• How to Cultivate a Lasting Change in Ramadan

    Another year, another Ramadan. It’s Allah’s greatest blessings that He made the month of Ramadan as the greatest of months and a catalyst for our spiritual change. In this article, we discuss how scientifically proven steps can help us cultivate a lasting change that continues even long after Ramadan.

    Allah subuhanawuta’ala’s Mercy and Magnanimity are beyond any measures. He didn’t just make Ramadan the greatest and the most magnificent Month of the year for us to achieve Eternal Success, but He also chains up all the whispering troublemakers (i.e., shayateen – devils) so that we can fully focus and successfully graduate from this yearly training camp.

    “When the first night of the month of Ramadan comes, the devils and rebellious Jinn are chained up and the gates of Hell are closed, and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. A caller cries out, ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist.’ Allah saves some people from Hell – and that happens every night.” (Saheeh, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah)

    So, Ramadan becomes an ideal month for any who aspires to change his spiritual condition and to become a better person. Without the whispering troublemakers, Allah subuhanawuta’ala makes change easier for us.

    Being a slave of Allah and a lover of science, I want to combine the best of both worlds to help you get rid of those bad qualities you’ve always been wanting to shed off. Whether that is gossip, jealousy, anger or any other heart-related sins that you want to get rid of for good, this piece of article may be a great help, bi’idnillah!

    As a Nutrition and Exercise coach, I work with 100s of clients to help them change their lifestyle. However, getting rid of our own sins and replacing them with good qualities isn’t as easy as changing our lifestyle.

    Before we discuss the 6 scientifically proven steps, you need to understand that this change is hard and requires 100% commitment from you. If you aren’t serious, you won’t see any changes. But if you are serious, this will be Insha Allah truly a game changer. Besides commitment, here are the two most important ingredients you need to succeed!

    1. Du’a– It’s the month of du’a, so make sure you make as many du’as as possible for the desired change. With Allah’s help, even the hardest thing becomes super easy!
    2. Consistency – While traversing on this journey of change, you’ll inevitably fail. But that shouldn’t be an excuse to give up. For every attempt you make after failure, you’ll be rewarded by Allah if you are doing it for His Sake.

    There’s an old Japanese saying that explains the concept of commitment and consistency in just four words: “Fall seven, rise eight,” i.e. no matter how many times you get knocked down, you get up again. Even if you should fall one thousand times, you must keep getting up and trying again.

    If you want to achieve anything meaningful and of real worth, you need to struggle and persevere. There aren’t any shortcuts or quick fixes for real success.

    #1. Set a Goal

    What is the change you aspire to make? What is it exactly? Most of us want to change something, but we are vague about its details. That which you wish to change should be clearly defined with easy to execute steps.

    Let’s say you’ve decided to give up the evil habit of gossiping. Now, writing “no gossip” on a piece of paper as your Ramadan goal isn’t going to help you much.

    First and foremost, “no gossip” is a negative goal and it’s hard to implement. It’s like me asking you NOT to think of a white elephant. The first thing that will come to your mind will definitely be a white elephant!

    Our brain can’t understand such “negative goals,” hence it becomes very difficult to implement. So, if you’ve got a negative goal, make sure you replace it with a positive and actionable goal.

    And you can do this by examining the root cause of that “negative goal.” Sticking to our previous example, we mostly gossip, because we think bad about others. So, making it positive would be something like this: “Always think and talk good about others.”

    Now, this new positive goal is actionable. Whenever a bad thought comes, you know that you are supposed to think and talk good about others or just be silent.

    Before we go to the next step, take some time and define the change you want in a positive light. So “no gossip” becomes “always think and talk good about others!”

    #2. Define your Why

    You’ve set a goal and defined the change you want to achieve in your life. Now the question is, “Why do you want to achieve it?”

    The intention, i.e. the why behind what you want to do, is very important if you are serious about a lasting change.

    The stronger your why, the easier becomes the way.

    In the famous hadith, “Deeds are based on intention…,” Prophet (SAW) clearly says, “Everyone will get that what was indented,” regardless of what that intention is. So, if your intention is strong, you’ll get what you want.

    So, set your why, and the how becomes easy!

    There is a beautiful quotation attributed to Niche that basically sums up what I want to say: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

    If you want to learn more about setting your why, read this article.

    #3. Define your How

    Okay, great, you’ve now your goal and defined why you want to do it.

