Self-discipline over Motivation

Small steps lead to great places

I’ve never looked at myself as the most disciplined Man, especially when I was a youth. As a result of finding Islam and submitting to Allah (Glorified be He) as a Muslim, I’ve matured. Becoming a husband and father have also brought about growth in me. I take my health seriously now because I have a family depending on me. If I can’t serve those I love then I’d be holding them back so I keep grinding in anticipation for a door to open. You may be able to relate to this. You’re putting the work in for the loved ones, trying to do good for your community and society in general but things aren’t clicking as you’d like.

Self-discipline is your ability to control your habits and choices which can take some training. When it comes to your health you have to get past being motivated and drive into self-discipline because they are two different breeds of Beast. Motivation is what causes a person to want to repeat a behaviour and in this case, we’ll use exercise. So, you watch a video online and get motivated, great, but how many times will you watch that video and get motivated? It won’t take long until you’ve memorised the audio and no longer feel moved by what you viewed. 

Self-discipline on the other hand is being self-motivated and dedicated to the goal you want to achieve. With this self-discipline you can get yourself up at 5 am to go workout while the rest of the world is sleeping, you find more blessings in your time because you’re using time well, you’ll find more happiness in yourself and the things you do and you’ll feel super productive. All of this coming about by you looking to yourself for motivation with the knowledge that your goals won’t be achieved unless you get to work. 

You need to be knowledgeable about yourself, your weaknesses and what to do when you feel tempted to fall into old ways, you need to set solid SMART goals and reaffirm those goals regularly as well as introducing habits that are positive and help you reach your goals.

In my view and in yours I hope, you now see that self-discipline is the way to a happier and healthier self. Motivation goes up and down but by knowing your strengths and weaknesses you can stay disciplined and reach your goals whether you have slipped or not.

If you’re a man looking for a way to lose weight, you’ve tried things but really want to get serious and get into shape, CriterionFit are here to empower you to make better health, fitness and nutritional choices through our 8-week programme ‘The Old Medicine’, a combination of dietary adaptation (on agreed terms) and exercise that will get the ball rolling and allow you to finish the course more informed, educated and ready to lead a healthy and happy lifestyle.

[Email Here] and we will arrange a free consultation.

Is Cardio Training Really a Waste of Time?

Get on the road to smashing your goals.

Cardio Training be it indoors or outdoors is not a waste of time let’s get that clear from the start. Cardiovascular Training should be in every gym program, however, the mode of training will vary depending on your overall goals. If weight loss is your goal as it is for my clients on “The Old Medicine” program cardio training will be an essential element to their training plan.

My name is Hanif, owner of Criterion Fitness and Nutrition, helping Men tip the balance of health and fitness in their favour. I’ve been a Qualified Nutrition Adviser and Gym Instructor for just under 5 years. As a Muslim, I take health seriously as we all should. It’s said, “The greatest blessing after firm faith is good health” and so I go about trying to promote this belief. But enough about me, let’s continue on with Cardio Training and why it’s worth your time.

It’s true that resistance training i.e. weight training can elicit a calorie-burning effect for hours after your training session but cardiovascular training with the goal of weight loss is still worth getting into for the reasons we will discuss. Cardiovascular training makes your heart pump blood around your body at a faster rate and increases the amount of oxygen you consume as opposed to being at rest. Cardio training, be it HIIT training (High-Intensity Interval Training) or LISS (Low-Intensity Stready State) such as swimming, cycling or running on a treadmill will do the following for your body…

Improve the health of your heart: Reducing your chances of heart disease by helping your heart pump blood around your body efficiently due to your training. Cardio training regularly will help you lower your blood pressure and keep your arteries clear of blockages from LDL (low-density lipoproteins) by increasing your amount of HDL (high-density lipoprotein).

Asthma can be improved: Cardiovascular training such as swimming, running and cycling in good weather conditions can improve your lung capacity and reduce the chances of Asthma attacks. ***Before you engage in Cardiovascular training please seek the advice and knowledge of your GP since not all cases of Asthma are the same – I am not a Doctor!!!***

Bathroom scale

Weight loss: Yes regular Cardio training coupled with a diet that sees you burning more calories than you consume will (God willing) see you losing weight. It’s important to my clients that they can manage their busy schedules of work and family while still doing regular exercise so the best way to stay consistent is to engage in physical activity you enjoy such as swimming, running on the treadmill while watching a wildlife documentary or whatever you deem to be fun.

