Saturday, May 2, 2015

New Endeavor

 I am back to my blog this year however, slightly distracted with a new endeavor ( besides our nearly one year old new addition.:) I am proud to announce my new website

My hope is to create a community of mothers who motivate each other while learning how to squeeze in mini toning sessions throughout the day. In this way, fat loss and toning will become a way of movement and life. The change of diet will be so subtle and seamless that you will not remember ever eating any other way.

Little by little throughout each day you will challenge yourself through the Daily Challenge Club to move more and to make better food choices. If you are ready to start full force, try the 21 Day Challenge or 60 Day Challenge. You will be accountable to the others in your group with a weekly call. With the 60 Day challenge you also get a personal call with me to help guide your path to fitness.

Are you ready to make a change? A health upgrade? Then join me at

I can't wait to be your personal cheerleader!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Floor Exercises

Floor exercises

Over the past fifteen years, I have practiced and studied various types of exercises for women specific to mothers. I started with Ana Caban and others through Gaiam in Pilates. Graduated and synced with Denise Austin in “Shrink Your Fat Zones”, “Hot Spot Pilates” and “12 minute Workout”. Finally combining it with Classical Stretch by Canadian Miranda Esmonde. I also sometimes enjoy dancing and have incorporated some BellydancingforBirth from Maha Al Musa with samba, soca and reggae moves. So what does my workout look like? Yes from day to day it is a treasure.

Today, I would like to focus on a quick daily floor (or bed while nursing)exercise. Ultimately, you will work all four sides (only sides while nursing though:) and move towards whittling down the “middle”. If you are on your right side to start, make sure that you have a leg's worth of space to swing your leg forwards and backwards.

Keep your foot flexed and lift your leg hip height 8 times. Now pointing your toes, kick your leg forward 8 times. Again with pointed toes, kick your leg backwards 8 times. Now outstretch your arms above your head and point your toes towards the opposite wall while inhaling deeply and exhaling with the release; and repeat three times.

Point your toes and lift your leg as high as you can 8 times. Repeat forwards and backwards 8 times stretching and extending as far as you can. Repeat these movements on your left side.

Now on your stomach, flex your right foot and bend your leg at the knee. Repeat five times. Now pointing your toes extend your leg as far as you can while extending your arms above your head while inhaling deeply and exhaling on the release three times. Now pointing your toes lift your leg off the floor five times. Make certain that your movements are exact and form balanced. This is not a race. Pay attention to your form. Doing fewer reps with perfect form goes further than many reps in poor form.

Repeat with your left leg.

Now press yourself up into 3 – 5 push ups. Again paying very close attention to form.

Rollover onto your back and bend your knees. Flattened your back to the floor and level your hips. Once in position, reach your arms straight out towards your knees lifting into a crunch for 8 times. Repeat towards the right 8 times and then towards the left 8 times. Now lower your legs to the floor and stretch your legs with pointed toes towards the opposite wall of your arms while inhaling deeply and exhaling on the release three times.

Again bend your knees. Flattened your back to the floor and then slightly lift yourself into a crunch position. Point your right toes towards the ceiling and then tap them on the floor. Alternate legs in this movement for eight counts. Rest. Stretch arms above your head and legs towards the opposite wall inhaling and exhaling deeply as before.

Flattened your back to the floor and turn your legs out and bend them. This is called froggy legs. Repeat 8 times. Now lift yourself into a crunch position and repeat 8 times. Rest. Stretch arms above your head and legs towards the opposite wall inhaling and exhaling deeply as before.

Flattened your back to the floor and point both legs towards the ceiling. Cris cross your legs and repeat 8 times. Now lift yourself into a crunch position and repeat 8 times. Rest. Stretch arms above your head and legs towards the opposite wall inhaling and exhaling deeply as before. And you are done. Roll up and stretch forward trying to reach your toes. Rock backwards on your hands and slowly stand bending at the knee and raising to a stand.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easing Into Your Workout Again

It is not easy task getting back into a workout routine after a winter break, injury, or any other break. We have to first have a healthy mindset and a natural energy boost. Start your day pulling oil and then a warm cup of water squeezing fresh lemon or lime. If you are in it for fat loss, do each exercise prior to eating.

Sitting exercises

Practicing optimal posture is a good place to start.

1. Just place your feet parallel, level your hips both shoulder width apart, inhale deeply while bringing your spine to a 90 degree angle with hips. Hole this position while exhaling pulling your navel towards your spine. You should feel your rib cage expand and a slight burn at the waist. Release into a slight slump counting to five. Five reps of 3.

