WHY I STOPPED WRITING MEAL PLANS

When i first started, i use to write customized meals plans and they were great ( if i should say so myself). A combination of a well designed meal plan and a tailored workout program lead to some amazing results. However, the more experience i got, the more people i met, the more people i helped, the more i came to the realization that by writing meal plans, by telling my clients what to eat and what not to eat, i was not helping them at all. Sure, meal plans are great short term but what are they actually learning long term? What happens when they wake up one morning, take a look at the plan and not feel for anything that’s on the menu? what then? what do they eat? they wouldn’t know because they become heavily dependent on the plan and can’t really think outside of it.

Being told what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat is great but what purpose does that serve you in the long run? do you actually learn anything when it comes to nutrition? does it actually make you want to put an effort into learning about nutrition so you can equip yourself with knowledge that you can someday pass onto someone else and help them? or even knowledge that will allow you to decide on what to eat for yourself to fuel your health and fitness goals without needing someone like me to hold your hand through the process? sadly, it doesn’t. Meal plans are just that, plans. Plans that some day you may wake up and not want to follow but are then stuck because you don’t have any other back up plan that you could follow.

So one day i decided to stop making meal plans. Instead, I TEACH and COACH my clients on HOW to eat healthy, how to eat to fuel their goals, how to eat intuitively. I teach them how to listen and learn about what their body likes and doesn’t like. I teach them how to help themselves without always needing me, teach them how to eat confidently and make better choices with confidence. You see, the trick isn’t to cut out food groups. NO. It’s never that and if you ever come across a nutritionist who tells you to stop eating carbs or bread or rice or never have that slice of cake, look for another nutritionist!! (unless there is a medical reason behind it)

A sustainable, healthy nutrition isn’t about never having that slice of pizza or never having that cake. It’s about balance, its about organised eating. It’s about sticking to the foods you love but cook them healthier. It’s about learning what your body likes and what it doesn’t and listening to it and responding to it accordingly. It’s about having a healthy relationship with food and not let it prison you. It’s about not feeling guilty for having that piece of cake and knowing it is OKAY to indulge with balance. It’s about spending time to LEARN about what a healthy nutrition is and how to eat for your goals and not about starving yourself just so you can loose a couple of pounds on that scale. It’s about enjoying meals with your family and friends and not about avoiding social gatherings because what may be served may not be in your plan.

I stopped making meal plans because they serve no purpose in the long run. I wanted to give my girls something permanent, i wanted to equip them with nutrition knowledge that they will always have whether i am around or not. I wanted to equip them with the confidence to make the right food choices to fuel their goals without having to depend on some plan.

This journey is hard enough as it is without having to stick to some meal plan that you don’t enjoy. Sure, you will enjoy the meals for a short term but then what happens after 3 months? 4 months? what do you then when you are bored with the meals on there?

I stopped making meal plans and i haven’t looked back because when my girls can still enjoy their cakes, cookies and pizza and still come to tell me “heyyyyyy i am closer to my goals and i didn’t even have to diet and i love my food” that’s all the proof i need that what i do now works!!!

FOOD IS GLORIOUS, FOOD IS WHAT FUELS US, FOOD IS NOT THE ENEMY, FOOD IS LIFE!!!

Till next time xx

Yusra Es-haq

Organised Chaos

For many of us, our days are absolutely chaotic. We have so much to do in so little time. If only we could add more hours into our days. However, as a mum of 3 who needs to juggle being a mummy and a business professional, I’ve come to understand that if we organise our chaos, we will be amazed at how much we can actually get done without realizing it!

You often hear the phrase “Make time to exercise“, to be honest I’ve used it myself but the fact of the matter is, by the time you have a moment to yourself, the moment you have some free time, exercising is the LAST thing you want to do! You’re tired and exhausted and the thought of actually moving at all from that soft, warm sofa makes you cringe.  But all is not lost mamas, you CAN squeeze in exercises through your daily chores.

Below is an example of how you can incorporate exercises, exercises you could do between, while, after chores.

First thing you wake up:

Before your shower and breakfast:

3 rounds
20 jumping jacks,
Jog 20 seconds,
15 jumping jacks,
Jog 20 seconds,
10 jumping jacks
Jog 10 seconds
Before your next snack or before cooking lunch

3 rounds
20 high knees,
Jog 20 seconds,
15 high knees,
Jog 20 seconds,
10 high knees
Jog 20 seconds
Before eating lunch:

3 rounds
20 low switch kicks,
Jog 20 seconds,
15 low switch kicks,
Jog 20 seconds,
10 low switch kicks
Jog 20 seconds
Before eating dinner or before your last shower of the day:

3 rounds
20 squats,
Jog 20 seconds,
15 squats,
Jog 20 seconds,
10 squats
Jog 20 seconds

Done!