    As a third step, define your how, i.e. write down every possible way through which you can achieve this goal. Going back to our “no gossip” example, brainstorm when and where and how you gossip. Write down everything on a piece of paper.

    For instance, talking to a certain person leads you to gossip. What can you do to avoid it?

    So, it’s time to create your roadmap. When will you do what? Break it down. Map it out. It is crazy how simple plans increase performance by a ton!

    And most importantly use the IF… THEN principle. At its basic, the principle is this: You identify the potential obstacle and plan in advance how you’ll tackle that obstacle.

    “IF x happens, THEN I will do y”. So, “IF I open my mouth to gossip, THEN I’ll say something good about that person or remain silent.

    Or, “IF I’m in a situation where I hear people gossip, THEN I’ll change the topic or warn them of the consequences of the gossip.”

    IF… THEN principle is a very powerful tool that is designed by the famous psychologist Peter Gollwitzer. Use it and you’ll see how simple, yet powerful, it is!

    #4. Create an Environment to Flourish

    You are a product of your environment. So, if you want to leave a sin or create a change in your life, it’s always worth looking at your environment first. Most probably, your environment is conducive to the sin you currently commit. Unless you change the environment, any lasting change is very difficult.

    You may recall the hadith about the man who killed 99 people. What was the fatwa given to him? To change his environment and to go to a far place, as he was living in an evil place.

    When you want a plant to grow and flourish, you know that it needs the right environment to do so. Likewise, if you want to grow and flourish, you need an environment that is supporting and helping.

    Part of your environment is to create such supportive people.

    So, whatever change you are longing to undertake, make sure you’ve got the right people around you who are supportive of what you do.

    When you try alone, you’ll most probably not come far in your goal. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

    #5. Track your Progress

    Here is a little secret. If you want to improve anything in your life, start tracking your progress. As Peter Drucker, a famous management consultant says, “What gets measured gets improved.”

    So, decide what you want to track and then track how well you do on a daily basis. Especially for Ramadan, I’ve created a simple tracking sheet you and your family can use. Here is the link to download!

    The tracking is pretty straightforward and simple. Every time you gossip (despite your attempt NOT to do it), put an X on the sheet. The more X you’ve on the cell, the worse the day is.

    The goal is obviously to have as fewer “X” as possible. Doing this on a daily basis, you can compare whether you are improving or not.

    #6. Reward Yourself

    Now, it’s time to reward yourself for the progress you make. Small rewards can go a long way towards a lasting change.

    The reward can be anything that pleases you. It can be a positive word, money, experience, or a just a material thing. But make sure that you define the reward before you start to track your progress.  For instance, you can say, “If I take less than 10 X on the progress chart after a month, I’ll reward myself with $100 (or a trip to somewhere, or whatever that is enticing to you).

    Here are two ways through which you can make reward work for you:

    Immediate reward: When you catch yourself talking only good about others (and avoiding gossip at any cost), say to yourself silently, “That’s like me!” This way you are creating a positive self-image of yourself. The more you feed your brain with “that’s like me” experience, the better your self-image becomes. This ultimately leads you to the change you want, bi’idnillah!

    Short term reward: Every week (or in this case just after Ramadan), see how well you’ve progressed and reward yourself accordingly.

    Take Action

    I’ve listed and simplified the six big steps you need to take to make a viable change. Now it’s your turn to follow them.

    In his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie said this: “Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. So, if you desire to master the principles you are studying in this book, do something about them. Apply these rules at every opportunity. If you don’t, you will forget them quickly. Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind.”

    So, please go ahead and take action!

  • How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You a Better Person

    In part one, we discussed the five undeniable rewards of being a thankful servant of Allah. In this part, we’ll explore what the latest science has to say about gratitude and how practising this noble act can make you a better person.

    Practicing gratitude is one of the utmost fundamentals of Islam. In our previous article, we discussed the importance of it and also the rewards we get from Allah subuhanawuta’ala.

    In this article, I would like to explore the latest research about gratitude and show you how practising gratitude on a daily basis can make you a better person.

    Enter Thanks!

    Dr Robert Emmons is a professor at the University of California, and he’s one of the world’s leading experts on the science of gratitude.

    In his outstanding book Thanks!, he deciphers why gratitude can literally be one of the few things that measurably change peoples’ lives.

    Based on scientific research, this book validates what the Quran and Sunnah teach us about gratitude.

    Here are five things from this book I’ve learned and implemented in my life:

    #1. Gratitude Boosts Happiness

    From a scientific angle, Emmons argues that gratitude is a key to happiness. And as human beings, we all want to be happy, don’t we?

