Cycle 3 will consist of a 12-week period starting today. The aim is to lose 5kg when it is over, at a rate of 400-500g a week. It is a doable goal I think. Rajin dan usaha tangga kejayaan.
I am the kind of person that can lose weight pretty easily once I stick to a consistent diet and exercise routine. By same token, all I need to do is glance at cupcakes and the weight will pile around my waist and hips instantly.
My ideal weight would be around the 53-57kg mark. Anything lesser the twins disappear; anything beyond that I’d look like a fatty crab. Not pretty. To determine my ideal weight, I use the BMI Calculator found at the Nutrition Society of Malaysia website. My problem is I seem to lose/gain the same 5kg over the years. It is stubborn and annoying. I want to get rid of it once and for all.
In the past year I have learned not to loathe exercising. I have not come to a point where I love it yet, but I miss it and I feel guilty when I relapse. Food remains my biggest challenge – desserts specifically – and I know until I find a way to conquer my binges, or at least keep it under control, I will always have these 5kgs dancing around my waist for the rest of my life.
“Many Muslims have stated that they gain weight throughout Ramadan. This mainly occurs because once the fast is broken at night, food is enjoyed and sleep overtakes the Muslim. The body systems slow and the components of food are stored during sleep. But if there is a committed effort to exercise during the day, then the food that is consumed will go toward muscle repair.”
Read more at Suite101: Staying Fit During Ramadan: Exercising in the Muslim Month of Fasting
What To Observe When Exercising In Ramadhan
I have posted before about exercising in Ramadhan. To meet my -5kg goal, I need to continue exercising at least 3 times a week, and recalibrate my food intake – basically training my tummy to accept that it is full with smaller portion of food than it usually requires, and to get a grip on my sweet tooth (God help me). I have read many articles on exercising during the fasting month and 5 major outtakes that I get would be these:
1. Exercise routine should be light to moderate, but maintained at min duration of 30mins each time every other day to give the body a chance to recover and repair. In other words, it’s just the same as any regular month (3x a week x 30mins each time; if you can manage 45mins even better!), just adjust the intensity. So, Fartleks and circuit trainings are out, easy jogs are in; if you lift weights then consider increasing the duration and decreasing the weight.
To the question whether one should even attempt to exercise at all, the answer is yes. My routine would be 15mins of walking to warm up, about 15-20min of easy jogging and another 5min of walking to cooldown; these are followed with my free weights routine to tone the arms, a round of abs and core strength exercise and a 10min yoga stretch once I get home. Basically it is my regular routine, all I am doing is to substitute the running with more walking and easy jogging, the rest remains the same. I have tested this routine 3x in the last 2 weeks (to prepare myself for the fasting month I actually fasted a few days a week) and had my first real exercise-during-Ramadhan today. The first time I tried it I got lightheaded after it was over, but today it went pretty well. My jogging speed is not what I would like it to be but I believe this can be improved as my body adjusts to the fasting.
2. The best time to exercise would be one of the following:
a) Before sahur (4am-5am);
b) Within 2 hours before the breaking of fast (5pm-7pm). This is my preferred option because knowing that refreshments are just 30min away gives me great motivation. Nothing like a cold shower and fresh clothes while waiting for azan Maghrib (call to prayer at dusk) to be played on the telly. There are conflicting views on this: some say that you risk dehydration and muscle damage, others say that with the lack of glycogen the body will start to burn stored fat thus you are actually hydrated during the duration of the exercise and you burn fat faster. Anyway, I choose this because I find that exercise works best when I can fit it into my schedule organically rather than forcing it. Due to my erratic sleeping behaviour I almost always miss sahur, and after breaking of fast I prefer “rewarding” my body with chilling out and relaxing instead of pushing my body further with exercise. Anyway, the golden rule is whatever that works best and can be maintained consistently.
c) At least 2 hours after the breaking of fast (9.30pm-10.30pm).
3. Break the fast gradually: start with drinks and fruits, followed by soup, then a 10min break (good time to perform Maghrib prayers and catch a little telly) before the main meal. It will allow the body to “wake up” and help to curb any over-eating tendencies.
