.  Here are some simple tips to keep in mind during Ramadhan:

  • Limit the amount of fried and sugar-rich foods you have (trying having it only on weekend or just have one samosa as opposed to 3-4)
  • Stay hydrated by ensuring you are having water at the permissible times to eat
  • Have plenty of fruits vegetable and complex carbs- not only does this give you the vitamins and minerals you need, but it also keeps you regular
  • Avoid eating to the point you can’t breathe- eat to the point where you feel good NOT FULL!

Last but not least take care of your spiritual self. This is something that is heavily emphasized during the month of Ramdhan. We can do this by increasing our Quran recitation, dua recitation, Adhkhar and listening to the many series available to us online. Here are a few of the series currently available via YouTube:

  • Angles in our Presence by Omar Suleiman-Yaqeen Institute
  • Quran 30 for 30 -Yaqeen Institute
  • Comfort in Times of Crisis by Mufti Menk- Eman Channel

Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever removes one of the hardships of a believing soul, Allah will remove from him one of the distresses on the Hereafter. Whoever solves someone else’s problem, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter… Allah is ever assisting His servant as long as that servant is helping his brother.” [Sahîh Muslim](1). Yet how can we take care of others if we have yet to take care of ourselves? So, no matter how busy and crazy your life may seem, be sure to make time to take care of yourself!

Written By: Raya Haddass



Stop Dieting & Start Eating Mindfully

Diets, there are hundreds of them out there with the most popular one currently being the Keto diet. Two months ago I did a poll on my Instagram page asking my audience if they have ever been on a diet, 83% of those who answered said yes. I then asked at what age people started dieting for those who have and how many diets have they been on so far, now the answers I got to these questions I was surprised at myself.  Many started at a very young age as early as 10 years old with people having been on as many as 5 diets. The audience used in my Instagram poll is a fairly young population (20-40 years of age) meaning these are quite a few diets for such a short period.  With this information, I concluded that honestly, diets don’t work since not one person stuck with one “diet” and was able to achieve their goal with it. So my question was then why don’t they work and why can’t we stick to just one diet and follow it?


After reading through several articles and watching multiple Ted talks by accomplished dietitians, food scientists, psychologists and so forth the consistent reason behind “diets” not working was due to willpower. Every diet out there relies heavily on willpower for it to work however, willpower is limited, and we honestly don’t have enough of it to allow us to sustain a diet (1). Any strategy that consistently relies on the utilization of willpower is doomed for failure (1).   Most often, when we see individuals fail in their diet we are quick to blame them saying they lack self-control when in fact it has nothing to do with that. When we diet our body goes through a lot of biological changes that contribute to why we are unable to stay on a diet. These changes include neurological changes (increased fixation on food), hormonal changes (decreased level of the hormone that makes you feel full), and metabolic changes (decrease in metabolism) (2).  Overall, diets have little reliability, as most people regain the weight 5 years after dieting with 40% having gained even more weight than when they first started dieting (1). Only about 5% of dieters are able to lose weight and keep it off for a long period of time (2)


With this being said, we must take a different approach that has been suggested in numerous articles and videos, which is mindful eating. Rather than just focusing on food choices, start focusing on why we reach for one food over another (3). By understanding why we eat specific foods, who we are as eaters, and how eating certain foods make us feel we can now create long-lasting changes as we are touching on deeper reasons behind our eating such as our eating habits, behaviors, and patterns (3).  This process of eating is also known as intuitive eating, whereby we rely on hunger to decide when to eat i.e. listening to your body’s signals. This approach is far more effective compared to controlled eating where you utilize willpower to decide when to eat (1). Several studies have shown success with mindful eating by achieving weight loss and weight maintenance through increasing awareness of eating tendencies (4).


This practice of mindful eating is one that has been emphasized from the time of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with one of his hadiths stating, “We are a people who do not eat until we feel hungry, and when we eat we do not satiate ourselves (we do not eat excessively)” (5).  Another narration of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that we can always keep in mind: “Eat when you desire and stop while you still desire” (Bihar al-Anwar) (5). Personally, I have been practicing mindful eating for the past 2 months and have noticed some changes both physically and mentally. I can still enjoy the day to day foods but of course in moderation, because I realized when I overindulged I felt sluggish and just overall uncomfortable. I find that I am far more energized and alert throughout the day without consistently obsessing about food. I eat only when I am hungry and even then I am mindful of the food choices I go for.

