Hey. Hey you.
YEAH, YOU. LAZILY STUFFING YOUR FACE OVER THERE.
Put the food down, stop chewing, and LISTEN UP!
My dear friends, Ramadan is finally here!
Ahhh, yes. Ramadan. That special time of the year where our divinely-ordained worship blossoms into a beautiful month of passionate devotion, rigorous spiritual purification, profound remembrance, deep self-reflection, unshakable inner tranquility, and selfless compassion. A truly blessed time that gives us a much-needed opportunity to rediscover the immaculate wisdom of the Qur’an, to rekindle our relationship with our faith, and to edge ourselves closer to He who fashioned us from clay and dirt.
Or as little Fatima sees it…
“Ramadan’s when I don’t eat any food or candy and have to stop drinking apple juice so I can get a My Little Pony toy on Eid! My favorite pony is Twilight Sparkle- she’s the purple unicorn!“
Awwwww, those adorable little rascals and their blasphemous innocence!
Anyways, one of the things that make Ramadan truly stand out amongst all the other Islamic Months is its mandate of sawm, or fasting. It’s a built-in rigorous daily spiritual weight-loss program that trims the unsightly chunks of fat off of your iman, and gives you a sizzling hot spiritual form that just might make some of the angels blush (okay, probably not- but wouldn’t that feel pretty awesome?).
Think of Ramadan as the P90X workout routine for your iman- in just 30 days your iman will have abs of steel and pecs so tough that Shaitan’ll feel like a fat little chubby school-kid next to you when he finally pays his bail and gets let out of jail on probation after Ramadan. But that’s ONLY if you’re willing to go the extra mile and give your iman that workout that it so desperately needs this month!
Now, spiritual trimming is wonderful and all- but we know why you’re really here. Just admit it- you’ve been letting yourself go this past year, haven’t you? Sneaking in guilty pleasures every now and then like whole family-size bags of M&Ms, and the weekly midnight 3rd-round dinner meal consisting of the heaviest masala curry known to humankind. I’m looking at you, brothers! All those fattening foods have built up since last Ramadan, and now you’re probably gearing up for a grand feast every night after iftar as a reward for your fasting, hmm?
Keep chewing away, bro. But we here at Muslim Medicine understand. Despite the fact that we fast in Ramadan, our clinical obesity research has actually revealed shocking truths about the reality of our weight gain during this holy month. You might want to ask your kabob roll to leave the room, and tell your philly cheese-steak to cover its eyes. The information below is not for the weak of heart. Well actually it kinda is, since hypertension is a side effect of- okay you get the point. Gist of the matter is- our research is about to blow your mind.
That’s right. You’ve just been fooling yourselves into thinking that fasting would help trim that chubby belly and get you back on the fast-track to getting married (or if you’re already married, getting you back to having your spouse NOT lower their gaze at you out of eye-strain). Now, we know what you’re thinking- hey Muslim Medicine, the data in this chart has no scientific basis, the graph looks completely made-up as if some snot-nosed geeky high-schooler with a basic sense of Microsoft Excel whipped it up in 10 minutes, it measures weight in kilotons which makes so sense at all, and to top it all off, how did you even measure the weight of every single Muslim in the world, and somehow find out what weight they secretly convince themselves they’re at?
That’s a deeply honest evaluation of our clinical research posed as a very fair question, dear reader- and we certainly do welcome these kinds of questions. But this time it’s irrelevant, so we won’t address it. Nice try. Better luck never, since Muslims don’t believe in pure luck.
You’re probably thinking- well fine, you’ve made your case that Ramadan isn’t exactly the automatic weight-loss dream-month that most Muslims convince themselves that it is. So what’s the solution, then? How do I banish my stubborn unsightly fat to the depths of obscurity like Shaitan gets banished every Ramadan?
Fortunately for you, my friends, Muslim Medicine is here to help. This is our 5-step guide to Healthy Ramadan Weight Loss!
1. STOP SPEED-EATING AT SUHOOR
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that familiar excuse- it’s nearly 3 minutes to Fajr, you just woke up and rolled out of bed, and you gotta quickly grab something before time’s up and you’re left hungry and grumpy. So you rip open the kitchen cabinets and stuff yourself full of as many chips ahoy cookies you can lay your hands on, then down a giant glass of milk at Guinness world-record speeds all before the game timer reaches 0 and the referee begins the adhaan. What’s worse than that are the folks who have plenty of time before Fajr, but somehow are still frantically gorging like there’s no tomorrow. You’re chewing furiously all to beat the clock, and to anyone looking at you, it just ‘aint a pretty sight.
Take it easy there, buddy. Suhoor isn’t an eating contest- it’s meant to give you a small energy kick to start your day off, but after you quickly expend that energy, you’re on your own for the remainder of the fast. More food doesn’t necessarily mean more energy, so don’t fool yourself into thinking a 7-course gourmet suhoor meal will carry you all the way to iftar. Take it easy, relax, moderate your intake, and eat just enough to give you strength for a small kick in the morning to get you started on your day, and leave it at that. Trust us, your body will target your fat and start burning that once your fuel starts to run on empty.
