For many people, finding time to exercise and eat healthy in Ramadan can be a challenge, given the fasting day and a typically busy evening schedule.
With the holy month now halfway over, yoga teacher and fitness expert Jawaher Al Fardan asserts that it is possible to stay fit while fasting. Here, she offers some advice on how, and explains why Ramadan is as good for the body as well as the soul.
One of my favorite elements of Ramadan, besides of course the heightened levels of spirituality and devotion to our religious practice, is the immense health benefits of fasting.
Cue raised eyebrows, confused faces and arguments of dehydration and starvation, but I beg to differ. The benefits of fasting to not only the body but also the mind and soul are endless.
First of all, by completely switching your daily routine of eating, sleeping, working, exercising and socializing, you are giving your body a much-needed jumpstart.
It’s easy for our bodies to adapt to the biological clock that we set, and after 11 months of following a fairly unvaried system, it begins to plateau.
Giving the body a drastically different way of being for a good period of time is like eating something different after eating the same dish for a year. Your body will love it and absorb all those nutrients immediately.
Unsurprisingly, it takes about a month to adapt to a lifestyle change, the exact duration of Ramadan. So, just as we get used to this new routine, we get to jumpstart the system again.
During Ramadan, do try to make sure you are still doing similar things that you would normally do, like exercising and mindful eating.
Otherwise, you’re just defeating the purpose by scarfing down those legaimat!
I’m all about being festive, but moderation is always key, and your body is already going through enough of a change.
I understand the concerns around the lack of water during the day. I know it can be tough, but we are doing wonders for our bodies.
By not ingesting anything for the first set of waking hours, we are allowing the body’s metabolism to slow down. This give the rest of our internal organs time to cleanse and repair themselves outside of sleep time.
Any toxins that have been hanging out can finally be released as there is nothing else coming in and blocking it from doing so.
Some people do feel pain, and I must admit I have myself, but that pain is just the release of bad toxins.
Just as letting go of something negative in your life might hurt, this can too. However, once its gone, you feel awesome.
Make sure to keep extra hydrated after breaking fast.
I like to start with a 500ml glass of water, followed by a fresh coconut which carries around 650ml.
I then have a huge green vegan smoothie made with homemade coconut milk or more fresh coconut water, lots of greens and, if I’ve worked out, then a shot of vegan protein to replenish all my vitamins and minerals.
Not only have I just been instantly hydrated with around 1.5 to 2 liters of water already, I am seriously nourished. Keep drinking water throughout the evening, and try to make sure you hit that 3L mark as a minimum.
When it comes to exercise, I’m an avid believer in working out while fasting, during Ramadan or not.
However, I do urge you to listen to your body as this can be dangerous in Ramadan without water.
Don’t push yourself too hard when fasting. Take it easy and make sure you are breathing deeply.
The power of the breath to hydrate and nourish the body is magical when carefully practiced.
If you are confident in your mind/body connection, then by all means, exercise lightly before you break fast.
Not too early on in the day as you need to conserve your energy, but right before eating, get in a workout.
Since you’ll be eating right afterwards, you will immediately repair and replenish your protein sources, allowing your body to burn fat rather than muscle.
Then, if you feel up to it, try a more intense workout two hours later. If you haven’t had a heavy meal, you’ll feel great and be properly fueled to build muscle and tone the body.
Finally, by practicing a proper fast and observing modest amounts of food, we give ourselves the space to put our lives into perspective.
How much do we really need? How little actually satiates us?
When we aren’t using up energy to ingest and digest, our body and mind begins to speak. You’ll be surprised to learn very beautiful truths about yourself if you just give it a moment to listen.
How do you keep fit during Ramadan? Thoughts?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Doha News’ editorial policy.