I finally finished the No Junk Food Challenge

Hello and welcome to my blog! If you know me by now, you know I have a sweet tooth. I started this challenge a few days before Ramadan because I noticed I had become addicted to sugar, and what better way to reset my diet than dueing the month when I can’t snack during the day?!

It was hard, I tell you. It took me 30 days to do this 21 day challenge, and there is still one of the challenges that I wasn’t able to do (read along to find out which one).

The 21 day no junk food challenge:

Day 1

Try to include more vegetables in your meals today (I’m starting soft with you).

I ate tomatoes and lettuce with my burger today. I also didn’t eat any packaged junk food or cake or bagels.

Day 2

No chocolate today (and eat some nuts to have energy!)

I had no chocolate, not even chocolate spread. I had 1 piece of almond tart with apricot jam on top, but otherwise, no sweets.

Day 3

No white bread (you can eat whole grain bread but only one! Don’t abuse!)

I had some chocolate cake in the morning with my coffee. Then a few hours later, I had half a chocolate spread sandwich of oat bread. Later on in the afternoon, I had 1 oat bread sandwich of chocolate spread. In the evening, I had some plain cookies and then an orange.

Day 4

No cookies or cake (replace with fruit, it’s so much better, am I right?)

I had peanut butter and chocolate spread toast for suhour (I found that when I can’t have 1 junk food, I replace it with another) and some oat bread with labne and low fat cheese. I also had some cucumber and tomato. I drank tea instead of coffee. After iftar, I had barazi which I hope don’t count as cookies.

Day 5

No pasta (remember to not eat spaghetti to forgetti your regretti).

This was so hard but I did it. I read no pasta and all I could think about was pasta. Spagetti. Fettuccine. Noodles.

Day 6

No alcohol (just water!)

Haha no problem. I don’t drink anyway because it’s prohibited in Islam. Besides, even if it wasn’t, I don’t find the idea of intoxication appealing.

Day 7

No potato chips (only apple or kale chips).

I rarely eat chips, but as soon as I read no chips, I remembered I have a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, which I don’t even like, and suddenly I want it. Healthy eating is hard, but I can do this!

Day 8

No soda (water will be your best friend for today!)

I rarely ever drink soda anyway, so hopefully that won’t be a problem. I like how each day of this challenge focuses on one aspect of junk food at a time. I’m still eating oatmeal bread and drinking water. I only ate chocolate once in the past 4 days.

Day 9

No fast food (you can always make a healthy burguer at home).

No problem. I used to indulge in a burger every month or two, then the prices started going up. The meal at McDonald’s that used to cost 8,000LL now costs 29,000LL so no thank you. Last time I bought a burger meal was 6 months ago and it costed 21,000LL. Last time I had homemade burgers fried without oil in a Teflon pan was a week ago at my mom’s. They don’t even eat french fries. Just tomato, lettuce and ketchup with the burger.

Day 10

No processed meat (eat more fish or try vegetarian).

I ate chicken. That’s not processed, right?

Day 11

Try to go vegan all day (it’s easier than it said no, you don’t need to eat only lettuce all day).

I had a few no meat days during this challenge but on this particular day, I ate meat.

Day 12

No candy (eat some dates, it’s a natural candy).

Done. I actually went several days without candy.

Day 13

Replace potatoes with sweet potatoes (and believe me, they are sooo nice).

I just simply didn’t eat potatoes (I don’t like sweet potatoes).

Day 14

Drink 2L of water today.

I drank 1 L everyday for a week (I have a problem where I don’t drink enough water but I’m trying).

Day 15

No refined sugars.

Sorry, no can do. End of discussion. I can’t drink my tea or coffee without sugar (I replaced my coffee for tea for half of Ramadan by the way).

Day 16

No dairy today (goodbye acne).

I think there were 1 day where I didn’t have any dairy.

Day 17

Eat a lot of fruit (it’s delicious and the best natural sugar).