2. Get a yoga ball. Using a balance or yoga ball forces the body to use the correct posture. Use it at the office and at home whenever and wherever you are sitting. You can also work your arms. While sitting up straight, start by inhaling deeply. As you exhale lift your left arm while releasing your breath and pulling towards your spine. Stop once your arm is at 12 o'clock. Repeat with the right arm and alternate thrice.

3. Now try the same exercise on your balance ball with your legs. Again 3 reps of 3.

4. Last simply rotate your ankles. First outwards then inwards. Again 3 reps of 3.

Standing exercises

1. Begin standing with your legs shoulder with apart. Place your hands on each hip while slightly bending at the knee and kicking the right leg towards the opposite hip. Try 3 reps of 3 and repeat with the other leg.

2. Begin in the same position and lift your leg to the side.  Try 3 reps of 3 and repeat with the other leg.

3. Begin in the starting position and lift your leg straight in front of you keeping balance with your core. Try 3 reps of 3 and repeat with the other leg.

4. Begin in the starting position and lift your leg behind you keeping balance with your core. Try 3 reps of 3 and repeat with the other leg.

That is a good start for this week. Once you have mastered these positions, do them holding a five pound weight in each hand.Then increase the number of reps. The next post will be about floor exercises.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Clean Yourself

Although on the first day of  spring there was snow and sleet on the ground here in my neighborhood, spring is officially here! What that means for your health is time to remove all of the heaviness from your system. There are several ways to do it. Some prefer doing a juice detox. Some go completely raw with the new harvest. However, nature has provided everything you need in your own backyard. The best recipe to clean you body is the newly emerging herbs you see. Plantain, chickweed, red clover and nettle will be amongst the first plants to green our fields. Nettle is not actually found in your backyard but along river or creek banks at the base of trees. These are all very powerful antioxidants as well as immune boosters. As with all nutritional choices, consultant your healthcare provider before trying something new or at least research for yourself what suits you.

Plantain is an excellent blood cleanser, respiratory opener and can also be used immediately as a bandaid. During the Civil War soliders would chew it into a poultice and place it directly on wounds to heal them and wrap them as band aids.

Chickweed is the plant that gives off the "grass smell" when you mow. Ironically many people believe it is the cause of their allergy sneezes. If only they would pick it up and chew a few leaves and they would be relieved of all symptoms.

Red clover is a lymphatic system cleaner and great after a long respiratory illness. It can also prepare the lungs for fresh spring air. While it has been proven to also support cardiovascular system in women, beware that it can cause issue if you are taking blood thinning medicine.

Nettle is very nutritious and tasty in salads or as the green in your sandwich. It is very high in iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and most of the necessary vitamins your body needs to survive. In fact, if you were stranded in a forest you could live on nettle alone. It is great for headaches and lower urinary tract inflammation. Also keep in mind it is also a diuretic and can cause low blood pressure.

About four years ago or more when I adopted this habit of having my family chew the grasses in our backyard all of their "grass and tree" allergies stopped. We also use all of these dried leaves to make an infusion. An infusion is like an herbal tea but steeps for longer and cooled overnight in the refrigerator. Then with a sieve strain it and drink it first thing in the morning. It is very bitter and goes down better cold. Aside from raw locals honey, I do not recommend sweetening it to retain medicinal value.

While most of these herbs and plants are readily available in our backyards, unless you have never sprayed pesticides or weed killer on your lawn, I advise against harvesting in your yard. Rather you could start an herbal container garden, harvest on a local nature walk or order online from reputable companies like featured on my web site. They also have premixed loose leaf options.

So start your spring cleaning with yourself. Remember the simplest detox is sometimes just choosing from that which is under your nose.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Health From the Insideout

I am sure that you have heard that your mouth, specifically your teeth, are the mirror of your state of health. That means that the condition of your teeth is more that than white or yellow. Whitening or patching (filling) stained or decaying teeth does not correct your health issue. Notice when you go to your physician, your mouth is examined. Why is that? Unfortunately these days even most doctors do not know why they do it anymore. Historically, it was done to look for signs of heart, liver and other severe conditions. For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on how to keep your teeth clean whilst improving your health daily. 

I like to start my day by pulling oil a habit which I started some years ago after reading a book by Dr. Bruce Fife. In his book on oil pulling he enumerates the ways in which it cleanses the body and rejuvenates the teeth. Like our skin teeth having cells that regrow and can be rebuilt given the right environment. You should pull oil for up to 20 minutes per day. As with any new habit you have to work your way up to it. Don't worry five minutes four times a day is just as useful as a straight twenty minutes. For me, it works like a cup of espresso. I swish for 2 -5 minutes with eyes closed and then I am up! It also helps when I or one of my family has the beginning symptoms of a cold. It also helps with the mid-morning blahs around 10; besides who brings a toothbrush to work anyway! Now which oil to use is next.

