• 3 Ways How Transforming Your Body Impacts Your Life Positively

    “Is it really worth it?”. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight and get into shape, then this is something that you’ve most likely asked yourself. In this article, I talk about three ways how transforming your body impacts your life positively. I use Islam and science to show you why you should invest in your body.

    Every morning, I reflect on the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon my life. And undoubtedly, the biggest blessing of all is that He has gifted me with Islam.

    Alhamdulillah, being a Muslim means that I have been given simple and clear divine instructions through the Quran and the Sunnah to lead an abundant life. I’m not left to my own devices so that I have to figure out what the “true purpose” of life is or how to lead a meaningful life because I already know through the Quran and Sunnah what a good life is and looks like.

    On that note, the following hadith is one of my favourite hadiths because it lays down in a succinct manner what my priorities should be and how I can live as Prophet (SAW) said, Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.– Shu’ab al-Imān 9575, Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani.

    Well, what about you? When you think about how you can be successful, do you use these five factors to your benefit? Do your actions show that your biggest priority in this life is to prepare yourself for the Afterlife? And there can be nothing more important than entering the Highest Paradise, right? After all, the Prophet (SAW) said: 

    “In Paradise, there are a hundred levels, what is between every two levels is like what is between the heavens and the earth. Al Firdaus is the highest level, and from it, the four rivers of Paradise are made to flow forth. So when you ask Allah, ask Him for Al-Firdaus.” -Jami at-Tirmidhi 2531, Sahih (authentic).

    If you want to achieve this goal, then you need to work on two things: health and wasting time. That’s why Prophet (SAW) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” – Sahih al-Bukhari 6412. So, if you really want to maximise your life, then you need to reflect on how you use these two blessings.

    How Improving My Health Was a Game Changer

    When I was overweight, sick and deprived of energy, I was leading a mediocre life. Though I was constantly trying to improve my life, my overweight body wasn’t very helpful in getting the results I wanted. Most importantly, I had very low-energy to be consistent with anything.

    However, things started to change dramatically, when I finally learned to eat healthily. Healthy eating coupled with exercise and deep sleep helped me lose my excess weight. I was also stronger and energised.

    And that newly-won energy in my life was a catalyst for a long list of achievements in my life, alhamdulillah! Now as nutrition and exercise coach, I see the same pattern in my clients too.

    I’ve helped countless people in more than 30 countries around the world to achieve the best shape of their lives while improving their health and energy levels. Transforming their bodies inevitably transformed many aspects of their lives. Specifically, I’ve noticed three particular characteristics that emerge from my clients when they go through this body transformation:

    #1. Increased Energy

    This is perhaps the biggest win for most of my clients.

    To level up your life so that you can achieve success in this world and the Aakhira, you first need to harness your energy levels.

    The truth is, there’s no real way for you to manage your time wisely; you can, however, manage the tasks you complete during a given time. And managing your tasks invariably depends on your energy level. So, if you’re energised throughout the day and if you use this energy to your advantage, you’ll achieve the success that you’ve always dreamt of, bi’idnillah!

    That being said, here are five practical tips to maintain an increased energy level throughout the day:

    1. Improve your khushu (focus) in your prayers. You should also increase the amount of dhikr you do throughout the day.
    2. Eat nutritious foods at every meal and make sure to include plenty of vegetables, protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. You are what you eat. So there is a lot of truth to this saying, as the food you eat has a humongous impact on your mind and body.
    3. Exercise intelligently at least 4-5 times a week. By intelligently, I mean really use this time to lift and sweat. And do it in the morning hours!
    4. Sleep at least 7 hours and include a short-nap during the afternoon. In particular, at 1-3 pm every day.
    5. Drink plenty of water. Hydration plays an incredibly important role in managing your energy level. So, drink at least eight glasses of water.

    #2. Increased Confidence

    Because I’m a fitness and nutrition coach, I love seeing my clients succeed in all areas of their life, especially mentally! That’s why I’ve read plenty of books on how to boost self-esteem. There are lots of theories how to do it, but what helped me most in my life was when I achieved the best shape of my life. I went from fat to fit! The experience I gained from my unbelievable body transformation made me believe that I can achieve anything I want in my life if I follow an already trodden and well-founded path, bi’idnillah!

    I’ve noticed this pattern repeatedly in my clients too. Just a few days back, one of my clients, who lost around 20 kg of weight following my Lean & Healthy coaching Programme, wrote this to me:

    “Also I was invited to speak at an investment forum (….), and I accepted – this is partly down to my new found confidence to get on stage and do this. 

