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,
Ries, N. M. (2012). Financial incentives for weight loss and healthy behaviours. Healthcare Policy, 7(3), 23.
Frederic Douglass, “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”. (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.blackpast.org/1857-frederick-douglass-if-there-no-struggle-there-no-progress
Thabiq,A. (2012). Waking Up Early According To Quran And Sunnah. Retrieved from http://sharingknowledgeofislam.blogspot.ca/2012/08/waking-up-early-according-to-quran-and.html
Dulan, M. (2013). 6 Benefits to Being a Morning Exerciser. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/27/when-to-exercise_n_3982906.html
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 Psychology, 26(1), 17-28.
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 Metabolism, 277(5), E855-E861.