Saturday, May 22, 2010

Obesity in Salalah...Contagious?

Okay, so maybe gaining weight is not contagious, like say, a cold. But it certainly has a way of creeping up on you, and then BAM you look in the mirror and you can't believe how you so subtly moved from the category of 'average' to...'chubby'? Like going from the sniffles to bed rest.

I know taking the excuse of living in Salalah sounds like a cheap shot to some, but let me just say, it absolutely, undoubtedly, plays a major role in weight gain, for women AND men. Sam can attest to this, not to mention all those men with protruding bellies in Dishdash. Once your teenage football days are over, youre in for it too guys!

It hit me last week, when Sam and I were invited to a friends house, he excitedly suggested I wear that one Abaya I got last year with the pretty pink embroidery. I gave him a sharp look. He was confused when I snapped and said "Very funny!" By the look on his face, I could tell he really wasn't being funny. "That one is tight on the arms now" I said, nearly whining. The whole night I kept thinking...oh my god, I can't fit in my Abaya, my ABAYA. I couldn't believe it. It's one thing not to be able to fit in your size 4 skinny jeans, but an Abaya? Geez, that's just crazy! The dress is a tent, or so I thought! I got so pissed at not being able to fit into that Abaya I grabbed a can of Dew, a bag of chips and hot sauce and wondered....where did I go wrong? =)

Besides the fact that a lot of Omanis don't have the best eating habits, one can still make smart choices in the foods they choose even with the VERY limited products available. But what about exercise?  Its no secret that exercise is essential to keeping a healthy, fit, trim body. Its what keeps that extra cookie or a can of Dew in check from making its way to your thighs or Abaya arms.

But in Salalah your options for exercise are very limited, and moreso as a woman. Yes, gyms are somewhat available. If youre okay with using old equipment, no air conditioning and limited hours of operation, then you don't share my gripe. Earlier this week after lamenting on this weight gain, Sam and I took a walk down "airport road". I was determined to get myself moving. I walked as quickly as I could without looking like a freak, while slightly holding my dress up to avoid tripping. When I got home, I had an ugly heat rash around my neck and chest. You can't exercise in all those clothes! Duh. You have to dress appropriate for the occasion, and Abaya is just not appropriate for exercise!

I obviously don't want to work out in spandex and a tank top, of course not. But even if I wanted to work out, covered, in long pants, a long sleeve cotton shirt and sneakers on the "airport road" people would stare at me like I'm c.r.a.z.y. Women just don't move quickly around here, we dwaddle, and certainly don't dress like that. We're bound to get fat, contagious I tell you.  Men can work out, run, do push ups etc, wearing whatever.  I guess the most we can get out is, walking the Abaya of course.


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  2. LOL, I go running in Muscat (in abaya) and rollarblading and have no problem. But I am freak when it comes to loving 40 degree heat. And have a problem gaining weight in Oman since the food is (ironically) less fatty than what I am used to. So maybe I shouldn't comment.

    But in my home country I had troubles losing weight and couldn't work outside because it was too cold and hated gyms in general. So I worked out in my house. A doorway lets one do all the excercises for your arms you need, and dancing in the living room in front of full-length mirror, jumping around like an idiot for an hour is enough cardio for most people. If you believe stringed instruments are haraam, there is a kind of Irish dancing down to the bodhran (similiar to the duff) and this is a super crazy work out if you can do the dance.

  3. Arrange a group of your friends who have a silimar goal and record what you eat together, and arrange to learn maybe a new dance together through an internet video.

  4. That's what a group of Muslimahs I knew in Emirates did. They through health food lunches ect, and the previous and had great fun at it, especially after each had a baby:)

  5. Why wouldn't you want to work out in Spandex pants and a tank top? The guys on airport road work out in shorts and a tank top. Why this inequality??????

  6. ...Maybe you could cut a deal with some of the local hotels and they could do a "ladies night" or "ladies hour" Then you'll be able to work out in cool gym.

    Swimming could also be an idea. Great for your body and nice an cooling.

  7. Hi Rania. I completely can understand the frustration you have. Unlike you, however, I am not Muslim so I don't have the same dress restrictions as you do. But like you, I have gained weight while living here in Salalah, nearly 6 kilos. I find it very difficult to exercise for several reasons. It is very hot during the day and I don't like exercising in the dark (evenings)and I would prefer that the hotel fitness rooms were for females only, my own personal self consciousness. This leaves me with very few options. And if you are anything like me, working out at home, in a closed space is boring!
    I cannot imagine what it must be like for the Muslim women here who are bound by limitations in what they can wear, where they can go, and by the fact that they must try to say unseen as much as possible. God bless you with the face veil, Lord knows I could NEVER do it!
    As much as I enjoy my very comfortable life in Salalah and my great laid back job, I do wish there were more opportunity to simply go for a stroll on sidewalks, to join an all female gym at the hotels, or even run down that 'airport' road you mentioned in my good old Western clothing (do not fear, I know the rules.

