Painful truths: Our love is our mirror

“And you became like coffee,
In its deliciousness, its bitterness and its addiction”
وتشابهت أنت وقهوتى فى اللذة والمرارة والإدمان
Mahmoud Darwish – Palestinian poet

I’m tempted to talk about how this is not a love quote, but it is. I’m tempted to talk about how “real love” is not supposed to harbour toxic codependency, addiction and despondency and is smooth when you find the right person, but that’s a load of crap. Nothing in life comes easy.

Love is one of the most simple but misunderstood feelings we feel. Love is something that is engraved in our emotional fabric, but can be something that destroys us if we don’t learn about our relationship with it. We learn to love through our experiences. We lean towards what is familiar, even if it’s painful, it’s what we know.

The way we love is a mirror of our experiences throughout our lives and how we handle them.

Me? I recently realised that I feel loved when people allow me to prove myself to them. I set myself to a standard that I don’t set others to because to me, asking someone to prove being worthy of love is painful. Yet, because it’s what I know – being loved because of my credentials – without realising, I allow people to love me this way.

In my mind, it’s foreign for someone to love me simply because I’m an awesome person. I realised this days ago when I was in the shower. It was a strange revelation, but one I needed to admit to myself.

If someone downplays my career, I don’t get offended if I care for you. I actually feel the need to justify myself and feel satisfied when my justification is accepted.

This revelation took me back to all of the things I knew about love. That love is not supposed to hurt, that love is patient and it’s allowed to make mistakes. I forgive people, but I hardly ever forgive myself. I carry resentment from the actions of my past and forgive people their role when in reality, I should forgive myself before I forgive the other person.

False love-hate paradigms
I’m sure we’ve heard “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”. It’s true. We love and hate with the same amount of energy. To add an extra layer, this means indifference is the opposite of both love and hate.

Therefore, we need to manage ourselves not based on the emotions we feel, but based on the energy we invest.

This is why after a disappointment of some sort, our emotions are everywhere. We focus too much on regulating our emotions when it’s really the energy we should be keeping an eye on. We go through hoops of emotions with the same amount of intensity, punishing ourselves for feeling a certain way and fearing feeling the opposite.

No matter what, no feeling we have is invalid. This is because first and foremost: we’re human. It’s also because we can view the same situation in many ways – it’s only our mood that is shaping our interpretation at that time.

But the more energy we put into an emotion, the more intense the feeling is. When you feel a huge rush of sadness, know it isn’t the sadness that is overtaking you, it’s the energy within you that has manifested itself into sadness.

Accept that a part of you is sad about the situation. Accept that you’re allowed to feel sad. But be careful with the amount of energy you put into the sadness. It’s amazing because the less you fight your sadness, the less energy you put into your sadness and the less overwhelming the sadness gets.

I’m still upset about a certain situation that I was subjected to, but for the most part, I put all of my energy in thanking God for the experience, because I know if I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t have understood how important my boundaries are.

It’s something that even though I’ve moved on from, but I sometimes still shed a tear when I remember. I cry less often and the cries are less intense, but I still cry. I cry when I remember. Crying is healthy. Emotions are healthy.

The thing that’s stopping me from crying now that didn’t stop me then? Time is healing me, which is evident from the amount of energy I’m putting into my thoughts and feelings. I get a slight tug at the heart, to which I say a prayer for the person and myself (I like to think God is reminding me of this person because they’re in need of prayer) and I go back to what I was doing.

I allow myself to feel how I feel, but I don’t put energy into my feelings. I don’t try to not put energy, I’m just moving on. But for those who need to remove energy from their feelings, take your energy somewhere else. But make sure you take it somewhere healthy.

I did this naturally as I moved on and realised God’s will was more powerful than mine and his plan was wiser than mine; but if I knew this a few months ago, I wouldn’t have blocked my feelings until I broke down and cried myself to sleep until I was out of breath, I would have allowed myself to feel the feelings and would have utilised my energy elsewhere.

Focus on what you deserve
The Qur’an explicitly tells us that we may love something that is bad for us and we may hate something that is good for you. Yes, a lot of faith in God’s decree is needed, but one of the ways to understand it is by focusing on what you deserve.

If you know you deserve someone who trusts you, then remind yourself of that. If you know you deserve someone who will want to work things out, remember that. If you know you deserve an employer who appreciates you, keep that in mind.

Attachment isn’t bad. Neither is love. It’s okay to feel and question. Loving something “bad” doesn’t make you a bad person, same with loving something “good”. It’s all about the way you love that becomes a mirror to your being and exposes your soul.

Who needs a gym? Tips to exercise at home

Hey! So, I’ve had a few people for many reasons message me after my last blog post and tell me that they don’t have access to a gym and want to start implementing their fitness routine at home.

