muslim women fitness

Day Twenty-One

Auuuuugh. I feel like someone threw me out of a truck. Going 60 mph on the highway.

I walked for a half-hour this morning at 6 AM. Did 8 Minute Abs.

Arrived at school at 9 AM. Did weight training for two hours from 9 AM – 11 AM. Nautilus circuit, Gravitron, free weights, push-ups, more 8 Minute Abs and 8 Minute Stretch. Got in some cardio before and after the weight training session. Treadmill, Versaclimber, FreeRunner, stairstepper.

Worked on fingerspelling with my ASL student from 12 PM – 1:30 PM.

Then I had kickboxing class from 2 PM – 3 PM. In addition to THAT, I met with my group to plan our final kickboxing routine after class. Our final exam grade is choreographing a kickboxing routine. We worked on that from 3:30 – 4:30. I felt like that was a better workout than the kickboxing class itself!

After that, I headed to the library to print out a boatload of confirmation pages, directions, programs, itinerary, etc. etc. The Sister was so kind as to fax over proof of  my student status for the ISNA conference.

I went to Wal-Mart to pick up my eardrops and some 3 oz. traveling containers that are halaal with the TSA.

I’ve been awake and on the go since 5 AM…so, so tired. Alhamdulillah, it’s a good tired.

The morning was so beautiful. I went walking after I prayed Fajr, when it was still fairly dark. The streetlights were still on. The air was still and full of moisture and oxygen. Just the faintest, pinkest tendrils of light were on the horizon (well, what I could see of the horizon for the trees) and I had a sudden overwhelming wish to be at the beach, watching the sun rise.

It rained this afternoon. I drove to Walmart with the windows down and felt homesick, even though I haven’t left yet. I wish I could take you with me! I thought. Call me nuts but I really want to cram Orlando into a bag and take it with me to DC.

muslim women fitness

Day Twenty

Walked for 20 minutes with my fitness student on the treadmill at 4.0 mph with an incline of 3. Did some core exercises with her, and a bit of the Gravitron.

After I finished with her, I went and wrote out this week’s 5-page paper for my Sociology class that I usually put off until the weekend, because I do not want to be scrambling to write out an essay in the midst of ISNA, that would be sad. The only alarming thing is my second exam is this weekend. It’s available online at 8 AM from July 3rd – 6th. I plan on getting it done by 8:30 AM Friday morning, and getting it out of the way. I emailed my professor requesting it be made available to me in the testing center earlier, but I doubt she will permit that. Hmm. Let me see if she replied to my email…

Nope, no reply yet. After I submitted the paper I came back to the fitness center and worked out on the treadmill for 30 minutes at about 3.8 – 4.0 mph, and bumped it up to 5.0 – 5.2 mph for some jogging to mix it up. I did some arm exercise machines and some more intense pull-ups, chin-ups, and dips. I also did some core strength on the exercise ball.

After I got home I did in this order: 8 Minute Abs, 8 Minute Buns, and 8 Minute Stretch. The 8 Minute Buns KILLED me. My butt was like, whoa sister, what are you doing to me??? I took it as a good sign.

My stomach is growling so I’m going to refuel this beast. Tomorrow I must get all my affairs squared away. After I eat I’m going to start getting all my info together and (yes, I know this is girly beyond all hope) start planning what I’m going to wear so I don’t overpack.

I’m so excited! In about 48 hours I’ll be in DC! I can’t wait to see my family, friends, and experience ISNA again after two years!

Welcome to Week 4, folks!


Interlude: ISNA Survival Guide

Salaams! I title this A Brief Guide to Surviving ISNA, from mine own experience.

  • Write down/print EVERYTHING.

Directions, maps, layouts, programs, numbers, schedules, registration confirmation, whatever you need. Remember to print directions COMING BACK, as well. A good map of DC is crucial, especially if you want to get some sight-seeing in.

  • Underpack.