With the new year approaching many of us may have weight loss as one of our new year’s resolutions. Instead of trying a new diet why not give mindful eating a try where you can achieve long-lasting sustainable results, not just physically, but mentally as well. It’s time to stop fearing your appetite but rather learning to work with it.


Written by: Raya Haddass



  6. (featured image)

Lets Talk About Postpartum Depression

We live in a society where majority of us live in isolated family units. Some of us may be privileged enough to live just a short few minutes drive from close family members but unfortunately, the rest of us are not only a few hours drive but even flights away from parents or siblings. This isolated family unit lifestyle can have a very negative impact specifically to new mothers. During the first few days and months of a baby’s life, new mothers are faced with caring for a child as well as healing from childbirth. For those who have had children or been around someone who has, you know for a fact that caring for a new child and healing from the birth of a child is not an easy task. This means that any help is warranted during this critical time from family and friends. But as mentioned previously, not all of us have this luxury of getting help from family members whether it be distance being a barrier or even the inability to take extended days of work for financial reasons. This may lead to a lack of social support posing a risk factor for postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is defined as a form of depression that can start at any time during the first year of a child’s birth (1). It consists of a change in mood that affects the way an individual sees themselves and how they interact with the people around them (1). Lack of social support is one of the numerous risk factors associated with postpartum depression. These other risk factors include a previous history of depression, negative attitude towards a recent pregnancy, risky pregnancy, mismatch between the expectation of a mother and actual pregnancy event, a young age during pregnancy, sleep status, smoking, education, low income, and nutritional status (2).
As a new mother, I had a much less severe version of postpartum depression known as baby blues. The baby blues usually last for no more than 14 days with symptoms lasting for a few minutes to several hours of the day (3). I remember feeling sad, restless, impatient and incompetent as a mother just a day after having my child. And yes, you do wonder how is this happening when something so joyous was just granted to you which makes you feel that maybe you are being ungrateful. But no, this is not you being ungrateful it is a very valid emotion especially during such a critical time where your body has gone through so much while also trying to take care of a newborn which can be challenging.

One way as Muslims that we can try to cope with a difficult situation such as this is by getting closer to Allah (God) through prayer. However, this is not possible during the first few weeks postpartum as a woman bleeds for about 6 weeks whereby she is exempted from performing salat (prayer) and fasting, just as during menstrual bleeding (4). This is not only because they are in a state of impurity but also due to the fact that they are experiencing pain and feeling weak (4). By exempting us from prayer and fast, Allah wishes to reduce the burden of worship on us during this time (4). So, although there may be some limitations in what acts of worship we can engage in there are other spiritual acts we can do during this time. One alternative acts of worship dhikr (remembering Allah) which not only increases your ranking with Allah but also brings you closer to Allah (5). Other acts of worship consist of giving charity, listening to beneficial lectures, making dua, visiting the sick etc. (5).

Asides from doing acts of worship, there are other beneficial things one can do to help deal with symptoms of postpartum depression and baby blues. These include (6):
1. Exercise- In the first few weeks this could be as simple as walking 10 minutes daily. By doing so you are releasing the feel good chemicals in your body known as endorphins.

2. Eating Healthy- Eating nutrient dense food is not only good for your body it also makes you feel good.

3. Taking time out for yourself- Seek out help or take up a trusted family member’s offer to look after your child so you can do what you like such as going to the movies, a walk or take a nap. This will allow you to feel more energized as you recharge yourself.

4. Avoiding isolation- Simply talking to a close friend or family about your feelings can make a shift in your mood. Consider going to a mom’s support group in your community, you will be surprised to hear that others may be going through similar issues. You may also get the opportunity to learn some helpful parenting tips.

5. Breastfeeding- Studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of postpartum depression as it increases the feel good hormone known as Oxycontin.

