Taking Healthy Steps to Have a Healthier Life

Exercise gear

Up until my mid 20s, I was always in shape. In 2001, my sister left for Canada and my parents had already migrated to the U.S. At the time, I was living with my Aunt in Karachi, Pakistan. In August 2002, one of my very close friends told me that I had put on weight and should lose it. My initial reaction was, “Why is she saying this?”, so  I decided to do something about it. While looking for a gym, I met my yoga instructor Sadaf at a salon that also provided fitness classes. 

I started taking lessons at the beginning of October. Within the first 10 days, I lost 7 pounds. The remaining 10 pounds melted off in less than two months, bringing me to my desired weight of 110 pounds. I will never forget those months, as I learned a lot from Sadaf. 

In November, it was Ramadhan, so she did not teach aerobics. Therefore, we did only yoga and meditation for 1 hour. Her expert lesson revealed to us how to use our inner strength. I had a habit of taking naps in the afternoon but, after losing weight and learning yoga techniques, my need for naps vanished. 

Nine years later, while I was living in America, married, and expecting my first child, I gained 40 pounds. This time it took me almost three years to lose the excess weight because I was in my mid 30s and had a thyroid condition. 

Reducing my weight had become a challenge because now my daughter had become my first priority. I was hoping to reduce the excess weight quickly, but it did not happen. First, I bought a treadmill in February 2012, I could work out on it for 5  minutes. Two months later, I decided to search for a personal trainer, and I joined Matawan Fitness. After 10 lessons with my trainer, Kim, I lost 5  pounds, which gave me a boost of confidence, and I decided to continue on my own. During September, I devoted an hour each day to a Jillian Michaels’ DVD called “No More Trouble Zone,” through which I lost another 5  pounds. 

In October, Hurricane Sandy brought my struggles to a halt. We lost power for nine days, and I moved to my friend’s place. When I came back home, I lost my motivation. Three months later, I again joined Kim, my former trainer. Unfortunately, after a few classes, she left that gym. She advised me to join a gym that offers daycare. In March 2013, I visited Robert Wood Johnson Fitness and Wellness Center. The best part about this gym was I could see my daughter on the TV screen attached to some of the machines. 

At that time, my daughter was 20 months old, and because she cried often,  it was difficult to concentrate on exercising for the first month. After settling her in daycare, I was disappointed that there was no weight loss for the next two months. Then I  hired a personal trainer again, Tamara. I bought 24 half-hour sessions for $750, which was more than what I spent on food! Instead of utilizing those sessions over three months, I preferred four sessions in a month to stay with my trainer for a year. Tamara introduced me to so many different exercises that I had never done in my life. By the time December arrived, I had not lost weight, but my body was in shape, plus I had developed the habit of 20 workouts in a month. After taking a three-month trip to Pakistan, I started again in March 2014 and tried to complete the remaining 12  lessons, but I only lost 5 pounds. I was stuck at 135 pounds for the entire year. 

At this point, my friend told me to join a private Facebook group, “Zarah Now or Never,” in January 2015. Here my trainer was Zara, and with her diet plans and Skype training classes, I lost 10 pounds in three months, and so I achieved my desired range.

With my second pregnancy, I gained 50  pounds. I have shed 35 pounds and have 10 more to go. I know I will achieve my goal with consistency and perseverance. These past 15 years have taught me a lot about exercise, diet and nutrition. Now I can advise others as to what exactly they should do to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

We should keep in mind that the only wealth in this world is health, and we should not take good health for granted. Whether we have the resources or not, pay attention to what you eat. During my weight loss journey, I did not have many resources while in Karachi. However, I shed 17 pounds in two months there, compared to the U.S., where I spent hundreds of dollars on trainers but only lost 40 pounds over a three year period. 

Weight loss requires a lifestyle change. If we keep consuming unhealthy foods, we only increase excess fat in our bodies, leading to heart diseases, diabetes, etc. Make time for yourself, if not 1 hour, 30 minutes or even 20 minutes of workout can make a difference. We have to portion our food. We can eat five meals a day instead of three, which reduces craving. If you have cheated on lunch, try to control dinner but breakfast should always be healthy.  Also, check how many calories are required for you and how much you are consuming. Usually, we need 1200 calories a day. Include fruits and vegetables in your diet, lean protein, dairy, etc. Keep a food log; I personally did that and it helped me.

Socialize with people who share the same goals. Set small goals, such as losing 4-5 pounds in one month. Don’t make unrealistic goals because when you don’t achieve them, you will be disappointed.

Last but not least, love yourself, your body and your family. Think about it,  if you are healthy, you can enjoy every moment of your life with your family. The human mind is very powerful, use that power to improve your life, which will ultimately affect society as a whole. 


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