I’m in a rut. I have writer’s block. I’m feeling very uncreative. I’m running all my miles on the treadmill for crying out loud! It is the dead of winter. We’ve endured and survived a thing called “polar vortex”, and I’m just over it. I’m ready for spring so I can remove things that have been frozen to the ground.  Weeks ago, like everyone else, I had written this gratitude list of 13 *things* I am grateful for this year. I didn’t feel like posting it, but I do think looking back allows me to look forward and plan out my year. I don’t dwell on the past, but rather consider life events and experiences as artifacts of my life. Every event had a proper place, given its context.  And in true Aquarian style, I’m posting it now, on my own terms. And after having thought about it a little more. 

My parents, my husband of 15 years, my two sons and my siblings

My new house, which I adore curating into our beloved home

My talent, which enables me to be successful in my career

Watching Derrick Rose play at the United Center

Traveling, whether with friends, family or for work

Running a sub-2hr half marathon

Getting physically stronger, lifting heavier weights, and boxing more

Writing MY narrative – check out www.MuslimahMontage.com

Amazing locally roasted coffee – Every morning I make myself a latte with the freshest locally roasted beans. Seriously, Chicago coffee has some attitude that rivals my favorites from the Bay Area and NYC. If you’re looking, try dark / espresso roasts from Big Shoulders and Halfwit Coffee Roasters – that stuff will go right through you.

My girlfriends

My health – part of the “Five before Five” sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Take benefit of five before five:
your youth before your old age,
your health before your sickness,
your wealth before your poverty,
your free-time before your preoccupation,
and your life before your death.”

and finally,
Being able to do it all over again in 2014. (God willing)


An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding Public Health

Preventative care is what drew me into the field of public health. Instead of treating disease, why not take steps to take care of yourself before it’s too late. Prevent trips to the hospital, prevent disease, prevent illness. What are some measures you currently take to ensure you and your family live a healthy life?

As my graduate school professor used to say, there is a public health impact in everything. My town built a street designed to be a thoroughfare between two business districts, in lieu of the existing green space and walking path. It caused quite an uproar years ago and the village has since tried to redeem itself by creating additional pedestrian paths and such. Creating the street added traffic, and the parking meters and lots of course contributed to increasing revenue. Consider the public health implication of farmed vs wild caught fish.

Farmed fish is laden with chemicals, mercury and the fish are fatter as they don’t have the space to be free as opposed to wild caught fish which have more omegas, sometimes as much mercury and are 3-4 times more expensive. Check out this great article by Rodale for more information. Ultimately people have to be comfortable in the decision they make when determining what type of fish to consume. Making these decisions, however, implores one to be informed.

Once you develop the mindset that there is a public health implication in everything we do, you begin to think more consciously about your actions and are more mindful about your impact. The connection between public health and preventative care becomes is blatant, and you can begin to see if from whatever lens you are wearing, be it parent, teacher, chef or physician.

Uninformed people don’t change

Here’s a sampling of various disciplines and how you can appreciate public health and take part in your own preventative health from those lenses. This reminds me of the way I first learned about public health vis a vis the social justice theory which one of my grad school professors, Dr. Bernard Turnock, is very well known for discussing. It implies that everyone in society has a fair share of burdens and benefits and that everyone be educated about health and illness. This is why I believe in the interdisciplinary approach to public health as it involves all aspects of a society.

Appreciate public health…

As a scientist. You need to understand your genetic makeup. Do you have a predisposition to heart disease? Do you have a history of diabetes? Also, understand how artificial and synthetic products are created. Soy protein isolate, for example, sounds great, it’s ‘soy’, but it’s a synthetic by-product created from soy and has little resembles to its original, healthy form. If you aspire to eat lean, clean and green you can avoid most of the synthetic junk that finds its way into common foods. It may be an adjustment, but completely possible. Beyond genetics and food is epidemiology and the etiology of disease. Understanding how diseases are formed and spread are critical to staying healthy.

As an accountant / entrepreneur. Learn how to budget and live within your means. Retail therapy, excess spending, and falling into debt are tickets to financial hell. Many people complain that eating healthy is costly, yet have no problem purchasing the latest TVs or personal electronics. Eating organic can be expensive so maybe pick the top 3-5 food items your household consumes the most and purchase those products in organic. Excess spending and living outside of your means induces stress which brings unwanted health risks.

As a lawyer / activist / politician. As my mom always told me, “Be an advocate for yourself.” Understand consumer law, understand how the FDA and USDA work. Understand how food is regulated and how the corn industry is monopolized by a few companies. (Join the fight against Monsanto). Understand your insurance policy, your rights as an insurance consumer. Does your employer reward you for maintaining your health during the year?

As a consumer. Ultimately we are all consumers. You’re reading this, you are consuming information. We consume products, ideas, food, concepts, and words. What are we putting out there in response? We are all part of a system that relies upon the strength of one another (until we get some new version of healthcare). Insurance premiums vary based on the health of your group. Cancer rates are high and communicable diseases are spreading.

What are you going to do about your public health?

Stress is good for you

Posted date: September 16, 2013

Stress is good for you, both the good and the bad.  We all have different thresholds or limits of stress, and knowing these so-called ‘tipping points’ coupled with the ability to manage your cortisol (one of three stress hormones) is important part of maintaining a balanced life.  We experience ‘challenge stress’.  Anyone who has ever given a presentation or faced a crowd has experienced it. Last week, I had to face a crowd of 100 teachers at 3pm (not the most joyful time of day to catch a teacher) for a one-hour presentation on seizure disorder and first aid. I was very prepared, yet that feeling of excitement coupled with the unknown (a new crowd) makes even a prepared person’s palms a tad sweaty.  I didn’t quite feel like my heart was beating out of my chest, but that rush of excitement is enough to increase my cortisol levels. Alas, they could not get their projector or their microphone to work, so I ‘activated’ plan b and carried on.
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Are skinny jeans bad for your health

Years ago I wrote this article, and it was the most popular post. It seems as if this trend hasn’t disappeared and is relevant today.

Fashion rarely intersects with health, but a recent trend in skinny jeans has health professionals pondering otherwise: are skinny jeans bad for your health?

Are skinny jeans bad for your mental health?

Are skinny jeans bad for your mental health?

The media has much to contribute to the way we perceive ourselves and others, what we eat, how we dress, and who we admire.  The seductive relationship between the media and the fashion industry, imposes the skinny jean on both men and women.  Personally, this is a fashion trend I could resist.  After all, how in the world do you get them off?  Nevertheless, the fashion trends prevail and it is not uncommon to find a modestly clad woman wearing a long dress, belted over skinny jeans.

What is the health problem with skinny jeans you ask?  The clothing itself is exclusive.  Skinny jeans are meant for ‘skinny legs’ case closed.  There is no other way around it. Yet when you have girls who are obsessing over fashion trends, desperate to fit in, regardless of their build, they may want to wear them.  Whether they fit appropriately or not, some are determined to fit in. What’s worse is when they don’t fit well, and more attention is drawn to them. Continue reading