By Asma Ismail (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)
“…eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” [Qur’an 7:31]
In today’s world, one of the most common fitness issues that we face is obesity. Which is why we see many people following different (sometimes dangerous) diets to lose weight. Women have been pulled into this whirlwind the most. And because of all the societal pressure, Muslim sisters are no exception either.
Dieting for weight loss can’t necessarily be a bad thing. It basically means sticking to a healthy lifestyle, which has great physical and psychological benefits.
A man used to eat much, but when he embraced Islam, he started eating less. That was mentioned to the Prophet (ﷺ) who then said, “A believer eats in one intestine (is satisfied with a little food) and a Kafir eats in seven intestines (eats much).” [Bukhari]
Here’s a list of few benefits healthy lifestyle can present for those who are overweight:
1) Weight loss makes breathing easier as compared to the breathing of an obese person.
2) Losing weight may improve survival rate among those who have obesity-related diseases, especially type 2 diabetes.
3) Blood pressure decreases with weight loss for the hypertensive individuals.
“No man fills a container worse than his stomach. A few morsels that keep his back upright are sufficient for him. If he has to, then he should keep one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for his breathing.” [Tirmidhi]
But before you start your journey towards a healthier lifestyle, you must know that:
1) Right intention goes a long way
As a Muslim, every deed with a good intention of pleasing Allah subhannahu wata’ala counts as a reward. So instead of losing weight in order to fit society’s beauty standards, turn your intention towards how a healthy lifestyle can maximize your ibaadah (worship) inshaaAllah.
“The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended…” [Bukhari].
2) Follow the Sunnah
4: Sit straight
5: Eat with three fingers (i.e. thumb, index finger and the middle finger) – eat a small portion.
6: Eat together
7: Lick your fingers/ Finish the dish (so only take the much you can eat).
3) Weight loss is not an overnight process
Great things in life happen gradually. Nothing changes overnight. And that includes weight loss too. When planning your diet routine, keep in mind that you will need to have the patience, commitment, and hard work, in the path of attaining that healthy lifestyle.
Expecting immediate or overnight results will prevent you from reaching your target. Thus, you won’t be able to continue your struggle. And definitely, that’s something we DON’T want.
A research published in “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” shows that long-term weight loss maintenance is possible if individuals adhere to key health behaviors.
”…Do (good) deeds which is within your capacity as Allah never gets tired of giving rewards till you get tired of doing good deeds.” [Bukhari]
4) Consistency is the key
Everything has limits and those who respect them, survive well. Some people follow a very extreme diet routine which brings more negative consequences than the positive ones. Such as:
1) Fatigue and Mood Changes
2) Slower Metabolism
3) Changes in Digestion
4) Gallstones and many more…
Research published in the Journal of American Medical Association, which sought to figure out “which diet works best?” by looking at the results of 59 individual studies, says none of the low-fat, low-carb diets etc. worked. There were no major differences between the diets. Success was completely dependent on what the individual could adhere to. In other words, practicality reigned king. If your main aim is a healthy lifestyle, then carefully choose a diet which you can adhere to on a daily basis.
“…the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” [Bukhari]
5) Exercise and healthy food – both are important
It’s obvious that exercise is crucial for a healthy body but consuming appropriate diet isn’t less important. Allaah says in the Quran:
Following are some of the foods mentioned in the Qur’an that will help you as an excellent source of nourishment as well:
1) Whole grains, Lentils etc.
2) Meat – like: seafood, meat of domestic animals (cow, sheep etc.), bird meat etc.
3) Leafy greens/vegetables – like: Cucumbers, Gourd, Onion etc.
4) Fruits – like: Pomegranate, Figs, Grapes, Dates, Olives etc.
5) Liquids – like: Milk, Honey, Water, Olive oil etc.
And as far as exercise is concerned, you don’t necessarily have to join the gym. Following are some exercise recommendations from the Sunnah:
1) Walking – Muhammad(ﷺ) used to walk at a fast pace. You can make a habit of brisk walking 30 minutes every day.
2) Swimming – Umar (RA) used to encourage people to teach their children swimming
3) Horse riding
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “…Practice archery and practice riding…” [Tirmidhi]
6) Set your goal and focus on the results
Generally, goal setting is very important for everything you want to achieve. So weight loss isn’t any different. According to the researchers, those who set their goals correctly tend to be more successful.
Have a clear goal, purpose, and outcome when you are thinking about dieting. This will give you a reason to continue until the desired target is achieved. And that will give you the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
For eg: you can keep your goal that you want to have an active lifestyle because you want to be a strong believer.
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless…[Ibn Majah]
Take care of your body and your soul as they are Allah’s amaanah – to show gratitude towards your Creator for the blessing that He bestowed upon you, Alhamdulillah. Your body will thank you.
Co-Author’s Bio: Asma is the founder of Sixah academy and consultation center – 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 HERE.