6. Getting rest- Sleep when the baby sleeps. You may feel annoyed of hearing this so often but studies have consistently proven that mothers who sleep less, particularly 4 hours of sleep, have an increased risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.

These suggestions can be very beneficial when practiced regularly. However, if you feel that your symptoms are severe and continue to last for more than 2 weeks don’t be afraid to seek professional help or even simply mentioning it to your healthcare provider. They can point you in the right direction and get you the help you need so that you are your most optimal self. Furthermore, for family and friends who are around new mothers or soon to be expecting mothers, try to be as supportive as possible. I, myself, felt that I was an incompetent mother if I ever asked for help, so I would overburden myself or get frustrated when I was unable to do something. Thankfully, my family was attentive and did not wait for me to ask but offered to help. This allowed me to feel less burdened and also gave me some time to myself. Nonetheless, a simple message to all mothers, there is no such thing as a perfect mother. You are doing your best and that’s what matters most.

Written by: Raya Haddas




The Recovery

Becoming a new mother is truly a great blessing to be granted. From hearing the first heartbeat, to feeling the first kicks and finally meeting the little human that has been growing inside of you for 9 months. But for those of you who thought pregnancy was hard (I being one of those people), wait until they are out into the world, with endless hours of sleep deprivation, nursing every 2-3 hour or even hourly when they hit a growth sprout, countless diaper changes and the list goes on. I am not here to complain about motherhood but to tell it like it is rather than feed you the lies we see on social media of mothers who have it all together which is far from the truth. The primary focus of todays blog will be on the postpartum body.

Throughout the 9 months of pregnancy we see the human body change gradually as the days go by. Some changes we are far more accepting of compared to others. We embrace our thick and rapid hair growth, healthy nails, clear and glowing skin with open arms. However, once the last stretch of pregnancy approaches, we see the rapid weight gain, stretching marks spreading all over the stomach, and swelling legs that we can’t wait for the pregnancy to finally be complete so we can get our bodies back to pre-pregnancy. The images we are confronted with on social media of women losing all their pregnancy weight in 3-6 weeks leads us to creating unrealistic expectation for ourselves when in reality it will take a lot longer. What adds to the pressure of achieve these unrealistic goals is the negative comments that our own family and friends make about the weight that a women gains throughout pregnancy from “Wow you know you gained a lot of weight during your pregnancy!” or “ you still have not lost the pregnancy weight?”.

What we must understand is that it took 9 months to create this precious human which means it will take 9 months or more to lose the weight. This is easier said than understood, as I myself have a lot of trouble accepting this. I started off by constantly monitoring my food and checking my weight and this did me no good as it only made me frustrated when I did not see progress happing as fast as I wanted to. It also led me to lose sight of the great blessing I have been bestowed of having been able to have a child. Once I came to this realization, I decided to change things up and simply take each day as it comes, making small but consistent changes to my lifestyle and spending more time obsessing over my child rather than my body.

Here is my advice to the women who have just had children and are working on their postpartum body:

  1. Accept that the process of weight loss post partum will take time possibly months or even years
  2. Ignore the negative comments that don’t help you achieve your goal
  3. The first few weeks postpartum are the hardest, the best thing you can do for your self is to get rid of social media as it will take away from those negative comparisons and unrealistic expectations you will make
  4. Make small but consistent changes, start with increasing your intake to 8-10 cups daily or limiting your junk intake to once a week
  5. Nurse as often as possible as you burn approximately 500 calories daily from nursing
  6. For those women who are nursing try to maintain a caloric intake of 1500-1800 daily and no less tha that as your body needsthe energy to make the milk for your child
  7. Once you have clearance from your healthcare provider on your 6 weeks postpartum appointment, start engaging in physical activity and you don’t have to leave your house to do that as Youtube has plenty of exercise videos for you to follow along
  8. Surround yourself with people who support you as that will motivate you to keep going
  9. Make short term goals rather then focusing on longterm goals that can take time to achieve, this will allow you to stay motivated
  10. Celebrate the small successes, every time you hit the 5 pound mark or ate clean for a whole month reward yourself, you worked hard so you deserve it!