Define a lot of fruit? I don’t eat fruit everyday. I may go for weeks without a single fruit. So I ate some fruit a few days in a row.

Day 18

Eat more green foods (broccoli will be your friend today).

I had cucumbers today (May 18th), but I actually did eat salad several days during this challenge so I’m counting it as a win.

Day 19

Oatmeal for breakfast (it’s delicious and keeps you satisfied for hours).

I had oatmeal for suhour a few days before and a few days after.

Day 20

No meat today (it’s a great opportunity to try vegetarian food).

I had a veggie pizza for iftar with indomi noodles.

Day 21

Congratulations! You’ve passed the challenge (or I hope so). As reward you can eat a small piece of dark chocolate!

I didn’t reward myself with anything because I still had 5 undone days, 4 of which I planned to do later and now I’m done!

To do this challenge, go to: https://21dayschallengeapp.com/app/challenge

End result: This challenge didn’t curb my sugar cravings, but it did help me decrease my junk food intake to a certain extent, and I lost 6 pounds in the process!

Will you try this challenge?

Goodbye Ramadan…Eid feels bittersweet

Hello and welcome to my blog! I wanted to say a proper goodbye to Ramadan, but I don’t have one. I feel like I was too tired to fully take advantage of this holy month, but I did benefit a little from it. I’m scared of how things will be after Eid. In Lebanon as a country and with me personally.

There is a tinge of sadness that this month is gone but excitement about Eid. Whatever happens after Eid, I really hope this Eid is memorable, in a good way. I will be as mindful as I can. I will be as grateful as I remember to be. I will be patient, and most of all I will be hopeful.

I have no idea what the future holds for me, for Lebanon, for the world…

Palestine is suffering. Syria is suffering. I think of how their Eid must look like and it makes me sad, but I will be hopeful for a tomorrow with no war or poverty. I know it’s a pipe dream now, but I hope that I can find a way to help, to empower, to ignite hope, to do something to make the world a better place.

My son asked me what war means today. I didn’t know how to answer. I told him I’ll tell you later. How do you explain to a 6 year old who trusts police as the ultimate law about police brutality? How do you explain about massacres and bombs and killing women and children and displacing people from their homes to someone who believes that people are honest and good and all evil people are behind bars? How do you talk about occupation or oppression so someone whose only wish is to have unlimited snacks and toys?

It’s 10 pm but I’m not tired. I’m itching to say something, to make a statement. You know the saying, those who can’t do, teach. I used to take it as an insult when my uncle said it to me, but now I see that because of my circumstances, I can’t do much, but I can teach. I have my blog. I have my instagram account. I can talk about these things, even if it hurts. For years, I buried my head in the sand, thinking as long as I didn’t watch the atrocities, then they weren’t happening, but it’s come to a point where it would be evil of me to remain quiet and I’m brave enough to speak up. Palestine 🇵🇸 will be free one day. I know it will. There will be peace on Earth 🌎 and lands will prosper.

I don’t know what will happen after Eid, but I will enjoy this Eid the best I can, but in my heart there will be sadness for those in Palestine and Syria and other countries who can’t enjoy Eid because they don’t live in peace…

Transformation Tuesday: Did you achieve your goals this Ramadan?

Hello and welcome to my blog! Transformation Tuesday is back! If you noticed, yesterday I wrote a motivational Monday post and I’m trying to ease back into my preramadan schedule. Why don’t I just wait until Ramadan is actually over? 1st, I like to start at the beginning of the week. 2nd, if I were to wait until Eid, which is either Wednesday or Thursday, I’d probably end up writing Eid blogs and they won’t be themed around anything, more like storytime posts of what I did during Eid. 3rd, I really wanted to reflectvon this Ramadan and see how much I achieved of my Ramadan goals.