    Thanks so much Rushdie, May ALLAH Bless everything you do brother. You are doing amazing work for the Muslim Ummah.”

    As you probably know, anything worthwhile happens just out of your comfort zone. The boost in your self-confidence helps you to dare to step out outside of your comfort zone and try new things. Or more importantly, tackle your existing challenges in a different way. And that’s the first step towards an abundant life!

    #3. Increased Engagement in Personal Development

    Many people are passive spectators in their lives. They go to work every day, come home, sleep and repeat this routine for the rest of their lives. While this fixed routine helps them to live a decent life, it doesn’t really entice them to live an abundant one. One that’s rich, vibrant, and full of potential!

    However, there are many other people who are very active in what they want in their lives. They aren’t spectators; instead, they make things happen. That’s because they dare to disrupt their routine to make it better and worthwhile. They’re poised to improve their lives, and they plan to make sure their tomorrows are better than their todays. They also work hard to make their todays better than their yesterdays. And yes, this shift in their mentality helps them improve in every area of their lives.

    These are the people who constantly develop themselves so that they can be a better parent, spouse, employees, employer and most importantly a better slave of Allah subuhanawuta’la. So, these are the people who have an increased engagement in personal and spiritual development.

    Most of my clients report to me how transforming their body helped them to increase their engagement in personal and spiritual development. Some of my clients even reported to me how their behaviour changed towards their children, and how less annoyed or angry they felt when talking to others.

    This may sound very strange, but the truth is, when you start to implement a strategic system in order to achieve better health or to lose weight, you also end up transforming other areas of your life, knowingly or unknowingly.

    Maximising the Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Your Goals

    The first reason that you change other areas of your life is because of the mind-body connection. Your mind and body are interconnected: any positive (or negative) change in your body will be an improvement (or setback) in your mental state. So, as cliché, as it may sound, when you attempt to transform your body, you transform your mind and in that process transform your life forever!

    The second reason is linked to this mind-body connection: any positive type of discipline or regiment that you incorporate into your life requires some willpower, a change of mindset, and, of course, positivity. So, when you start working out or eating healthily, you make this connection stronger because you’re working towards a goal.

    So, anyone who tells you that your weight loss and fitness goals are superficial hasn’t truly learned or experienced how exercising and eating right can make you mentally fit, resilient, and positive! And yes, these are noble goals to have that you should keep working toward. Remember, great health isn’t a one-stop affair; it’s a lifestyle!

  • What to Do When You’re Stuck

    You keep repeating the same things over and over again without seeing any results; nothing seems to be changing in regards to your Deen, personal life and health. So, what should you do?

    Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As cliché as this quote has become, it still holds a lot of weight in our lives.

    That’s because we’ve gotten used to a certain way of living our lives; whether it’s neglecting certain aspects of our Deen and expecting to feel spiritually fulfilled, or whether it’s being unaware of why we can’t seem to accomplish our health and fitness goals.

    The Foundation to a Better Version of Yourself

    My new free video series “3 Fundamentals for Achieving the Best Version of You”addresses these and other issues. This series will only be available for a limited time.

    This video series will also help you

    • Understand why the Deen requires you to be aware of your habits
    • Uncover the psychological dimension to habits because habits don’t arise from a vacuum; they’re repeated actions we’ve learned over time
    • Recognise situations or emotions that trigger good or bad habits, and
    • Change your habits so that you can transform your life

    Reclaiming Your Life

    3 Fundamentals” is about taking charge of your health and fitness goals! There’s no reason to suffer from illnesses like diabetes and heart complications when you can prevent or change your outcome through nutrition and exercise. You also no longer need to hide your body and suffer from low self-esteem.

    But “3 Fundamentals” isn’t just about health and fitness. I’ll show you how what you’ll learn applies to every aspect of your life.

    So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your journey.

  • 7 Things Successful Muslims Do Every Morning!

    We’re often amazed by the incredible amount of work successful people get done. One of the secrets behind their success lies in their morning routines. This article lists the 7 most impactful routines you can incorporate into your life so that you are successful.

    The Quran and the Sunnah provide us with Divine and practical guidance in all areas of our lives. When we purify our intentions, implement this guidance and work hard, we will, inshaAllah, achieve success in this world as well as the Aakhira.

    There is no doubt that the true success comes from Allah subuhanawuta’ala; who else, besides Him, can guide you to success?