In total, by end of day you’d have done:

135 jumping jacks
135 high knees
135 low switch kicks
135 squats

That’s 540 repetitions of exercise without really feeling it, now that’s not bad for someone who doesn’t have time to workout ey? If you can’t allocate 30-60 minutes of exercise at one time then break it up and do it through the day. Doing it here and there counts!

Do what works for you and YOUR lifestyle, as long as you’re doing something, as long as you’re moving then it ALL counts.

Remember, Organize your chaos.

Breaking The Mould: My CSEC baby

With two unmedicated, vaginal deliveries and an almost painless recovery, i thought the third time around would be just the same. We found out we were pregnant in April 2015 (after 6 months of trying and 2 back to back chemical pregnancies) and we were ecstatic even though i was very nervous as our second was only 13 months at the time. I wasn’t sure how i’d handle 2 under 2. MY pregnancies have always been very active, i always workout through them and the third time was not going to be any different, the only difference was in my training style, which was more hardcore this time. Not many people understood this and many thought i am putting my baby at risk, but this is far from the truth. I had my doctors OK to continue training as i did and i listened to my body so everyone else’s opinions didn’t really matter to me.

At 13 weeks i was diagnosed with a low lying placenta, this worried me as the possibility of a Cesarean Section (CSEC) was brought up but was told that 90% of the time it would move as the uterus grows so not to worry. I tried not to worry..but of course..i worried. I was not put on bed rest but i did go a little lighter on my training and just play it by ear, again my body handled this just fine, ALHAMDULLILAH. People thought i was crazy for still continuing to be active well into my third trimester, but again, my body told me i could do it and so did my doctors, so i carried on. I was the strongest this pregnancy than ever before, i could squat in third trimester with my 7 year old daughter on my shoulders, with no problem. The final scan came at 37 weeks and lo and behold the placenta hadn’t moved a bit and a CSEC was scheduled. My world fell apart, for a while. I kept thinking i wouldn’t feel my baby come out, wouldn’t feel pains of labor( my favorite part), how would i care for my baby and toddler and daughter if i am going to be bed bound for weeks. I couldn’t imagine the immediate future. How will i cope by myself as my husband is not here. All these thoughts broke me and the only thing i could do is pray, pray to ALLAH (GOD) to ease our burden, it was his will for me to have CSEC and i accepted it and only he knows whats best. I researched, A LOT. On how to deal with CSEC recovery, on how to deal with other children, on how to accept things mentally, on the type of stitches, on the type of pain relief etc. I may not get the birth type i want but i wasn’t going to give birth blindly, i researched everything there was to know about CSEC. I then booked an appointment with my OB and spoke to her about what i wanted to happen during surgery and ALHAMDULLILAH she was fine with it all.

The 23rd of Dec arrived, i woke up at 5 am, prayed, cuddled my other two kids, did some squats (yes i am insane), prayed some more, cuddled them some more and said ‘see you later’ and off i went to the hospital. They prepped me and off to the OR at 9 am. The birth was beautiful, i got everything i wanted as far as CSEC goes ALHAMDULLILAH. BY 10 am i was in my recovery room…i was still pain free and just over the moon to see my family and my little girl next to me. An hour later the numbness started to go away…i knew it was painful, i read about it..but somehow i underestimated how painful it actually was. Pain started to kick in around 11 am, all they could give me is mild pain killers as i am allergic to A LOT of medications so they couldn’t give me their standard painkillers which are a lot more stronger and helpful. I breathed hard, i hung in there..the pain killers made me drowsy so i was dozing on and off. 8 hours later the OB comes in and says we need to get you up, all i thought was ‘are you insane woman??’. i told her no way she goes ‘Yusra get up, you will thank me later, small steps, just get up’. i was laying flat on bed at the time, my family was there. They have seen me at my strongest but never at my weakest. Only a few hours before i could kill 200 deep squats with weights with no issues at 38 weeks pregnant so surely getting up can’t be that hard? I turned to my side, held the bed railing and with the nurses help i could sit up on bed, painful, but i managed. I thought to myself “OK this isn’t too bad, i can do this!” Next step was to get my legs off the bed, i took a deep breath as she held my legs and slowly directed them down. Ouch! but still not too bad. Next step was to stand up, my sister held me on my right and nurse on my left lifting me up..i stood up and i froze. I was shocked, i was in pain, i was confused. What was i feeling?? where has my midsection gone, where is my abdomen..i have never felt that much pain before and the fact that my painkillers were useless, did not help..my whole body shook, i had no idea why i couldn’t stand..how can this be so hard. I wasn’t crying at this point..Nurse says “OK take your first step”, i obliged..took my right leg forward and that was it, i had reached my pain threshold and i broke down.

