Before I get started, I want to start with a disclaimer when it comes to anxiety. First, I am not against those taking medication for the relief of anxiety symptoms. Second, is that if you are currently taking medication, please talk to your medical practitioner before reducing or stopping your medication. Also, I am not a medical professional and am speaking from my personal experience.
Anxiety is a a mental health issue. It is not a side effect of your diet. Sometimes your diet can trigger or make you more sensitive to be triggered by an anxiety attack. I suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. My depression is cured, but my anxiety still remains. I made a decision to control my anxiety naturally using the following methods:
1) Reducing your sugar Sugar itself does not create anxiety. It creates symptoms in our bodies that are similar to symptoms experienced with anxiety such as restlessness, rapid heartbeat, and queasiness. If you have a diet high in sugar, you may trigger an attack because you are experiencing similar symptoms you would when experiencing an anxiety attack. So the solution is simply to reduce sugar in your diet.
2) Exercise with caution Normally, exercise is always advertised as the cure-all for anxiety and depression. What you aren't told and I found out myself, is that if you jump right into rigorous exercise, you may trigger an anxiety attack at the gym. By rigorously exercising, you duplicate the similar feelings you experience when having an anxiety attack. If you are new to exercising and experience anxiety, start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity so not to trigger further attacks or turn yourself off to going to the gym.
3) Mind your caffeine If you are going to have caffeine, (I love me a good cup of green tea!) be sure to give yourself a caffeine curfew and STICK TO IT! Mine is around 5 or 6 pm. This gives your body time to wind down. Which leads to ...
4) Value your sleep Create a night time ritual to allow your mind and body a chance to wind down before nodding off to sleep. Creating a routine is signaling your brain that you are going to sleep. Make sure the temperature is cool in your room, turn off electronics and put them across the room so you aren't tempted to scroll before bed. Read a book or brain dump in a journal so you aren't making that to do list in your head.
5) Don't over commit In your family and social circles, you may feel the need to say yes to commitments out of obligation. Take care of yourself first and create #mindspace. you will not be as stressed out and you can make more time for yourself, which leads to...
6) DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE Without the obligations, you have more time for you and doing what makes you happy. Ride a horse, talk to your Mum, I love to go on long walks with my dog. Doing what you love creates more joy and less stress and anxiety.
7) Become a minimalist Fewer obligations, less stuff to repair, clean, replace = less stress on your head, but more on that in another post.
So make sure to come back next week for more lifestyle advice for a happier, healthier and calmer you!
Please let me know in the comments if you've tried any of this and how it has worked for you!
As a personal trainer, usually one of the first questions I am asked is, “How long do I need to diet?” This is basically a nice way of asking, how long do I need you to train me? How much is this going to cost? Or secretly, how long will it take for you to whip me into Victoria Secret model shape?! Well I am going to be the one who gives you THAT annoying answer—“It depends on YOU.”
How long you are going to need diet depends on many factors:
Your activity level
It also depends on how much weight you want to lose. As you can imagine, it doesn’t take the same time to lose 1 stone as it does 10 stone. Although that would be amazing!
How good are you at staying on your diet and are you disciplined to work for it? If you skip a workout here, have a cheat meal there, it will take you longer to reach your goals. You need to be PERSISTENT! What may take 2 months of dedicated gym workouts and diet, may end up taking 3-5 months if you lack this quality. And that depends entirely on YOU!
As you can see, there are no definitive answers. It could take years depending on how much weight you want to lose. You didn’t gain the weight in one week and you won’t lose it in a week either. And as you GET OLDER, it TAKES LONGER to lose the weight unfortunately.
Be patient with your body. We all go through seasons of change in our lives. When you first start a new nutrition and exercise program, you are motivated and dedicated. The weight initially falls off which is extremely exciting, so you continue. It’s when the weight stops falling off and you hit the dreaded PLATEAU that can cause you to lose your patience and fall off your diet.
DIET can be a nasty 4 letter word. To most people, it carries a negative connotation. But really the word 'diet' only refers to WHAT YOU EAT. So in reality, you have been following a diet your entire life and will be following a diet FOREVER. Gasp!
So here's a helpful hint: stop viewing it as a DIET and start thinking of it more as a LIFESTYLE CHANGE!