    And there are lots of benefits of being happy and here are some based on recent researches:

    • Research shows that happy people have a higher income, a greater productivity and have a higher quality of work
    • Happy people also have larger social rewards (such as more satisfying and longer marriages, more friends, stronger social support, and richer social interactions)
    • Happiness also improves your immune system, lowers stress levels and improves your overall physical health
    • Happy individuals are also more creative, helpful, charitable, have better self-control, self-confidence and show greater self-regulatory and coping abilities.

    Wow! So much goodness in just being happy! You can boost your happiness just by practising gratitude to Allah subuhanawuta’ala and the people around you. Now, isn’t that awesome?

    #2. Gratitude Wards Off Your Negative Feelings

    Gratitude not only boosts your happiness, but it can also ward off your negative feelings when you are clouded with them.

    Psychologists refer this fact to emotional incompatibility. In simple language, this is what they mean: You can’t experience both positive emotions and negative emotions at the same time, i.e. you can’t be happy and sad at the same time.

    By practising a positive emotion such as gratitude during a difficult time, you are in fact warding off negative emotions instantly.

    #3. Practice Gratitude When Things Go Hard and Challenging

    This point is something similar to #2, but it’s not the same. In #2 we discussed negative feelings, and here we are going to discuss situations that are hard and challenging.

    You see, it’s fairly easy to feel grateful when everything’s going well, but it’s not easy to be grateful for our blessings when we face challenging times.

    But here is a little secret: It’s during our challenging times we grow the most! Prophet (SAW) hints on this in the following hadith:

    “Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affairs are good, and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him, he is grateful, and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him, he is patient, and that is good for him” (Saheeh Muslim)

    So how can you practice gratitude when things go hard?

    Here is a simple way to implement:

    Whenever you are faced with a hard and challenging time, think about just one positive outcome in that hard time. The truth is, regardless of how worse the situation is, there is always a positive outcome.

    That’s one of our fundamental beliefs as Muslims. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) embodied this behaviour while reacting to calamities. He said,

    “If Allah strikes me with calamity I will thank Allah for four things:

    1. that the test was not in my deen (my religion)
    2. the calamity could have been worse
    3. it is an expiation for my sins
    4. any loss after losing the Prophet (PBUH) is nothing.”

    #4. Practicing Gratitude Towards Your Spouse Improves Your Relationship

    Leading psychologist John Gottman is an expert in marital relations. In his two decades of observational research, he concludes that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative affect (5:1 or greater), it is likely that their marriage will end (or at least the marriage won’t be a satisfying one).

    So, according to Gottman, the ratio of love is 5:1, i.e. you got to have at least five positive interactions with your spouse for every negative interaction.

    Gottman has become so good at spotting the strengths and weaknesses of a marriage, he can predict with 90 percent accuracy whether the marriage will end in divorce or not, often after just three minutes of observation in his marriage lab.

    Guess what; there is a way to boost your positive to negative ratio instantly: Practicing gratitude in your marriage.  

    Here are few ways how I practice gratitude in my marriage:

    • I thank my wife for EVERY meal she prepares for me
    • I always look for opportunities to say “Thank you” even for the little things she does for me
    • I take few minutes every day (sometimes just before I go to sleep) to share at least three things I appreciate about her

    Simple practices such as these can transform your marriage. Don’t trust my words?  Implement them in your life and see how your marriage life transforms instantly, bi’idnillah!

    Now, what one thing you can do to practice gratitude in your marriage or your relationship with others?

    #5. Writing a Gratitude Journal Before Bed Improves Sleep Quality

    Emmons says:

    “It may sound simplistic, but the evidence cannot be ignored: if you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.”

    He says, people who jotted the blessing before bed, slept more time, spending less time awake before falling asleep, and feeling more refreshed upon awakening.

    And I can testify to this. Since I’ve read this book, I’ve been writing “Alhamdulillah Journal” just before I go to sleep and feeling a difference in my sleep.

    I keep a simple notebook next to my bed and scribble five simple things I’m grateful for on that day. It looks something like this

    • Alhamdulillah for the cool, clean water
    • Alhamdulillah for the nice warm bed
    • Alhamdulillah for the healthy meals
    • Alhamdulillah for my three little princesses
    • Alhamdulillah for the beautiful view from my balcony

    As you notice, I mention both the small and big blessings. That’s because I want to be a thankful servant of Allah and thank Him for every little blessing and don’t want to take things for granted.