Ladies, I’m telling you right now, you aren’t going to wear half the stuff you think you need. I know it’s scary, but please believe me when I tell you you won’t run out of clothes. Instead of tossing in everything that looks good on you, or that you MIGHT need, or “just-in-case,” use FabSugar’s Outfit Planner to plan exactly what you’ll wear each day and night. You’d be surprised at how little you really need. Try to keep to a color scheme or plan that let’s you mix and match items more than once so you don’t have to pack as much. Also, you’re gonna want to save room for stuff you buy from the bazaar.

  • Familiarize yourself with the ISNA program.

Contemplate in advance the programs you are interested in attending, and write out your own tentative schedule. Sessions can change at the last minute, or a parallel session might decide they’re no match for Zaid Shakir and delay the start of their session. Keep your ears and eyes open for any changes to the programs, and know that 99% of the time the schedule you printed from the website is not the same schedule you will receive at the convention itself.

  • Wear comfortable shoes.

Your tired dogs’ll thank you at the end of the day. You’re going to be walking a lot, especially if you’re taking the Metro, and heels just aren’t going to cut it.

  • Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Keep a compact toothbrush and toothpaste or mouthwash with you so you can stay fresh throughout the day. Conventions can be stressful, and you’ll feel better knowing that the chicken biryani you had for lunch was just that: lunch, and not your companion for the rest of the day.

  • If you wear contacts, bring your contact case and glasses with you.

Instead of dealing with painful burning eyes that will not respond to eyedrops, bring your glasses so you can take out your contacts if they start to bother you.

  • Soak some q-tips in eye makeup remover.

After making slightly-more-vigorous-than necessary wudhu before zuhr, you look up to realize your hasmi kajal no longer has the will to continue lining your eyes and is now smudging precariously. You’re prepared, because you have a little ziploc bag of q-tips or cotton balls pre-soaked in makeup remover. No need to worry about a bottle of liquid with a not-quite-closed-lid upending itself in your purse (been there, sponged that).

  • Take down numbers.

Write down/memorize the numbers of everyone you are staying with, as well as police, hospital, security, etc. in case of emergency.

  • Have a pen/pad of paper handy.

If you like taking notes, keep a small notebook and writing utensil with you. It’s also helpful if you want to exchange email/phone numbers with people you meet.

  • Make sure all electronics are charged and ready to go.

Make sure your phone, camera, laptop, etc are all fully charged before you attempt to use them. Charge them before your trip so you don’t have to search around wildly for an outlet or find out if anyone has a charger. (Don’t forget your chargers!)

In the northwest quadrant, where the convention is taking place at, numbered streets run north and south and count upwards from east to west. Lettered streets run east and west and “count” upwards from south to north. Looking at a map helps. Basically, the further west you go, the bigger the numbers get. Go east, they get smaller. If the single letter streets are getting further along in the alphabet, you know you’re heading north. If they’re getting closer to the beginning of the alphabet, you’re heading south. (There is no A street in NW, btw.) Read the wiki. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Keep all the prayer times for each day of the convention at hand.

Find out the prayer timings for DC, print ’em out, and keep them with you. Keep a small towel or prayer rug with you in case you find yourself away from the convention center during prayer time.

  • Keep a chota-lota with you.

A chota-lota is literally a “little” lota (water container). I know there are no shortage of gatorade bottles, water cups, etc within the convention center itself, but if you find yourself in the city a small spray or squeeze bottle is handy for those icky public bathrooms.

  • Memorize the address and layout of the convention center, as well as any place you’re going.

Quick! Someone is having a heart attack in front of you and another person thrusts a phone into your hand! “Tell the paramedics where we are!” they say. “I don’t know where we are!” you say, alarmed. “Neither do I!” they respond.

Don’t be these idiots. Know exactly where you are, at all times.

  • Stay alert. Know where all your valuables are.

Don’t trust anyone with anything. Don’t leave your bag anywhere, don’t ask anyone to hold anything for you, TRUST NO ONE.

  • Stay hydrated.

Drink a lot of water so you don’t pass out from dehydration. DC is going to be hot like burning in July so keep water with you at all times.

  • Bring nutritious snacks.