Other reasons to engage in cardiovascular training includes:

  • Regulating blood sugar (important for diabetics)
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Better sleep
  • Improved immune system
  • Improved libido
  • Improved brain function
  • Improved mood and more.

After all of these reasons you’ll understand why regular cardio training is beneficial to your health and maintaining your weight. As a child I was involved in a lot of sports but as I aged my fitness levels fell off. As I became a husband and father I found a renewed passion for fitness which has lead to this day and you reading this post. I hope you’ll decide to get that bit more active than yesterday and strive to maintain fitness/exercise in your everyday life. 

Is Cardiovascular Training really a waste of time? No way, who said that to you? Maybe someone that doesn’t see the lean and healthy man you could be within a short amount of time if you stick to the plan! If weight loss is a goal of yours check out our Weight loss Program [Here] which includes a personal gym plan and regular meetings to answer your questions and motivate your progress.

Further Reading:

How many Calories in a Pound of Fat?

Get ready to lose a pound a week.

As the weather in the UK is getting brighter, days getting longer and layers of clothing reducing you may be feeling more motivated to shed some of the weight you gained during Lockdown 2021. Many of us men are in the same situation, wanting to get back into shape or starting a fitness journey for the first time. I say journey because fitness would ideally be a part of our everyday lives. Today we will discover how you can start shedding pounds and how many calories you need to burn to lose a pound of fat this week!

As a youth I didn’t have to do much except jump up a few times and the effects of eating a whole pizza to myself would just fall away, however, things are not like that for me today as I reach my 40’s. Now I fast regularly (Sunnah Fasting), drink much more water, work out at my gym, resume Martial Arts and engage in Running sessions. I love to do all this while working on my diet which is the hardest part, being a father of growing children. I can’t eat as I did when I was a bachelor and I wouldn’t want to.

You may be unaware of calories so let’s break it down. Calories are a store of energy found in foods – protein, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol. How many calories are found in the mentioned macronutrients can differ. When we eat food we consume the energy of that food once it is broken down within our bodies, possibly being used as fuel for our muscles or strengthening our eyes sight or benefitting our skin; the food we eat can affect our bodies in many ways – for good or bad.

It takes the consumption of 3,500 Calories to gain or lose 1 pound of Fat. By counting calories, you can monitor your progress which I’d recommend to anyone starting out on their weight-loss or gain journey. Losing weight is best achieved by doing more than fasting or increasing exercise, it’s best to adapt your whole lifestyle to a way that is sustainable, balanced and enjoyable for the long term.

You may have heard people talk about cutting calories by 250 Kcal per day. This would be coupled with physical activity that also expends 250 Kcals each day, totalling 500 Kcals each day. Over a week this would amount to a Calorie reduction of 3,500  Kcals per week. Running for 30 minutes per day can help you lose between 200-500 kcals per day. Running is one of the best and easiest ways to start dropping weight, also benefiting your lung and heart health. Strength training and Cardio training combine would be the optimal way to lose weight and sculpt your body into the physique you’ve always wanted. 

If you’d like help to achieve your weight loss with an exercise programme designed around your needs message Hanif [Here] and get ready for a Summer like none other.

Not All Weight-Loss Goals Are The Same

bathroom scale

If it’s not “New Year’s Resolutions” it’s the “Summer Shred” or something else, the peer pressure and body shaming can be unrelenting. I do notice how the media and companies promote their products to ignite a desire within people. I’m a part of that just by stepping into the fitness arena be it by what I wear in the gym or the things I post on the internet, it all goes to shape how other people choose to live their lives and what they think of themselves. 

So, you want to lose weight and you’ve tried exercise videos, YouTuber products, cooked a few new meals and bought meal prep containers, you even bought some gym equipment! Why aren’t you where you want to be? Listen, you need to have a clear vision for what you want to achieve because your weight-loss goals are unique.

Yes, your weight-loss goals aren’t the same as the next mans’ although the core may be similar. Some men want to reduce body visceral fat (the dangerous fat that sits around organs) which is linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Other men want to move, look and feel better because they have to sit on a chair to tie their shoes. Some guys used to be very active until an injury, work and family commitments came along. They just want to reignite that healthy lifestyle and on and on, the reasons don’t stop.

You must reflect upon your own goals for weight loss, what you want to achieve and why. This will make the task easier, clearer and faster because you can articulate exactly what you want to achieve to anyone who asks. When you know what you want we’ll be able to design a plan to achieve it.

