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.

Reference:

  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 https://nisahelpline.com/about-our-helpline/
  3. Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Mental Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://ontario.cmha.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CMHA-Mental-health-factsheet.pdf

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.

Reference

  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 http://www.blackpast.org/1857-frederick-douglass-if-there-no-struggle-there-no-progress
  3. 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
  4. 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
  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

Reference
  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.

Inhale the Good and Exhale the Bad

September is almost over and we are well in to the school year. For those recent graduate, at this point reality has kicked in and now it’s time get serious on landing that first job into your field of study. And for the parents out there, you are now back to juggling work and your family life all at once. As we progress into fall, most of us get bombarded with numerous deadlines whether it be from work, school, or personal deadlines while also trying to stay on top of your busy lifestyle. We get caught up in this endless cycle and eventually start to feel very overwhelmed. However, in the mist of this cycle we need to remind our selves to take a moment to just breath and relax before we hit that breaking point.

The topic of relaxation was briefly discussed in the previous post on how can provide beneficial effects for diabetics in improving blood sugar levels. However, relaxation has shown to have numerous beneficial effects all throughout our body. With adequate time spent towards relaxation, individuals can also experience an increased immunity(1). This rise on immune cells allows your body to better protect you against disease. Relaxation has also proven to have positive effects on heart health through lowering blood pressure. This is achieved through the body’s ability to decrease psychological distress leading to a reduction on overall blood pressure, which can thus help reduce the risk of developing hypertension(2). Another benefit achieved through relaxation is, an evident reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety. When our body is in a state of relaxation, it allows us to produce hormone called endorphins which are responsible for relieving pain as well as elevating mood (3). Last but not least, research has shown improved fertility rates with women who are relaxed as opposed to women experiencing elevated levels of stressed (4).

Some of the many reasons we may find it difficult to relax is due to endless worries and stress about matters pertaining to our day to day lives. However, we must remember that we are only in this world for a temporary time, thus we must make this time worthwhile and prosper the blessing we have been gifted with. The Quraan it self mentions the importance of being grateful not only for the sake of Allah but for your own sake. This is mentioned by Prophet Suleman in Ayah 40 of Surah Al-Naml “This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful”. This sense of gratitude will provide us with a feeling of relief from pressures and anxiety through allowing us to appreciate what we already have.

 

Relaxation does not mean spending time lounging around watching tv. Its about having time set aside to engage your body, mind, and soul in a tension free state, where all of you experiences reduced stimulation as a pose to when you are stressed. Here are 5 ways you can engage in relaxing activities;

  1. Meditation- spending 10-15 minutes seated with your back straight and eyes closed, clearing yours mind while letting any distracting thoughts pass you by and you focus on deep breathing
  2. Release the knots- spend about 10-15 minutes laying down with your eyes closed and scan your body from head to toe releasing any tension
  3. Sujood (Prostration)- After any one of the obligatory prayers spend about 5 minutes in this state, it well help reduce tension in the lower back, knees, and ankles. This spiritual process will also help relieve mental stress as you express gratitude to Allah and hand over your worries to him alone
  4. Decompress- massaging away the tension is a great way to help you relax, you can even do it on your own by using a tennis ball or a foam roller
  5. Listening to Quraan- This can be done on your way to school or work. Listening to soothing sounds has proven to help in relaxing the mind through releasing any tension in the brain. This will also provide a feeling of inner peace.

Written by: Raya Haddass

Reference 
  1. Infante, J., Peran, F., Rayo, J., Serrano, J., Garcia, L., Roldan, A., . . . Duran, C. (2014). Levels of immune cells in transcendental meditation practitioners. International Journal of Yoga, 7(2), 147.
  2.  Nidich, S. I., Rainforth, M. V., Haaga, D. A., Hagelin, J., Salerno, J. W., Travis, F., . . . Schneider, R. H. (2009). A Randomized Controlled Trial on Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Blood Pressure, Psychological Distress, and Coping in Young Adults. American Journal of Hypertension, 22(12), 1326-1331.
  3. Klainin-Yobas, P., Oo, W. N., Yew, P. Y., & Lau, Y. (2015). Effects of relaxation interventions on depression and anxiety among older adults: a systematic review. Aging & Mental Health, 19(12), 1043-1055.
  4. Harrison , R. F., O’Moore, R. R., & O’Moore, A. M. (1986). Stress and fertility: some modalities of investigation and treatment in couples with unexplained infertility in Dublin. Int J Fertil, 31(2), 153-159.