Bring a little something something to snack on, just in case. Almonds, dates, granola bars, sunflower seeds, fruit that travels well, something to keep you going.


These tricky little things always seem to disappear by the end of any trip. Keep track of your hijab pins!

  • Register early.

Considering that tomorrow (June 29th) is the registration deadline, this is somewhat late advice. (The deadline was supposed to be today, they extended it. Again.) If you haven’t registered yet, TOMORROW IS YOUR LAST DAY TO REGISTER ONLINE! If you’re a student, you’ll need to fax a copy of your student ID to (317) 839-1822.

Or you can just wait until you get there and stand in really, really long lines. Your choice!

  • Don’t talk to creepy people.
muslim women fitness

Day Eighteen

Walked 5 miles today! Woohoo.

I stopped by to see the peacocks near our house. This lady has about 30 peacocks on her property. They are so beautiful, masha Allah. I wasn’t sure if they’d be out because it was pretty late in the morning. I heard them before I saw them. Two males actually had their feathers out on full display! So beautiful. One of ’em tried to chase after a drab brown female while it had it’s feathers spread. That was pretty funny. She seemed uninterested.

A few minutes away from home I heard a car honk behind me. When I turned around, it was my uncle and his wife, freshly arrived from Pakistan as of three days ago. They gave me a ride back to the house (all 50 feet).

When I came home I did my usual 8 Minute Abs and 8 Minute Stretch. I had some hummus with whole grain bread for breakfast, had some green tea with honey, and ate some blueberries and dates. Yum yum.

muslim women fitness

Day Seventeen

Walked this morning for 45 minutes. I traced my route, and it came out to be just shy of 3 miles. Go me. After I arrived home I did 8 Minute Abs and 8 Minute Stretch.

I had eggs for breakfast, an apple, and some green tea.

Went to Barnes and Noble, ostensibly to study. I read 20 pages of my textbook and then “rewarded” myself with 20 pages of this book.

I ended up reading the whole thing. I originally was looking for the Skinny B. book, but the only copies they had of that was a shrink-wrapped box set of Skinny B. and Skinny B. in the Kitch. The Skinny B. book for guys is just like the Skinny B. book for girls, except all the chick references are converted into guy references.

For example, instead of saying, “Keep a weight loss journal to track your progress…” it says, “If it’s not too girly for you, keep a weight loss journal to track your progress…”

The language is somewhat harsh but it’s pretty no-nonsense, and “tough love.” I enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Most weight loss advise is way too cheerful anyway.

I stopped by The Book Worm, a charming little used-bookstore. They have a trade credit system set up, if you bring in books to trade you get discounts on books in the store. I didn’t purchase anything today, but they have a great system, and nice little guides set up along the shelves that have “If you like this author, you might like so-and-so”  suggestions.

I stopped by Sam’s Club on my way home to buy some groceries. When I went to checkout, the cashier refused to ring up my purchases. The reason? I was using my mom’s card. I ALWAYS use my mom’s card, and have never had a problem. Ever. “Unless your mother is physically present, I can’t ring up these purchases.”

I was humiliated. Everyone in line was looking at me. I tried to reason with him, like, ‘look man, my mom works a lot, and can’t always buy groceries herself, and I have never had a problem before, etc. etc.’ and he just wouldn’t back down. I got so pissed off. I told him I’m not trying to do anything shady, I’m not stealing from you people, I’m standing in line, with money in my hand…I had to walk away. He started saying, “Well, I can call my supervisor…” I just said, “Forget it,” and walked away. I got as far as the sidewalk. At this point I was hyperventilating and on the verge of tears. I thought, Oh hell to the freakin’ no. I did not just waste 30 minutes perusing through blueberry cartons and checking the expiration dates on milk, and opening egg cartons to make sure they weren’t cracked, just because some little brat decided he wanted to be the Bestest Little Employee Ever.

