As we pass the halfway mark in this holy month of Ramadan, there’s so much to be grateful for, no matter if you’ve been fasting for the past couple of weeks without fail or still struggling to make it through the days. If you’re one of the latter who needs a constant push or reminder to do specific things on your to-do list, perhaps using a habit-tracking app such as Habit – Daily Tracker might help to ease your way with your daily dos. The best part? It’s suitable during and outside of Ramadan, and is compatible with your Apple Watch.

Photography: Apple

This month is also a great time for increased reflection and spiritual connection, so if you’re looking to explore mindfulness and meditation on a deeper level, go for apps like Meditopia to help you keep calm and breathe, and Lake: Colouring Books if you prefer a relaxing time with colours and beautiful illustrations that keep your creative spirit on a high.

In just a few days, you’ll be hearing the familiar sounds of “Lagi 10 hari nak Raya dah...” and when you’re busy with work or prepwork for Raya, it’s so easy to forget the days! One way to stay focused and organised is by giving thanks and counting your blessings at the end of every day, and you can do just that with Grateful: A Gratitude Journal. On top of that, we’ve got four health and wellness personalities to share with us their best workout tips for the fasting month, their favourite apps on the Apple Watch as well as their thoughts on this year’s Ramadan:

AINUL AISHAH

Actress, Entrepreneur, Influencer, Founder of Ainul Cookies & Co-Founder of Dipsi Bar

Photography: Ainul Aishah

What are your top five tips for working out and staying healthy during Ramadan?

1. Don't over eat. Control your food portion and consume less sugary food and drinks.
2. Stay active for at least half an hour a day or a minimum of thrice per week.
3. Walk for half an hour without feeling too tired and thirsty.
4. Try to work out an hour before breaking fast.
5. Don't skip suhoor cos it’s important to have enough energy to get you through the day.

How's the Apple Watch helping you during this period and for your workouts?

“It definitely helps me to track my fitness routine and acts as a great reminder for me to stay active during Ramadan, which isn’t always easy.”

Are there any apps you use that make your workouts or staying healthy easier?

“Yes, I use MyFitnessPal app to count my calorie intake and the native Workout app on Apple Watch to track all my fitness activity and workouts.”

What’s your fitness routine during Ramadan like? Does it differ from your usual routine?

“I work out for an hour before breaking fast, then I cool off for an hour and enjoy a proper meal. I try to commit to working out everyday or at least three to five times a week. It definitely changes as opposed to the rest of the year as the timing is off compared to my daily gym routine.”

How different is this year’s Ramadan for you?

“It’s different cos I won’t be able to see my sister, niece and brother-in-law in Singapore due to Covid-19. I’m also not feeling as festive as before as we’re not allowed to fully enjoy going to the Ramadan bazaars.”

ATILIA HARON

Singer & Yoga Instructor

Photography: Atlia Haron

What’s your tip for staying healthy during Ramadan?

“I must say: always eat at suhoor. If I’m too sleepy, I’ll just eat dates out of the fridge and drink chocolate milk.”

How's the Apple Watch helping you during this period and for your workouts?

“My Apple Watch tells me when I need to take a step back and just breathe, which is great cos being an active girl, sometimes I forget to rest. I can also update my Move and Exercise goals to make sure that my energy is in balance throughout Ramadan.”

Is there any app you use that makes your workouts or staying healthy easier?

“I love the Workout app a lot, and I find the Yoga workout to be amazing!”

What’s your fitness routine during Ramadan like? Does it differ from your usual routine?

“My fitness routine doesn’t change much during Ramadan. I still teach many classes a day but I plan to tone it down a little with more stretching poses.”

How different is this year’s Ramadan for you?

“While the festive spirit is different this year, we just have to adapt and do the best that we can to still share love and kindness around. I have lesser performances this year but with connectivity, I'm sure we’ll still be able to take beautiful pictures of our baju Raya and the food, and there’ll be lots of group FaceTime calls with my loved ones. It’ll be different but I'm sure we’ll get through this together!”

KYRIE AZRY

Certified Nutrition Coach & Strength & Conditioning Coach at District 13 Gym

Photography: Kyrie Azry

What are your top five tips for working out and staying healthy during Ramadan?

1. Make sure you consume enough water before suhoor and after iftar. Hydration is very important especially during Ramadan!
2. Reduce the intensity and frequency of workouts during Ramadan. Since we’ll only be consuming two meals a day, it’s best to stay consistent with your workouts or training and not attempt to hit personal records during this period!
3. Since we have a little extra time in the afternoon after work and just before iftar, why not try to get your steps in? Most people tend to be extra sedentary during Ramadan. Walking is the most underrated form of cardio and people should definitely take advantage of this!
4. Planning to maintain that muscle mass? Since you’re reducing the intensity and frequency of your workouts, I’d definitely recommend reducing your high-intensity cardio sessions!
5. Take this opportunity to reduce consuming processed, fried and salty foods. Increase your selection of nutrient-dense foods and maintain your protein intake. Most importantly, be kind to yourself during Ramadan!

How's the Apple Watch helping you during this period and for your workouts?

Ever since I got my Apple Watch, I’ve been consistently closing my Activity Rings. During Ramadan, it can be a bit tough but I still try my best to close my Rings and doing so helps me stay motivated. I call my Apple Watch my “accountable buddy”. It has definitely helped me stay on track with my 10k daily step goals, sleep routine and workout sessions. Since I’m a competitive athlete, the Heart Rate feature in the Workout tracker gives me an upper edge especially during high-intensity workout sessions!”