One Too Many

Sweet treats have a way in everyone’s hearts. We have them at almost every special occasion, from weddings to graduation dates. But for those with a serious sweet tooth, one sweet treat is just never enough. Before you know it, you’ve scarfed down several pieces of baklavas, cakes, ladu, helwa etc.  Not only do these tasty treats have high sugar content (carbohydrates) but also an increased fat content. We all know that too much of any things isn’t good and this goes for our food intake as well. With an increasing consumption of carbohydrates and fats, we place our selves at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and even worsening the symptoms of diabetes for those who already have the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is an endocrine condition that is manifested when an individual is unable to use insulin in their body. There is an evident reduction in insulin receptors and cell insensitivity to insulin (1). Due to this lack of insulin insensitivity, one will encounter difficulty regulating blood glucose levels back to a homeostatic state (normal range). It is an adult onset form of diabetes occurring in persons 40 years and older, indicating that it has a greater occurrence in the aging population. There are several risk factors that contribute to the incidence of this disease such as obesity, high cholesterol, being sedentary, family history, high blood pressure, stress, heritage, and impaired glucose tolerance. Older adults are also more prone to experiencing higher numbers of co-morbidities that are associated with this form of diabetes including arthrosclerosis (hardening of arteries leading to coronary heart disease), loss of vision, neuropathies (damage to nerves), and kidney failure(2).

As stated previously it is evident there are several contributing factors that are associated to type 2 diabetes. By changing some of these factors, one will acquire a better quality of life through the management of their diabetes. One of the modifiable factors is physical inactivity. The reason behind it is increase in physical activity leads to better glucose readings. This is due to a greater insulin sensitivity allowing cells to optimally utilize available insulin to take up glucose during and after exercise (1).  Also when we exercise, our muscles contract and this allows cells to take up glucose to be used as energy whether there is insulin available or not (1). Psychological stress levels is another modifiable risk factor. This risk factor is most often under looked with regards to the management of diabetes. In some cases diabetes may be related to stress. This occurs when psychophysiological over reactivity (caused by stress hormones) appears to initially cause a hyperglycemic response (increase in blood sugars) (3). With people who have type 2 diabetes there isn’t enough insulin to cope with the rise in blood sugars so levels stay elevated. By helping to manage ones stress levels through numerous relaxation techniques, it can alter the physiological effects of psychological stress.

So what can you  do to help better regulate your blood sugars and even prevent the risk of developing diabetes? Here are 4 tips you can start implementing to improve your quality of life:

  1. Engage in 150 minutes of exercise per week as recommended by the Canadian Diabetes Associate; that’s an easy 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days of the week
  2. Set aside 10-15 minutes of your day to simply mediate in a quite space to help reduce stress levels; this can be done during a lunch break or a few minutes before bed
  3. Fast on the days that are Sunnah ( Monday and Thursday); not only will you gain thawaab but you will also help lower blood sugar levels
  4. Reinforce healthier eating habits; this means reduce your intake of fat and carbohydrate rich foods.

Written by: Raya Haddass

References
  1. Ivy, J. (1997). Role of Exercise Training in the Prevention and Treatment of Insulin Resistance and Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. Sports Medicine, 24(5), 321-336.
  2. Munshi, M., &Lipsitz, L. (2007).Geriatric diabetes. New York: Informa Healthcare.
  3. Wilson, V., & Cummings, M. (2005).Learned Self-Regulation(3rd ed.). Toronto: York Stress Assessment and Management.

