As a nursing student and healthy living enthusiast, I have learned there is so much more to health than being thin. Our bodies were handcrafted just for us by our Creator (isn’t that just mind blowing?) Subhanallah. We should show our appreciation through nourishing and respecting our bodies rather than beating ourselves up because we don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models. In all reality, everyone is shaped differently and is beautiful in their own way. After almost a semester of nursing school, I am now thankful for my health more than ever, because there are so many people who are sick and the last thing on their mind is their outer appearance. I have certainly had my share of insecurities about my body as most girls do, but changing the way I eat and exercising regularly have made me happier and healthier from the inside out! To start off this health and fitness series, I will share my beliefs about health in general. Then, in future posts I’ll give more specific tips on diet, recipes and fitness, especially for all of you with busy schedules. Believe me, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be done, even while in college. :)
Listen to your body: This is my first word of advice. I suffered through bloating, stomach cramps and extreme fatigue through most of high school. After realizing the food I was eating was causing my problem, I began a lifestyle change and cut out certain foods that I was sensitive to. A food sensitivity is not the same thing as an allergy, because it does not involve a major immune response, but rather, more vague symptoms, which can make it hard to diagnose. Some of the top foods that cause sensitivities in people include dairy, gluten/wheat, corn and soy. I eliminated dairy and grains from my diet and couldn’t remember the last time I had felt so good. My stomach was not bloated, but flat. The cramping was absent and I started losing a little weight without having to eat less. Most importantly, I started to appreciate my body and feel more confident about the way I looked…just because I FELT better. I now model the way I eat off the Paleo diet, which I will talk more about in the future. Pay attention to the way food makes you feel, and eat the foods that make you feel amazing.
Fuel: The food we eat is one of the most important elements to our health. We literally are what we eat, because the molecules in our food build the cells of our bodies. By eliminating as many chemicals, hormones and genetically modified foods (GMOs) as possible, we allow our bodies to function properly and make us feel our absolute best! You can start by eliminating processed and packaged foods, avoiding meat and dairy products with added hormones, making sure to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly to avoid consuming pesticides, and choosing organic when possible!
Hydration: Drink pure, clean water throughout the day. Plastic water bottles cause chemicals and plastic to end up in the water you’re drinking, especially if you leave it out in the sun in your car! Making sure you have a water filter of some sort in your home is so important! It’s cheaper to fill up a bottle of filtered water everyday than to buy tons of pre-bottled water anyway. I really enjoy drinking water…especially out of a glass jar with lots of lemon :)
Exercise: Find something you LOVE to do.. and do it! If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you are less likely to make it a part of your everyday life. It could be anything from walking to dancing! I love going to classes at the gym! It helps me to have an instructors motivation alongside lots of other classmates. My favorites are the Les Mills Body Combat (a mixed martial arts/kickboxing class) and Body Pump (a weight lifting class)! I also love going to cycling and yoga classes, and jogging around my neighborhood too. I like to mix it up sometimes. I try to make an exercise schedule at the beginning of the week so I have a plan in order to meet my goals.
Sleep: Last but certainly not least is sleep! During sleep, our bodies are in repair mode. If our bodies do not have enough time to heal themselves, they cannot remove toxins, rebuild cells or fight infections. Lack of sleep can slow metabolism leading to weight gain, and weaken the immune system, which can lead to getting sick easily. I gave tips on how to get a better night’s sleep in my “How to be a Successful Student” post! I try not to go to sleep past 10 or 11 pm every night. Plus, it makes getting up to pray Fajr SO much easier.
May you be healthy and happy always! Stay tuned for what’s to come inshallah :)