This is the most painful thing ever, more painful than the 72 hours of labor i faced with my first daughter, more painful than feeling her ripping me apart as her shoulders were coming out..this was painful. I kept telling them i can’t do it, its impossible, i cant do it. My Nurse said “yes you can, one more step and you can get back on bed”. So i did, with every ounce of energy in me, with every tear, i took one more step and that’s all i could handle, it was too much. I went back on bed. Crying, crying because i was in pain, crying because i couldn’t understand how could i be so weak, crying because i had no idea how i was going to look after all my babies, crying because…this felt unfair.

3 hours later i had to go shower, so they removed my catheter(ouch!) and i had to walk to the bathroom. I had no idea how I was going to do this if i couldn’t even take 2 steps 3 hours ago. But again, the nurse came in and said i had to shower and that she would help me. She got me up, with tears rolling down my face i took the few steps to the toilet..i have never felt that helpless before, no one has ever helped me shower before, not even my mother. This can’t be happening, i kept thinking to myself…………this can’t be happening.

Day 2 came after a painful sleepless day 1, at this point i hadn’t even fully held my daughter because of the amount of pain i was in, i hadn’t changed even one diaper and breastfeeding was the most painful thing ever as i also had painful uterus contractions as well as the stitch pains. I was in agony, i felt like a bad mum, i felt weak.

I didn’t want to eat anything as i didn’t want to go to the toilet, i couldn’t imagine how painful a bowl movement would be but my OB forced me to eat, things had to start getting back into place. I knew i had to be stronger. A couple of hours after i woke up, i was determined to get up..i had to get up..i had to walk..i had to do for myself, for my kids, for my health. Again my family helped me up, i stood up, took my first step for the day..then the second, then the third and fourth…still in tears. The nurse came in and asked if i wanted to shower and i said yes, she went in to the bathroom with me but i couldn’t face being given another shower again so i told her i was going to do it by myself, I wasn’t sure I could but I was going to give it everything I have, she agreed and left but was outside in case i needed her. Removing clothes has never been so hard..i got undressed, slowly walked under the shower and i showered..all by myself..i was in pain, i was crying, I didn’t know why this was happening to me but I knew Allah has his reasons, It was so hard BUT i was doing it..all by myself. I finished and slowly got dressed, sitting down on a chair that was in there but i couldn’t get up again by myself so my nurse came in and helped me up. Again i walked to my bed and dropped on bed. It felt like i had been to war, it was awful but i was so so proud of myself for being able to do it. That day the OB came again and asked me to walk..again i stood up…standing up was the hardest part but once i started walking it got easier..i could walk to the end of the room, without help. That night, i wanted to walk again, i got up..went all the way to the bottom floor and walk for a good 7 mins unaided..yes I counted as every extra second felt like an achievement.

Day 3 came…2 days postpartum…i went outside the hospital..my aunt took me..each step was painful but less painful than the previous step and by the time i left the hospital, i had even gone up 3 flights of stairs..all by myself..it took ages but I DID IT.

Day 4 came, 3 days PP and it was time to go home. I was so scared, so nervous as up to this point i had help with the baby, i still hadn’t changed a single diaper or given her a bath, all i did was breastfeed her, painfully. At home, it was just me, i had to do everything (other than cooking) and i had no idea how i would do it but i kept a brave face. My sister in-law drove me home, regardless of how slow and careful she drove, every tiny bump was painful, how was i going to take care of my baby while i am in this much pain? we got home, my daughter gently hugged me while my son wanted to jump on me, i had to practice some interesting distraction tactics to stop him from climbing on me or wanting me to carry him. That day, my sister in-law slept over so she helped with baby.

Day 5 came, 4 days postpartum (PP) and it was ALL me, it was time to be a mum to a newborn, it was time to be stronger. In my culture people stay in bed for 40 days to recover. As lovely as that sounds, that isn’t me..i would go insane..firstly because i had not much help for my other two kids, secondly, well, i’d go insane with the lack of activity. This is the first rule that i broke that wasn’t broken by anyone before me, people came to visit expecting me to be on bed, but that wasn’t me. I greeted them and sat with them in the sitting room like a normal person would instead of being a show on bed with people around you staring at you.

5 days PP, I woke up at 8 am..fed Aayah..then it was time for her bath, i bathed her, changed her diaper..i wasn’t totally pain free but i could do it and was so happy. My room is upstairs, so the day involved going up and down the stairs few times a day (not recommended but I had no choice). With everything i did, i called my doctor asking her if it was safe and her reply was yes. I guess she knew how strong i was better than i knew myself…

6 days PP came…it got easier to do things for the kids and for myself, at this point i was off the useless painkillers, i didn’t feel too much pain although some things were painful than others but they had to be done, i just did them slowly.