A Little Sweat Never Hurt Nobody

As you’re going up the short flight of stairs, you stop, struggling to take your next breath. At that moment, you come to realization that something needs to change.  Physical activity plays an integral role in our overall health status. Therefore, when we neglect setting time aside for physical activity, it can result in a negative impact on our health.

 

We all know that incorporating exercises in our day to day lives is good for our health, but to what extent? One of the many benefits derived through physical activity is that it helps fight against health conditions and disease, one of which being cardiovascular disease. With increase in physical activity, we are able to improve our cholesterol levels by increasing our good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing our bad cholesterol (LDL) (1). Exercises also provides for a drug free approach to lowering blood pressure through strengthening your heart (1). This allows the heart to pump more blood with less effort. If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, exercise may just be your answer. Physical activity improves the quality and duration of your sleep (2). It is suggested that the post exercise temperature drop is what promotes the falling asleep as well as the decrease in arousal, anxiety, and depressive symptoms which are commonly linked to insomnia (2). Another well known benefit to exercise is its positive effects on weight management. Regular physical activity has proven to help increase metabolic rate, allowing us to burn more calories resulting in weight loss when coupled with healthy eating habits (3). Last but not least, exercise has also shown to increase energy levels. Now most of you are wonder how this possible since we feel too exhausted to even get off our couch to exercise. The increase in energy occurs at a cellular level. When we exercise, we increase the number of mitochondria in the body so that we are able to produce more available energy for our body (4).

 

As a Muslim it is essential that we take care of our spiritual, emotional and physical health. With a body that is weak, it makes it difficult for us to even full fill the basic 5 pillars of Islam. The performance of our five daily prayers is a form of exercise in its self, which can become difficult due to our weight or disease. Fasting during the month of Ramdhan as well as performing Hajj requires us to be in good health due to the strength that is needed to complete these hard efforts. The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said “A strong believer is better and is more loveable to Allah than a weak believer” reported by Abu Hurraira (5). This statement translates to both our strength in our faith and our physical strength that is seen to be more desirable.

 

The recommended physical activity guideline for adults (18-64 yrs) is 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise as recommended by the World Health Organisation.  Now this may look like a big number but it’s simply just 30 minutes of exercise 5 days of the week. At this point you’re either convinced you can do it or you’re already planning your list of excuses from “I don’t have any time” to “Gym memberships are too expensive”. Just as we have time to endlessly scroll through out phones, we can find 30 minutes in our day to get active. Exercise does not have to take place at the gym, it can be you going for a brisk walk at the end of your day or during your lunch break. Feel free to ask family or friends to join you as having a buddy can help motive you and create a sense of accountability. You can also utilize the internet by going on Youtube to search for exercise videos. For those of you with kids or younger siblings, join them in their play time when outside on the play ground or field to get your exercise in. It’s never too late to get started on improving your health, make today your day one and take your 30 minutes walk.

 

Written by; Raya Haddass

 

References

  1. Myers, Jonathan. “Exercise and Cardiovascular Health.”Circulation 107, no. 1 (January 07, 2003). doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000048890.59383.8d.
  2. Reid, Kathryn J., Kelly Glazer Baron, Brandon Lu, Erik Naylor, Lisa Wolfe, and Phyllis C. Zee. “Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia.”Sleep Medicine 11, no. 9 (September 1, 2010): 934-40. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2010.04.014.
  3. Church, Tim. “Exercise in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes.”Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 53, no. 6 (May 2011): 412-18. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2011.03.013.
  4. Menshikova, E. V., V. B. Ritov, L. Fairfull, R. E. Ferrell, D. E. Kelley, and B. H. Goodpaster. “Effects of Exercise on Mitochondrial Content and Function in Aging Human Skeletal Muscle.”The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 61, no. 6 (September 01, 2006): 534-40. doi:10.1093/gerona/61.6.534.
  5. Hadith – The Book of Destiny – Sahih Muslim – Sunnah.com – Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Accessed July 25, 2017. https://sunnah.com/urn/369830.

