‘Fitness Helped Me Find Myself After I Left My Arranged Marriage’

Kingston mum Saima Husain, 40, found her confidence – and her calling – in the gym.


I fell in love with sport in junior school – netball, softball, rounders… I even did Irish dancing. I was good at sport, and my classmates always picked me first for any team. I really loved that – it made me feel special. I grew up in quite a strict home and wasn’t really allowed to go out and play with my friends. When I was at school, playing sport, that was the only time I could really socialise and have fun.

I had an arranged marriage when I was 19, in December 1999. I had spent 5 minutes with him before we got married. We had two children by 2003. But my husband and I just weren’t compatible, and our relationship fell apart. I have nothing against arranged marriages, but we just weren’t the right fit. There was no real love there. By 2006, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I took my kids and left.

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I got a job as a sales assistant in a shoe shop. Being South Asian, as a single mum, I was very much frowned upon for leaving my husband. It was an incredibly tough time, and I battled with severe depression and anxiety.

I wanted something just for me – something that made me feel accomplished, like I was achieving something. So I joined my local gym. Exercise and fitness became my safe place – where I could be my own person.

It was the only thing I felt was mine.

I was still very self-conscious, so I started off on the cardio machines. They all faced the windows, so I didn’t have to look at anyone – or see anyone looking at me – while I exercised.

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But the trainers were all lovely, and there was one in particular who took me under his wing. He coaxed me away from the treadmill, gave me free 10-minute boxing sessions, and gave me a basic resistance circuit I could follow. For about 3 months I would just repeat the same circuit every single day!

Initially, I had the usual motivations; I wanted to lose a bit of weight and tone up, and after the first few months, my body did start to change (I dropped about 3 dress sizes) – but my outlook changed even more. I found that I was chasing goals, rather than a certain body type.

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‘Fitness Helped Me Build My Confidence After I Left My Arranged Marriage’

Kingston mum Saima Hussein, 40, found her confidence – and her calling – in the gym.



a woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: After leaving her tumultuous marriage, Kingston mum Saima Hussein, 40, found her confidence – and her calling – in fitness.


© Provided by Women’s Health UK
After leaving her tumultuous marriage, Kingston mum Saima Hussein, 40, found her confidence – and her calling – in fitness.

I fell in love with sport in junior school – netball, softball, rounders… I even did Irish dancing. I was good at sport, and my classmates always picked me first for any team. I really loved that – it made me feel special. I grew up in quite a strict home and wasn’t really allowed to go out and play with my friends. When I was at school, playing sport, that was the only time I could really socialise and have fun.

I had an arranged marriage when I was 19, in December 1999. I had spent 5 minutes with him before we got married. We had two children by 2003. But my husband and I just weren’t compatible, and our relationship fell apart. I have nothing against arranged marriages, but we just weren’t the right fit. There was no real love there. By 2006, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I took my kids and left.

I got a job as a sales assistant in a shoe shop. Being South Asian, as a single mum, I was very much frowned upon for leaving my husband. It was an incredibly tough time, and I battled with severe depression and anxiety.

I wanted something just for me – something that made me feel accomplished, like I was achieving something. So I joined my local gym. Exercise and fitness became my safe place – where I could be my own person.

I was still very self-conscious, so I started off on the cardio machines. They all faced the windows, so I didn’t have to look at anyone – or see anyone looking at me – while I exercised.

But the trainers were all lovely, and there was one in particular who took me under his wing. He coaxed me away from the treadmill, gave me free 10-minute boxing sessions, and gave me a basic resistance circuit I could follow. For about 3 months I would just repeat the same circuit every single day!

Initially, I had the usual motivations; I wanted to lose a bit of weight and tone up, and after the first few months, my body did start to change (I dropped about 3 dress sizes) – but my outlook changed even more. I found that I was chasing goals, rather than a certain body type.

I loved to run, so I decided a half marathon was the next goal – I’d never set myself such a big one. The training was so tough on so many levels – trying to fit in training while still being there for my kids wasn’t easy. But I did it – and that feeling was something I’d never felt before. Smashing that goal made me feel unstoppable.

After my marriage ended,

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A survivor. A funeral director. A marriage divided. How Americans’ COVID experiences shape their votes

HOUSTON, TEXAS-JULY 1, 2020-HOUSTON, TEXAS-JULY 1, 2020-Putting a patient on a ventilator is a last resort. Dr. Joseph Varon, center, does emergency treatment on Terry Hill, age 65, after putting him on a ventilator assisted by his team of nurses and medical students. At United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, Dr. Joseph Varon leads a team to fight the increasing number of coronavirus patients in the expanded Covid-19 ward on July 1, 2020. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
Dr. Joseph Varon, center, does emergency treatment on a COVID-19 patient at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston this summer. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

In Wisconsin, a funeral home director who has watched the COVID-19 pandemic rip through her community can only blame President Trump.

In Texas, little can change one woman’s loyalty to the president — not even her own struggle for breath as she lay in a hospital bed.

In New Mexico, an underemployed firearms instructor plans to cast his vote as a rebuke to Democrats he says were overzealous in closing businesses.

In Arizona, a Joe Biden voter found political detente with his Republican wife as the lingering effects of infection continue to cause them pain.

In Michigan, a school bus driver won over by the president before the pandemic deepened her devotion and took up arms to protest shutdowns.

Even before the coronavirus sunk in its teeth, the United States was deeply polarized. Facts mattered less than feelings and political parties acted like tribes.

The virus — a shared, microscopic enemy that demanded a unified response — offered the nation a chance to come together. But from face masks to shutdowns, the pandemic quickly became the main thing Americans were fighting over.

As the death toll grew so did anxieties about who would win the presidency.

Election day arrives as the virus surges like never before, with an average of more than 80,000 new cases reported each day last week — well over previous spikes and up more than 44% from two weeks earlier.

Once concentrated in urban centers like New York and later in Sun Belt states, the virus is now ravaging the rural Midwest and Rocky Mountain states.

Field hospitals have been pitched in parking lots from Texas to Wisconsin. In the past week, hospitalizations reached new highs in 18 different states.

Treatment is improving and infections are increasingly concentrated in younger people with high odds of survival, but experts predict a significant rise in the U.S. death toll, which now tops 230,000.

The surge poses a dilemma for officials trying to balance health concerns with economic ones as the public grows wary of more forced shutdowns.

Polls suggest that most voters have made up their minds — and record numbers have already cast their ballots.

All of the issues that divided America before coronavirus have been eclipsed.

This is the pandemic election. And these are the stories of five voters.

The funeral home director

The first call came in late March.

A 70-year-old had died shortly after being taken off a ventilator. Michelle Pitts sent a hearse to pick up his body from the hospital.

Michelle Pitts, owner of New Pitts Mortuary, stands outside her Milwaukee funeral home.
Michelle Pitts, owner of New Pitts Mortuary, stands outside her Milwaukee funeral home. (Kurtis Lee / Los Angeles Times)

There would be no funeral, just a burial at the cemetery attended by three relatives. The family was too worried about contagion.

Pitts was left with the feeling that “this virus was going to be

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