Throughout my younger years I was pretty chunky. This bothered me a lot, especially as I reached adolescence. But I didn’t know how to change my body.
So, in a desperate attempt to be thin but not knowing how to get, there I developed an eating disorder. My relationship with food and my body was completely out of control. But no matter how much I restricted, no matter how much weight I lost, I wasn’t happy. I was obsessive and food was controlling my life.
With time and practice I started putting some weight back on. I tried eating “healthy” but didn’t really know what I was doing. I developed an “on-and-off” gym routine with no real idea of how to exercise.
I was constantly fighting an inner battle. I wanted to be healthy and fit, but I didn’t know how to get there. I was completely overwhelmed.
After I graduated college I decided to hire a fitness coach. I had always wanted to be strong and fit but was extremely self-conscience of being in the gym. I didn’t know how to use much of the equipment. I didn’t know proper form with lifting weights. I had no idea where to even begin!
So I hired a fitness coach. My coach put me through a 16 week transformation program consisting of a weight-lifting and cardio program and a clean-eating regimen.
I was amazed by my transformation and more importantly I felt energized, strong and happy.
I was so inspired by working with my coach and I wanted to learn more and more. So I decided to get certified in Personal Training and in Nutrition specializing in Healthy Eating for Weight Loss.
I took extra courses at my local community college in Anatomy and Physiology to better understand the human body in relation to movement and exercise. I began living the lifestyle I had always wanted and I was growing and becoming better everyday.
As much as I was learning, and as happy as I was becoming, there was still something wrong. I was too obsessive with food and exercise. I was measuring out every ounce of food. I was running to the grocery store almost every other day if I didn’t have the exact amount of food I needed. I would hate myself if I skipped a workout.
I wanted everything to be perfect and if it wasn’t I would let myself go and start fresh the following Monday. This turned into a vicious cycle and I just wasn’t happy.
Once I accepted Islam into my life, things started becoming better. I studied the status and role of women in Islam and did a lot of researching into the meaning behind the hijab. My ideas about health and fitness started changing. It was becoming more about being healthy for the sake of Allah (swt) and less about “looking good.”
With Islam in my life and the support of my wonderful husband by my side, I started developing a deeper sense of self. I was no longer just a body, just an object to be stared at. I was a wife. A daughter. A servant of Allah. I had a purpose, and that purpose was to be healthy enough to worship Allah (swt) as much and for as long as I could.
Healthy living was becoming a part of me, an essential aspect of my everyday life. I was getting much better at practicing patience and self-love.
But it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
In 2014 I herniated a disc in my lumbar vertebra (lower spine). Unfortunately, my back hasn’t been the same since, and likely never will. I experience chronic pain on a daily basis. I fell into a depression for a while, as it took me a long time to get used to the idea that I would experience back pain for the rest of my life. But alhamdulillah, Islam and my belief in the Qadr (will) of Allah (swt) has helped me accept that.
I’ve taken up yoga as a means of therapeutic healing and have become quite fond of the practice. It’s a practice that takes a lot of patience and calls for a very slow progression. It has taught me a lot about myself and is helping me to grow in many ways.
There was yet another test to come my way, subhanAllah. In October of 2015 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a common hormonal endocrine disorder affecting 1 in 10 women. It is also the leading cause of infertility in women. In fact, According to the PCOS Foundation it is responsible for 70% of infertility issues in women who have difficulty ovulating.
I was devastated to hear this news.
PCOS is not curable but the good news is that it is treatable. Research shows that lifestyle changes, such as exercise and healthy eating, are the best treatment methods for PCOS.
After this diagnosis, wellness has taken on an even bigger meaning in my life. I strive everyday to do the best I can so that I might overcome the odds. Healthy living has become my medicine, my treatment, an act of worship, and my way of life.
My journey certainly hasn’t been an easy one. There have been many ups and downs. But with every failure, with every set back, also comes lessons. Without those difficulties I’m not sure wellness would have taken on such an important meaning in my life.
I am forever grateful that my experiences have led me to purse a lifestyle of health not only for myself, but as a means of inspiration for other women as well.