    An example of this beautiful guidance is from the following sahih hadith:

    “O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

    Waking up early means that you are getting a portion of this incredible blessing (barakah)! This is also why in the Quran, we are frequently told to make adkhar in the mornings.

    So, as a part of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), we are encouraged to wake up early and to make use of these hours. 
We also know that following the Sunnah will benefit us in both worlds.

    Morning routines: what researchers are saying

    Recent scientific studies also confirm the benefits in having morning routines. But what, specifically, have researchers found?

    • Some of these studies have shown that morning people exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and diligence. Night owls, while linked with creativity and intelligence, are more likely to exhibit traits like depression, pessimism and anxiety.
    • Research conducted by Texas University found that students who consistently woke up early each day actually earned better test scores and overall grade points in comparison to those who frequently slept in.
    • In another study, researchers found that early risers are proactive. This also means that they’re more eager to achieve something in their lives.

    What you can do to make the most of your mornings

    One of the best ways to improve your health is by spending the first 2-3 hours of your day quietly. Begin your day in a stress-free manner. We all know how much stress people go through when they wake up late to work.

    If you are poised to achieve success in both worlds, here are 7 things you can do within the first 2-3 hours after waking up.

    1. Wake up for Tahajjud

    After the obligatory prayers, Tahajjud is the best prayer to come closer to Allah and, thereby, improve our spiritual health. And the best time to pray Tahajjud is at the last part of the night.

    The blessings of this prayer is pretty self-explanatory from these two hadiths:

    “The closest that a slave comes to his Lord is during the middle of the latter portion of the night. If you can be among those who remember Allah, the Exalted One, at that time, then do so.” (At-Tirmidhi, sahih)

    “Observe the night prayer; it was the practice of the righteous before you, and it brings you closer to your Lord, and it is penance for evil deeds and erases the sins and repels disease from the body.” (At-Tirmidhi1)

    2. Spend some time with the Quran and in the remembrance of Allah

    A phone without a charger is just, well, a dead phone. Likewise, a Muslim/ah needs to connect to Allah through various forms of adkhar, and specifically, by reciting the Quran. In the Quran, we’re told:

    “And glorify the name of your Lord morning and evening” (Al-Quran, 76:26)

    Likewise, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) compared the believer who recites the Quran to a citrus fruit. He said, “The parable of the believer who recites the Qur’an is that of a sweet citrus fruit: its fragrance is nice, and its taste is nice. The parable of the believer who does not recite the Qur’an is that of a date: it has no smell, but its taste is sweet…” (At-Tirmidhi, Sahih)

    3. Pray Fajr with its sunnah (and if possible in the masjid)

    Pray Fajr on time, but also remember to pray the sunnah prayer that comes before it. Here is a hadith about this prayer:

    “Two Rakat for Sunnah of Fajr prayer are better than the Dunyaa and everything that is in it” (Sahih Muslim)

    Just imagine, what about the Fajr prayer then? What about, then, going to Masjid for Fajr prayer?

    4. Workout in the morning

    In a previous blog post, I’ve talked extensively about how working out in the morning is very beneficial to our lives. One of the key takeaways was this: working out in the morning helps you to be focused for the rest of the day.

    5. Take a shower

    As you probably know, Islam stresses a lot about personal hygiene. From numerous hadiths, we have been given explicit commandments about personal hygiene. The most important one is this:

    “Cleanliness is half of our imaan”. (Sahih Muslim)

    And having a shower in the morning helps you to fulfil this commandment, and it also gives you the boost you need to start the day well.

    Morning showers provide a host of benefits, but the greatest of all these benefits is that it helps you increase your levels of alertness throughout the day, provided you blast yourself with cold water (ca. 200 Celsius) in the last 1-2 minutes of your shower.

    6. Eat a healthy breakfast

    Our body needs good care and proper maintenance. And the best way to maintain yourself? By having a healthy meal.

    One of the best ways to jumpstart your day is eating a healthy breakfast that is full of protein, healthy fat, vegetables and some whole-wheat carbs.

    This is one of my favourite breakfasts:

    • ¼ of an Avocado
    • 3 organic eggs
    • Loads of vegetables
    • Some lentils

    7. Plan the day

    I’ve discussed this in my Ramadan Guide, but planning is perhaps one of the most neglected parts of the Sunnah. 9 out of 10 people I come across haven’t planned their day, never mind their week or year.

    Beginning your day with a proper plan that’s already been set helps you to be focused and productive. If you want to achieve more with less efforts, this simple strategy can do the trick!