Obviously, Dr. Fife recommends coconut oil. I am not picky and do not have texture issues so I prefer coconut oil. However, others have said they get similar results with almond oil, sesame oil, olive oil and grape seed oil. Another tip is to enhance whatever oil you choose with an essential oil. One to two drops is all you need. For regular daily cleaning, myrrh is great as it has complimentary antiviral, antibacterial and tooth building elements. According to, myrrh is in a class of compounds called sesquiterpenes..."that have a direct effect on the hypothalamus, pituitary, and amygdala, the seat of our emotions. It is purifying, restorative, revitalizing, and uplifting." Myrrh also helps in connection to the heart and circulatory system. Tea tree oil also has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, balsamic, cicatrisant, expectorant, fungicide, insecticide, stimulant and sudorific substance. It is helps the immune system overall. Tea tree oil or peppermint oil are great if you suffer allergies or are having cold symptoms. 

Above and beyond pulling oil, brush your teeth at least after breakfast and before bed. Fluoridated toothpaste may clean your teeth but does strengthen them. That is why I made my own. Now building on out oil pulling recipe, start with the oil of your choice and essential oil of your choice. Combine it with a clay and Himalayan salt. For example, my go to toothpaste recipe is:

2 TBSP coconut oil
10 drops of myrrh essential oil
4-5 drops of tea tree or peppermint essential oil
1/3 Cup of Redmond Clay
a pinch Himalayan pink salt

However, I have also substituted aloe vera gel for the coconut oil. In this case use less tea tree or peppermint essential oil 1-2 drops. I believe that aloe vera gel and tea tree oil are a match made in heaven for skin and teeth. For teeth, if you have sensitive teeth or a toothache, this combination relieves the issue. The reason for this is it contains an anti-inflammatory compound and can even serve as a hand sanitizer.

The Redmond clay is from a dormant volcano and can also be used as a digestive supplement. Like most other ingredients listed here, it is antiseptic,antiviral and stimulant. According to, its strength lies "ability to adsorb and absorb, to suck into itself toxins, chemicals, viruses, molds, and the bad bacteria, hold them captive within the molecule and carry them out of the body. The electromagnetic energy of the clay stimulates circulation, bringing blood flow and oxygen to revitalize cellular repair and awaken latent cell energy." So while you are brushes your teeth, you are also promoting their cellular repair.

 So try a new way to get your day started. Skip the java and pull oil followed by brushing with cellular repairing toothpaste. It can help you to be more healthy from the inside out!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What exercise means to your life

What exercise means to your life

This is a reflection on how exercise has changed my life and how it could change yours. Until I had children, it never occurred to me that exercise was a necessity. I was no athlete by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the thought of even going to the gym was ridiculous to me. Let me now temper this and set a stage for your understanding. I grew up in an era when you walked most places or took public transportation, a bus. Most often my sister and I walked to the grocery store which was about a mile away and carried at least pounds of groceries back home each. My father took long morning walks with us, about four to six miles round trip. When we returned we stretched and did basic calisthenics, to relax our muscles then showered and had a high protein full breakfast. It included turkey bacon, eggs with parsley and spices like cumin, whole wheat bread, grapefruit and grapes sometimes pomegranate, tea and of course water. My father encouraged us by example to exercise often by doing push- ups and sit ups, jumping jacks, etc. My father showed us by example at the age of seventy while looking about forty. He also taught us how to play tennis at his advanced aged. In fact, exercise was such an integral part of my life that I accepted it like breathing.

As an adult, I stopped walking and started driving long distances for work. Living in the suburbs, there are few sidewalks of course except for the ones within your neighborhood. These days those sidewalks are rarely used as no one really knows their neighbors. You may have the occasional runner or dog walker. Then I had a child and another one. Despite being raised in a home where we had good wholesome food and had a balanced diet, I was not informed enough about nutrition specific to a woman’s needs to prevent excess weight gain with my second pregnancy. During this pregnancy, I was also placed on bed rest complicating my weight control. For the first time in my life I was actually inactive! I actively sought physical activity following my second pregnancy in a way that was unnecessary after my first. After my first pregnancy, I simply walked the nine flights of stairs everyday to my office instead of taking the elevator and within six weeks was back to normal. Now I bought exercise DVDs by Denise Austin to "Shrink my Fat zones". Eventually  I found what worked best for me, a  combination of Pilates and weight training. 

