Jillian and I

Hello world!

I have been a little lost lately. With everyday chores, a hyperactive baby and guests coming in town, my sudden motivation to lose weight took a back seat. However I’m back on track since yesterday.

Today was day 2 for Jillian Micheal’s 30 day shred. I managed to do it on 2 consecutive days though I really had to push myself into it after the ordeal of yesterday. But I persevered. (Feeling very proud of myself).

I have never been able to do push-ups the way they are supposed to be done. Yesterday I asked my husband to check where I was going wrong. Voila! Apparently you are supposed to use your arms to go up and down and I was trying to use my torso. No wonder I was failing so miserably.

I wish they would stop putting such cheery girls at the back who do every freaking move with a big smile plastered on their face. It is super annoying. Also, these are probably the only videos on YouTube where the ads interrupting the video is welcomed gleefully. Ha!

For some reason, this time around, I am finding it excessively difficult to eat clean or even control my portion size. However, I shall keep trying. Mind over matter, as they say.

Keeping strong! My goal is to have a before and after picture. From fat to fit! Fingers crossed.

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The Pounds Need a New Home- continued

As promised, I did clean the entire apartment floor on all fours after thoroughly sweeping the floor. Very Cindrella-esque of me. I wish I looked even half as graceful as this:

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Oh dear god, it was so difficult. I would like to take this platform to salute all our desi domestic staff back in Pakistan who do it day after day and make it seem so easy. Cherry on top was the baby who was literally scared for Mama and would not stop crying. He thought something bad was happening to Mama. He wasn’t entirely wrong though. The work out was backbreaking. Also, I found out tiny details about dirt in random places that I was blissfully unaware of.

I also tried squatting while picking every toy that the baby had very effortlessly thrown all over the house so I guess that can also be categorized as working out.

On the clean eating front, I didn’t do a whole lot. I did try to incorporate a lot of fruits and cut down on portion sizes but I have yet to master the art. Soon inshaAllah!

Today is a new day. Let’s see what all I accomplish. I will surely keep you people posted. Please leave a comment to encourage me or give me any suggestions that you believe may be useful for me in this weight loss journey!

The Pounds Need a New Home

I’m a very spontaneous person. One day I will be completely determined to do something on the spur of the moment and the next day the determination would just die down. Persistence and I just don’t go together.

Today however is one of those days when I really really want to shed weight. Reason for this sudden motivation: on the weekend I tried my pre-pregnancy jeans on and they fit me. However the full length mirror in my wardrobe gave me too good a picture of the condition of my legs. They looked humongous- I kid you not. I can probably win a competition with an elephant for flabbier legs. Even my husband who is usually very nice about it told me I should probably wear another pair of jeans. These don’t look that nice. (He was trying to be subtle).

That brings me to today. I’m thinking of documenting my days and the level of physical activity and the kind of food I’m consuming. Who knows, if I persist, I can be the person with the before and after picture rotating on social media a month (too optimistic?) from now! Ha! Also it gives me motivation to write everyday since otherwise I don’t often know what to write about. Win-win situation, ya?

Let’s see how long I can manage to do this.

Day 1- Monday, January 23rd 2017

Current weight checked after pooping 💩💩: 76.5 kgs

I started out planning the day with a list which included chores revolving about the baby, oiling my hair (because they really need some loving), cooking, cleaning and bathing. Pretty mundane stuff with the addition of working out.

Its 1.18 a.m. So far I have completed the breakfast related work, made the bed and did some cleaning. I put on the Leslie Sansone 15 minute video as a tester for the first day. It was a one mile walk. I barely made it to 9 minutes and a few seconds and the baby decided he has been ignored for too long and started throwing a tantrum. Defeated, I picked him up, cuddled him and offered a banana. He then wanted milk. Now abandoning all plans of working out for an hour I am feeding him and waiting for him to fall asleep. Let’s see what all I accomplish when he’s asleep.

Being the genius that I am, I have realized I can go down on all fours to mop the floor. This will kind of be like squatting mixed with crunches and can serve two purposes. Cleaning and exercising. Killing two birds with one stone!!😎

To be continued…

La La Land: Believe the Buzz

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I finally got around to watching La La Land. Babyboo slept through the entire two hours and the husband was a good sport too. I had entered the cinema hall fairly certain that he will be rolling his eyes during the singing and dancing sequences but I was pleasantly surprised. He seemed deeply invested in the movie.

I had been hearing amazing things from a lot of people. Then there was the Oscar buzz as well. Most importantly though, it starred Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and they are a pair made in Hollywood heaven. Crazy, Stupid Love and the dirty dancing scene, anyone? Swoon-worthy!

Hence we got our tickets booked and went with very high expectations. Honestly, watching the very first song and dance sequence I was kind of uneasy with how the movie would unfold. But things picked up from the first scene with Stone flipping the bird to Gosling. Things just got better and better from there.

Let me just say it was a really good movie. I was about to write brilliant but I’m still upset about the ending. I’m a sucker for happy endings and was rooting really hard for these two to end up together but I do understand how that would have weakened the film’s narrative.