I love love love creamed sweet corn drink which I make by combining creamed sweet corn, low-fat milk, evaporated milk and lots of ice – no additional sugar is added to the drink. I do not fancy the kurma (dates) so I don’t eat it though I know it is afdal (preferred) to do so. For me soup means cereal and milk. Last Ramadhan I was a bit obsessed with eating frozen yogurt with bananas, muesli, dried berries, skim milk and oatmeal. I would make a huge batch and freeze it – I swear it tasted just like ice cream. I stopped after a while because I got sick of bananas (I have what is termed as ‘food jags’) but maybe it is time to revisit this treat.
4. Try not to drink during or right after eating as the fluid dilutes digestive enzymes. That said, hydrate often and aim to down 7-8 glasses of water daily. I find it a bit hard to stay away from sugared drinks so I am counting my glasses to make sure that I drink 2 glasses of plain water for every glass of sugared drinks that I take.
5. Listen to your body: any time you feel faint or strained, stop.
Like I mentioned above, the first time I tried exercising while fasting I found my head spinning. It happened while I was doing my post-run yoga stretches – started with my heart racing really fast, then I was feeling dizzy and nauseous at the same time, and my breathing became labored. So I stopped, rehydrated with an isotonic drink (essentially breaking the fast, but this was during my fasting trial run so I didn’t break any rules), and when I reached my apartment, I promptly laid down on my yoga mat and took a 2-hr nap. I knew exactly what I did wrong – I was pushing myself too hard (I spent 20mins on the recumbent bike then another 30mins of hard running on the treadmill, plus free weights).
If you want to know what is your ideal heart rate per minute, use this Heart Rate Monitor from Nutrition Society of Malaysia. Mine would be a min of 109, and a maximum of 146. The day I got dizzy I was doing 165.
My Exercise Routine
Exercising every other day means I take a rest day in between. However I am not strict about this, as long as I can exercise 3 times a week, I may do it 3 days in a row and rest for the next 4 days. It’s hard to stick to specific days given my sporadic schedule so I’d rather be flexible about it than be demotivated when my schedule changes.
I don’t have a pedometer (actually I have one but the battery ran out and I haven’t gotten it replaced) and can’t track the distance that I cover when I run outside, I calculate my jogging time based on songs: 4 songs to warm up, 4 songs to jog, 1 song to cooldown. It will take more or less 30-40mins to complete.
It’s also been suggested that I add 200 bodyweight squats and 200 pushups a week (or its variations if the proper ones are too hard to do). The squats and pushup need not be done all at one go, they can be spread throughout the entire week. These are the videos to show how to do a proper bodysquat and pushups:
The squats seem doable but I am doubtful about the pushups. 20sec planks are already a huge challenge for me, having to do 30 pushups a day might just push me over the edge. I have not included these in my routine.
The following would be the arm-toning exercise using free weights that I practice, courtesy of Cosmopolitan magazine featuring Tracy Anderson. At the gym I use the 1.5kg free weights and decrease the frequency to 10 curls instead of 30; at home I use two 500ml water bottles.
I have been advised many times not to use the scale to track my progress and to use a measuring tape instead. In the past month, I have not weighed myself but once this morning. I used to weigh myself twice daily – a torturous habit that determined whether I was going to have a good or crappy day. The scale now resides under my bed.
You can use the Waist-Hip Ratio Calculator from Nutrition Society of Malaysia as your guide should you want to go the measuring tape route.
My standard of measurement would be a size 4 non-stretch straight cut skinny jeans from MNG, any time I can fit easily into this I am a happy clam. So this pair of jeans hangs permanently on my bathroom door, I try it on once or twice a week just to keep my weight in check. If you doubt this method you obviously have never tried putting on a non-stretch straight cut skinny jeans. It can be a contortionist’s nightmare even with the slightest extra poundage.
My -5kg battle starts….now.
- This Ramadhan – Lose Fat, Transform Your Eating Habits, and Understand Your Body Better (dailymuscle.com)
- Guidelines for Ramadhan (xeniagreekmuslimah.wordpress.com)