Strength training in general comes highly recommended from some of the top personal trainers today. See article here by Even now in Ramadan, I maintain my exercise routine twice a day. Since I have the most energy earlier in the day, I use weights before fajr to get my blood flowing and wake up to make suhoor. Just before iftar I work more on pilates and stretching type exercises. Other than Fit Muslimah, the other articles I have found are geared towards men. However Azeem Khan does have many recommendations in line with my experiences. Note the Azeem Khan recommends a much longer workout than I ever do. As a mother of five, I live by the mantra less is more. When it comes to exercise that means 5 - 8 minutes tops before each of the five daily prayers or during Ramadan 5 - 8 minutes just before suhoor and iftar. Post workout I drink up to five glasses of water and eat a protein dense meal followed by calcium magnesium zinc supplement to feed my muscles. All within the comfort of my own home, I set a good example for my children and maintain my sanity.

Now ten years later, I have maintained a healthy weight, mental state and learned to better understand the things my father tried to implement in our diets. At a recent event, I saw someone who had not seen me in over ten years and was told that I have not changed. Embrace a routine of exercise in your daily life, it can stop the effects of aging whilst giving you a positive outlook on life. 

What exercise means in your life is that you can in sha Allah  live a little happier, longer and healthier.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Speak Softly

SubhanAllah the Quran is so amazing every time you read it you learn a new lesson or find a new pearl. We seek information in scholarly works these days by PhD educated psychologist on how to raise our children, how to be successful in business and how to communicate in a nonviolent way. It is all written in the Quran. There are actually over 500 (out of over 6,000) lines dedicated to business transactions and laws. The remainder is on how to deal with humanity and the mercy of Allah. Each Ramadan I try to follow an Islamic scholar to guide me through the tasfir of Quran. This year I am following Mufti Menk whose theme is extracting Pearls of Peace. That means how to live a peaceful life through doing certain actions and avoiding others.

 A few days back I was listening to Mufti Menk’s part 15 of Pearls of Peace. It has become my habit to listen twice to his talks whilst taking notes. That day I did not get back to it a second time so last night I revisited it. He related how in surah Taha it speaks of part of the story of Musa (may Allah’s peace be upon him). The ayah sited here is 20:44”And speak to him mildly (with soft words); perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah).” In my Quran, what Mufti Menk translated as softly was translated as mildly. As I am not an Arabic scholar, I looked in the English dictionary to distinguish the meaning for myself. Mild is defined as gentle or kind in disposition, manners, or behavior: a strong but mild man (given as an example). Soft is defined as offering little resistance; easily molded in the first and in the eighth as of gentle disposition; yielding unmanly (as an example.) [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language]This explains why the translator of my Quran chose mildly instead of softly. A mild or gentle disposition can still be commanding and firm. On the contrary, soft implies no firmness. I also understand why the Mufti would select soft as the translation as the appeal was to soften the heart. However, since much gets lost in translation, we must understand the nuances offered in Arabic relating to dealing with humanity. Musa and his brother, may peace be upon them both, were being instructed to mold Pharaoh’s heart easily to make it yielding to the will of Allah. For example, there are nine words for love in Arabic ranging in magnitude from the ability of a human to the ability of Our Creator. Arabic is a language that is capable of describing the attributes magnificently and formidably of this world and the Hereafter. English is a functional language of business and shallow in emotion. With this in mind, I will try to relate the lesson we should learn in this verse as eloquently explained by the Mufti.

Musa and Haroon’s mission was to go to Pharaoh and call him to Islam. As we know Pharaoh, (Firaun) was beyond the worst of tyrants, enslaving masses and declaring he was their lord and deity and creator. Therefore, they were embarking on a journey where they were inviting the most arrogant abusive disbeliever to Islam. Allah gives them instructions to speak using soft words. At this point the Mufti points out that, we are not as noble as the prophets Musa and Haroon and we will never speak to anyone as abominable as Firaun. Allah is guiding them on how to deal in business or politics and choose words that will soften his heart to bring him to Allah and Islam. Why? When you are harsh in tone and word selection, it will drive people away from what we are trying to guide them.
Lesson: Improve the way we speak to one another

In this blessed month of Ramadan, there are so many acts of worship that we can practice and implement in our lives. This is a wonderful time to train ourselves to be better people. Speech is something that we overlook as an act of worship. How you talk to people can make or break your relationship with them.  The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “whoever guarantees the correct use of that which between the cheeks (tongue) and that which is between their thighs (private parts) is guaranteed Jannah.” Choose your words carefully especially with those closest to you i.e. your children, your spouse, your siblings, your parents, etc.) Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah. A tongue used to constantly praise and worship Allah cannot use vulgar language. If you want to bring hearts closer to you or open hearts to you, speak softly. This is direct advice from Allah. It will in shaa Allah make you successful not only in this life but in the Hereafter.