7 days PP, the bandage was coming off, my scar healed beautifully Alhamdullilah and i actually absolutely LOVE IT. its almost like the perfect memory of my daughters birth.

8 days PP..this was the first day that i coughed since the surgery and boyyyyyyyy..i did not expect that rush of pain i felt but it quickly went away. With everything i did, every movement, i LISTENED to my body, i was in-tune with my body.

Everyone who came to visit kept saying how i should be in bed for 40 days, etc etc etc..but people forget, everyone is different, everyone heals at a different rate, everyone has their own way of healing and while being in bed for over a month maybe well and good for others, it wasn’t for me, it would depress me and no way was i going to let ‘culture’ depress me.

I have 3 kids to look after now, peoples opinions play NO PART in my recovery process.

Day 9 came..things were getting back to normal everyday..i started walking 10 mins a day other than the normal activities…things like bending down, changing nappy etc were not painful anymore but i still LISTENED to my body. Anything that felt pain, i would stop.

Day 10, i adore my mum and everything shes done for me and by now she understood that i was not going to spend postpartum the way ‘culture’ dictates us to and i was so relieved about that. If i felt fine and well and pain free then i wasn’t going to make myself useless by just laying in bed all day. I knew the more active you are (within reason) the quicker you recover and i knew my body even if no one else did. My brothers came and i asked them to take me out for a coffee…my mum’s shocking look almost made me laugh, You see this never happens, you do NOT go out to socialize before 40 days! its the unspoken rule, no matter how well you are feeling..hey you wouldn’t want people to ‘talk’. I went out with my brothers for a nice afternoon out.

I am 1 year postpartum now Alhamdullilah and my strength is almost back to normal. Well, i can do more things, fitness wise than before BUT i am still not where i want to be.

The point of this story is to LISTEN to your body, take charge of your recovery, don’t let others dictate what you can and can’t do unless they are certified to do so (i.e doctor and even then, do YOUR research! Don’t be led blindly).

C-Secs take a toll on both your physical and mental state and for me, being physically inactive would depress me mentally and i wouldn’t be a good mother to my kids.

Do what is right FOR YOU! if its resting for 40 days then go for it, if its slight activities when you feel ready then go for that too. No one knows your body more than you do and just because you may do things differently than others, differently than society tells you to it doesn’t mean you are doing them wrong.

Recovery is painful, its tiring, its mentally draining..but YOU CAN DO IT. Whichever way you decide to recover, choose a way that’s right for YOU. Mine was to remain active as i don’t know any other way and as long as it wasn’t causing me any pain then i was fine with that and I am thankful to my doctor for encouraging me, for having faith in me because now i can enjoy every inch of my daughter the way i want to, the way i need to. ALHAMDULLILAH. Had i listened to what i was told by many, i’d probably be struggling today.

Who knew 13 months ago i couldn’t even stand and now i do 110% of the things i could do before the OP (Headstands included 💪🏼) ALHAMDULLILAH.

Mamas, we are stronger than we could ever imagine to be so don’t give up on life, don’t give up on yourself, on your confidence, on your identity, on your self-esteem..just because you’re a mother. Being a mother doesn’t mean letting go of who you are. How are we going to instill confidence, strength, strong identity, self-belief in our children if we lack them ourselves? Think about that.

Yusra x

Fat burning, metabolism boosting cookies

Recently i seem to get very bloated when I have wheat products, so things like bread, cakes, cookies..although not really a fan of them to begin with but i do enjoy an occasional slice of cake or a delicious blueberry muffin. However, I can’t enjoy them anymore because I end up feeling very bloated and uncomfortable.  So I’ve been experimenting on wheat free + gluten free + sugar free baking and so far, its been an interesting journey!

I came across this delicious recipe from theheartysoul.com, check them out, they have amazing recipes. I did however amend the recipe to suit my needs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut flakes (i make my own)
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 scoop whey protein (I use ON Gold Standard, 100% whey )
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • A few other secret ingredients but you can make the cookies without these 🙂

method:

  • Heat your oven at 180 degrees Celsius
  • Mix all your ingredients in a bowl
  • If the mixture is too crumbly add some more oil and water but make sure its not too watery
  • Once everything is mixed in well, scoop out the mixture using a teaspoon, one cookie is about one heaped teaspoon. Flatten the cookies on the tray
  • I got about 12 good sized cookies. The number will depend on the size. Don’t make them too thick.
  • Set your timer for a total of 15 minutes but turn the cookies half way so you can get a good color on both sides
  • The outside will turn brown and inside will remain soft and moist
  • Let them cool and enjoy. The are great for breakfast, pre and post workout snacks

Yusra x