Are there any apps you use that make your workouts or staying healthy easier?

“Before this, I was mostly using Excel sheets and my journal to track my workout progress. It was only recently that I started using this app called Coachrx to track my progress. It’s an advanced app for athletes to log their workouts, nutrition and lifestyle practices. In terms of nutrition, I mostly use MyFitnessPal. It’s a fantastic app which anyone can start using to track their daily calorie intake consistently. The best part is that it’s free!”

What’s your fitness routine during Ramadan like? Does it differ from your usual routine?

“My fitness routine stays the same during Ramadan as I’ve been consistently training since 2012/2013; the usual combination of Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics. The only difference would be the intensity of the workouts since the only issue I face during my training sessions would be dehydration. Hunger is relatively manageable but you definitely don’t want to be dehydrated especially when you’re training!”

How different is this year’s Ramadan for you?

“This year is definitely more interesting cos I probably won’t have as much bazaar food as before due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the first lockdown in 2020, I’ve put a tremendous amount of effort into my nutrition, recovery and training sessions. I’ve managed to considerably reduce my processed and salty food intake especially during Ramadan.”

NANA AL HALEQ

Celebrity Wellness & Fitness Coach, TV Host, Content Creator & Under Armour Southeast Asia Athlete

Photography: Nana Al Haleq

What's your tip for working out and staying healthy during Ramadan?

“When it comes to working out during Ramadan, the key to staying active is to pick a time that fits your schedule best. Some would prefer to work out before suhoor and iftar, while others prefer working out at night after tarawih. These specific times have their own pros and cons, which I’ve outlined below.”

Before suhoor:

• Pros: You might able to push yourself during training, but have some water and refuel during suhoor.
• Cons: You’ll need to wake up around 4.30am to get your workout done and prepare your suhoor meal. Your energy level might be low at this time.
• Tip: Have a high-calorie, nutrient-dense meal during iftar and avoid a high-sugar, high-sodium meal. High-sugar meals/drinks will increase cravings and hunger during the day and high-sodium meals will make you feel thirsty faster.

45 minutes before iftar:

• Pros: It’s the most popular time to work out. Your body is in ketosis whereby it’s deprived of glycogen and will use fats efficiently as fuel. You’re able to refuel during iftar but be sure to break your fast with a nutritious meal!
• Cons: You’ll likely feel lethargic and dehydrated with a low energy level during your workout.
• Tips: Keep your workout short but sweet (around 30-45 minutes) on a light-to-moderate intensity. Strength training with longer rest (for 1-2 minutes) in between sets is recommended if you’re doing a high-intensity interval training (HIIT), Tabata or intense cardio workout. This will allow your body to recover in between sets and help you avoid feeling thirsty. Break your fast with a good source of carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar level too much such as having red rice, brown rice and grains. Avoid or limit your intake on dishes that are loaded with refined carbs or sugar as they’ll make you bloat and feel sluggish. A portion of good protein (e.g. from local wild-caught fish, free-range chicken and eggs, and grass-fed beef) will help fuel and repair your muscles and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

After tarawih:

• Pros: You’re able to perform better during training as your energy level might be at its peak and you can refuel and speed up your muscle recovery with a nutritious BCAA shake.
• Cons: It might be too close to your bedtime and certain types of vigorous activities such as high-intensity interval training will affect you, leading to poorer sleep quality or making it hard for you to fall asleep.
• Tips: Be sure to end your workout session at least an hour before bedtime and avoid vigorous training such as HIIT. Moderate-intensity training helps people fall asleep faster and spend more time in a deep sleep. Also, it’s a good idea to set a regular bedtime and adopt a relaxing bedtime routine. A gentle yoga flow will be as effective to keep you active and healthy during Ramadan.

How's the Apple Watch helping you during this period and for your workouts?

1. It keeps me updated on my daily tasks.
2. The Timer function lets me time my resting period in between sets.
3. It helps me keep track of all my workouts – from Yoga to HIIT.
4. It allows me to check iftar and suhoor time via Siri when I’m on the go.
5. It helps me get in touch with my loved ones when I’m out and about (which is pretty much everyday), especially while I’m driving.

What’s your fitness routine during Ramadan like? Does it differ from your usual routine?

“Usually, I’d train at noon as that’s the time when my energy level is at its peak but during Ramadan, my fitness routine is different. On alternate days, I’d train for 45 minutes before iftar as I find this time fits perfectly in my schedule. Instead of a solid one-hour workout, I’d do around 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity strength training and take 1-2 minutes of rest between my sets depending on the exercises. On days when I’m not doing strength training, I’d dedicate 20 minutes to do a mindfulness yoga session two hours before bedtime to de-stress and heal my body.”

How different is this year’s Ramadan for you?

“This year’s Ramadan is very different compared to the previous ones as I’ll be celebrating it with my other half for the first time. I’m no longer planning meals just for myself but for both of us, which is fun as I get to experiment with new and healthy recipes! To be honest, Covid-19 didn’t change a lot of things for me, except that we might not be able to visit Ramadan bazaars or have buka puasa gatherings with our family and friends who live far from us. It’s hard to say what else would be different at this stage as it all depends on the new SOPs, if any. My hope is that everyone continues to keep safe and healthy throughout this festive season and beyond.”

Featured image: Atilia Haron

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