Modest Gym-Wear for Plus-Sized Women

Modest gym-wear is hard to come by in mainstream stores. A lot of modest dressers are left scrambling; to improvise on how to put together an outfit for the gym. The struggle increases when one is plus-sized.

As a plus-sized hijabi, it has been incredibly hard to find modest gym-wear that not only fit my size but my height. For context, I wear a size US 14/16, and I am 5’9”. 

I have come up with a list of modest gym-wear that is useful for plus-sized women. A lot of the pieces I have selected vary in prices. 

1. VEIL Spark Half-Zip

This item is my all-time favourite piece of gym-wear. I bought an XL, and it fit me perfectly. What is incredible is that they go up to size 3XL, which is great to see. While it is pricey at US$49, it is worth the money.

2. Encircled T-Shirt Dress

A bit on the pricier side, the Encircled t-shirt dress is one of my favourites. It is ethically-made in Toronto, and the fabric is comfortable. While the neckline can be a bit wide, I love it as a top piece. The pockets add a great touch to it too.

3. Thawrih’s Aura Side-Slit Tunic

Another Canadian brand that gives back. After speaking to the co-founder of Thawrih, I found out they employ refugees based in Ottawa to help design and produce their clothing. As for the product itself, it is great, and I typically can fit in an XL! Like Veil hijab, they go up to XXXL. 

4. VEIL Glider Drawstring Jogger

My all-time favourite joggers. They’re thin enough for intense cardio but super flattering. Since I am more of a pear-shape, I bought an XXL but definitely think XL would have been better. It is great to see the ability for me to downsize for once while buying a while quality product. 

5. Old Navy Breathe ON Plus-size Hoodie

While I am not a fan of fast-fashion, I do think it helps people who cannot afford huge investments on clothing. This piece is great for the price and comes in sizes 1X -4X. For only CA$22, it is a steal.

My Journey with Mental Health Issues: Part 2/4 (2014-2015)

Trigger Warning: Depression, Anxiety, Mental Health Issues and Sickness.

My Journey with Mental Health Issues is a 4-part series I am doing on my blog and Youtube channel as a means to share my story and provide resources to those who may be seeking help. Everybody’s journey is unique and I hope by reading or hearing my story, you will be strong enough to share yours in a way that will empower others as well.


2014

2014 was a tough year for me health-wise. In February 2014, I suffered a serious concussion as I fell on the ice and hit my head twice within a span of an hour. It not only triggered physical symptoms like short-term memory loss and migraines but it also caused my mental illnesses to flair up. I was battling physical and psychological symptoms that were debilitating to say the least. My concussion also lead me to dropping my courses that semester which put me behind a year in school. I was devastated that I would not graduate with my friends.

Once I made a plan for myself after my physical symptoms were much more manageable, I started feeling better emotionally. Fast forward to late July 2014 and that is when my life changed yet again. I was on the subway going to my university when I was spat at, had my hijab pulled and verbally attacked by a middle-aged white woman. It caused me a lot of anxiety. I never spoke to anyone about it for at least 10 days. Once I processed what I went through, I decided to take off the hijab temporarily. While it relieved my fears of being attacked again, I was on the receiving end of a lot of backlash. That took a huge toll on me. People asked me if I left Islam, if I still pray and said I am making a horrible mistake. I lived with guilt for so long. I felt like I wasn’t myself.

I got over the guilt eventually but soon after another test came my way. In October 2014, I started having sharp pains in my stomach periodically. They were so debilitating that I would vomit quite violently. I kept going to the hospital. Some called it was it was: a gallbladder attack and some called it muscle spasms. This pain went on for two months. On the evening of December 3rd, I was in bed relaxing after my final exam. I had another exam the next morning at 8:00am so I was heading to sleep shortly after. While trying to sleep, the pain started again but it was 10x worse than any other pain I have had in my life. I quickly started vomiting very violently. This went on the whole night. My vomit eventually turned black and that’s when I knew I had to go to the hospital. Long story short, my gallbladder was about to explode as confirmed in an ultrasound and I was rushed to the main hospital where I was going to have emergency surgery.

I got over the guilt eventually but soon after another test came my way.

My anxiety was severely triggered by the fact I was going to have a 3-4 hour surgery. The last time I was under the knife was when I was 6 months old so this was the first operation of my living memory. I recovered quite well from the surgery but my mental health was slowly deteriorating to an extent that I would find out in 2015.