How Much Is Enough?

Now that summer has commenced, the temptations of different mouth watering foods are all around us. From the usual weekend family and friend gatherings, to the endless weddings and events we are invited too. Most of us even go the extent of not eating all day because the goal is to go with an empty stomach in order to fill it to its fullest capacity. At times, we even find ourselves so full that performing salah (prayer) becomes a struggle of its own, yet if tea and more desserts were laid out, we wouldn’t hesitate to reach for more.

Our tendencies of overeating are clearly heightened during the summer months. However, overeating has numerous negative effects on our body. First and for most, studies have shown that short term over eating not only results in short term weight gain, but even long term increase in weight (1). This means that individuals had difficulty reducing the weight since the time it was gained post overeating. Overeating can also have harmful effects on your metabolism due to a large influx of nutrients entering the body at once (2). This results in our metabolism to shut down as the excess nutrients are seen as threats to the body (2). Furthermore, an impaired metabolism can lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity (2). Digestive organs such as the kidney, stomach, and liver are also compromised with overeating due to the inability to digest all the food being ingested (3). Last but not least, overeating can also impact our mental health. Our body image and self esteem is largely an outcome of what we feel about our looks (4). Therefore, when we increase in weight, our confidence in ourselves reduces resulting in a negative self image.

When it comes to the religious perspective of overeating, it is too frowned upon.  The prophet Muhammad  (S.A.W) emphasized on eating less as it being an effective method in preventing sickness and disease (5). As narrated by Tirmidi and Ibn Majid the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said:

“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam   to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be; One-third for food, One-third for liquid, and One-third for breath.”

In Islam we are also advised to avoid extremes in all affairs of our lives and to maintain moderation, this includes the way we approach food (5).

Here are some useful tips to help you practice portion control and avoid overeating;

  • Never go to a social event hungry, have a light snack prior to the event preferably foods that are rich with either protein or fiber ex. Fruits, Vegetables with hummus dip, protein/fiber bar etc.
  • When serving yourself, start by filling half your plate with vegetables avoiding the ones that are drowning in oils, then moving on to the proteins (chicken, fish, beef) being a quarter of the plate, then carbs being the last quarter of the plate
  • Have a glass of water by your side throughout time of the gathering
  • Eat slowly to allow your food to properly digest and prevent you from overeating as you provide your body with sufficient time to signal you when you are full
  • Limit your options; some of us like to try a little bit of everything and before you know it your eating for a family, so try limit yourself to 2 to 3 side dishes
  • Use your hand as guide of how to portion your food ( Guide located on tools and resources page)

Hopefully with these tips we are able to practice moderation in our day to day eating habits. After all let us not forget the saying “A moment on the lips forever on the hips.” 😉

Author; Raya Haddass

Citation:
  1. Ernersson, Åsa, Fredrik H. Nystrom, and Torbjörn Lindström. “Long-term increase of fat mass after a four week intervention with fast food based hyper-alimentation and limitation of physical activity.”Nutrition & Metabolism7, no. 1 (August 25, 2010): 68. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-68.
  2. Nakamura, Takahisa, Masato Furuhashi, Ping Li, Haiming Cao, Gurol Tuncman, Nahum Sonenberg, Cem Z. Gorgun, and Gökhan S. Hotamisligil. “Double-Stranded RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Links Pathogen Sensing with Stress and Metabolic Homeostasis.”Cell 140, no. 3 (February 5, 2010): 338-48. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2010.01.001.
  3. Jason Ladock, “Negative Effects of Overeating,”Health Guidence, http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/12344/1/Negative-Effects-of-Over-Eating.html.
  4. Ipatenco, Sara. “What Are the Dangers of Overeating?” Healthy Eating | SF Gate. Accessed July 9, 2017. http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/dangers-overeating-7068.html.
  5. “Islamic Diet & Manners.” Islamic Bulletin. Accessed July 9, 2017. http://www.islamicbulletin.org/newsletters/issue_16/diet.aspx.