If you chose to adapt a Paleo diet for instance, it is a forever lifestyle. Because Paleo is a lifestyle diet and believe it or not but has just as much to do about movement as it does eating. See what I eat in a day on Paleo.
If what you are doing is working, you are comfortable with the diet, and pleased with the results, keep it going! If it doesn’t work with your lifestyle and isn’t sustainable, then STOP. Again, it depends on YOU as an individual . In the end, you need to do what is best for YOU and your physical well-being. You need to work on being consistent with your activity level and stick to it. Be sure to pick an activity that you LOVE or try NEW activities.
The best diet is the diet that works for you and your lifestyle and how you eat and view food. Stick to nutritious food and nourish your body.
And ultimately if your biggest concern about going on a diet is when you can come off it again, I would recommend having a huge overhaul in the way you think about healthy eating and start working on that first!
The honest to God’s truth of how to make eating healthy feel less like a chore is to EAT HEALTHY.
You thought I was going to give you some magic solution? That’s coming later.
That sounds odd you think. Yes, it is sort of a catch-22. You want to eat healthy even when You don’t “feel like it” all the time and want to make a habit, but to make it less so, you say I need to eat healthy.
The thing is in order to make something a habit, whether it is eating healthy or exercising, waking early, or anything for that matter, you need to stick to doing that “thing” for at least one month.
Your body is the same way and it is very adaptable. Within a certain amount of time, your body will adapt and actually start to crave the healthy foods you are feeding it. So, when you veer off course and eat crap food, what happens?
Your body starts to feel lethargic. Your body will revolt physically. When you were once feeling energetic, now you will start slowing down. You may have sleep disturbances, get headaches, or even feel queasy at the thought of the old food you used to eat.
Your body is saying, “don’t give me that junk!”
THIS is where you need to get to, to make eating healthfully feel less like a chore, and you need to first make it a habit by sticking to your diet, I'd recommend for at least 30 days. This gives your body a chance to detox and reset.
I have said it many times. The magic ingredient and the easiest way to help you achieve this goal is by PLANNING AHEAD.
When you come home from work tired and have to prepare a meal, it becomes a hassle. What am I going to eat? Do I have all the ingredients? What’s quick to make because I am STARVING NOW. And this really causes anxiety and makes it easy to veer off your course. You start shoving your mouth with anything in sight.
So now imagine you planned your meals for the week. You may have even gone as far as cut your veggies ahead of time. Or perhaps went wild and cooked a large pot of soup that you froze ahead of time in smaller portions. You come home relaxed, knowing what you are eating. All you have to do is heat it up or assemble the ingredients. Voila! Dinner is served and you are enjoying your healthy dinner completely hassle free!
Which do you prefer, a stressed-out evening of binge eating or a relaxed evening after a healthy meal? A body that is providing you energy throughout the day or constant anxiety, headaches, and constipation?
Try this for 30-days. What's the worst thing that could happen? Your body may start to love you!
To get a glimpse into what a typical day in the life of what Zahra eats, you can take a look at this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/1OSHGTUhCQ0. (While you are there, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more videos)
How often do we hear, “I am so busy!” I couldn’t possibly do that.
One of my very first discussions with my clients is their schedule. I have two VERY IMPORTANT questions in particular.
“When will you go to the gym?”
“When will you meal plan and prep your meals for the week?”
And today I am asking YOU, “when will you find the time to do these things?”
Are you using time as an excuse not to exercise and eat healthy?
Well if you are, I am calling you out on your bull***t!
Do you want to know how you can ‘magically’ create more time in your schedule to do things like exercise regularly?
The first thing you need to do is analyze your time for time wasters and rabbit holes. Do you ever get on Facebook to scroll the feed and all of a sudden 2 HOURS HAVE PASSED? It’s super common for most of us to do this but for me, I noticed I had a much bigger culprit: my telly!
I realized that even though I may not have been watching it, it was white noise in the background because IT WAS ALWAYS ON. It was causing me to get distracted and therefore I was performing my work tasks slower than I normally would have if I had shut it off and focused more.
What was the solution? For me it was not turning on the tv. I realized that it wasn’t giving me joy and wasn’t adding anything to my life. So, I tried an experiment. I turned off the tv and limited it to 2 shows a day or even every other day.