So, I think if you don’t have access to a gym for one reason, you’re most likely not going to use it anyway. If you’re a student and can’t afford a membership, you probably wouldn’t have time to take some time out of your day to go to the gym. Exercising from home is a lot more efficient and you don’t need to waste time travelling back to study or go to work or whatever.

Some YouTubers I love: TiffanyRothesWorkouts, Blogilaties, Bexlife, YogaWithAdriene, XHIT Daily, Lucy Wyndham-Read, FitnessBlender, Popsugar Fitness, Yoga With Tim, PsycheTruth, Elliot Hulse, The Body Coach. Share yours!

If you have just had a baby and can’t gym it, maybe you’ll overdo it. If you have kids and you have no time, maybe quality time taking your kids out to the park to exercise with them to help them lead an active lifestyle.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. With something like exercising, you don’t need a gym. I’ve frozen my membership during Ramadan and I am currently relying on at-home workouts, along with going to my local park.

For motivation, find out why you can’t get a gym membership and see the flip side to it to help you feel mentally adequate. If you’re bummed out by not having a gym membership, you’re literally only making excuses for yourself. It’s the equivalent of having one and not being bothered to go. Get into the mental headspace of being fit and healthy, set your goals and just do it.

Act like you’re working out
You just got out of bed feeling crap, you washed, drank a glass of water and ate something and decided to do your first workout. You’re still in your pj’s. You go to your room and start a video. You get demotivated and shut it off, or you complete it but don’t repeat.

Sound familiar? In order to have a proper workout, you shouldn’t treat your workout at home any different to the gym. Put on your exercise gear, tie up your hair, have your amino acids with you, eliminate distractions. Your workout time is yours. Unless there’s an actual reason to, don’t do a yoga video with no bra.

Your workout time is yours and you need to respect it as such.

Intend a good workout
I won’t get into the spiritual aspects of this, but if you don’t intend to have a good workout, you won’t. If you feel like you’re lacking because you don’t have a gym membership, it’ll show up in your workout.

There’s a huge misconception among aspiring fitness buffs that you need a gym to be healthy. Okay, gyms do have their advantages, but they also have a lot of disadvantages – especially if you’re paying for a membership that you don’t have time for. If you enter your workout with a lack, you will come out of it with a lack. One summer, between my last year of school and first year of university, I lost a lot of weight with absolutely no membership. Only dedication to look better so I can find a husband at university (lllloooooolll @ my 18-year-old self).

Use what is around you
Buying equipment, resistance bands, etc is really helpful but only if you use them properly. If you have stairs, or even a few steps, use them (I did non-stop running up and down the stairs until my chest hurt for my cardio – the stepping machine at the gym that simulates this exercise). Best thing to do is to start off with working out without equipment and when you have an idea of what equipment you need, head out to buy them.

Research if you don’t know. Type in “workouts using a chair” on Google and I guarantee you’ll find a lot. But don’t get wrapped up with choice and actually plan your workouts. Plan doing a specific video, or plan doing four exercises, three sets and 15 reps of each, or whatever else you’re thinking. If you want to do an hour and you finish quicker than you expected, do more sets, or take that time to do some HIIT training or stretches.

Calisthenics!
This is where real strength lies. Your own body weight. Take advantage and learn calisthenics. There are books, videos, apps, etc that can help you. Research what works for you and go for it. You’ll probably at some point find yourself being able to plank for longer than someone who goes to the gym 5x a week.

The great outdoors are amazing if you want to get a good calisthenic workout. Take advantage of the monkey bars at the park while the weather is still nice. If it’s raining, get yourself some outdoor workout gear and goooo!!!!

Exercising is a beautiful thing. It’s your own journey. Don’t let capitalism fool you into thinking you can’t get fit without a gym membership. Yes, gym memberships are helpful, but only if you use them properly. Trust the fact that you can’t get a membership because it’s better for you to workout somewhere else and take advantage of that extra time spent travelling or being in nature.

Good luck my loves!! xoxox

How to stay fitness motivated + my journey (pics)

I’ve always had problems with my weight growing up. I remember being a heavy teenager and then yo-yo-ing during my early 20s. It took me a really long time to finally get into a routine and to feel confident in my own skin. Even though I seem like I have this gym thing down and my days of being overweight are a distant memory, I’m still trying to keep myself motivated. This path is not a linear path. It’s full of ups and downs and bumps and slides and ebbs and flows and highs and lows.

fat diana
Me in December 2015

I hated my figure, I hated the way I looked without makeup, I hated pretty much everything. I was stuck in a career limbo and even though I went to the gym, I wasn’t losing much weight because I didn’t know what I know now (and what I’m about to share with you guys). It took me a few years, but I finally got to this:

fit diana
Me in February 2018 ☆

Even though I still consider myself on my journey, getting to where I am now was one hell of a rollercoaster. Some weeks I was very motivated and would go five times a week and then I would just not see the point anymore. I would either get very frustrated from the results, or I’d just get lazy. I used to force myself to go to the gym after work so it would always be a burden on me.