2015

My mental health was [seemingly] doing well in the early part of 2015. I was doing relatively well in school, I was very involved in many student groups and I was blogging more often. However in June 2015, my life changed forever. See, I lived with my mom and her brother. My uncle had a form of autism and we were very close. We were more than just uncle and niece; we were like siblings. I was on my way to Windsor to go to a conference when my mom told me: “Your uncle is sick, I have to take him to the hospital.” The last time my uncle went to the hospital was in 1966 so this was a big deal. I was supposed to come back in a few days but I decided to book the earliest possible train back to Toronto. Once I arrived home and got to the hospital, our worst fears were said: there are tumours in his colon and his bowel was perforated. He had to have surgery which they would take as many tumours out as possible and test them for cancer. Days later, we sadly found out that my uncle had stage 4 colon cancer and it was not curable. I was beyond shaken. I tried to remain strong but the stress got to me eventually.

In October 2015, I started getting extremely anxious and would have bouts of crying in public. One day while I was having a panic attack, a staff member that knew me well saw me and took me into their office. Through that discussion, I talked to my professor of the course I was about to write a midterm for and with their support, I sought out accommodation to help cope. I also booked an appointment with my doctor and was seen within a week. That is when I was put on medications for the first time.

The medication called Effexor really helped me stay in control of my emotions throughout the rest of 2015. However, I gained weight quite quickly and it put a damper on my overall mood and confidence.

How I Stay Organized & Plan My Time Effectively

Organization and planning are things that I have only come to embrace in my life during my years in university. See, I was a mess before. I may have used my memory to remember everything but I NEVER, EVER wrote in planners. I remember being in middle school and my grade 8 teacher would check our planners every Thursday. If it wasn't filled out by us and signed by our parents, we would receive consequences. I was the type of student, at the time, who scribbled in stuff late Wednesday night, had my mom sign it and present it to my teacher the next day.

While my 13-year-old self saw that as tedious and time consuming, my 24-year-old self thanks herself for trying to instil something in my life that would become a vital part in it over 10 years later.

Now, I am an organization freak. The desk I am writing from is coordinated to the T. Notebooks and pens to my right, other stationary to my write in a beautifully sectioned off caddy. My iMac there in case I need to hop on and do some work. I have two planners - one is a day planner and one is a weekly planner. I use my weekly planner to plan out my week as an overview while my day planner is used to for specific details. I try not to get upset if I don't follow my schedule 100% but I do try to stay on track. I use sticky notes and notepads. Also, Google Calendar has become the apple of my eye (no joke!). Now if people want to meet up for coffee, they can see my calendar and see when I am free between classes, meetings and other stuff that consumes my time. Now, I can safely say that my life has greatly improved after I stopped being stubborn and dived into the world of organization.

I KEEP IT SIMPLE

While I am one who loves colour, when it comes to my planner, black and white is how I roll. However, if something important needs to be written, I write it in red. I find too many colours distracting when trying to retrieve important dates and information and by having a simple and clean planner, I am able to see what I need to do easier.

GIVING MYSELF SPACE

I like to give myself time to let things naturally happen. While I like to stay on schedule, I feel it's really important for me to give myself some leeway as a buffer. So for example something that would most likely take 1 hour to do, I give myself 1 hour 15 minutes or 1 hour 30 minutes just so I don't need to rush from one task to another. 

I SET SHORT AND LONG TERM GOALS REGULARLY

I am an avid fan of goal-setting. Whether it be for my personal brand, my business, faith or even my career aspirations, I love goal-setting while keeping the present in mind. Something I talked about here before is destination addiction and that is something that can happen when you’re focusing on the future and not at your present. It is great to strive for a better future but if you are not aware of your present and you don’t set realistic goals, you’ll set yourself up for failure. That being said, I find to always exceed my capabilities slightly so I see growth within myself.

I SET PRIORITY LISTS ON A QUARTERLY BASIS

I have a list of different areas in my life that I prioritize. I rank them from 1-5 (or beyond). I set these priority lists so I can have a scope of what I should strive for. It’s super important to help you stay on track

So everyone, tell me how you stay organized. I would love to hear some different ways to perhaps refine my own habits as well. To everyone going back to school and work today, I hope it goes well and that 2019 brings you a year of clarity, success and refinement. 

Resources I have used and loved

1) The Content Planner
I highly recommend it for brand/business planning.

2) The Day Designer
A very detailed (kind of pricey) day planner that changed my life.

Any large whiteboard calendar to write goals and any pocket sized weekly planner to set quick goals.

Following My Dreams

18 year-old Mariam

As I head into my mid-twenties this year, I have done a lot of self-reflection. I graduated high school six years ago and looking back, I wish I could tell my younger self not to rush into post-secondary education. While I was mature for my age, I was pretty much living an academic life that did not fulfill me entirely. While I enjoyed subjects like Calculus, English, French and Spanish, some other subjects haunted me.

I was fortunate enough to get into almost every program I applied to (including engineering) based primarily on my Grade 11 marks. I really struggled with handling my anxiety in courses like chemistry and physics. While I was good at them, the pressure to excel was very daunting. I always wanted to do something that uplifted the voices of marginalized people; whether it be through politics, media or perhaps both. However, I felt the need to please one of my parents as they had saved any extra money they had since I was a baby to ensure I go to university. Through that, I decided to enrol into chemical engineering at a university here in Toronto.