I’ve been exhausted this ramadan, and the last 5 days have made me appreciate the presick tiredness I was feeling. As Ramadan comes to an end, I’m grateful I was able to fast the whole month. I’m also grateful for whatever I was able to achieve. I don’t feel like my Ramadan went to waste but I feel like I could’ve done better, partky if I had more energy, and partly because I let myself waste time sometimes.

How much of my goals did I achieve this Ramadan?

Housekeeping

Declutter challenge (postponed until after Ramadan)

Cooking challenge (postponed until after Ramadan)

However, according to my calendar, which I use basically to keep up with housework, I took care of my household 80%. I kept my house relatively clean and tidy.

Charity

Kindness challenge (in progress)

Pay for box of food for poor (I payed for part of a box as prices have risen)

Bonus: I taught tajweed weekly throughout Ramadan to a bunch of 8 year olds. I also payed kafala for the orphan I’ve been sponsoring partially (I payed a year in advance). I also payed for 6 meals via share the meal app. I give myself 💯 although I could give more money but I did achieve the goal I set, if not supersede it.

I normally don’t broadcast my acts of charity but because they are few and far in between, I wanted to share to encourage others who may want to do charity but need ideas. There are many ideas to give charity, especially during Ramadan and in Lebanon. You can pay for hot meals or groceries of help someone pay rent or hospital bills or medications. There are so many options. I wish I could do more but as I don’t have a job, my options are limited. My husband gives a lot (he keeps it secret even from me) but I still feel like I want to give from my pocket money.

Ibadat

Read entire quraan at least once (done)

Pray 8 taraweeh (done except for 5 days when I prayed 4, but I prayed 20 and 12 on 2 other nights so it’s balanced).

Pray doha 3 times a week at least (I achieved this goal on weeks 1 and 3 but not on weeks 2 and 4)

I also made a lot of douaa (supplication) on the odd nights of the last 10 days. I read surah al kahf every Friday. I prayed 57% of nafilah during Ramadan (I normally pray 40% of nafilah). I won’t count these as bonus as they should have been included in the goals (they were included in the Ramadan plannar I used). So after calculating, I achieved 84.5% of my ibadah goals.

Parenting

Read quraan with my son daily (epic fail. However, he went to an Islamic camp during Ramadan and they taught him azkar and reviewed the surahs he knows of quraan).

Ramadan worksheet and activities (we made a lantern, a sign that said Ramadan Mubarak, and he even made his grandparents a Eid mubarak card. However, he only finished half of the worksheet I printed out for him).

Bonus: I’m having him pray 1 prayer a day throughout Ramadan (in exchange for a toy I bought him which he will receive on Eid because he has no motivation to pray and this is the last time I bribe him to pray) and so far he is praying everyday. If he skips a day, he prays 2 the next day. I give myself a 50% and A for effort.

Islamic learning

Finish the book Nurturing Eeman in Children (postponed until after Ramadan)

Watch tafseer (explanation of the verses of the quraan) videos on youtube (I watched 15 tafseer videos during Ramadan in addition to other Islamic videos).

Use Ramadan legacy app (the app didn’t work so I had to delete it, but I used the Ramadan plannar I printed out instead). So 💯 score here.

Health

No junk food challenge (did 18 out of 21 and will finish it after Ramadan)

15 minutes in the sun per day (epic fail)

Home workout challenge (done) so all in all 62%

Other

No movies or tv shows (I didn’t watch any tv shows but I watched 8 movies throughout Ramadan)

Post ramadan related content on the blog and Instagram (I posted 17 Ramadan series posts on the blog and 3 Ramadan related videos on instagram). So that’s a solid 58%.

Overall, I think I did fine this Ramadan, considering how tired I was from the fasting and how sick I’ve been for the past 5 days. No excuses, though. I’m giving myself a pat on the back for achieving some of my goals and almost achieving others. I aspire to do better and be better next Ramadan so my focus for the rest of 2021 will be to build up the habits I want to maintain so that they’re not such a struggle come next Ramadan.

