“Ramadan and fasting is a great time to hit the ‘reset’ button and give our bodies a fighting chance to have a stronger immune system, reduce inflammation, and introduce new eating habits”, says Amna Al Haddad. We chat with her and other fitness enthusiasts about the changes they plan to make during the holy month.
Amna Al Haddad
Amna Al Haddad is a weightlifting athlete. She is best known for breaking barriers as the first Arab woman to complete in CrossFit Asia and contributing to the UAE in the Rio 2016 Olympic Qualification. As Ramadan approaches, Amna is nursing an injury, but she’s not letting that stop her fitness regimen. Currently, she has an average of three strength-focused sessions and three cardio-based activities each week, but admits that dieting hasn’t been a part of her lifestyle. Consequently, she plans to focus on nutrition during the holy month, reduce her cardio significantly and move her workout sessions to late evening after iftar.
“I have just decided ahead of Ramadan to start using Believe Nutrition, a habit-based, focused-approach app where you work closely with a nutritionist who will identify one eating behavior you could work on per week. By having a nutrition coach, we can work on identifying what adjustments I need to make in my eating to help speed up the recovery process”.
Natassia D’souza is a weight-loss coach who helps women lose weight by tackling emotional eating habits and she has no plans to stop helping those who need it.
“My clients have scheduled coaching calls with me twice a week and during Ramadan no amendments will be made, because based on the feedback I received from those fasting, they still want to be held accountable for their emotional eating habits,” she says.
Natassia also has goals for herself during the Holy Month.
“I currently work out six times a week,” she says. “My workouts consist of weightlifting, 8-10K steps daily, pilates and kickboxing. During the Holy Month, I will be focusing on maintaining 10K steps daily and limiting my sugar intake.”
For those fasting, the weight-loss coach recommends staying hydrated for overall health and wellbeing.
“Stay hydrated by drinking as much water as possible during suhoor; this is turn reduces the risk of dehydration during fasting. Avoid overeating during iftar by breaking your fast with a well balanced nutritious meal. Maintain your pre-fasting exercise routines as much as possible, but always remember to listen to your body and stop when/if required”.
Doha Jarid, a certified yoga teacher, Ayurvedic & body therapist based in Abu Dhabi, is modifying the content of her classes during the Holy Month.
“I’m resetting the classes with more meditation and breathing techniques as well as slower-paced yoga flows while fasting, such as restorative classes,” she says.
She plans to pick things up after iftar with hatha and yin yoga and more fast-paced vinyasa yoga flows.
Doha’s personal routine consists of different types of yoga daily, along with Pranayama “breath work” and meditation to stay grounded, balanced and uplifted. She also includes strength training and running once a week and drinks lots of water and herbal teas.
“What I’m going to do differently this Ramadan is get myself more involved in personal spirituality and structuring my day-to-day thoughts around holy things as well to maintain my vegetarian diet, which is based on Ayurvedic principles to keep my body and mind balanced. I’ll also organize more community wellness sessions to spread the awareness of well-being, health and happiness,” she says.
Madinat Makhmudova is a yoga teacher who practices every morning and conducts classes in the evening five days per week. She plans to modify her classes during the holy month. “During Ramadan the best time for yoga is just before breaking fast or 2 to 3 hours after iftar,” she says. She is an advocate for keeping with the practice during Ramadan as the two processes align. “Ahimsa is one of the key principles of yoga and also of fasting,” she says. “It refers to non-violence in action, words and thoughts. This includes not only violence against others but also oneself.”
“What I’m going to do differently in this month of Ramadan is stop my personal training and change my eating habits. I mostly want to focus on other acts of worship such as prayer, additional prayers — Tarawih, reading the Quran, charity, family gatherings — the things encouraged during the Holy Month.”