“There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.”
– Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
This post generally applies to American culture, but I think there are some things that my Islamic readers from other countries could find useful too.
I want to share some thoughts about “New Years Resolutions,” a fad that has existed in America for years, and it’s association with dieting, getting fit, and promoting an overall better lifestyle. I know that other cultures have a similar practice, but seeing as how I grew up in America, I can’t speak to the success or failure of their practices, having never experienced them myself.
(If you have something you want to share from your culture, I would love to hear it! I’d like for you to leave me a message in the comments section).
Whether this practice of New Year’s Resolutions is halal or not is another story, but I think that the fact that most Americans rarely keep their New Years Resolution promises shows that the idea is ineffective, and should be replaced with something that helps us set realistic goals for ourselves.
The important questions are: Why do so many people keep breaking the promises they make to themselves about their health? Why do people keep telling themselves “tomorrow I’m going to start doing _____” and then continue putting it off, or fail to begin all together? I think this is because of two reasons.
1-The notion that being healthy is temporary. Health is not something that you can work on for a while and then give up. It’s a lifestyle. You have to train yourself to enjoy healthy foods and exercise, and then you have to continue it for the rest of your life. It’s not a diet that you stick to for a while until you’re skinny, and then abandon for your old ways.
2-Guilt or disappointment in past failures. Sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves. Starting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that we can’t have a treat every once in a while. You don’t have to eat nothing but kale for the rest of your life in order to be healthy. We are human. And we like chocolate. So indulge occasionally. Just train yourself not to OVERindulge. You know all of those fitness gurus that you see on the internet and on TV? They have cheat days too. As long as you get back on track the next day, there’s no harm in giving yourself a treat every now and then. Learn to forgive yourself for your failures, and learn to be proud of your accomplishments, regardless of how big or small they are.
I’m not so guilty of the New Year’s Resolution fail because I don’t usually make them in the first place, but I am definitely guilty of the putting things off until “tomorrow” fail. I’m trying to change that. I’m not saying that I’m buying into the whole New Year’s Resolution idea, but I am going to set new goals for myself; not because it’s the end of the year, but because I have made some progress (I lost 30 pounds), and now it’s time to set the bar higher.
A friend of mine inspired part of my next goal. There are two parts. The first part is my own idea; simply to continue striving for a healthier lifestyle. I want to strengthen my relationship with Allah, I want to eat healthier, I want to get stronger and improve my overall physical fitness, and I want to get more sleep. The second part comes from my friend, who will remain nameless, but ما شاء الله her kindness knows no bounds. Together we have set a goal of learning to not be ashamed of our bodies and to learn to love our physical appearances. If you struggle with this yourself, I encourage you to join us.
What are your personal health and fitness goals? What changes will you make first? What changes made you feel proud of yourself? I want to hear it!