    I also write different blessings every day, as I want to avoid “gratitude fatigue” by counting fresh new blessings every day. This way you train your brain to look for new blessings, instead of focusing on new problems.

    Few Other Ways to Practice Gratitude

    Part of being a thankful servant of Allah, we should increase our good deeds as much as we can and avoid the bad deeds to the best of our ability. That’s the most fundamental part of being thankful to our Creator.

    Apart from that, here are few more ways how we can show gratitude to Him and the people around us:

    • Each of us has been blessed with the different type of blessings. We got to practice mentioning them verbally. Al-Hassan said, “constantly mention these favours, for mentioning them is giving thanks”. We can mention these blessing to our close family members in order to remind all of us about Allah’s countless blessings.
    • While reciting the frequent supplications such as after eating, drinking, dressing etc., be extra mindful of the meaning. When you praise Allah, feel it from your heart. Don’t just parrot the words, feel the thankfulness in your heart.
    • Practicing gratitude from your heart is a noble act. Remember this hadith very often: Allah is pleased with a man who eats food and praises Him for it, and takes a drink and praises Him for it. (Sahih Muslim, No. 6932)
    • Part of showing gratitude to Allah is showing gratitude to people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), said, “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi) Perhaps, we should start this from our own homes. Are we thankful to our parents, spouses, siblings for all their help? How often we thank our spouse for the daily chore they do?
  • How to Commit Yourself to a Lifelong Commitment

    Whether you want to get into the best shape of your life, be the greatest spouse, raise amazing kids or even just achieve financial freedom, you need to commit to making it happen. So success in any field requires you to commit yourselves to a set of commitments. In this article, I’ll reveal the science of commitments and give you simple strategies to succeed in every area of your life.

    You’ll most probably agree with me when I say that without consistent commitments, you won’t achieve anything meaningful in your life.

    The successful person in any field stands out because he/she is committed to what they do.

    Now as a Muslim, you know the importance of commitment more than anyone else. The Ultimate Success, i.e., Jannathul Firdous, is only attainable if you’re committed to becoming a good, God-conscious Muslim who stays away from prohibited things and constantly strives to do good deeds.

    So, your true success in both worlds very much depends on the consistent commitments you make daily. It’s not something that you choose to do on a yearly or monthly basis; rather it’s something that you commit to do on a daily basis!

    In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra), the Prophet (PBUH) says, “Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little” (Sunan ibn Majah).

    Well, if you’re wondering what the ingredients of consistent commitment are, here they are!

    The Commitment Equation

    Here’s the equation for real success: (Desire + Action) x Consistency = Commitment

    Ok, let me explain this with a simple example: as a reader of my blog, you are most probably looking for ways to improve your health and increase your energy. You might also be looking to achieve the best shape of your life.

    Let’s say that you’re ready to commit yourself to achieving the best shape of your life so that you can be the best in what you do with increased confidence.

    You have the desire to achieve that lean & healthy body that you’ve always wanted. Now, needless to say, just with this desire, you’ll never achieve the body you want. You also need to put the right efforts to make it happen. And you need to work on it on a consistent basis.

    So, commitment means, you are willing to put the work consistently to achieve the desired outcome.

    Ok, let’s jump into the details of each component!

    Desire: Do You REALLY Want It?

    Now, before you commit yourself to anything, the question you should ask yourself is this: “Do I REALLY want it? Do I have a burning desire to achieve this outcome?”

    Here’s the thing, if you want your commitment to be strong, you need a strong desire too. Your level of desire matches your level of commitment.

    Here are two steps you can take to increase your desire to commit:

    1. Find the true purpose of your commitment. Going back to the previous example, what is the purpose of getting into the best shape of your life? In a previous article, I explained how you could find out your true purpose using a 5-why system. Please read part 1 and part 2 of this system to understand it well.
    2. Ask yourself the following question: What’s the immediate gratification that I get when I commit to ……. (fill in the blanks)?
      For instance, I’m very committed to working out every day. Coupled with my strong purpose and the immediate gratification of “feeling good” and “more energy” drives me to exercise regardless of where I am!

    Now, you can apply this to any area of your life. Let’s talk about raising kids. My real purpose of raising obedient, God-fearing kids is to make them role models for others. So, my kids become an ideal investment for my Aakhira.

    All that sounds good, but what’s the immediate gratification I get by raising obedient, God-fearing kids? I have a peaceful, serene home! And that’s priceless for any parent!

