Numerous studies prove that exercise promotes
the production of serotonin, which reduces depres-
sion. Yes, exercise doesn’t just have physical benefits
— it makes for a happy family too. Still others, like
Sadam Ali and Kulsoom Abdullah, have so much fun
staying fit that they are in it to win it.
PLAYING WELL
New Yorker Sadam Ali started boxing when he was eight
years old. 15 years later, he is still in love with the sport. In
2008, Ali became the first Arab American to participate in
the Olympics in Beijing. Winter does not encroach on his two-
hours-a-day, 365-days-of-the-year training schedule. “If you
make staying fit a priority, you will make the time for it,” Ali said.
“People doubted me, but that made me work harder. Train well,
stay focused and pray hard.”
Atlanta based Kulsoom Abdullah (
, like
Sadam Ali, is an embodiment of determination. Slender and petite,
she is the first Pakistani-American woman to represent Pakistan at the
2011 World Weightlifting Championships and the 2012 Asian Weight-
lifting Champions. A computer engineer with a doctoral degree, she is
also a fan of Cross fitting, a core strength and conditioning program.
“Getting started is usually the hardest, but once you get into a routine or
habit, it is not as challenging,” she says. “Whether it is teenagers or adults,
I would say find something you like and you will be motivated. Try different
things, find friends or convince friends, find a group for more motivation and,
of course, try competitions for fun even if you think you are not good enough.”
Abdullah, who adheres to the Islamic dress-code, has earned many laurels in-
cluding an invitation to deliver remarks succeeding those by Secretary of State
Hilary Clinton, at the U.S. State Department’s Eid-ul-Fitr reception in 2011. “Never
feel intimated or embarrassed by how you dress. Most people do not care. If they
do, ignore them. Just focus on yourself, your health and the activity you want to do,”
says Abdullah.
Abdullah realizes that it can be tough for women who prefer a non co-ed environment,
given the paucity of women-only facilities. If you live by a university, she recommends
working with the Muslim Students Association (MSA) on campus to explore scheduling time
for exclusive women’s access to university gyms. Alternatively, she suggests that women oc-
casionally attend a co-ed gym for training and guidance and work out at home the rest of the
time. There always being risk of injury when starting an exercise regime, she suggests having
a personal trainer do home visits. “It is harder by yourself without guidance and motivation, but
it is better than nothing and you can still get a good workout.”
EATING WELL
Ammiel Mateen, organizer of the 3 Month Challenge (
, is committed to “kale because it can be consumed cooked
or raw. I typically eat it raw in a salad, which consists of kale, apples, sunflower seeds, red onions, blue
cheese and a vinaigrette dressing. When cooking with kale, I lightly sauté it in olive oil, onion, garlic
and light salt. I’ve come to appreciate quinoa so much that I’ve just about completely replaced brown rice
with it. There are recipes (for Quinoa) that will allow for it to be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
20
HALAL CONSUMER
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Winter 2012
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