Do you know what happened? I felt lighter. I got my SHIT DONE. I regained time that I thought I had lost and increased my productivity in my business. My mind was clearer and now that I had clarity, I could plan what I wanted to do in my business and do what gave me joy in my life.
After 6 months, I ended up getting rid of it because I no longer missed it. Instead I made space in my tiny apartment for things that I really wanted and used.
Our lives are like that too. When you remove the time stealers and instead replace it with things that are important, you in turn, become happier and more productive.
So here’s what you need to do; take a critical look at your routine or schedule. Journal your days by keeping track of your time. What tasks are you doing and how long are they taking? Should they take that long? If I really focused and was uninterrupted, could I do it faster?
Ask yourself these questions and then take a look at what you wrote with a critical eye. Are you using your best time blocks to do you most productive tasks, rewarding tasks, or tasks that need concentration?
You need to do the appropriate tasks at the appropriate times so you can make the most of the time that you do have.
Just to review: 1.Journal your time for a couple of days writing down your schedule and tasks. 2.Critically look to see if you are using the time appropriately. Ask yourself, when I have an hour of quiet time, am I doing a task that requires my concentration or could I do that task while I am folding laundry, for example. 3.Find the time wasters and joy stealers. GET RID OF THEM if possible! 4.Create a new schedule with tasks scheduled at the best times. 5.REWARD YOURSELF with an extra workout, trying a healthy new recipe you didn’t have time to make, spend it on some self-care “me time”.
When it comes down to it, you will find time for the things/tasks that are MOST IMPORTANT to you.
So now getting back to that time you don’t have to work out, when is your next workout scheduled? When will you be meal planning and prepping for the week? Send me a note and let me know where you “found” the time!
Thank you for your comment on my public social media page. Thank you for taking the time to find something you consider to be a flaw in me and highlighting it for all to see.
From the moment I started my venture as a visible non-hijabi Muslim entrepreneur, you have been there.
You have made your presence noticed and made sure I understood your disdain for me.
At times it is easy for me to shake off your negative comment. After all, I don't know you so your opinion of me means very little to me.
But there are still times when your comment upsets me. Times when it makes me angry or sad. And in those times, your comment stays with me for days - like a bad flu I can't quite shake off.
What upsets me is not your attack of me. As I said already, your opinion of me is not relevant to me. The upsetting part is your need to try to publicly 'shame' other people. Your need to point out the flaws of others. And your apparent need to feel better than others.
And you do so with very little regard to how your comment might make the person/people on the receiving end feel. Not everyone has thick skin, Sister. Not everyone can shake things off easily. And for some, your comment might be the last drop in an already overflowing cup.
You know exactly what you're doing when you write your comment. You may try to excuse your action as a mere observation or a genuine request to help. But deep down inside, you know it is petty and judgemental. And what's more; you know it's wrong.
“O you who have faith! Avoid much suspicion. Indeed some suspicions are sins.” [49:12] It also upsets me that in a time when people are fighting for inclusivity on a global scale, you're so willing to shun me out because my Islam looks different to yours.
It hurts me to feel the need to remind you; there's more to being a Muslim woman than wearing a hijab.
I almost lost my faith once. I moved away from Islam. I diverted and went down a path that gave me no peace.
I have been lucky so far - Allah chose not to close my heart to Him and his blessings. I can only pray that He continues to enlighten me and make my journey closer to Him an easy one.
Although I may not look like you, talk like you or act like you I'm still your Sister in faith. And as such, I hope you can learn to respect me for our commonalities rather than disapprove me for our differences.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: […] I swear by Allah – there is no God but He – one of you may perform the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is naught but an arm’s length between him and it, when that which has been written will outstrip him so that he performs the deeds of the people of the Hell Fire; one of you may perform the deeds of the people of the Hell Fire, till there is naught but an arm’s length between him and it, when that which has been written will overtake him so that he performs the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters therein.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim, Narrated by Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud] I'm not writing this post to shame you. I'm not even writing this to try to lecture you. I'm simply writing this because I have hope that perhaps you might come across it one day and that reading it makes you reflect before leaving a negative comment anywhere else.
Trust me when I say, I'm on your side. I face the same evils as you. So instead of fighting me, join hands with me so we can stand strong against our common enemies.