And of course here is some advice to family and friends of women who just had children:

  1. Follow the advice of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) “speak a good word or remain silent” keep in mind that this is a difficult time not only physically but mentally and spiritually for a women so no negative comments are warranted as they only add to the stress or frustration a women may be experiencing
  2. Provide endless support and motivation to keep the women’s spirit high
  3. Offer to take care of the child so the mother can have some me time for some physical activity and mindful mediation

The bottom line is that having some extra weight post pregnancy is more common than not. And although it is strongly beneficial for your own health and future pregnancies to lose some of this extra weight, it is important to understand that it will take time. So do your best to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and surround yourself with a good support system as those are the keys to achieve your weight loss goals.

Your Blogger,

Raya Haddass

Mental Health in The Muslim Community

It feels like all around us everyone is facing their own individual struggles. Whether it be school, work, family life, finances, or personal matters. However, most of the time we feel very much alone in our struggles as our troubles take up and flood your thoughts. We feel as though we are the only one dealing with life’s tests. Crazy thing is, your probably not the only one dealing with such trials and tribulations. But this feeling of defeat that engulfs us during our times of hardship has a way of affecting our mental health with feelings of anxiety or depression.

Mental illness is a topic that holds a great deal of stigma specifically in the Muslim community. Numerous studies have observed that those in the Muslim community thought the idea of reporting mental illness to be a shameful act (1). Mental illness in the Muslim community has been associated to being related to evil spirits or a test or punishment from God in which only prayer can fix (1). Not only is there stigma around mental illness but also stigma around seeking professional help, thus Muslims have reverted to seeking advice from religious leaders i.e. Imams. Yet, it has been observed in the US that 95% of Imams who have reported spending significant time throughout the week providing counselling, admit to having little to no formal training in the field (1).

Although it is useful to pray during times of hardship and when experiencing such feelings of depression, more needs to be done to help address the root cause of the issue. Imams are helpful to a certain extent, but least we forget they are not trained professionals in the field of mental health. It is important to first and foremost reach out to someone when experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, as that is the first step to getting help. With this being said it is also essential to seek professional help from trained individuals, that way long lasting improvements in ones mental health can be achieved.

One organization that is centred around providing help to women when faced with feelings of depression and anxiety specifically for Muslims is Nisa Helpline, a fairly new organization that was launched March 14, 2014 (2). Although this organization is located in British Columbia, Muslim women from all over Canada can call the toll-free number to receive peer-to-peer counselling from trained volunteers on mental health issues such as anxiety and depression (2). The Canadian Mental Health Association is also an organization with numerous locations throughout all provinces that provides professional support and help for those seeking help with issues related to mental health (3).

Aside from the emphasising the importance of seeking help when needed, it is also important to get educated to the topic of mental health. There are numerous websites, conferences, and local event that take place within communities that would provide a great learning opportunity. By gaining knowledge on the topic of mental health, one is able to at least provide appropriate advice when a family or friend approaches you with mental health issues.

Your dedicated blogger,

Raya Haddass.


  1. Ciftci, A., Jones, N., & Corrigan, P. W. (2013). Mental health stigma in the Muslim community. Journal of Muslim Mental Health7(1).
  2. Nisa Helpline. (n.d). About our helpline. Retrieved from
  3. Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Mental Health Statistics. Retrieved from

Keeping Health and Fitness in Mind During Ramdhan

Alhamdulillah, we have been blessed to experience another month of Ramadhan. By this point we are almost half way through the month of fasting. We take this opportunity to get closer to God by means of fasting, prayer, quraan recitation, charity, and duas. In this blessed month we also find ourselves spending more time with our families during iftar (breaking of the fast) where there is a wide variety of food beyond your wildest dreams.  This is where one of our major downfalls is as many of us end up overeating to the point where even breathing becomes too difficult.

