WASHINGTON — Everyone knows losing weight is hard. What’s even harder is trying to lose weight when your friends aren’t supportive of what you’re trying to achieve.
That’s the situation Nadine Abu Jubara found herself in a few years ago. An American Muslim of Palestinian descent living in Florida, Jubara says that, when she decided to try and shed a substantial amount of weight and get healthier, she found few allies in her Muslim community.
At weddings and parties where the tables heaved with Middle Eastern food, she would set about choosing the healthiest items and smallest portions and hear, “Oh come on, take more!” or, “It’s just one day, it’s just one bite!”
“There was almost this discouragement for what was going on, but I still held strong and I kept going and I made it to my goal,” she says.
Thirty kilos later, and lighter, she noticed a dramatic change in people’s reactions.
Many were so impressed by her weight loss that they wanted to know how she did it.
“After about the hundredth time I was asked, ‘What’s your secret?’ I thought, clearly we have some sort of void in this community about this topic,” Jubara says.
Jubara realized that Muslim women have few, if any, resources to help them lose weight and get healthy. Their challenges are unique: observant Muslim women wear modest, body-shrouding garments even while exercising, and face cultural pressures that emphasize lots of food and mealtimes with others, which makes individual eating choices difficult.
Newly svelte and healthy, Jubara says she decided to help other women overcome those challenges.
So the trained civil engineer created a website she called, “Nadoona,” which means “call on us” in Arabic. She says she liked that when you say it in reverse, the name “almost sounds like ‘a new dawn.'” She began charging a modest fee for personalized diet and exercise consultations and one-on-one video coaching.
‘Fat And Cellulite Don’t Discriminate’
The response was overwhelmingly positive, not just among Muslims, but also non-Muslim clients, which Jubara hoped would be the case.
“When I thought of this idea, I didn’t want it to eliminate anyone,” she says. “As I always say, fat and cellulite don’t discriminate between races, so I never wanted to have those boundaries and barriers dividing us that we find in so many other arenas. It’s a topic that we can all relate [to].”
Interest was so great that it gave Jubara another idea: “Nadoona Extreme,” billed as “the first ever workout DVD for Muslim women.”
“Transform your body in the comfort of your own home,” it promises.
Jubara released “Nadoona Extreme” at the beginning of November after an initial printing of 2,000 copies. Customers have been preordering the video from the website for weeks.
The video features a terrifically fit woman named Zainab Ismail — “the Hijabi Drill Sergeant” — with a unique story: she’s Puerto Rican, a former national body building champion, and a fitness trainer with 20 years of experience. She’s also a fairly recent convert to Islam.