I was recently given the wonderful opportunity to compose a health and fitness article for Dads and sisters who want to help their husbands get healthy. As this is my first article, I will share a short introduction of myself and then explain how I started eating, training and living healthier.
In my younger years, I was always a skinny guy, eating whatever I wished and not gaining a single pound. My fast metabolism led me to become a chocoholic pushing down a slab a day without thinking twice! Ahh… I was living the good life, that is until the dreaded 25-year-old mark struck. It didn’t help when I got married to a wife that makes incredibly delicious food. I even know some brothers who scope out the cooking skills of their potential wife before they take the plunge.
Health for Dads
Have you ever noticed (and I have experienced this myself), how men tend to put on weight once you get married? Why is that? Probably because the Mrs. loves seeing that smile on your face when you come home from work, and there’s a sumptuous chocolate cake just waiting for you to lay your hands on. Now I’m not saying that our wives are the reason we put on weight. We are the reason. Some men have the mentality that once you get married and have kids, there’s no need to make an effort to look good or take care of yourself.
I’ve always loved the health and fitness lifestyle but there was a point in my life that I lost all motivation and let myself go a little. The biggest problem that most dads face is changing the way they eat. Doing a complete 180-degree change is not the correct way of doing this, as it becomes quite overwhelming. I’ve done this, and I’ve failed miserably. Instead, I decided to gradually increase my protein intake, decrease my carbs and fats, and slowly cut out sugars.
Instead, I decided to gradually increase my protein intake, decrease my carbs and fats, and slowly cut out sugars. Changing from regular cola to zero colas was borderline blasphemous for me. Peanut butter? I had a raging dislike for the stuff. Don’t get me started on the whole wheat thing and any bread that was not white for that matter, it was treacherous! That was of course, only because I decided to try changing everything at once.
Gradually introducing these healthy options into my life turned out to be the game-changer for me, and I’m sure it will work out for you as well. Alhumdulillah by using this method, I was even able to stop smoking! Now don’t become skeptical about me, I won’t get into that lecture… well, not just yet.
Islam teaches us that we should do everything in moderation, and that is especially true when it comes to consuming food. Nobody is saying that you need to give up all the delicious desserts, cakes, and heavenly tasting haleem. Go ahead and enjoy it, but do so in moderation. One of the main principles of good health is a balanced diet. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) emphasized the behavior of eating less as a method of preventing sickness and diseases.
“Eat less you will be healthier.” (Hadith)
“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: one-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Hakim)
Fitness for Dads
So, you’ve decided to get rid of that jelly from your belly, or maybe even add-on a few extra pounds of muscle, well good for you! You should be proud of yourself for deciding to take the next step on the road to better health. Now you’re thinking, “Okay, I’ve started eating healthy. Now what?”
Well, you can’t expect the fat to ride off into the sunset without actually burning it off. Ideally, this would be accomplished at a gym. Finding one that suits your goals is one of the challenges, the bigger problem, is being a newbie at the gym. Many men find this to be nerve-wracking, I mean you don’t want to be caught doing exercises the wrong way and ultimately make a fool of yourself. It doesn’t have to be that way unless you decide to turn up at the gym looking like John McEnroe at a tennis tournament. Yes, I’ve seen this before.
Most gyms cater quite well for the person wanting to lose weight. Cardio equipment at a well-stocked gym should never be in short supply. Finding a gym with a big (or big-ish) weight section, should you need to add-on some muscle to your frame, might be a bit tougher. Make sure you take a tour of the gym you’re interested in before you sign up. Keep it simple. Loose t-shirt, sweatpants, sneakers – that’s it! Nothing more is needed. I’ve seen some of the weirdest dressed characters at the gym. Guys wearing three-quarter leggings, jeans, shoes, headbands (headbands are considered a crime ever since the turn of the 21st century). Seriously, don’t’ do it!
Great! You’ve dressed up, feeling all gym-my and pumped up. What is the best time to go? You wouldn’t want to go when the gym is more packed than the masjid at Eid Salaah. Firstly, this would only make you more nervous, and secondly, you’ll probably spend most of your workout standing around waiting for equipment to become free. I always try to avoid the peak hours.
Training in the morning after Fajr and before starting your day is a superb idea. The gym is less full, but if you are too rushed in the morning to squeeze in a workout, you can choose to train in the evenings. Try to avoid the time directly after work hours. Give or take about 1.5-2 hours after work before hitting the gym. This is the ideal time, as all the ‘after-work-gym-guys’ are finishing their workout. I find that the best time to workout is after Maghrib salaah and to finish before Esha salaah. You can then make dua at magrib that you don’t do anything silly at the gym and get out injury-free, then make shukr at Esha for what you have accomplished. Okay seriously, I find this the ideal time to workout faster without standing around waiting for equipment.
These are just a few tips for joining a gym and getting into the swing of becoming fit. Once you become regular, you’ll feel an accomplishment and appreciate that you’re there for the betterment of yourself – and not to tag your gym pic on social networks so your cyber friends think you’re cool – just kidding. It is a great feeling to get fit, and ultimately, this alone motivates you to keep going back.
Dads often think that once you have a family, it’s difficult to find time for yourself. There’s always time. A proper routine is just what’s needed to make that time available to you. If you have some tips or questions that you would like to add, comment below and I’d be glad to help. Insha Allah eat healthy and train hard. As-Salaamualaikum.
Aqueel E. – I’m a husband to an amazingly wonderful, motivating and excellent cooking wife. My 6-year-old son is extremely active so being fit really helps cope with all his antics. I’ve always been physically active, playing a lot of sports in school and diligently sticking to a gym routine that I found works for me. All my knowledge about health and fitness has come from years of personal experience and things that I’ve personally tried and tested. I’ve learnt that not everything is all rainbows and sunshine, you have to experience the negatives in order to appreciate the positives in life. That’s the way I like to live. Along the way I have had the help of professional trainers, and I feel that if you’re just starting out, they can be of monumental help to you.