Have you achieved your goals this Ramadan (or this month so far)? To what extent? Do you make crazy calculations like me or do you just wing it?

Ramadan Series: Power vs. Respect

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I’m going to talk about the power versus respect dynamic.

What is power?

According to the dictionary, power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events. For example: “a political process that offers people power over their own lives”. A king has power. A politician has power. But does this automatically mean they have respect? Not necessarily.

What is respect?

According to the dictionary, respect is due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others. For example,
“young people’s lack of respect for their parents is a modern day issue”.

The abuse of power

According to unesco.org “The abuse and misuse of power or authority in the course of performing work can occur both with external stakeholders and internally among staff. The effects can be damaging to morale and to working relationships.

Abuse of power or authority can take various forms. Examples include:

Bullying or harassing behaviour
Requesting staff to do personal errands or favours
Pressuring staff to distort facts or break rules
Interfering with the ability of a colleague to work effectively (i.e. by impeding access to information or resources)”

Do you give respect to get respect? Or is it the other way around?

There are so many blogs on Google that say yes. You must earn respect before receiving it. What does this mean? Well, I didn’t want to complicate things for you and gkve you 10 ways to earn respect. Plus, I’m honestly still working on it. I feel like my loved ones don’t respect me sometimes, and I feel that my behaviors may have something to do with it. My advice to myself and to you is to simply act in a respectable manner and treat others as you wish they would treat you. For example, if you don’t want people to talk about you behind your back, don’t talk about others behind their backs. If you don’t want to be yelled at, don’t yell at others. If you don’t want someone to emotionally manipulate you, don’t do that to others. Also, I feel like self confidence is key. My explaining myself and avoiding conflict and being hesitant to make decisions and being extremely moody don’t help my case either.

If you were in a position of power, what would you do?

Do you feel respected by others? Do you respect others?

Ramadan Series: Beauty standards and plastic surgery

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I’m going to talk about beauty and unrealistic beauty standards.

In society and on social media, it is advertised that you must look a certain way to be beautiful. You must be a certain weight, a certain height, have a certain complexion. Celebrities share their skin care routines which involve so many expensive products, and people like the Kardashians undergo botox and advertise slimming products. Many people are influenced by what they see and become very insecure about theur bodies and looks. Some even undergo plastic surgery because they feel their nose is too big, for example.

We were created perfect. Plastic surgery should only be done when necessary, as in the case of an accident or a burn.

Beauty standards are so unrealistic and cause a lot of problems with self esteem, especially in girls, but also in boys. They cause problems in marriages because men will look for a wife who looks like the ads he sees everywhere and women compare their husbands to hollywood actors (the beauty standards in Hollywood are very unattainable). They give funny toles to actors they perceive as ugly or not beautiful. Did you notice that? In society, overweight people are usually funny because they try to make up for their lack of self esteem about their looks and weight by humor.

Remember that the people in the magazines don’t even look like the people in magazines. They are often photoshopped and edited.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on skin care products just because some celebrity endorsed them or uses them. You don’t need to undergo unnecessary plastic surgery or get botox.

Yes you need to take care of your body by sleeoing well, hydrating a lot, eating healthy food and exercising often, but don’t let celebrities and social media make you feel like you need to change anything about your looks to be beautiful.

What about your looks are you insecure about? Why?

Have you ever done unnecessary plastic surgery? If not, have you ever considered it?

Ramadan Series: Do you have what it takes to be a leader?

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I will talk about leadership qualities.

I want to be a leader sometimes. Other times I’m happy being a follower. Not everyone can be a leader, and that’s okay. But are leaders born or made?

In my opinion, both. Some people are natural born leaders. Others need to work on their leadership skills. There are situations and roles in life where you are forced to step up and become a leader. For example, I’m a mom, therefore I am a leader of my son. He will do as I do not as I say. I can either be a good leader or a bad leader, but I am his role model, whether I like it or not.