The issue of overeating is not the only major problem we encounter during Ramadhan, we also tend to have poor food choices available. We indulge in fatty rich foods such as fried samosas or naans that are dripping with butter as well as carb rich foods such as rice. Fruits and vegetables are not our main priority as majority of us just want to feed into our craving after fasting for long hours. However, consequences come with the unhealthy food choices that we make consisting of; weight gain, trouble breathing, gas pains, fatigues and weakness, as well as increase cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

With the excess food availability some of us even find the food going to waste as it does not get eaten in time. Nonetheless, we must keep in mind that we have been advised to avoid food waste with the Quraan stating “Eats and drink but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not those who waste” (Quran 7:31). Furthermore, with our ultimate focus being that we get closer to Allah, we should also make sure we are practicing healthy habits even during the month of Ramadhan to aid in optimizing our time for doing ibada (worship).

Here are a few useful tips to helping you keep a healthy body while aspiring for a healthy soul;

  1. Think soups and salads– After the breaking of your fast start your meal of with a soup filled with vegetables or a salad. This will help you stay hydrated and helps you restore your vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.
  2. Don’t skip suhoor– It is essential that you make time to wake up to have even just a light meal consisting of oatmeal with fruits or a veggi omelet with toast as this is what will give you energy throughout the day. Anas related that Rasulullah said: Take the Suhoor meal, for there is blessing in it (Bukhari, Muslim).
  3. Keep the carbs in check– Avoiding overconsuming on simple carbs  such as bread, cakes, sweets, fruit juice as those will make you feel hungrier much sooner and contribute to the weight gain. Focus on having complex carbs such as lentils, brown rice, beans, and other whole grain foods, those are what will provide you with that full sensation and not add on the weight.
  4. Keep moving– Try to maintain some form of exercise during this month even if it’s just 20-30 minutes of walking, This does not have to be during the fasting hours but can be done after breaking the fast. Exercise will aid in digestion and relieving gas pains.
  5. Avoid fried, salty, sugar rich foods- Although it may taste good at the moment, it contributes to the feeling of fatigue and adds to the thirst. Portion control and have a small amount of the not so healthy foods but incorporate foods from the other food groups such as proteins, fruits and vegetables, and grains. Also try to opt for grilling or steaming your foods to avoid the use of access fat.
  6. Stay hydrated– With Ramdhan taking place in the summer months, it is essential to replenish our water intake. Do not have large amounts of water at one sitting but rather have small sips through the time you are allowed to eat. Furthermore, avoid caffeinated drinks as this contributes to dehydrating the body.

Hopefully by putting to use some of these tips you will complete your month of fasting with ease and maintain a healthy body, mind, and soul. If you have other healthy tips to share for the month of Ramadhan feel free to leave a comment below and if you have any further questions regarding this post, send me a message and I will be more than happy to help.

Ramadhan Mubarak from your blogger,

Raya Haddass

60 Days of Self-Care

In my last blog post, I mentioned a weight loss challenge taking place in my workplace. Those who wanted to join would put in $20 at the start of the month, and at the end of the month, the one who had the greatest percent weight loss would take all. I decided to join this challenge because I lacked consistency and thought this would be a great way to get myself into a place where I felt most healthy. Studies done have showed that when financial incentive is provided, it results in significant improvement in achieving health goals such as weight loss, increased physical activity, and healthy eating (1).

Prior to the challenge, I shamefully admit to have indulged in far too many desserts and fatty rich foods and thought this challenge would be a great kick start to making some seriously needed changes. The first few weeks of this challenge were by far the hardest as I had to change several habits in my day to day life. However, it’s true what Frederick Douglass states: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”(2). There were many tempting moments where we would have pizza lunches offered at work and pastries brought in, but I had to fight the temptation and say no. Aside from the tempting food all around, there was forcing myself to get to the gym at least 4 days a week to get a work out in, even on days where I would rather stay in bed.

Many of us have very busy lifestyles and have 101 reasons for why achieving our health goals is close to impossible. However, something I learned during this process is that we always make time for what is important to us. So, it all boils down to how important achieving this goal is to you. One thing that helped me manage my time was meal prepping. Every Sunday, I would make sure to dedicate 2 hours to meal prep my lunches and dinners for the week ahead. This not only helped me stay on the right track, it also saved me a great deal of time during the week.