    Here’s a little comparison for you to understand this more deeply. True purpose can be compared to a “long-term” goal. The immediate gratification is a tiny reward you get to pursue your “long-term” goal. It’s the fuel you need to drive to reach your real purpose.

    Great, now that you’ve set a “burning desire”, let’s move on to the action part; that’s where the magic happens!

    Action: One Bite at a Time

    How do you eat an elephant? (ok, I get it… it’s haram to eat elephants. But what about a huge whale? Have you got any appetite for that? :-))

    You probably know the answer. One bite at a time. While this wisdom is prevalent, we are stuck when it comes to implementation.

    We have grandiose goals, and they stay grandiose forever because we are too afraid to take the first “bite”!

    So, at first, any goal or commitment might look huge and most probably impossible to achieve. But, if you were to break down these goals or commitments into smaller, doable chunks, it becomes much easier to achieve them. (Here’s a secret: This is how I coach my clients to achieve astounding results through my six months Online Coaching Programme)

    Let me give you an example: in the 1950s, Roger Bannister had an “impossible” goal. He wanted to run a mile under 4 minutes. This may sound simple now, but until 1954, no one in the history of humankind ever achieved it. Every smart person before 1950 said that it’s ‘humanly impossible’ to run a mile in less than four minutes because many had tried it before, but no one ever even got close to achieving this goal.

    However, Roger Bannister did break through this seemingly impossible task. And how did he do it?

    He broke his goal into small bite-size, doable pieces and honed his practice by committing to do it almost on a daily basis.

    • First, he trained until he could run a quarter mile under a minute.
    • Next, he trained until he could run half a mile in two minutes.
    • Then, he trained until he could run three-quarters of a mile in three minutes.
    • Lastly, he trained until he thought he could run the full mile in less than four minutes.

    So, regardless of how big your goal or the commitment is, you can break it into smaller, doable chunks to overcome the barrier of inaction.

    Let’s say; you want to exercise daily for 30 minutes. If you’ve never exercised before, this may be very daunting. What if you break this goal into small chunks, that you’ve no excuse not to do it? Starting with “2 pushups a day”, “2 minutes of exercise a day” or anything small enough to get started.

    Just Do It

    In the great book, A Mind for Numbers, Barbara Oakley talks about procrastination and shares an interesting study.

    The researchers took students who hated doing math and scanned their brains. The researchers saw that the students’ pain centres would light up as they contemplated having to do math.

    But here’s the deal.

    Those pain centres turned off the moment when the students actually started doing the math.

    It was the anticipation that was painful. And doing the math? Not so much.

    So the “pain” of doing something is much lesser than the pain of waiting (or anticipating). It’s the anticipation of doing something that’s getting you stressed out. So, don’t wait long, just jump in and do it as Nike suggests :-)!

    Consistency: The Foundation of Success

    The last but the most important component of commitment is consistency. I call this step the foundation of success.

    Just having a burning desire and working on that commitment won’t bring any success if you aren’t consistent.

    If all you can do is just 5 minutes of exercise a day, and you do it daily, that’s certainly better than an hour workout once a week.

    The best human being (PBUH), who ever worked on the earth said, “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

    So, whether you are committing to do something for the success of this Dunya or the Aakhira, the most important component is consistency!

    Implement the Good Because You Deserve the Best

    Remember the Hadith of the Beloved (PBUH) as you set your goals and work towards them because everything good must become part of your routine in order for it to really “stick” with you forever. And once it sticks…, well then you’re that much closer to your goal!

  • 4 Weight Loss Secrets No One Talks About!

    When you think about weight loss, the two primary factors that come to mind are nutrition and exercise. Sure, they play a major role in weight loss, but there’s more to sustainable weight loss than just nutrition and exercise.

    Many people tend to oversimplify weight loss: “Eat less and workout more.” This is also what most crash diets promote.

    However, eating less and exercising more doesn’t necessarily lead to sustainable weight loss. With crash diets, you’ll lose some weight, but you’ll soon regain most of the lost weight within a couple of months or years.

    If you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off, then you need to tackle the issue holistically.

    With this post, I would like to present you with four less well-known strategies to losing weight and improving your overall health. These strategies are, perhaps, as crucial as nutrition and exercise.

    Secret 1: Reduce stress

    One of the easiest things you can do to lose weight is to be happy. Sweet, huh?