If you are with a group of people, and nobody assumes leadership of the group, somebody has to step up and assume the role of the leader. A group without a leader is like a flock of sheep without a shepherd. I’m in no way calling followers sheep, but some people are better suited for the role of the follower. They’re good at executing orders and doing what they’re told. A group cannot have more than one leader.

There is an arabic proverb that translates to: If there are too many cooks, the food will be burnt.

But what makes a leader?

The qualities a leader must possess are many, but basically a leader must be:

  • Trustworthy
  • Honest
  • Loyal
  • Expert with know how
  • Charismatic
  • Competent
  • Communicative
  • Visionary
  • Decisive
  • Moral
  • Cooperative
  • Caring and attentive listener
  • Intelligent
  • Dedicated
  • Indpiring role model
  • Motivating
  • Courageous
  • Self-driven
  • Kind and courteous
  • Fair-minded

The list above is the leadership matrix that I researched in 2014 to assess my leadership skills. I reassessed them in 2016 and found some improvement. However, if I were to assess how many of these qualities I possess now, I don’t think I’d score high. Maybe I’m being too critical on myself, or maybe marriage turned me into a follower. Whatever the case, I feel like I must be a leader at least to my son and that’s going to take a lot of work on myself.

Which leadership qualities do you have?

Which qualities do you need to work on?

New month, New challenge: Day 3

Hello and welcome to my blog! I didn’t make goals for May because I still have my Ramadan goals that I’m working on. There are 10 days left of Ramadan, and they are the most significant days. On the odd nights, extra worship is favored. I’m glad I’m doing the kindness challenge during these days (stay tuned when that challenge ends) and the new year, new you challenge is motivating.

I love Spring and I love the month of May. My dad, oldest sister, oldest nephew, and younger sister were all born in May. Any month with a loved one’s birthday in it is special to me.

Today’s challenge is:

Think positive! For every scenario you think of, imagine the best thing that could happen.

This really is a challenge for me. I tend to catastrophize and use emotional reasoning in my thinking. I always take things personally and assume the worst.

So today I’m going to take one scenario, which has been dominant on my mind, and tell myself that what I fear won’t happen. I have a fear of abandonment so I will tell myself that my relationships will not all fail. In fact, they will thrive. My friendships will be strngthened. My marriage will grow stronger day by day. My son won’t abandon me when I’m old and grey.

Tell me in the comments: what future scenario scares you? Can you think of a better alternative scenario?

Do this challenge with me: https://21dayschallengeapp.com/app/challenge

Ramadan Series: Make Smaller Goals

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today is the last day of April 2021 so I’m going to discuss April/Ramadan goals.

I mentioned at the end of March that I wasn’t going to make April goals. Instead, I made preramadan goals and ramadan goals. I have achieved some of those goals but I may have overwhelmed myself a bit.

The key to making a goal that you can actually achieve is to make it achievable. You need to take measurable steps within certain time frames.

It’s also important to readjust your goals accordingly on a weekly basis. It’s okay to postpone a goal if you feel you aren’t getting much done because you have too much on your plate.

When you make a goal, be sure to cut it up into bite sized parts and make an action plan. For example, if you want to write a book, the 1st step is making an outline. Then when you write, you can choose to write 200 words a day, instead of expecting to write a whole chapter in a day.

Ramadan Series: Jealousy and Envy

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I will be discussing jealousy and envy.

Comparing yourself to others breeds insecurity. This insecurity can develop into jealousy, where you want what the other person has. The saying “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side” is so true. We all have areas where we thrive and areas where we could use some improvement. It’s hard to focus on yourself in the age of social media. Many people try to show the glamorous side of their life, some going to the extent of editing their images to look picture perfect. There has been a rise of authenticity lately when it comes to stay at home moms specifically (at least that’s why I see) and speaking up about mental health. This is good news.

However, humans will be humans and even with the rise in authenticity, we still compare our lives to others, claiming everyone else has it all together. This gives one of three reactions.