While Gosling can do no wrong and was perfection as usual, I have to comment on how outstanding Stone was as Mia. From the hopelessness and misery of failing in the auditions to the falling in love and seeing her partner succeed while she failed, she emoted each sentiment effortlessly. Her big doe eyes are expressive beyond belief.

The fact that both of them are not professional singers did not matter because the movie to me felt more authentic this way. They were shown as humans, not perfect in their trades yet very passionate.

The last sequence where an alternate reality is shown in which Mia and Sebastian meet, fall in love, achieve their dreams and live happily after is spectacular. You are left feeling bittersweet. Another scene that I loved was the one with the confrontation between the two. It started off as a romantic dinner between the two and escalated to another level where they question their future together.

All in all, it is a movie worth watching even for people who hate musicals. It is so much more than that. My husband leaned into me at the end of the movie with the credits rolling and muttered, ‘this was actually pretty amazing!’.Thank God for that or I wouldn’t have heard the end of it. He had sacrificed his boys night out for La La Land after all!

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Resolution for the New Year

It’s funny how you can write something with complete conviction at one point in your life and read it years later to be completely surprised that it was you who wrote those things.

I have been following all these amazing women on social media who are very close to my age. They are breaking stereotypes, emerging as empowered entrepreneurs and corporate workers. I can’t help but be a little envious. My life these days revolves around managing mundane domestic chores and maintaining sanity with a devious little human following me 24/7.

Just last week I had my niece visiting me from Karachi and she asked me, appearing genuinely baffled, ‘What do you all day?’ and somehow telling her my day starts and ends with house chores and baby related work did not seem to be an interesting enough reply. My sister-in-law noticed my discomfort and distracted her daughter but this feeling of inadequacy has been a constant internal battle. I am in no way undermining all that SAHMs do but I somehow do not derive satisfaction from it anymore. I crave for something productive to do with my time- something that would bring to use my skill set and make me feel useful.

All of this brings me to this blog. I had created it last year and planned to document all the interesting experiences of my life through it. Little did I know that I would be welcoming a beautiful little human in this world so soon after who would occupy all my nights and days. With the tornado of vomits and soiled diapers followed with hours spent researching about healthy food recipes and educational toys, it has been a tough but extremely rewarding journey.

However, today, as I was questioning my self-worth and purpose of life, (I tend to go into such philosophical mode a couple of times a year) I suddenly got the idea of starting a blog. Funny thing this WordPress is. As I was filling the form I was informed that my email ID was already in use and BAM, I realized I already own a blog. After logging in, I read the only post that had been published and it left me wanting more. Thankfully I had a whole folder of unpublished articles in my laptop which I ended up reading. How different was life just two years ago! I was worrying about completely different things, had completely different priorities, (FIFA, really? I don’t even like football), and yet it all seemed so similar.

The one thing those posts from two years ago taught me was that I liked reading the thoughts of the younger me and therefore I will start actively blogging from now on because ten years down the road, I would like to know how far I have come.

I now know my new year’s resolution: Write, write and write some more. 

Wedding Dress Woes

The two most likely reasons you go all out, plan a big, fat wedding where you spare no expense are:

  • Society’s expectations (i.e log kya kahaingey)

From what designer jora you wear to which makeup artist you booked for the baraat to the choice of wedding banquet and whether the dinner had an expensive fish item and a fancy dessert bar, everything will be scrutinized. You can hire the best caterers and most sought after makeup artist but there will always be busybodies who will find keeras in something or the other. Hence, stop thinking about log kya kahaingey as they WILL speak regardless. Often, people are inclined to do a simple wedding but the fear of judgment from society makes them change their mind. You wouldn’t want to be called a kanjoos now, would you? SMH!

  • YOLO or in this case YOMO (you only marry once, at least that’s the hope unless you are an Arab sheikh)

To the people who use this as a reason to empty their dad’s pockets or their own for that matter, I won’t preach. As long as whatever you are spending on is to satisfy yourself, go ahead, do it. I know I did.

Having said that, here is a little advice from someone who has been through the madness. To pick up one aspect, let’s talk designer wear. It is a grueling task, to put it mildly. From calling them for appointment bookings and bearing with their often rude secretaries to meeting the divas in person and tolerating their haughtiness, it is one difficult feat.* However, when you see the end product, you tend to forget all the melodrama that went into making it. It is perfect (hopefully).

You will wear it on your wedding day, proudly boast of the designer you chose when aunties will inquire (and they will), guests will act awestruck about how magnificent it is. Fast forward to a month after the wedding… the jora is lying in your closet, neatly wrapped in a malmal cloth, to prevent the work from getting rusty and tangled. This is the return of a 4-10 lac investment of your (or your dad’s) hard earned money. I don’t know about you but these were the thoughts I had and still have when I look at my bridal dress sitting in my closet, taunting me.