At one point I woke up at 5am for a workout before my shift – good for you if you can do that, but that was not for me.

I couldn’t exercise because I was so tired and I wasn’t able to eat a proper breakfast because I had to rush to work straight after, I got even more tired, depressed, was less healthy and had a very horrible relationship with food.

I got there eventually – but here are some things I wish I knew:

Keep your expectations realistic

Don’t overburden yourself with a crazy amount of pressure. Don’t go into the gym with an overpowering urge to get that super sexy body – especially because that’s not what your journey is primarily about. Looking good is important, but it’s not the reason to go to the gym.

Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t try to make drastic changes. This is where people tend to fall because they don’t build strong foundations for a healthier lifestyle. Start off with making sure you’re exercising regularly and whilst you’re doing that, gradually cut down on sweets etc so your body can get used to the healthier alternatives. It also gives you more time to figure out what works for you.

Your unhealthy cravings change over time as well. In 2015, crisps were primarily a no-go for me. Now, I see a packet and I hoover it down. Does that mean I’ve regressed? No, it just means my taste has changed. We’re human.

Don’t scare yourself with technicalities. Start slow and as you progress your workouts, actually research the exercise, the muscle groups and the form. Start off light and work your way up. Constantly review yourself and ask people to help. I was very intimidated by fitter people when I first started, but now that I know what I’m doing (to a degree), I’m more than happy to help and ask for help at the same time.

Obsessing over body image is self sabotage

I had a really hard time with this. Still do sometimes. Hating your body will not motivate you to change it, if anything the opposite plays out. You’re on a new journey to better your looks, your mindset, your routine, etc. You’ll stress less and do better if you stop obsessing over your “goal.”

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September 2017 – progress!

Trust me, the moment I stopped caring about how I looked and focused more on building strength and increasing my form was the moment my figure improved. It’s also a good mental exercise to stop you from judging your self worth based on your self esteem. There’s a difference between wanting to look good and the crushingly counterproductive act of over-scrutinising.

You fall into a vicious cycle of something that isn’t a big deal. We don’t realise that life journeys start in our heads. If we are convinced that we’re ugly, our perception of ourselves will be ugly no matter what we do. Start with not hating yourself and aspire to love yourself.

It isn’t just my body shape that is different when you compare September 2017 to February 2018. Look at the way my feet are firmly on the ground, my posture, my shoulders and the way I’ve stopped hyperextending my knees (look at how far back my left knee is in the photo). I didn’t even realise how bad all of these issues were back in September because I was so fixated on being “skinny.”

Take your time in developing a routine

Make sure your first few months at the gym consist of you figuring out what does and doesn’t work for you. I hated working out in the morning before work, but I know people who swear by it. Work up a sweat, chug a protein shake, eat something they prepared the night before and they are good to go to the office.

Waking up earlier than I would I am not working, however, works for me and this is only something I realised this month. This lovely girl I met encourages me to go to pilates on Saturday mornings taught by my PT and when I’m not doing weekend shifts, I make sure I go.

As you exercise, you grow and change as a person; not necessarily because of your workouts, but because of the way you manage your time and life so you will have to find and keep updating your workout routine.

Aim to go three times a week. If you slack at some point, don’t beat yourself up and do not plant the idea that you’re not made for the gym. Don’t even think about it or analyse it, just have a better gym week the next week. If a pattern emerges, however, and you realise you don’t go to the gym after work, etc then work around that. There’s a huge difference between having a bad week and having a bad routine.

Remember, you are what you attract. If you treat the gym like a burden, it becomes one. Be wise with your thoughts because they are more powerful than you think.

Don’t think about it

One of my biggest mistakes was thinking about going to the gym. I still make this mistake now.

I used to plan my week and the days I go to the gym, but I realised that doesn’t work out for me. What I like to do is I keep myself in check and on a day I know it’s been a while since I went to the gym and I have nothing to do after work, I just pack my gym clothes with me and take my arse there.

Some of my readers work full time and are also mothers – for that, I would say exercise at home if you can’t go to the gym. YouTube has an insane amount of workouts (at one point I preferred YouTube to the gym) and you can always exercise with your kids.

The gym isn’t the only place to exercise and you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll get a good workout only if you go to the gym. It can be the complete opposite sometimes.

When you have that urge to exercise, just do it. If you know you can’t make it to the gym, then do it at home or at a park or wherever else. If you wake up and have a free day, don’t procrastinate going to the gym, just put your shoes on and go.

Remember, it’s really simple. Don’t over complicate and overthink. Don’t try to be an expert or whatever is in your head, just treat it as a part of your life rather than something you add to your list of chores. Give yourself time and cut yourself some slack. It’s hard to stay committed, but it’s so worth it.