    This is because chronic stress and anxiety inhibit weight loss. When you are stressed out, your cortisol hormone levels spike. Research suggests that high cortisol level makes the loss of extra fat difficult and that this increase in cortisol can lead to weight gain too.

    Cortisol also messes up with your hunger hormones. This usually leads to overeating and cravings. Needless to say that this is definitely not an ideal scenario if you want to lose weight.

    So, aim to reduce stress in your life. Methods such as the remembrance of Allah, meditation and exercise can help you reduce stress in your life. However, one of the best things you can do to reduce stress is to send salawath to our beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).

    “Whoever supplicates to Allah by exalting my mention (i.e., sending salawath), Allah will exalt his mention (i.e., send salawath) ten times and remove from him ten sins and raise him ten degrees.” (Sahih Muslim)

    I mean, just imagine, Allah, who is As-Salam (the source of Peace, Safety and Perfection) sends peace upon you! What would be the effect? Subhanallah!

    Secret 2: Sleep better

    I’ve discussed this in an earlier blog post, but if you aren’t sleeping well, then you are probably not doing enough for your health.

    A study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes found that those who slept circa 8 hours a night lost 56 percent more body fat compared to those who just got around 5 hours of sleep a night. What’s interesting is that in this study, both groups followed the same diet.

    So the simple truth you should know about sleep is this: less sleep leads to more body fat. If you really want to lose weight and want to know what might be preventing weight loss, then monitor your sleep patterns and remember to sleep well. Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep daily!

    Secret 3: Eat mindfully

    What do I mean by eating mindfully? By this, I mean being engaged in what you eat. Savour, observe the texture of, and most importantly, thank Allah subuhanawuta’alafor each and every morsel of your food!

    So, mindfulness in eating means no TV, Internet or reading while you eat. Eating while watching TV is shown to increase one’s food intake by almost 30%! Therefore, how you eat is as important as what you eat.

    Mindfulness is an important Islamic concept. The success of this dunya and the Aakhira depends very much on it!

    Secret 4: Change your mindset

    “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

    This quote basically summarises the importance of our mindsets.

    If you believe that you can lose weight and you are confident about it, then these positive thoughts can lead to constructive behaviours, increased motivation and energy levels.

    On the other hand, negative thoughts such as, “I’ll never be able to lose weight”, will discourage you from taking any appropriate measures to improve your health and to become lean.

    Question: Which of these “secrets” will you implement today to achieve a lean and healthy body?

  • Three Steps to a Positive Mind-Set

    As you may have probably read in a previous blog post ‘you are what you think’, we talked about the importance of positive thinking. So today, I am to tackle developing positive thinking in ways that are more practical.

    A disclaimer: I won’t claim these three steps to be super easy to follow. But if you are committed and consistent with these three steps, you will see magical results soon enough, insha Allah.

    “Positive mind-set” is certainly not a one-time action, instead it is a lifestyle. And for any kind of positive changes in life needs commitment and consistency.

    First Step: Purify Your Thoughts

    What you think and what you feel have a huge impact on your actions and choices in life. There is a saying that ‘your outer world is a reflection of your inner world’. And it couldn’t be more true.

    Since your thoughts become words, and your words become actions, it is important to purify your thoughts first.

    So, how can you purify your thoughts?

    1. Increase your repentance. Ask Allah sincerely to forgive you and do it often. Our Beloved Prophet used to do at least 100 times a day.
    2. Moist your tongue with Allah’s remembrance. Increase your adhkar and send salawath on our beloved Prophet (SAW)
    3. Know that what ever happens to a mu’min is good for him/her. “Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him” (Saheeh Muslim)
    4. Think good about others. “If you come to know that a brother has harmed you with either a word or a deed, you should make an excuse for him; if you did not find one, you should say, ‘There may be an excuse that I do not know of.’” – Ibn Seereen

    Second Step: Always Speak Good and Positive Words

    Like anything in life, the more often you do something the easier it gets. So, the more you work on the first step, the easier it will become for you to use good and positive words, insha Allah.

    Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a true optimist. He (SAW) was always encouraged the use of positive and inspiring words. In a beautiful hadith, he (SAW) said;

    “There is no ‘adwa (transmission of infectious disease without the permission of Allah) and no tiyarah (superstitious belief in bad omens), but I like optimism.” They (sahaba) said, “What is optimism?” He said, “A good word.”  (Sahih Bukhari & Muslim)

    So next time when you converse with someone, focus on using positive and encouraging words. And the words you choose to say have an impact on your state of mind. Try one of these replies, when someone asks you how you are doing:

    • “Alhamdulillah, I’m ok”
    • “Alhamaduillah, I’m great”

    The word “great” has greater effect on your mind. Thus, you’ll feel better using this word vs. just ‘ok’.

