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My Ramadan: An expat fasts for understanding

ABU DHABI // In her first Ramadan in the UAE, trainer and triathlete Roisin Thomas has pledged to fast Ramadan both to challenge herself, to become a better athletic professional and to empathise with others.

“Living here I see the workers on the streets and the carwash boys that go through hours of sweating, so I can really empathise with them,” said Ms Thomas.

“I want to experience it so I can have more respect.”

She moved from Ireland to the UAE less than a year ago to become a trainer at Haddins Fitness Club, and as such, this will be her first Ramadan exercising for a triathlon and training classes and clients.

“Physically through exercise I’ve gone through a lot of really hard things, trials that were really tough, but this is something that is controlled. I’m going to be hungry and thirsty, I’ve never gone hungry for more than four hours.”

Although not a Muslim, the Irishwoman feels that going through this experience will make her closer to God. “I’ve never had to think like this way before, the body’s way of purifying itself,” Ms Thomas said.

However, with a triathlon coming up in September, Ms Thomas had to set expectations for the month ahead.

“I don’t think it will affect my training that much, the triathlon training won’t be changed as I’m doing mostly cardio. I’m going to lose power and weight.”

She said that for the triathlon in Sharjah in September she wants to be her lightest so Ramadan might help her.

Aside from the challenge, fasting will make her a better trainer as she can determine the intensity levels of her classes and workouts for those fasting.

“Without knowing what it is to fast, it’s all very well for me to say ‘keep pushing’, but people are thirsty, they’re dehydrated, they can’t do 10 tyre flips, so I want to know how that feels,” she said.

As someone who snacks and looks forward to her meals, Ramadan brings Ms Thomas a challenge.

“Just sitting there, not drinking or eating, is going to be really, really hard, but I know it will make me stronger,” she said.

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(via The National)