Smart goal setting is what we do at Criterion Fit because it provides a clear vision for our clients to build upon as time progresses and smaller goals are achieved. Your goals are unique and important. The way to success will vary depending on your lifestyle, time available, equipment at your disposal and so on. Yes, you’ll likely need to do some cardiovascular training but that could be in the form of circuits with kettlebells, not necessarily a treadmill or recumbent cycle.

If you have the goal of losing weight and would like the help of a certified nutrition coach such as myself, click [Here] to learn about our programme ‘The Old Medicine.’ If you’ve found this article enlightening and you’ve benefited, leave a comment and share it with family or friends. Thanks for reading and all the best on your weight-loss journey.

Road to PT’ing: Start Light With Kettlebells

Have you ever noticed that the Kettlebells’ in your gym are almost always in order and clean? That’s because there’s only a small number of people that know how to safely use them. Kettlebells’ look threatening and in the wrong hands yeah, they can do a good bit of damage. But if you know what you’re doing you can get a very good workout session in with little time and less weight than you’d imagine.

My name is Hanif and welcome to Criterion Fit if this is your first time here. I’m a Gym Instructor and Nutrition Adviser, I’m also studying for my Personal Training Certificate. On top of that I’m a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and I’m always looking to build links so if you want to roll with me get in touch and we’ll hit the mat (God willing).

Kettlebell Training is an aspect of personal training that I’m really looking forward to, for myself and future clients. There’s an aspect of functionality to Kettlebells’ but the style of training can also be challenging enough to bring about real strength and endurance which are two things every BJJ practitioner wants in their arsenal.

It can be very easy to overstate our proficiency with Kettlebells’ because us men don’t want to pick up small weight, we want the heavy work right?! So you start with 16kg or maybe even 20kg but a few swings in and you’re already sweating. “Go lite my G, go easy.” It’s important to get your form in check before going heavy on Kettlebells’, that’s the way you’ll avoid injury and time away from training.

I will be doing my Kettlebell course in the coming months but I’ve been preparing with some lite weight because getting the form and sequence, movement patterns right from the start will help me help clients. I really believe my clients will enjoy Kettlebell training because you can increase your lung capacity with this training, lose weight and get cut with this training and increase in real strength with this training.

Kettlebell training looks cool and isn’t for the weak minded which is why it so complements BJJ training. Before I got my Kettlebells (during covid19 lockdown) I’d be seen in the gym doing farmers walks with 20kg Kettlebells. That was the most I’d do with them besides lunges because I was intimidated by the thought of getting submitted by a flying bell as I slip on sweat. I’m that bit more confident now and looking forward to my training day.

It would be great for me to hear from my readers as to how they get on with Kettlebells, what they wish they knew before they started using them and any tips to share. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on my road to personal training. If you’d like to get in the gym with me and chop it up (i.e talk about fitness, stocks, bjj, footwear or books) drop me an email [Here] and we can sort that out – men only. I welcome your comments and suggestions so drop them. Thanks for reading, stay well.

Road to Black Belt: The Road Is Long So Take It Slow

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a form of self-defence and also an emerging sport that takes a real level of fearlessness since you can be submitted in brutal fashion. Talking of fashion, there’s a level of fashion and lifestyle associated with BJJ as it is helpfully abbreviated. Since 2018 or so, BJJ has been a part of my life although I’ve not been nearly as consistent in my training as is needed to get ranked but this is something I need to accept, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a slow road.

Many people get the bug when they first start training but it wasn’t like that for me. I tried Judo in school but I wasn’t consistent and the same happened with BJJ. I’d be on time but I found the struggle of BJJ to be real, it requires patience because you won’t find the white-belt stage to be easy. Any blue belt and up is a person of dedication and patience and they will all agree with that statement because rolling on the mat is a test.

I’ve been a White-belt for some time and now I can see the issue within myself. It’s the same issue I have with learning Arabic, Seeking Knowledge and all the other important tasks I have set myself. I say these things are important to me but I need to act upon that importance by putting in the allotted time and extra time to win, push harder!

With lifestyles it’s easy to wear the clothes, learn a few words and phrases that connect to the life, you can go to the competitions and gatherings but if you’re not doing the work, the real work, you’re not truly in it. In Islam we call this Ikhlas (sincerity) which is the difference between doing things to be seen and doing things to please Allah azza wa jal.

My goal in BJJ is to learn the gentle art for myself and share that knowledge with others as I progress but that won’t happen until I am firm in my goal. When the Covid-19 lockdown hit I saw a blessing I had leave me, a place I could go to work on myself outside the Masjid, Duroos and Strength training Gym. The BJJ mat is a place I’ve missed and can’t wait to get back to it but with a new plan.