Secondly, I would make sure to get my workout out of the way first thing in the morning before heading to work. That way, I could not say later in the day that I was too tired from work and school to workout. There is a great deal of productivity that can be gained from waking up in the early morning. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said “Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah”(3). So, once you wake up for that Fajr prayer get your quick 20-30 minutes of workout in. Not only will you experience improved energy levels post workout, but you will also approach food differently throughout the day (4). Let’s face it, you will be less likely to eat a chocolate or go out with friends after sweating your butt of at the gym; you worked too hard to let the progress go that soon.

Lastly, remember that one bad meal will not deplete all your efforts throughout the week. Studies have proven that having the option of a cheat meal lead to participants staying more motivated and increased self-control when it came to sticking to a diet throughout the week (5). There is also evidence of improved metabolism when incorporating a cheat meal as it helps boost leptin levels, the hormone responsible for regulating energy balance by inhibiting hunger (6). So, feel free to enjoy that tasty treat once a week. You have earned it by working hard throughout the week, but keep in mind this is not a cheat day, but rather a cheat meal.

Alhamdulillah, after 2 months of consistency I have been able to drop 10 pounds and have been feeling more energized and positive about my body. I hope my journey inspires many of you and that this blog will be a place for you to gain insight on how to achieve your health and wellness goals. If you have any questions and requests for future blog posts, feel free to shoot me a message.

Your dedicated Blogger,

Raya Haddass.


  1. Ries, N. M. (2012). Financial incentives for weight loss and healthy behaviours. Healthcare Policy7(3), 23.
  2. Frederic Douglass, “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”. (n.d). Retrieved from
  3. Thabiq,A. (2012). Waking Up Early According To Quran And Sunnah. Retrieved from
  4. Dulan, M. (2013). 6 Benefits to Being a Morning Exerciser. Retrieved from
  5. Coelho do Vale, R., Pieters, R., & Zeelenberg, M. (2016). The benefits of behaving badly on occasion: Successful regulation by planned hedonic deviations. Journal of Consumer Psychology26(1), 17-28.
  6. Romon, M., Lebel, P., Velly, C., Marecaux, N., Fruchart, J. C., & Dallongeville, J. (1999). Leptin response to carbohydrate or fat meal and association with subsequent satiety and energy intake. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism277(5), E855-E861.

New Year New Beginnings!

As the days fly by 2017 is quickly coming to a close. With the new year approaching many people start to put their life into perspective and begin to think of changes and improvements they may want to make for the upcoming year. Compiling a list of goals to be achieved most commonly known as the new years resolutions. One that is popular for many people around the world is to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Now we all know this is not an easy goal to achieve as many of us have made this new years resolution several times and failed to achieve it. My hopes is to provide you with some useful tips to helping you stay on track and finally achieve the goal of living a healthier lifestyle.

First and foremost ask yourself why do you want to lose weight. The reason I say this is because if our reasoning is not from within, it may be harder to stick to your goal. When you are doing something for someone else, you’re expecting them to notice your hard work and effort and when that’s not the case, you end up feeling less motivated to achieve your set goal. Not only that, the very same person you may be doing this for may be your biggest doubter. When you decide to make a lifestyle change it has to be firstly for yourself, whether your doing it so you can feel better physically, mentally, or emotionally because you are your biggest motivator.

Secondly, you want to start by making several small goals rather than having one big goal to focus on. If your focus was on one big goal, lets say ‘I want to lose 40 pounds’, it may seem overwhelming and as though the goal is completely out of reach. However by having small goals such as wanting to lose 1 pound by the end of the week or 5 pounds by the end of the month, this will feel much easier to achieve. The small goals don’t necessarily have to be weight loss goals, it can be you wanting to make it to the gym at least 3 days every week or cutting sugar intake during the weekdays. By achieving these small goals, you are able to stay motivated throughout the process as you celebrate the milestones.