    Take around 10 minutes at the start of your day and list the most important tasks that need your attention. Allocate some specific time for these tasks and commit them to writing. Here is an example of my daily plan:

    • 08:30 – 09:30: Blog post
    • 09:40 – 10:40: Learning
    • 11:00 – 12:00: Meeting with the technical team
    • 12:00 – 13:30: Lunch

    As you see, every minute is allocated to a specific task. This gives me unprecedented focus, and I’m able to get things done in a shorter time.

    Remember, successful mornings don’t just happen; they require effort.

    Question: From the above list, what is the one single act you can add today to your morning routine?


    1 It seems that this hadith is not authentic (or at least there is a great deal of difference of opinions about it). However, some scholars say that the narration is authentic without the last part (about it being a cure). Nevertheless, the reality of many who have practised Tahajjud regularly proves that if one prays and supplicates to Allah in the latter part of the night with ikhlas(sincerity), it may well serve their health and general well-being.

  • Five Simple Ways to Kill Your Stress

    Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life, duties, and responsibilities, and we all go through stress sometimes in our life so it’s vital to be familiar with stress management tips and techniques.

    Stress management is all about taking charge of your life, thoughts, and emotions. There are few habits that you can develop to overcome stress, and they are:

    1. Manage your time

    Time management is one of the most important skills we need to develop to achieve a productive and a fulfilling life for both the worlds.

    Since all of us have only a restricted amount of time in a day, it’s  better we understand how to manage our day appropriately. Here are some real-life tips for you to implement immediately:

    • Analyse your time and figure where the stress is coming from
    • Have a To-Do list: you need to plan your day so that you know what you are going to accomplish in that particular day. Stick to your To-Do list and perform these tasks first before you attempt to do anything else.
    • Have a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily plans. These plans help you to navigate through your life easier.
    • Prioritise – Do what is important/urgent first in your To-Do list and then deal with the rest.

    The Prophet (PBUH) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing righteous deeds.”  (Saheeh Buhary)

    Time management is indeed a proven way to reduce stress.

    2. Get more sleep

    When you don’t get enough sleep, your body and your mind suffer. This leads to lack of concentration and stress.

    According to national sleep foundation, an average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep daily (1)

    Sleep is considered as a sign of Allah’s greatness, and He said in the Quran “And among His Signs is your sleep by night and by day, and your seeking of His Bounty. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who listen”   (A-Quran, 30:23).

    3. Exercise

    Exercise is a very effective stress reduction technique and also a crucial habit to develop for a healthy life. Exercise is not only important for a healthy body, but it’s also important for a healthy mind. So make sure to have a certain amount of exercise daily.

    Studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.

    An article that was published by Harvard school of public health showed that an adult needs an average of 20-25 minutes moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every day.

    This may include:

    • walking fast
    • water aerobics
    • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills etc.

    4. Learn to say “NO”

    Yes, do yourself a favour and learn to say “NO” to all the distracting activities and projects that will affect your planned day/week tremendously. Avoid over commitment and say “YESonly to the important things that you know you can do efficiently.

    5. Take breaks between the activities

    You need to rest and relax between the activities by:

    • Stretching
    • Meditating
    • Drinking cup of tea in the fresh air
    • Taking a short nap etc

    Take a break between your activities, ideally every 45 minutes and by doing that, you can focus more on the next task at hand and do it well.

    Lastly, Allah says in the Quran:

    Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. (Al-Quran, 2:286)

    So do what you can to the best of your ability, make dua and the leave the rest to Allah.

    This is a guest blog post. This article is written by Asma Ismail. Asma is the founder of Sixah academy – a nutritionist, writer, speaker and a health coach. Her mission is to support, encourage and help the Ummah to start living healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. You can follow her on Facebook

     

    References

    1. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need/page/0/1
    2. http://understandquran.com/tick-tock-the-value-of-time.html
    3. https://islamqa.info/en/96589
    4. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need/page/0/1
    5. http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety
  • 5 Simple Strategies to Increase Your Productivity Immediately

    Five simple, but super-important, strategies towards a more productive and fulfilling life, insha Allah. These strategies can be implemented immediately by anyone willing to increase productivity in their lives.

    For years, I marvelled at how certain people could be so productive while others only dreamt of such productivity despite all their efforts.

    Along my quest towards super-productivity, I figured out five simple but important strategies to upsurge my productivity. And in this blog post I’d like to show how each of you could increase your productivity by implementing these simple strategies, bi’idnillah.

    What Is Productivity?