    Always remember to use positive and encouraging words. By repeating such words in all areas of your life, you will be able to consciously elbow out any negative and discouraging words.

    Third Step: Act Like a Positive Person

    Usually, you can’t really fake an action. We all know the difference between a genuine smile and fake one. So, when you work on the first two steps, the third step will automatically come as a direct result of  your positive thoughts and words.

    So, next time whenever you feel positive, use the moment to do something positive. Smile, give hope or speak a beautiful word. Do something to uplift someone else’s life through a positive action. This will have an incredible effect on your positive thinking, insha Allah.

    Know, that you are a collection of your thoughts, words and actions. That’s what really defines you. So next time when you have a bad thought be careful not to let it get to you.

  • You Are What You Think

    I can still precisely remember the time, place and event that truly changed the course of my life.

    It was a cold day in December. I slipped on the winter ice and broke my left hand – I was 17 at the time. Recovering, I spent three weeks in hospital.

    Being holed up in the hospital, those three weeks became a true blessing for me.With nothing to keep me company but some great books, my life literally changed forever. And, I am not exaggerating. It was during this time that I became acquainted with ‘You are what you think you are’.

    A couple of years after this, I happened to come across a beautiful explanation of the famous hadith: ‘deeds are based on intentions’ (Bukhari and Muslim). This newfound knowledge sealed by belief in the words: ‘You are what you think you are’. It is a bit of a mouthful but from that point onwards, I have always strived hard to practice positive thinking. After all, I know that I am, what I think I am.

    And I must say, Alhamdullilah, ever since I have started practicing this, my performance in everything I do has doubled. In fact, I have been positive about life, regardless of what happens around me and as a result, my confidence has gone up too.

    However, life, as we know it, is not all that perfect. So, on the occasion where negativity takes over, I have noticed how badly it affects my levels of energy and how bad I feel. I find it hard to move forward.

    But, those days of positive thinking are truly magical and I feel bad keeping this life-enhancing strategy all to myself. Especially as I have told you about the life-draining side effects of thinking negatively.

    So,these are some important lessons I have learned from positive thinking:

    1. Thinking positively is like charging your brain. You feel better and your energy level goes up rapidly. When you think negatively, your energy is sucked out and you aren’t capable of doing anything productively.
    2. Your confidence level is very high. Therefore your can-do attitude doesn’t set limits to what you can do. I’ve personally never put any limitations to what I can do. Alhamdulillah.
    3. Every failure is regarded as a testing ground. So, you learn why certain things don’t work out as you imagined it would. And next time you know how to make it better.
    4. Nothing is impossible. Don’t think of what you can do – think of what Allah can do for you! Have the deep conviction that your du’as will be answered. Positive thinking helps you to think bigger and thus you end up asking Allah for things that are mostly impossible for human minds to grasp!

    This is what I hope to convey in my post today, insha Allah. Quit thinking like a failure. As Muslims, we might be going through a super difficult position, but that is not really an excuse to think negatively.

    So, listen up! We all know the story of our Beloved (PBUH) and his visit to Ta’if. He (PBUH) was pelted with stones, to the extent that his entire body was covered in cuts that were bleeding and his shoes were clogged to his feet.

    When the Angel of Mountains offered to crush the people of Ta’if by bringing together the two mountains around Ta’if, our Prophet (PBUH) said:

    “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.”

    SubuhanAllah, I am sure you would agree that this is the ultimatum of positive thinking. The Prophet (PBUH), as we are now, was at the most difficult time of his life and yet he was being super hopeful. He could not return to Makkah without any pledges of support, but he ultimately placed his trust in the One and Only.

    This kind of positive thinking is what we should aim for. If you are thinking it is easier said than done, I agree. It takes hard work but first you need vision. I sincerely hope that the example of our Beloved (PBUH) gives you perspective to work hard to achieve a positive outlook on life. Ameen.

    In order to win in life, positive thinking is important in all aspects of our life, including in becoming lean and healthy. The Prophet (PBUH) was positive in all aspects of his beautiful life– during the happy times as well as the harshest ones. That’s why I include this psychological aspect in our coaching.

    In part two, we shall discuss how to practice positive thinking to become a winner in all aspects of our life, insha Allah. 