  8. Assalaamu Alaikum Rania!

    You can totally get fit without having to run/be outside :)! Have you ever tried doing Pilates? All you need is a tv or computer, Youtube or your own pilates cd, some space on the floor (no more than a space you can pray in) and BAM you've got your own workout center!! Seriously, everyone I know who have ever tried this workout for a week, sees results (myself included).

    I live in Texas, and its hot like 114 in the summer--and there's no WAY I'd be running and such outside in that heat. Working out at home is too convenient.

    Just search for 'pilates' on YouTube, and its free.

  9. It's not only in Salalah but all over GCC and many other countries as well. Here the climate has to do a lot with it- it's hot and humid at least half of the year- makes you want to just stay indoors under the AC. And the culture- it's not very common to see ladies walking... None of the ladies in my husbands family indulges in sports, or goes for regular walks (other than walking in the malls while shopping :) Although one of the ladies went to gym for a period of time in order to loose weight and she was quite successful in it.

    And definitely the food- too much rice, bread, salt and spices which enhance appetite, and sugar of course.

  10. Honestly Rania, you are looking for excuses ...
    There is no magic bullet, and if there is a will, there is a way.
    On second thoughts, why be so upset ? Obviously, ur husband didnt even notice that u have put on weight (may be he finds extra weight at the "right places" attractive)
    You will always be hiding ur body in the black "tent"...
    Just keep your body moving ( so that u remain flexible and not let the joints "rust"), control ur diet a bit (no chips /junk food, less fried food and sweets etc) and you will be fine.

  11. Dude, I love your post.


  12. I have gained maybe 3kilos here (male). I feel its a little contagious too. Not much motivation to go out in the sun. I like biking, but drivers here are not entirely friendly. I think Ive nearly been hit a dozen times, its the only real form of exercise i get.

  13. Just want to mention.........
    the people in Muscat have really hot weather too, moreso than Salalah. But the people are not nearly as overweight as the people here. Contagious?

  14. As salam alaikum Rania.
    I have grt news for you, i just found out last night visa my hubby that Hamdan hotel have ladies morning ( gym and swimming pool,) from 8am to 4pm i believe. I shall be going down there with lil Ququ so if u want to join pls feel free.
    Ok airport road, mum ( not muslim therefore no hijab or abaya,)and i walked down airport road a couple of times..ok i dnt mean walk i mean speed walk as in up and down the road in 20 mins..and yes we over took the men in their sports gear.. i think a few men took it as a challenge as they started to run..mum ws holding me back from not running in my abaya and sandles cos i was ready to show em what we ninja women can No one looked at mum in a bad way, many men said hello and moved out of the way.
    I feel the sooner we women brake taboos with respectable manners the sooner other women will be able to have a better quality of life.
    Personnaly i will no longer allow society and men's narrow minded uneducated cultural carp to control my life...i allowed it for 2 yrs and not now. Allah gave us rights in islam and no man should be allowed to control our brains and souls.

    Let me know if u wish to take me up on the offer of taking the kids for a swimm one would be a pleasure inshaAllah.

    Here here to health and well being for all women.

  15. It must be hard, especially when you look at Omani's general obsession with Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds (oh, and the new Burger King in Muscat). These places are revered and treated like 5 star cuisine. KFC isn't too healthy either! I like most of these places, but as a treat once every 1-2 months, not several times a week.

    How about getting a Wii Fit? They work (according to their own advertising...). Obviously eating a bit less helps, but small changes will have results over time and ensure a lifestyle change instead of a crash diet with food cravings.

    Otherwise you're going to have to exercise outside after dark, probably with your husband!

    Best of luck!

  16. "I grabbed a can of Dew, a bag of chips and hot sauce and wondered....where did I go wrong?"
    H I L A R I O U S E

  17. ... Just wondering, I get a feeling kids in Salalah also don't do any sports apart from the odd football match. Or am I wrong? Or do they all go at night?
    Does anyone know the answer to these questions? :
    In the AFTERNOON (between 13.00- 18.00) where can (young) kids do:
    - Ballet
    - Judo/ karate
    - Athletics
    - Take swimming lessons
    - Play tennis, Basketball, Baseball, Cricket etc etc in a formal setting.

    Like we say back home: "learned young, old done" - when you learn something when you are young, you also do it when you're older!

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  19. Hola Rania !
    Muy interesante tu blog, me gusta mucho.
    Abrazos con afecto desde España

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  27. why are you wearing an Abaya ? it is not required at all in Oman. That is ridiculous.

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