As someone who struggled with their weight A LOT since the age of 16, spiraling into two different eating disorders along with a host of psychological problems that are commonly associated with such disorders, it is safe to say that by the age of 18, I was in a bad state mentally and physically. I went through my university life with little self-confidence and literally zero body confidence. I constantly compared myself to all the other pretty, slimmer girls and close friends I had at university. In hindsight, I would say that I found it more difficult to handle these crazy self-deprecating thoughts in my mind than my actual dental degree. The feeling of inadequacy and ugliness was so overwhelming to the point that I would not want to leave the house on some days because I thought I looked fat.
Did any my friends have any idea of how I felt? Not at all! I dealt with my feelings on my own, jumping from one home workout regimen to the other and one diet fad to the next. I recall even having once tried Beyonce’s maple syrup drink recipe for weight loss. Did it work? Nope! My mindset was driving me to impatience and unrealistic expectations.
I graduated at 23, and then decided it was time for a fresh start, lost weight but put it on again, whilst these physical changes were happening and I was stressing my body out like anything, I was beating myself up internally, for not having the ability to LOVE myself as I was, to accept that maybe this is who I am for now. This pattern continued until the age of 26. At that point, I started one of my most favourite home workout programmes because I knew of its ability to literally help you shed fat and feel super fit, super quickly!
(The Insanity programme if you are ever interested!) I lost some extra inches, but do you know where the biggest change happened? My thought process, my mentality, just the way I perceived myself.
What had actually happened when I decided to lose weight, was that I had finally accepted that I am this size or shape right now and there is nothing wrong with it. But do I want to be fitter? YES! Do I want to be stronger? Hell yes! Am I someone who just gives up on their dreams or ambitions? NO! That’s why I feel my journey began, I stopped beating myself up and started loving myself enough to nurture my body.
Now, there was a reason I had always stuck to staying at home to work out. The idea of a gym just filled me with pure dread! The thought of all those people who would probably be glaring at me for how unfit I am, or how overweight I am, just made me feel really rubbish. Sound familiar? I think this feeling is a lot more common than we like to admit. So, I stayed away. But then, just like with any fitness regime, there comes a point where you have to mix things up, you have to progress and push yourself. Insanity (the workout programme, not my state of mind!) had made me feel better already but I knew that was not enough, it took me weeks to muster up the courage to just go for an intro tour to my local gym, which lucky for me happened to be a small gym facility with great equipment, so I would not have to worry about hoards of people invading my personal space. In fact, I would grab the equipment I needed, and go into one of the smaller studios on the side of the gym and do my thang!
Going back to my earlier point about needing to mix things up; I had started to really enjoy my trips to the gym, even making time for it in the evening (trust me, all I want to do at the end of the day is go home after work and chill!).
I made, what seemed at the time, a brave decision to hire a personal trainer. I was so nervous and can still remember how I felt about recruiting someone to assist me.
I’m normally someone who has always done things by themselves independently. I wasn’t desperate for assistance, but I knew I needed to evolve and take things up to the next level for myself. If I hadn’t done this, who would? I had only myself to rely on to make these changes.
Hiring a personal trainer was the best decision I ever made. Mark, was my personal trainer, and still is to this day. He introduced me to a form of training I had never thought of beforehand. I lifted weights in ways I did not know humans had the ability to do and started sprinting faster than I ever thought I could.
I would work out to the point of wanting to throw up after one hour, and it was the best feeling in the world! Why? Well, I was overcome with the feeling of being able to achieve something I never imagined I could, which subconsciously fed my mind with a heap of self-belief I had sadly missed out on in my earlier years.
At the same time, I had someone there who believed in me and saw my potential before I even did, to the point that Mark encouraged me to become a personal trainer myself. I have continued my fitness journey ever since. Has it been easy? No, I have had ups and downs, injuries, and moments where I questioned my abilities. But have I always got through? Yes. Because the biggest victory has not been the changes in my physique; it has been the changes that have occurred in my mind, self-loving, and self-belief, knowing that because I have made a commitment to my health and fitness, Inshaa’Allah I will be OK! I am grateful Allah has blessed me with the awareness I have of my body through good and bad times, and the desire to make this gift from him as healthy as I can.
If you’re wondering if I ever stabilized my weight, the answer is yes! By visiting the gym between 3 to 5 times a week and building a more positive self-image, I developed healthier eating habits. My weight still fluctuates by up to half a stone from time to time, but does it ever get me down to the point where I do not want to leave the house? No! I credit this all to the positive change in my thought process which is enhanced by exercising and taking a holistic approach to looking after my mind, body, and soul.
Ladies, never be afraid to enter a gym to take positive small steps towards looking after yourself. There will always be someone there who wants to help you.
Never be afraid to enter a gym or to take positive small steps towards looking after yourself, there will always be someone who wants to help you. As a female Muslim personal trainer, I know that my main objective is to get Muslim women fitter, happier and healthier than before, and to give them a sense of achievement that they feel they have not yet attained. We are so under-represented in the fitness arena and I want to make that change, with you!
Nothing is impossible! Remember great things take time, so believe in yourself and be patient!
Sadiyah is a dentist by profession and a personal trainer by passion. A few years ago, she made a promise to herself to become more physically fit. Growing up, she suffered from eating disorders, constant weight fluctuation, and a feeling of self-hate. In her attempt to address all of these negative areas of her life, She commenced her journey into fitness, three years later, she is now a fitness instructor. Follow her journey on Instagram @drsadzyfit