Ramadan workout myths busted
Fitness expert Arwa Traboulsi guides us on the right way to work out during the month of Ramadan and shares tips on how to stay motivated
Fitness Expert, Certified Life and Wellness Coach, Dance Instructor. Arwa Traboulsi is all this and more. Of Lebanese descent, Arwa comes from a background in dance and naturally moved into the fitness arena. Her journey into the world of fitness began in 2016 where she worked at the Monday Fitness Studio, AntWork community, GoFit Gym and as a private instructor.
All this is to say Arwa inspires by just being. Ramadan is a time with lesser work hours, more food recipes to try out and longer hours to spend in bed. This slower pace of life should ideally give us that pesky time to work out that we never seem to find. Instead, for most of us, it's just another month to put off starting a fitness regimen.
You might think, 'But how can we workout after having fasted the whole day?!' Arwa has tips and more to guide us through that misconception.
A certified fitness instructor in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), we wanted to know her thoughts on working out during Ramadan, the dos and don'ts of keeping a fitness routine during the Holy month, and all that we should keep in mind.
You were a certified dance instructor before becoming a fitness expert. What inspired you to move from dance to fitness?
Both dancing and fitness were derived from a passion within me and now play a major role in my life. The urge to pass this passion and translate it into the ability to empower people around me to always put in the effort to lead a healthy lifestyle and eventually see it rendered into their mind and body will forever be my driving force.
Would you say HIIT is better than slow intensity workouts? And why?
The truth is both high intensity interval training and steady state cardio are effective in their own ways. The best system of cardiovascular training is not the "either or" approach. It is the mix between both in a way that fits each individual differently. So the best scenario would be highlighting what your goal is and based on that, you tailor your workout programme accordingly.
In your experience what would you say is the biggest misconception towards fitness during Ramadan?
Fasting during Ramadan for most people means putting their fitness routines on hold. Which is definitely a misconception. The trick is to find the best time during the day to exercise, no matter how little it is. Whatever your preferred timing is, make sure that you work out in moderate intensity. Don't overdo it, but just do it.
How can we incorporate exercise into our routine during Ramadan without tiring ourselves?
Your workout programme should be a mixture of both cardio-based exercises and weight training. You need cardio (2 times a week either after a light Iftar for 30 to 45 minutes or, and if possible, before Suhoor) to help reduce body fat and decrease excessive calorie intake, and weight training (preferably after Iftar) to help in muscle building.
Are there any food or drinks you recommend to have pre/post workout for someone observing fasts?
The diet in Ramadan should not differ substantially from your normal everyday diet. If it were sufficiently balanced, even if it's less than the normal amount you usually eat, it should keep you healthy and active all throughout Ramadan.
Since there are two main meals in Ramadan (Suhoor and Iftar) here are a few things to keep in mind:
· Suhoor should include foods that provide long lasting energy. Examples include wholewheat, oats, beans, and rice.
· Raw and unpeeled fruits and vegetables will digest slower and are rich in fiber.
· Water and fresh juices should be a staple in both meals.
· Avoiding fried food, high sugar food and high fat foods is a must.
· Dates are best consumed to break your fast as they provide natural sugars for energy. They also provide minerals and are a rich source of fiber.
During Ramadan, everyone, even non Muslims tend to lead a slower paced life and that may lead to them neglecting their fitness schedule for a while. How can one stay motivated during the month?
Your fitness plan in Ramadan doesn't need to be hectic, nor all or nothing plan. Start small. Remember the following:
· Schedule 30-40 minutes per day of active time to practice any sort of physical activity.
· Do not put pressure on yourself that continuing exactly with the same fitness programme that you had before Ramadan is a must.
· Listen to your body and accept that some days you are going to feel tired and drained which is totally okay and normal, so resting and recovery is essential.
We tend to begin working out but get bored or distracted in a few days or weeks. How would you recommend we stay motivated in the long run?
Two words you need to abide by and follow; time and consistency. Most people aren't doing what they should be doing long enough. Essentially, we all are on the right path and making sustainable changes when it comes to diet and exercise, but most of the time we ask ourselves where is the change? The answer is to just keep going. Just remember, there are no quick fixes, there are no overnight results. Just stick with it and stay consistent.
There is a trend among youngsters nowadays to turn to social media for fitness related advice whether it be working out with their favourite social media influencer or looking up nutrition advice, what do you feel about it?
Fitness inspiration posts on various social media platforms can have both, a positive and a negative impact on youngsters who are eagerly seeking advice. These posts can stir up their motivation, increase their eagerness to workout and hit the gym, and even help them change their eating habits. But, at the same time, it is very important to make sure that the sources these youngsters are following are reliable, and can be counted on to share accurate information.
Youngsters should be educated when it comes to where they can find reliable answers and who are the social media influencers who have a truly selfless positive impact on their followers.
Ideal plan for a healthy and fit Ramadan
· Stay well hydrated. Drink 2 cups of water before eating anything in order to dilute excessive stomach acid.
· Always break your fast gradually. Eat whole foods and lean proteins, and avoid processed foods for both Suhoor and Iftar.
· Get plenty of rest during the day.
Tips for those working out during Ramadan
· Don't push yourself too hard or else you will burn out, and fast. Always listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Your energy may vary from day to day so you need to accept that and adapt to it.
· No high intensity cardio during fasting. Instead, go for low intensity cardio to hit 60% of your heart rate for 30 to 45 minutes, 2 times per week.
· Exercise 30 to 60 minutes after Iftar.