Last but not least, form a group of two or more people in which you all have a similar goal of focus in this case to lose weight. Research has shown that its easier to stick to a weight loss plan with a support system compared to when doing it alone. Within the group you are able to share tips on eating and exercise routines that will help you stay on track. Some people may also like the feeling of competition involved, in this case you can also have a prize for the winner who reaches the monthly goal. For example, at my workplace we all put 20 dollars in a jar and get our weight taken at the beginning of the month. By the end of the month, the person who loses the greatest percentage of weight loss wins the monthly collection. Having everyone in the workplace implementing healthy eating habits during this process reduces distractions and creates a great environment to achieve your set goal.

These are just a few tips to help you stay on track with attaining your new years resolution goal.  Keep in mind the importance of patience. Rome was not built overnight so give yourself time and stay persistent. Moving forward, if you have any questions or run into any bumps in the road feel free to send me a message and I will be more than happy to help you get to your goal.

Wishing you all a 2018 that is filled with great health and many successes!

By: Raya Haddass

Stop Talking and Start Doing

Many of us continuously feel unhappy about the way we look. Spending hours on end complaining about the same problem to different people we encounter. After numerous negative experiences when trying to fit into your own clothes or having trouble shopping for clothes that fit, you finally decide to start “dieting”. For the first week you’re able to keep the motivation high, eating healthy and exercising regularly. However, on the second or third week it gets too difficult and you find your self back to old habits and once again complaining about the way you look!

We effortlessly spend a majority of our time complaining about how unhappy we are with our appearance, yet we choose not to actually create a change in our lives. Why wait for adverse events to take place in our health such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer to finally decide on making long lasting changes in our health. Studies have shown that the lifestyle choices you decide to make in your 20’s will have a significant impact on your health in your 40’s (1). It is also important to remember that the changes you make are long term rather then short term. Engaging in a “diet” such as no carb or juicing diet may work temporarily, but let’s face it such fad diets never last. More often then not, once you quit the diet not only do you gain the weight you lost back but you also get to keep a few extra pounds…. that you didn’t even ask for. To achieve long term changes we must enforce a healthy lifestyle, which is a way of life that allows one to enjoy food, exercise, and implement healthy habits on a daily basis for years to come.

In Islam we are discouraged to waste time but rather use every minute and second to doing good for your self or another as it is a blessing from God. With this being said, seize the opportunity to finally start and continue making healthy lifestyle choices. The prophet (S.A.W) said “There are two blessings which many people waste; health and free time” reported by Al-Bukari. However, we don’t value our health until it starts to deteriorate, so to keep us in check make it a point to visit an ill person or some one who is terminally ill. Not only will you be practicing the sunnah of the prophet (S.A.W) but you will also learn to appreciate your good health and take precaution in how you decide to nurture your body.

Here are 7 tips to jump start your healthy lifestyle;

  1. Maintain a balanced diet; eating healthy means having a variety of fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbs while keeping in mind the importance of moderation
  2. Clean up your kitchen as well as your secret stash; Set your self up for success by eliminating junk foods and any other unhealthy food choices as this will help reduce temptations
  3. Get active; every week try to at least complete 3-4 days of 30 minutes exercises or more
  4. Track your success; have a calendar where you can cross of each day that you committed to a healthy lifestyle, this will help keep you motivated to be persistent
  5. Keep the Goal in mind; right when your about to give up remind your self why you started in the first place
  6. Love the process; learn to appreciate your current self and the accomplishments you make along the way, whether it may be the reduced shortness of breath as you go up the stairs or the confidence you gain from achieving your goals
  7. Ditch the Scale; stop taking your weight on a daily or weekly basis, it will only drive you nuts simply focus on how you feel as you progress through these lifestyle changes and if you must weigh your self, do so once a month

It is obvious that change is never easy but it’s important to also remember that your circumstances won’t get better by chance but only through change. So take that first difficult step and don’t look back, I am sure you wont regret it!

Written By: Raya Haddass

  1. Liu, K., Daviglus, M. L., Loria, C. M., Colangelo, L. A., Spring, B., Moller, A. C., & Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (2012). Healthy lifestyle through young adulthood and the presence of low cardiovascular disease risk profile in middle age. Circulation125(8), 996-1004.