I went to customer service, and by this time I was crying for real. I was so embarassed. I couldn’t believe I was crying (I’m gonna blame this one on PMS) but it was just so patently unfair. The girl at the service desk was really sweet, she patiently listened as I blubbered my whole story (still crying, still so freakin’ embarassed I was cryin,’ ground, swallow me now) and told me that she could ring up my purchases. I went back to the checkout lane, giving the kid the stink-eye the whole time, and took the cart he had pushed to the side (I knew it would still be there. That’s the sad thing about supercenters; oftentimes discarded items just stay discarded for hours, and no one puts them back, and they spoil. I worked at Wal-Mart for four miserable weeks, I know.)

The girl told me that “they’re more strict about that now” because they’ve “had some problems.” She told me if I wanted, my mom can write me a note “authorizing” my use of her card. I still think that’s ridiculous.

After she rang up my purchases, I left the store to face a veritable wall of water. While I was in the store I had heard the rumblings of thunder and two ear-piercing lightening strikes that hit very close by. I covered up my groceries with some empty, plastic-lined cardboard trays from the big bin of discarded packaging material they keep outside, and made a mad dash for the car. I was instantly soaked. I drove home at a snail’s pace, and got even more soaked taking the groceries inside the house.

I put my drenched clothes out to dry on the back porch and took a shower. I cried some more in the shower. (Why? Why? What’s with the crying?) After I changed into fresh clothes, I ate some lentils and some of my hard-won blueberries. And strawberries. I drank a glass of water with fresh squeezed lime juice (also hard-won) and honey. (Not all at the same time.)

I still feel kinda off. Why did this situation strike a nerve? Blogosphere, analyze me!

muslim women fitness

Day Sixteen

My muscles is tore up. I feel like someone threw me out of a moving vehicle.

Arrived at school at 9 AM for weight training class. Did about 15 minutes of intense cardio and then completed an entire circuit of weight training in about 45 minutes. Then I did about 5 minutes of cardio on the stairclimber, and cooled down with 8 Minute Abs and 8 Minute Stretching.

After that I had two students back-to-back. I hastily ate an apple between sessions, and by the time I got to kickboxing class I was dragging. I should have packed and ate some more food, because I was so fatigued during the kickboxing.

After the class I hung around campus for a bit because one of my students had left a note at the front desk requesting we work out for an extra session. I had called her twice to confirm that yes, I could meet her, but my calls went straight to voicemail and she never called back. I checked the fitness center and the tutoring center, but she was nowhere to be found. Oh well.

I cut off all my hair last night. Okay, not all, but a LOT. It was really starting to irritate me because the ends would get soaked in sweat and turn crispy and brittle. The longer hair is so hard to manage, and I was always afraid it would escape from under my hijab and show during my workouts. Now it’s chin-length.

My mom and grandma were really surpised when they saw my hair. They were both watching Oprah when I came home. My mom likes it.  She thought I got it professionally done, much to my disbelief. Grandma hates it, of course. She says my hair looks like Oprah’s.

It’s a really odd feeling, not having the weight of my hair anymore. The great thing is now it takes me like 2 minutes to wash it!

Insha Allah I’m going to go for my walk in about an hour, then do my abs and pushups, take a shower, tidy up, work on some coursework…hmm. I just heard some thunder rumbling ominously. Might not be able to take that walk…

muslim women fitness

Day Fifteen

I’ve reached the half month mark! Woohoo.

I ran a mile today! I did half a mile at school, and half a mile in my neighborhood. I walked/ran about 6 miles total today. Go me!

I was afraid the gap left by my now-finished tennis class would hurt me, but I’ve been filling up the open time now with walking and jogging because my body is getting used to working out a certain number of hours every day! How’s that for muscle memory?

Today I worked out for 30 minutes on the treadmill at about a 3.9 mph pace, with a 3 (ft? degree?) incline. I increased the pace to 5.2 and jogged for about 2 minutes, just for a change. Then I went upstairs and walked/jogged another 30 minutes around the track. I walked a few laps, ran about 2 laps, walked some more, and then I ran 5 laps around the track consecutively. Then I walked some more. I lost track of how many loops but I know it was more than 16, which is equivalent to one mile. That, total, was about 1 hour.