  • Part 2: How Answering the ‘5-Whys’ Made my Weight-loss a Spiritual Journey!

    In part 1, I discussed how important the purpose of our goal is. In this part, you will discover how these ‘5-Whys’ will help you to find your purpose behind your goal, insha Allah.

    Case study

    Let me show you how this ‘5-Why’ strategy has helped me to find the real purpose behind my weight-loss and how it has helped me to lose weight efficiently, while becoming a better person.

    This strategy asks 5 repetitive ‘whys’ in a question and answer method.

    1. The first question I asked myself was:
      Why do I want to lose weight and become lean and healthy?
      My answer was: “Because I want to look good, be strong and keep healthy!”On the basis of your answer, you create the second question. My second question was this:
    1. Why do I want to look good, be strong and keep healthy? (Keep the format of the question consistent)
      Because when I look good and am strong and healthy, I am more confident about myself.
    1. Why do I need to feel confident about myself?
      Because when I am confident, I can empower others!
    1. Why do I want to empower others?
      Because empowering others is one of my ultimate purposes in life.
    1. Why is empowering others one of my ultimate purposes in life?
      Because empowering others enables me to leave an ever-lasting legacy.

    Losing weight and getting lean and healthy was important for me to have more confidence in my life, which helps me to empower others. And, it’s very true that empowering others is one of the most important purposes of my life. I believe this is the way towards leaving an ever-lasting legacy for the sake of Allah subuhanawuta’ala.

    So knowing that my weight-loss had such a profound purpose, I took it very seriously and the process of getting lean and healthy was relatively easy for me, Alhamdulillah.

    I’ve started eating healthier and have been regular with my exercise.

    Amongst tons of other amazing outcomes, these are some of the important ones from my healthy eating and regular exercise:

    • I’ve been super productive since my brain gets all the nutrients it needs
    • Losing weight and getting lean and healthy was a 20-year struggle. Achieving that gives me so much of confidence, Alhamdulillah.
    • I can wake up in the morning easily
    • I always feel energised and I can mostly control my emotions better.
    • I thank Allah more often for what He has bestowed upon my family and me.

    Finding out my real purpose behind losing weight was a significant moment for me to be continuously motivated in that journey.

    Now it’s your turn. Give some serious thought about the real purpose of your goals and be honest to yourself. This could be one of your very few “aha” moments in your life… mark my words!

  • How Answering the ‘5-Whys’ Made my Weight-loss a Spiritual Journey!

    A couple of years back I was weighing around 85 kg and felt quite uncomfortable with my body. I felt lethargic all the time, waking up, in particular, was horrendously difficult. If it were not for Fajr, I would have slept throughout the morning. The word Qiyamulllail was familiar to me only during Ramadan.

    The time after work and before bed was the most difficult.I was at home, but not necessarily productive and was too tired to do anything!

    Fast forwarding to now, I have lost more than 15 kg (around 30 pounds) and I am being super productive, Alhamdulillah. Now I am a better slave of Ar-Rahman, better father and a very loving husband. My spirituality has improved a lot, my anger has subsided and what I have achieved in the last three years is more than what I have achieved in the last decade combined. Alhamdulillah.

    It all started when I stumbled upon the ‘5-Why’ strategy of the Toyota Company. Yes, I am talking about the giant car company. You may wonder how a strategy of a car company helped my weight-loss to be a spiritual journey. Bear with me for a second…

    This strategy is usually used to find out the real reason of why you do, what you do. In other words, it helps you to find out the real purpose behind your actions.

    You could almost say that the ‘why’ of something is more important than the ‘how’, agreed? I mean there are thousands of possibilities to lose weight but none of them will bring you real, long-term results if the ‘why’ behind weight-loss is not clear.

    That’s why your purpose behind your goal is more important than the goal itself. If the purpose or intention is the vehicle that helps you reach your goal, then your burning desire is the fuel for that vehicle. And when the purpose is real, you’ll eventually have the burning desire, which ultimately helps you to achieve your goal with the thawfeeq of Allah subuhanawuta’ala!

    In the following hadith, Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) clearly states the importance of intention;

    “Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and His Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.” Related by Bukhari & Muslim

    And he (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said; Everyone will get what was intended”. The person’s hijra for the sake of marriage may not be rewarded in the Aakhira, but he does reach his goal in this world due to his strong intention.

    Insha Allah, in part 2 I’ll discuss what these ‘5-Whys’ are.