    Before I delve into the five strategies, I do want to make clear what productivity means to me, so that you can understand where I am coming from.

    To me productivity means that I can focus on one thing at a time with all my energy and motivation.

    It’s not about how much I get done; it’s about how well I go through my daily life.

    Whether I’m eating, playing with my kids, walking in the woods or working, I like to focus and spend all my energy into the one thing I am doing! Focusing on the present and indulging in what I am doing momentarily, gives me so much happiness, feeling of accomplishment and control over my life. And that’s productivity for me! Alhamdulillah!

    So to me productivity isn’t about the end result of my work, it’s about the quality of my work. As a firm believer in ihsan (excellence) I know that the results come from Allah and He will put barakah (blessings) in my end result, as long as I focus on the quality of my action.

    Two Focus Areas

    Hence I believe, in order to increase one’s productivity, one has to focus on the following two areas:

    1. Your relationship with Allah
    2. Your relationship with your body

    As for improving your relationship with Allah, you’ve 100s and 1000s of, resources on the web as well as other various authentic Islamic books.

    As a nutrition and exercise coach, my focus today is to show you how you can improve your relationship with your body by implementing following five simple strategies.

    5 Simple Strategies

    1. Sleep: Get a regular good night’s sleep, at least 7 hours a day

    I don’t know of any other simple strategy that can boost your vitality and productivity like sleep. Sleep isn’t just about resting and recharging our body to get ready for the next day, rather it helps rebuild our body, improve our memory and increase our learning capabilities. So don’t think you can become productive while cutting down your sleep.

    And learn to have a nap during the day, as it’s one of the important Sunnahs of our beloved Prophet (SAW). Anas (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Take a nap, for the shayateen do not take naps.” (Reported by al-Tabarani, Al-Saheehah, 2647).

    Just a 20 minutes nap after your lunch can rejuvenate you for the rest of the day.

    2. Exercise: Do some physical exercise every day.

    In whatever form, make sure you move, daily, for at least for 20 minutes. Exercise is the single most important thing when it comes to oxygenating every cell of your body. When your cells are happy getting enough oxygen and energy, you feel energized and that helps you to be more productive.

    I would suggest you do strength workouts for three days a week and to focus on cardio for the next three days. Take once a week rest from exercise.

    3. Hydration: Drink plenty of water, strive to get 2 litres a day

    Since our body consists of at least 70 per cent water, water is indispensable for all efficient body functions. For instance, 85% of our brain tissue is water. So if we’re dehydrated, both our body and our mind become stressed.

    Therefore hydration throughout the day is quite significant for a healthy body. Moreover, hydration helps us to eliminate the wastes from our body, while energizing the body to be more productive.

    In order to kick-start your day, I strongly recommend you to start your day with two glasses of warm water. For more benefits, squeeze the juice of one half lime or lemon into the warm water.

    4. Positive attitude: Maintain a positive attitude

    Positive attitude generates positive energy, which in turn helps you to be more productive.

    Negative thoughts tend to drain your energy. Positive thoughts replenish your energy. Though attitude is not something that just happens, you still have the choice to look at your status quo in a positive light.

    The Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is filled with such examples, where he always chose to be positive regardless of his situation. Even in the hardest of situations, such as in the story of Ta’if, he didn’t lose hope in himself or in others.

    He (SAW) was pelted with stones, to the extent that his entire body was bleeding, and even then what was his (SAW) answer when the Angel of Mountains offered to crush the people of Ta’if by bringing together the two mountains?

    “Even if these people do not accept Islam, I do hope from Allah that there will be persons from among their progeny who would worship Allah and serve His cause.”

    This is positive attitude. Verily we have the most beautiful example in our beloved Prophet (SAW).

    5. Eat healthy and high-energy foods.

    As a nutrition and exercise coach, I can assure you that what you eat has a huge impact on your physiology and psychology. To put it bluntly, you are what you eat.

    High achievers in any area are very careful about what they put in their mouth, because they are aware that the choice of their food can make or break their day.

    So in order to increase your healthy and high-energy foods, follow these four simple steps:

    1. Eat at least 5 servings of green and colourful vegetables a day
    2. Eat some protein at every meal
    3. Add some healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil or coconut oil to your meal
    4. Replace your simple carbs, such as white rice, sugar, white flour etc. with complex carbs, such as sweet potato, Quinoa, whole wheat rice etc.

    That’s it. These five simple strategies help me to be highly productive everyday. And this productivity helped me to quit daydreaming and become an entrepreneur, Alhamdulillah!