I have all the Gi’s I’ll need for some time. Now is about the work; I’ll be keeping a training diary which is the best way for me to progress and stay accountable. Progress takes time and it’s a slow road but if I take a step daily the miles will rack up.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my articles. If you enjoyed this piece and would like to learn more about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu give me a shout [Here].

Core and Functional Strength: Workout Session

Stand-up if you do the shopping for the family. You get props from me, and if you’ll walk the bags home you get double, it doesn’t matter your age. The local market or Supermarket is a great place to pass through as long as you can focus upon your intention away from packaged foods and know a bit about food groups. With knowledge of what you and your family need nutritionally, you can mix and match foods in order to ensure your nutritional balance is sorted but this post is about exercise.

Functional Training has many faces and meanings depending on who you’re talking to. To me, the main idea behind Functional Training is to be able to execute the tasks of daily living with ease. A core component of any style of training is Core Exercise which is your midsection also known as the ‘Trunk’ which also includes your Spinal Column. Your core muscles stabilise your body so increasing strength in this area will help you when walking and carrying heavy loads as well as balance. 

This core burning workout is just what you need to strengthen your core and put the ‘F’ into Functional Training. Doing this workout twice or three times a week will help you to increase muscle endurance and strength so give it a try, don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout.


High Knees: 5 sets – 30 seconds (per set) – 15 sec Rest.

Planks: 3 sets – 30 seconds (per set) – 30 sec Rest.

Main Session:

Squats: 3 sets – 8 to 10 reps – 2 min Rest.

Farmers Walk: 3 to 5 circuits – 1 min Rest.

Static Squat (body Weight):  5 sets – 30 seconds (per set) – 2 min Rest.

Walking Lunge: 3 circuits – 2 min Rest.

Barbell Roll-out: 3 sets – 8 to 10 reps – 2 min Rest.

Chin-Ups: 3 sets – 8 – 10 reps – 30sec/1 min Rest.

Take Your Pick: The Reality of Positive Energy Balance

Too many Calories that build up, not being expended by exercise or physical activity cause an increase in body weight. The more you eat without burning off those calories the heavier you will become. This principle is known as energy balance or part of it anyway.

Food stores energy, as do many drinks. If you eat the “healthy” food such as salads, fruit and have balanced macros for your goals, you’ll be on the way to a health status and aesthetic look you’re looking for. However, if you eat “junk food” on a regular basis in amounts your body can’t dispose of the aesthetic looks won’t show and you could find yourself open to other health problems.

Some men think they can outrun a bad diet, I myself have thought this way in the past but it doesn’t work like that. Yes you can eat the treats you like while on the “Old Medicine” weight-loss programme but it’s important you come prepared for adaptation to your diet. You have to make the decision, is it “fun times” or a “long time?”

Road to PT’ing: Setting the Bar and what makes Criterion Fit Special

Criterion Fitness and Nutrition

Criterion Fitness and Nutrition is in the business of helping Men turn wishes into reality. No magic or falsehood involved, sometimes we get it right and other times the road with clients just gets longer. But be in no doubt that we strive to provide our clients with up-to-date knowledge and expert execution in all aspects of their fitness journey. 

If you’ve had a look at our social networks such as Instagram you would have noticed that we don’t show pictures of ourselves or our clients which is due to our Religious beliefs. This may be surprising to you since the fitness industry thrives off models, personal trainers, nutrition coaches and dieticians putting themselves front and centre and selling their own looks to bring clients in. We hold to the belief that taking pictures is a disobedience to the example left by our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Another shock to your system may be that we only serve Men with our fitness and nutritional services. Again, this is due to our Religious beliefs since, as Muslims, a level of segregation between the sexes is advised to avoid the steps that lead to fornication and what comes with this sin.

You may feel that this is being extreme or old fashioned but in reality this is all to preserve health, faith, family and society in general. What we stand for makes us special, while many Muslim Men working in the fitness industry shrug off the responsibility of preserving the hayaat (modesty) of their clients, we take this task seriously to the point we are developing a client code that will benefit them in achieving their goals and encourage good manners and moral character among ourselves and the gym users we are in proximity to.

The levels we hold ourselves to set the pace for this industry which has some extreme lifestyles & views connected to it as well as some ways you could call self-sabotaging. We are in the business of helping Men live longer, stronger and happier lives. We don’t distinguish between races, age or disabilities, we love women and all they do. However, Criterion Fit is here to aid the leading Men of the future get their health sorted so Society can be lead forward in a manner pleasing to Allah azza wa jal.