Much love, Zahra
*This is not a letter to a single person, rather it's for all my Muslim sisters who have taken the time to write something negative on mine or anyone else's social media page.
And when I say your enemy, I'm not talking about the neighbour who keeps stealing your parcels or the colleague who talks down at you. I'm talking about the enemy in yourself.
We all have several voices in our heads that keep communicating to us, to each other and even to no one or nothing at all.
Some of those voices are helpful - they say things like, 'You look good today' or 'you just did a great thing'!
But then there are some voices that are down right bitchy and evil! They're the ones that make you feel bad and make you hate/doubt/feel bad about yourself.
'I can never do that' 'I look disgusting' 'I eat too much' 'If I don't change this, no one will ever love me' 'I'm not good enough for this' 'I always mess it up'
We all have a voice in our heads that spews out crap like this on the regular. And unfortunately there's nothing you can do to completely mute the bitch - she's loud proud and she's here to stay!
But here's what you can do - instead of fighting her all the time, you can be her friend. You don't always fight fire with fire. Sometimes you need to be more gentle.
Talking and reasoning can sometimes be the best ways of silencing the bitch.
Use logic. If the voice says 'you always mess it up', your logic could be 'but this time could be different' or 'I'm not doing it alone this time'.
If the voice says 'I eat too much', your logic could be 'but I can learn portion control' or 'I'll start eating the right things'.
I think you understand how it works.
The trick here is to stop allowing this voice in your head to stop you from doing what you're probably incredibly capable of doing in the first place!
We all have doubt and fears but that doesn't mean we have to give into them time and again. Feel the fear - do it anyway!
So next time when the little bitch start whispering shite in your ears, don't just blindly go with what she says. Be kind to her and gently sway her over to your side. You'd be surprised at how willing she is to go with you at times.
And just in case you've forgot the saying here it is again; Keep your friends close and your enemies closer !
Do you know the simplest way to start showing your body some RESPECT?
It's so simple yet most of us neglect it or we just don't know how to do it.
All you have to do is:
Not to conversations. Not to words. Not even to your thoughts or beliefs. Listen to your body.
Did you know; your body is in constant communication with you?
Did you know; your body is constantly telling you what it wants, what it needs and the opposite, what it doesn't want or need?
Some things we know how to listen for - like when we're hungry or thirsty. When we need to sleep because we're tired. When we need a hug because we're lonely...
But then there are other things that we're less good at detecting. Things we get comfortable shutting out entirely.
Like the times when the body is desperate for exercise - when it wants movement and activity. When it knows that the pain in the back/hips/knees can be easily fixed by getting off the couch.
The times when it's craving rest - for you to slow down with work and allow yourself to not push so hard. All. The. Time.
The times when it's screaming at you to put down that sugary/processed snack - when it knows you're overloading your entire system. When it knows it's only a matter of time before the system will start failing under the pressure.
When did you last listen to your body? And more importantly, when did you respect your body enough to listen with the intention to act upon it?
So take a moment right now and LISTEN - what does your body tell you right now? And what are you going to do about it?
One of the things I constantly hear from people, is that they don't 'feel like' doing something. They don't 'feel like' going to the gym or they don't 'feel like' preparing their food for the next day.
It's even something I hear from people when they have to get work done, either business related or even private/home stuff - they don't 'feel like' completing various tasks.
This is a shitty reason not to do something! Have you ever heard the expression (at least I think it's an expression otherwise I've just made it up); feelings change, your goals don't.
Well there's something about that! If you truly RESPECT yourself and your goals, 'not feeling like it' is never an excuse not to do it.
For the past few weeks, I have been struggling with my anxiety. For whatever reason, its decided to rear its ugly head and as a result, everything I now do, even the smallest tasks, have become a huge struggle.
For the past few weeks I have not 'felt like' doing anything! But regardless of how I've felt, I've got up, dressed up and showed up! ...and on most days, all I've really wanted has been to stay in bed and cry about how overwhelming everything is.
The only reason why I've not succumbed to the desire to hide away under my duvet is because of the amount of RESPECT I feel towards my business and the goals I have with my business.
Now I want to ask you one question. And do yourself a favour and answer honestly because you won't be kidding anyone but yourself if you don't:
Do you RESPECT yourself or your goals enough to not give a damn about how you 'feel'?