The love I felt for it is slowly evaporating, turning into regret. The opportunity cost that I could not see back then as I was blinded by the ‘wedding fever’ and peer pressure is so clear now. I could have bought gold from that money or invested in some stock. Heck, I could have used it for a fancy vacation to an exotic location.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that you will look great on your wedding regardless of whether you wear a designer dress or one you get made from the kaam-wala. Trust me, at the end of the day, the photos are all that remain of D-day and those photos are usually beautiful, regardless of the jora.

Every day, my Facebook newsfeed is bombarded with pictures of people getting married, and usually, the comments talk about how amazing the bride looks. There is very little said about the clothing. Many dressed in not-so-extravagant dresses look equally gorgeous.

My two cents: Please do not put too much focus on the dress. Rather, spend on a good photographer who captures good angles of you and your beloved. Go for grand locations. After all, pictures are what will remain life long as memories. You will likely have your dress too, but it’s not like you can don it at every random wedding and flaunt it.

*I am not generalizing the entire lot of designers, just highlighting what is common amongst many. Pakistani designers still have a long way to go in terms of professionalism and customer service.

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How I rekindled my relationship with God

As a toddler, watching my mom pray was fascinating. I remember trying to copy her actions and moving my lips silently, imitating her without knowing what she was saying or why. I remember how my parents would proudly claim that their child had learned to say Allah or Muhammad or the first kalma. Every night, after the usual bedtime stories, mom would recite an “Allahu Allahu” lullaby to make me sleep.

Then came junior classes. I was still fairly religious trying to say my prayers to win the appreciation of elders. I clearly recall this one day in Ramadan after Fajr prayers, I decided to recite the entire nineteenth para (juz) in one sitting, inspired by the elders who used to finish the Holy Quran in this blessed month every year. Dad was sitting close by and would interrupt me at every break and tell me to catch some sleep before school time. But to no avail. I wanted to act cool and complete the whole para in one sitting. In retrospect, I think it was more about getting praised from the elders that motivated me rather than Allah’s pleasure. I remember how my parents were pleasantly surprised when I succeeded and commended my efforts.

Fast forward to senior classes…
I began to lose all interest in Quran. While reciting it every Friday, I stopped reading it as a habit. More so, I began missing my prayers and lying to parents about how I had already prayed whenever they inquired.  Quran was replaced by chick lit and fiction novels. Ramadan nights were spent reading and re-reading Harry Potter since it was relatively clean and hence qualified for ‘halal reading’.

Then came the O level years. Oh, how selfish is the human nature. I had more or less lost touch with Allah, but became a model Muslim during exam time. I was perfect with my prayers and would go out of my way and recite elaborate wazeefas to get good grades. Allah, however, is the All-Forgiving. He blessed me with straight As hence restoring my faith in his boundless mercy.

For A levels, I transferred from a tightly knit, protected girls school to the best A level school in Karachi, with a completely westernized culture. Calling it a cultural shock would be putting it mildly. However, I adjusted and Islam remained intact within me. Or at least I thought so. When you enter an environment so massively different from yours, it takes longer to adapt and some things are so out of your league that trying them never even crosses your mind. As far as I’m concerned that’s a relatively safe place.

The real trouble comes when you go to a place, which is different, but not alien. This is the kind of different that’s dangerous; the kind that doesn’t seem beyond you. The kind you are tempted to adapt to. This place for me was my university. It’s important to clarify that I’m not in any way calling my university anti-religion or disrespecting it in any way. On the contrary, it has actually brought about many positive changes in my personality and for them, I’ll be eternally grateful. However, it was in these four years that I began losing my religious conviction. I lost my touch with Allah. Oh, sure, I would always find my way back in Ramadan but then it became a tedious cycle; all year round: bad Muslim, during Ramadan: good Muslim. I began missing my prayers and generally became very forgetful in fulfilling my obligations. I did a lot of activities I’m not proud to be a part of, to the extent that I was scared that the way back was surely lost. Surely, even the Almighty Allah won’t forgive me for my transgressions. But then who else is there, right? So it was again Allah I went to. After four years of doing everything the heart told me to, I realized how internally lost I felt.

Fast forward to today…
Another Ramadan has come. I have been offering my prayers with due diligence and reciting the Quran too. However, these fasts are long and I’m currently at home the whole day with little to keep me occupied. I started off with ‘halal’ games like scrabble to kill time, but after a time they failed to keep me interested. I watched a bit of FIFA matches, stalked a whole lot of people on Facebook, cooked just to pass time and yet was feeling empty. It then struck me I could read the translation of the Quran and try getting something out of what I have been reciting for some 22 odd years.

So here I am, at 3 in the morning, having read through the tafseer of few of the chapters in the last para. Finally found some peace. And I was actually hooked! The beauty of this Holy Book is that it is not just teachings of what to do and what to not do; instead, it has all these beautiful stories to back up whatever is being said. If you feel the same disconnect with Allah, you could take a similar route. What would be a better way to reconnect with Him than by reading and understanding what He is directly saying to you.