The 1st, the person comparing their life to others will feel the need to show the glamorous side of their life on social media, hence feeding the cycle.

The 2nd, the person comparing will feel depressed because they’re not satisfied with their own life, and this will breed self blame and self loathing and other problems caused by depression. This is because the person comparing is jealous of what they see and want the same but feel like they can’t get it.

The 3rd, the person comparing will feel anger and resentment towards the other person and wish that the other person isn’t so pretty or rich or has the ability to travel etc… They will feel like the other person doesn’t deserve what they have and that they are more entitled to it. This, my ladies and gents is called envy. This is a disease of the heart.

It is normal to feel jealous once in a while. The solution is to:

  1. Limit your time on social media. Don’t stalk other people on social media. Unfollow accounts that make you feel insecure about your life.
  2. Resist the urge to beautify your life on social media. Either post something beneficial and uplifting or post something authentic. Don’t photoshop your pictures to make your life look glamorous.
  3. Work on yourself. Make goals and work on them. Practice self love and self care. If you’re not satisfied with something in your life, either work on it to change it or try to accept it.

If you feel envious about someone else, seek help. Tell someone and read about gratitude. Learn to be content with your life.

If you have someone envious in your life, limit your contact with them. Don’t let them in on details of your life, at least not the parts you sense they are envious about.

Ramadan Series: To post or not to post, that is the question.

Hello and welcome to my blog! Welcome to the Ramadan series where I discuss universal concepts like kindness and inner peace from my experience and share my insight with you. Today I’m going to talk about posting on social media.

Why do you post on social media?

There are many reasons one would post on social media. My main reason is because I crave connection and I’m unable to get it or too socially anxious to get it in real life, so posting is my outlet. I am most myself, sadly, on the internet. I am talking about blogging and social media alike.

Sometimes I overshare, but I’m tending to do that less on instagram but still doing it on the blog to a certain extent. Other times I clam out and don’t want to share anything so as to not jinx myself if it’s something good or for fear of regret if I’m feeling angry with someone and I post about it and then when we reconcile, I feel guilty because it’s already out there. I’m working on my rants being more ambiguous but it’s hard because the number of people I deal with is limited.

Another reason why I have been sharing less on instagram is stupid. It bothers me when my post gets few likes. My lowest limit was 7 but now it’s 11, meaning basically if my post got less than 11 likes in 2 days, I delete it. I also noticed pictures of food and nature get more likes so I have been putting more of those. And when I do, I’m not sharing about my personal life so it’s a win win situation.

Recently, though, I did a social media detox challenge and it helped open up my eyes to the fact that nobody cares. I deleted the instagram app for a week and literally nobody cared. People aren’t sitting around waiting for me to post anything. Nevertheless, when I do post, I have been trying to be mindful of what I post. I ask myself : Is it helpful? Is it inspirational? Is it uplifting?

What to post on social media and what NOT to post:

I searched online for a table that would explain what and what not to post on social media, and I found nothing! There is a table in my head obviously but I’m short on time now.

Basically when I think of what to post and what not to post, quotes and nature pictures are definitely a go. My son’s arts and crafts a cute addition to my instagram feed, though sometimes I’m reluctant to post them for fear of the evil eye. I’m superstitious like that. I don’t post pictures of myself or my son for personal reasons. I used to take a lot of pictures of my food. I still do, but I just don’t post them that often anymore. I don’t post anything offensive or anything that contradicts with my values.

In conclusion, be mindful lf what you post and remember that the internet is forever, even if you delete the post later, somebody probably already screenshotted it and sent it to everyone they know (I may be a little paranoid but it’s happened to me before).

Obviously, if you have a business account, the rules differ because you’re posting content to promote your business and there is a whole algorithm about what to post and when. I found a few images on pinterest if you’re interested:

As for personal accounts, just be mindful not to reveal too much information about yourself. Creeps and jealous people exist so be careful.