Exercise makes me feel better. When I adhere to a regular routine, I feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually uplifted. I have more energy. I know that it’s good for my body, my family and my worship to Allah SWT. There have been many times in my life that I have deprived myself of physical activity using excuses like lack of time, the children need me more at this age, I can’t afford to sacrifice my sleep, I need a better place to work out, I need more machines, I need people around me to motivate me, I need better weather, I need better shoes, I need money for a female gym membership, I need someone to take care of the kids, I need a different EVERYTHING!!!
After two children and 30 extra pounds, I realized that there is no perfect scenario. The only real need was to have a desire to stay healthy for the sake of Allah SWT. I hated that my mind was always foggy. I had trouble remembering things. I hated that my body always felt tired and restless. I hated that I had trouble concentrating especially in salah. I hated that my muhajaba clothes were tight and getting tighter. I resented having to buy bigger sizes because of my lack of discipline. I felt ashamed of myself. I knew in my heart of all hearts, that it was time for a serious change. A change in attitude and discipline.
I am not one to procrastinate, but at the end of a long day all I wanted was a cup of tea and some peace and quiet. So, for me, it was very important to start my day with some form of physical activity. Initially, I thought the best plan for me was 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. It did not work out well with the children’s needs and my morning dhikr/Quran time. So now, once the kids are fed and dropped off at school, before I do anything else, I do one of my exercise tapes for 20 to 30 minutes. I have a variety and I do whatever I can for however I long I can. I don’t stress myself out. My goal is 30 minutes but sometimes after 20 minutes I just sit for a bit. I set my three year old daughter up with her running shoes and some fitness equipment and she joins along. I put a snack on the table and she helps herself.
When they were younger I did a lot of outdoor walking. But when the colder weather hit, my exercise mood declined and my cravings for home made butter cookies and hot tea increased. The struggle continued. I’d gain weight over autumn and winter and then I’d try hard to get a little off by summer. The pounds were piling up and my metabolism was slowing down.
Over the years, I’ve learned that my best workout happens in my living room. I do push ups and sit ups with the kids all over me. I love Tae Bo and doing yoga poses with the kids. We do family stretching time and I taught my little ones how to give me great hamstring stretches. I’ve got a lovely little 20 minute workout that came with a five pound ball. (It only cost me $8). I find articles to read about health and nutrition and talk about it with the kids. We talk about our meals and what food groups we covered and what we are missing. We talk about how much more exercise we have to do if we eat an extra piece of dessert. We talk about Allah and how much He loves us for trying to take care of our bodies.
I’m not sure where you are in the spectrum of good health. My hope is that these few words will move you along the path to be more healthy in your service to Allah.
Sharda Mohammed is a Canadian born mother of two young children. She has a keen interest in learning to foster leadership, self esteem and empathy in young children. She works part-time as a physical therapist.