2. DON’T THINK ABOUT FOOD
Let’s do a little experiment. I’m gonna put a word here, and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind as soon as you read it. Are you ready?
I’m almost 99% confident I know EXACTLY what you thought about once you read that word. You were thinking about lamb gyros. Don’t even try to deny it- you had food on your mind, didn’t you? I’m willing to bet that if I wrote “marriage” as the word, the brothers would immediately think about their fantasy future wife’s heavenly cooking, and sisters would immediately conjure up warm thoughts of all the romantic candle-light restaurants their future husbands probably won’t ever take them to out of stinginess. The point is, you’re too pre-occupied with food during Ramadan, and that’s gotta stop.
While fasting, you can’t lose yourself in your day-dreams about the magnificent iftar feast waiting for you at Maghrib time and drooling over the guessing games you play over what kind of delicious dinner awaits you every night. Obsessing over food while you’re fasting is unhealthy and creepy, and points to a deeper dependence on food that you gotta break. Focus your time and efforts on worship and remembrance, and make every effort you can to expel all subconscious thoughts of food and drinks. It’s tough, we know- but in the end, your tummy and your brain will thank you for it.
3. EXERCISE (DUH)
Okay yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Exercising?! Gee, thanks for the tip, Captain Obvious.” Well you know what, sometimes the most obvious solution is the one most overlooked. So you’re welcome, Lieutenant Sarcasm. The fact that we’re fasting is the single biggest excuse that Muslims always come up with during Ramadan to justify their vegetable lifestyle during this month. Even potatoes get to see more movement than we do during Ramadan since they’re skinned, cut up, and cooked every night.
We’re in a weakened state with low energy reserves while fasting, so it’s understandable that exercising might be dangerous. But we’re not asking you to do Olympic weightlifting- go on 15-20 minute walks outside, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and opt to help with work around the house instead of napping all day. Starting up a light, simple, and consistent workout routine during Ramadan serves as an excellent means of really shaving off that excess weight and shaping you up quite nicely to be a total visual fitnah to the opposite gender after Eid Salah.
4. STOP FEASTING AT IFTAR
Of all the Ramadan enemies that cause your weight-gain, this guy here is the biggest culprit. We’re all guilty of doing this at one point or another during Ramadan- yes, even you, self-denial Masjid-uncle with the dried masala stains on your shalwar and the old grains of biryani from 3 Ramadans ago still imprisoned in your ancient beard. Fasting all day makes even the smallest of iftar morsels taste like the most wonderful food in the world, and your appetite at break time is so voracious that you’re probably ready to inhale the entire dinner table. That’s why we tend to consider iftar to be a rewarding entitlement for us that wipes away the guilt of using construction vehicles to pile on mountains of food onto our plates after we break our fasts.
We gotta cut that out. The point of iftar and the subsequent dinner is to sustain yourself and replenish your strength and energy after a long day’s fast. It’s not meant for you to consume the entire combined food volume of breakfast, lunch, brunch, noon snacks, evening meals, and dinner all at once in one sitting. What was the whole point of you fasting if you’re just going to reward yourself at night with a meal fit for Jabba the Hut?
Just like the rule of thumb we established with suhoor- eat just enough to stop your hunger pangs, and always moderate your intake and choose healthy items. We’re Muslims for crying out loud, not Sumo Wrestlers. No offense to actual Muslim Sumo Wrestlers- your dawah is much needed in Japan, please keep up the good work, masha’Allah.
5. BE MINDFUL OF OTHERS
One of the most oft-forgotten aspects of Ramadan is its strong focus on charity and providing means of support for those less fortunate than you. We tend to limit this solely to monetary forms of charity, which detracts focus from an equally important goal for this month- feeding those less fortunate than us. Our money goes a long way, alhamdulillah, and it’s wonderful that this month opens our hearts along with our wallets as well- but it’s rare that Muslims reach out to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and orphanages that are all around us. Not to mention parts of our own ummah which are suffering severely from drought, famine, war, and natural disasters. Giving your money for these causes is excellent, but disingenuous when you’re throwing away entire plates and trays of leftover uneaten food every night while other Muslims are clearly starving to death.
Want to know the most sure-fire way of losing weight this Ramadan? Treat each morsel of food that you’ve been blessed with every night as the most precious commodity you can ask for- picture that lavish plate of delicious gourmet goodness sitting in the lap of a starving Somalian girl, or in the hands of a grief-stricken refugee mother of a hungry newborn, and I promise you that you’ll treat your food with a far deeper level of appreciation than ever before, and you’ll certainly think twice before greedily jumping for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th helpings. That crushing guilt becomes even more compounded when you’re approaching the garbage can with a half-eaten plate of food with overestimated portions that you yourself slapped on in the hopes that you’d mindlessly devour it.
Ramadan’s the month of remembrance, so remember your starving brothers and sisters abroad and make an effort to not just throw money at the problem and feel good about yourself, but also make sincere dua that Allah (swt) lifts their suffering and showers mercy upon them.
And there you have it, folks! Be sure to follow this guide for the remainder of this blessed month and we guarantee that you’ll see striking results in no time!