Then I came back downstairs just in time to do 8 Minute Abs with one of the classes.

There was open gym today for basketball, so I signed up and shot free throws and practiced making baskets for about 35 minutes. That was really fun. I was surprised at how quickly the time went by. My right arm was getting really tired so I practiced with my left. It felt so weird, like my arm was made out of jelly.

When I got home I bummed around for a bit with the family, had some lunch, then finally cleaned my poor, neglected room.

When I finished it was about 7 PM, so I threw on my workout clothes and went out for a walk. I took a loop through the neighborhood, and ran the last half mile back to the house. When I came inside and took off my hijab, the ends of my hair and scalp were as wet from sweat as if I had just taken a shower. I did another set of 8 Minute Abs to cool down.

When I was in middle school, I had this routine. I would do 25 girly push-ups, and then do front and side kicks in front of the mirror. Out of curiosity, I tried to do just that a little while ago. It was so freakin’ hard! My arms were shaking from the exertion, and my legs were definitely feeling the burn. I remember I could do 25 like it was nothing.

This is what I’m going to try to apply to my routine:

No matter what I do during the day, before my head hits the pillow at night, my body should have experienced:

1 hour of cardio (walking/running/jogging)

1 set of 8 Minute Abs (minimum)

25 push-ups

My Running Muslimah t-shirt came in the mail yesterday! I wore it today with a matching hijab. See below:

As I was walking back to my car, one of the staff members coming in from the parking lot said, “I love your outfit!” I was filled with warm fuzzies.

One week until ISNA! I can’t wait. Take care, y’all!

muslim women fitness

Day Fourteen

Just finished watching New Muslim Cool with the family. Awesome.

Today was the first day of weight training class. We got warmed up with 30 minutes of cardio (3 minutes on the versaclimber, 5 minutes on the stairstepper, 5 minutes on the rowing machine, 5 minutes on the bike, 5 minutes on the cross-trainer, and 5 minutes on the treadmill) and let me tell you I haven’t sweat that much doing cardio outside of my kickboxing class. Mixing it up keeps it interesting and gets your body moving in all kinds of ways.

I’m going to have to work something out with my professor because the class cuts into one of my tutoring sessions, and because my student can’t afford the wheelchair access on Monday/Wednesday to drop her off then, I’ll see if I can come to class early and do my cardio at 8 AM – 9 AM followed by weight training. It’ll be better because when everyone is just starting their cardio, I’ll have the weight machines to myself instead of having to wait for a machine to free up and mess with my flow.

Kickboxing was slightly less brutal today. My kickboxing professor was hospitalized last week for dehydration and exhaustion, so we didn’t have class on Thursday. We kept reminding her to drink water, because she says she always forgets to drink enough water, and she’s teaching 8 sessions of classes every week so she is burning a TON of energy.

After we finished our floor session, she called us all to stand near the stereo and listen closely. “Listen up, guys,” she said. We leaned in. “I want you all…to run 5 laps upstairs!” She took off running. I took off after her, along with 4 other people who were getting with the program. “The sooner you run, the sooner you can cool down!” she called over her shoulder. We ran up the stairs to the track that circles on the second floor above the gym.

That 5th lap was really difficult. I never realized what a spiritual experience running is until I started running. Trying to get those last few paces in, every breath you’re begging Allah, “Please, just one more step, one more step…” When it would become excruciating I’d start saying almost involuntarily, “Allah…hu akbar. Allah…hu akbar…” ‘Allah’ on the inhale, and ‘hu akbar’ on the expulsion of breath.

There really is nothing quite like it.

When I got home, I did some 8 Minute Abs and later hung out with the family. We stumbled upon the premiere of New Muslim Cool channel surfing (I had totally forgotten it was today) and watched that, all the while providing sage commentary 😛 I’m going to have to re-watch it again to fully appreciate it, because I did miss about 10 minutes of it.

The last scene, when Hamza’s son asked if the comic book character lost his ‘noor’, his light, my heart melted. I can only pray that Allah gives me the guidance to raise kids like that. Ameen.