First year woes

I got into extra-curricular activities right away. I joined my campus’ TEDx group and loved every bit of it. Later that semester, I joined the Muslim Students’ Association and I finally felt at home. However, a big problem was lying beneath this happiness. While I did well on my midterms that semester, final exam anxiety hit me hard and I had the lowest term GPA I have ever gotten to date. I felt like a failure. I was so used to excelling and enjoying learning that I felt something similar to imposter syndrome. Entering second semester was a big shock. I disliked my courses even more. Instead of evaluating why I chose engineering, I decided to give another stream a try in my second year.

Second year and beyond

Second semester of second year came around and I started taking courses in my new stream: mechanical engineering. I was still feeling the pain of not enjoying what I was learning. What kept me going was my involvement in and out the engineering community. I did not care about my resume and what it had on it. I cared about uplifting people and improving student life. Through that I decided to give another stream a try: industrial engineering.

While I had to stop my studies twice in industrial engineering due to health reasons, I was in this stream the longest. Before my major hospitalization in February 2017, I was at a wall. I absolutely hated what I was doing and my health was suffering. I decided it may be time to switch to another program. In mid-February, I gathered my written work, created a portfolio and wrote an essay in order to apply to journalism. Within five days of my submission, I found out I was accepted. I was elated. However, my mental health had already been damaged and I was hospitalized a few days later for almost three weeks. Through that hospitalization, I decided to give industrial engineering one last shot.

...I truly realized I need to focus on my happiness and writing my own story.

I completed the 2017-2018 year barely hanging by a thread. I was planning my wedding that happened in July 2018, I co-chaired Canada’s largest student-run national Engineering competition and I balanced it with a full course load. I was about to give up but I pushed myself. I commenced my second last year of my studies in Fall 2018. But of course, I got sick and was hospitalized twice in October for a week at a time. That’s when I truly realized I need to focus on my happiness and writing my own story.

Following my dreams

While in the hospital the second time, I worked on updating my portfolio, wrote another essay and applied to journalism. I was not confident in my application but I made dua every day during every salah and praise be to God, I was accepted in late November.

I have always wanted to make a difference to those around me.

I kept the fact I was following my dreams to very few people until I felt I was ready. Knowing myself, I kept my secret for a couple months because I was scared that people would judge me. However, once I publicly announced my career change in February, I was met with well-wishes and messages of support.

I have always wanted to make a difference to those around me. I have struggled immensely with my mental and physical health for a very long time but I try not it affect me and my goals.

If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be to live your life authentically and truthfully. Follow your heart and do what makes you content.

Beware of Destination Addiction

Destination addiction. I am as guilty of it as most millennials. We dream of our next job, our next home, when we will get married and have children. It is okay to dream these things but when it comes in our way of living in the present moment and experiencing gratitude and contentment, that is when it isn’t healthy.

 

The term “destination addiction” resonated with me when I saw a quote on Twitter: Beware of destination addiction: the idea that happiness is in the next place or job. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, you will never be where you are.

 

 

I shall tell you all a little story. Throughout my late teens and early twenties, I always dreamed of getting married to the love of my life. I was convinced that marriage would be the cure to my battle with mental health issues. I thought it would make me permanently happy. This was so ingrained in my head that, for a few years, I did not do anything proactively to otherwise keep myself content or feeling grateful.  While I am happily married (yes my dream partly came true), my mental health issues have not gone away. I was so preoccupied by a certain event in my life, one I thought would resolve my issues, that I did not build a strong enough foundation for myself. However, there were times when I stopped fixating on the future and focused on my now. One of those times happened when I met my husband.

Beware of destination addiction: the idea that happiness is in the next place or job. Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, you will never be where you are.

 See that is what destination addiction does to you. It makes you live in the future and not the present; think about the “what if’s” and not the “what now’s”. It causes more damage than it does good. I am not saying that having dreams is a bad thing, not at all. We should use our aspirations as a means to strive towards improving ourselves and helping those around us. However, when you focus entirely on the future, so much that you stop caring about who and what is around you in the present, you put your relationships and mental health at stake.

 

What we need to do is focus on our present. We should not think tomorrow is guaranteed because frankly our end on this earth is written by Him. We should take one day at a time and set goals that work today but also help you in the future. We should also count our blessings and be grateful; remember there is someone out there wishing they had your life.

My Journey with Mental Health Issues: Part 1/4 (2004-2013)

My Journey with Mental Health Issues is a 4 part series I am starting on my blog and Youtube channel as a means to share my story and provide resources to those who may be seeking help. Everybody’s journey is unique and I hope by reading or hearing my story, you will be strong enough to share yours in a way that will empower others as well.

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