If you’d like to work with Criterion Fitness, offering gym plan and nutritional consultations. Or, maybe you’d like to be added to our Personal Training waiting list, whatever the case may be you can send us a message by clicking [Here].

Like and share this post, this will help us to understand what needs our readers have and provide what you’re looking for, answers to your fitness journey questions.

A Healthy Lifestyle is the Goal

A balanced diet in terms of nutrients is essential for a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle is what everyone is going on about, there’s so many of them. I’d like to talk about maintaining a healthy lifestyle which comes in all shapes and sizes but I will be general in my speech, I hope you find this article to be an informative introduction that will serve you well. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes more effort than you’d think so here are some basics to get you started.

Goal Setting:

Before we look into aspects of a healthy lifestyle (generally) it’s essential that you set some goals. Don’t do what everyone else is doing to achieve the goals they have because those are their goals. It takes reflection and a good level of self-awareness to come up with a goal that works for you individually. If you’re finding this hard employ a fitness and/or nutrition coach like myself to help you in this goal. You need to be critical about your strengths and weaknesses. From that point you can gauge what you need to work on right now and what will be the next goal to achieve. 

Set goals but enjoy the ride.

Weight loss/gain:

If you want to gain or lose weight don’t focus on the weight target too rigidly but rather the steps and the journey to the goal weight, a day at a time, that will help you keep motivated and enjoy the process. As you look back month after month as you’ve been eating healthily and exercising more you’ll see the growth within yourself and enjoy it more. As previously said, don’t worry about what the next person is doing. You need to be all-in on your weight goal and rely upon yourself as much as possible. 

Know what affects your eating habits & know when you’re truly hungry:

Do you eat food when you’re stressed? Emotional and stress signs are different to hunger signs since hunger is a physiological reaction to a lack of food and shows as hunger pain, dry mouth, growling stomach and so on. Learning to make food choices that complement your goals will help you form new eating habits that boost your mood, aid your health and could save you money.

Eating more vegetables, healthy fats and fibre:

The vegetables we eat contain vitamins and minerals and fibre. The vitamins and minerals in vegetables play essential roles in maintaining a healthy body. It’s better to eat fresh in-season veg that was grown close to home since this will further increase the freshness of the food, in turn helping maintain the nutritional properties of that food. Healthy fats like nuts and seeds are great snacks full of antioxidants and have many other benefits.

Drop eating added sugar:

Adding sugar to food is a major issue, more so than eating fats. Sugar is an empty calorie, fulfilling little to no benefit to the body. Eating sweets, treats, biscuits and drinking fizzy drinks all increase your chances of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Try to reduce your sugar use by keeping tabs on your consumption and adapting your food choices, switching to sugar alternatives and honey which has many benefits for our health.

Sleeping well:

Getting regular sleep for the duration of time your body needs to recover is very important. Sleeping is beneficial to health because it increases concentration and memory formation, boosts your immune system to avoid sickness and increases emotional well-being. How much sleep you need per day depends on your age and how much energy you expend each day but generally an adult man will need 7-8 hours of sleep each day.

Stay active and remain a work in progress.

Staying Active:

Regular Physical Activity is important to our health including the Brain, Muscle and Heart. Your mental health is boosted by regular exercise such as running, which many people have found to be true during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Exercise improves blood flow, lung capacity, and the composition of your body. You can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and increase muscle mass through exercise.

Drink more water:

Drink a litre a day, 2 or more than that! People say a lot of different things about drinking water but the best thing you can do is listen to your body and drink regularly and in accordance to your situation. Water is essential to life and staying hydrated will improve your exercise and daily performance, energy levels and brain function, improve bad skin and much more.

I wouldn’t call this the definitive guide to a healthy lifestyle since we missed out aspects of a healthy lifestyle like positive relationships and money management which can both have major impacts upon the quality of your life and wellbeing in general.

From a health, fitness and nutritional point of view you should now be able to look at and evaluate your current lifestyle to gauge whether you need to make changes, when and how, in a methodical way (God willing).

Thank you for reading this post, my name is Hanif and I’m a Fitness and Nutritional Coach here at I hope you’ll come back to read more articles and also follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Helping Men live healthy lifestyles is what we do here, tipping the balance of fitness in your favour. If you have any questions shoot them over to me by emailing us [Here].