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How to Stay Fit During Ramadan - With Rahima Goga

Fasting all day can be physically draining, leaving you unmotivated and uninspired. Blogger, fitness enthusiast and super mum, Rahima Goga, is in the Haute Seat today as she shares her fitness and diet story and how she manages to stay active. Rahima's motivation and determination shows how there should be no excuses when it comes to your health, no matter how difficult.

Despite being a mother of three, she still finds time to keep active and create delicious and healthy homemade dishes which she shares on her social media. Even though it may be difficult to keep fit during Ramadan, with a few lifestyle changes and determination, if done in the right way then you can begin your health journey. Want to find out more about Rahima and her fitness journey, read on! 

My name is Rahima Goga, I am 36 years old mother to three wonderful boys and a wife to a highly motivating husband. We have been married for 14 years and I consider myself as someone who is very blessed. I am a Muslim of Indian origin, very much grounded by my faith and the community in which I have been raised.

I studied (FBDO) Optical Dispensing with Computer Science and I now work as a locum Dispensing Optician. I consider myself to be somewhat of a 'fitness fanatic' and try to train up to 5-6 days a week. I have incorporated my passion for cooking and love for food, into my fitness regime and I am introducing the notion of 'healthy ' living and clean eating to my family.  

Being of Indian origin, food is a central theme within our culture, and yes, we love rich foods, that are full of spice and bursting with flavour. I have always been intrigued with the art of cooking, creating something unique from raw ingredients, and love to experiment with my dishes. 

I been working on recipes that are not only healthy and nutritious but also taste great and satisfy the palette. A healthy diet does not mean boring, tasteless food, and this has been the message I have been attempting to portray to my followers on Instagram, by sharing recipes and streaming live cooking sessions. My ability to talk to my followers so naturally has enabled them to reach out to me and request assistance in their cooking. This continues to be a source of motivation for me to blog and share my recipes with them readily.

1. What Inspired you to get into fitness? 

I have always been active from a young age. Whilst at University, I used to train at the local gym where I heavily concentrated on cardio. Prior to this whilst in my teens I engaged in a variety of sports, ranging from netball, football, and karate. Later in life, after the birth of my children, I noticed my weight fluctuate and the pounds came on quick and fast! After having my third child, I felt increasingly tired and less active and I noticed that my wardrobe had been split in two- The slimmer days of gilts and glam vs comfortable baggy overalls! I was faced with an ultimatum! Either get rid of clothes that no longer fit the physic or slim down with the aim to feel good again! I took the latter on as a personal challenge after a friend recommended the local gym to me with no idea just how addicted I’d become!  

I started training at PT Studio One, having never participated in either Bootcamps or HIT classes. Over time I met with several Personal Trainers and regular gym goers who educated me and eased me into the fitness world showing me new techniques and ways of training that keep me motivated to continue this journey. They continue to be a part of my journey, assisting me to train in a healthy way by incorporating life’s ongoing challenges.

I have also had much support from my family and close friends including Saman Munir (@makeuphijabs) who gave me the confidence I needed to get myself out there and encouraged me to begin my fitness journey. She saw the potential in me and motivated me with me with my health and fitness lifestyle.  

 2. What, for you, is the most difficult aspect of keeping motivated?

Motivating myself around a hectic lifestyle can be challenging but structuring your day and staying organised is what works best for me! A typical day for me and my family is after seeing my husband off to work, my children wake up to a healthy breakfast to start their day. It’s important their breakfasts are varied and they have healthy choices to choose from as if your children are anything like mine, they know what they want to start their day with! As soon as they’re out of the door for school, I head to the gym for my morning fix. This instantly helps in many ways. My active morning allows me to remain active for the rest of the day where I will then spruce up the house and start my cooking. Having the house to myself helps wonders which I do not take for granted! It is during this time that I get the bulk of my cooking done, unless it’s something I need to cook fresh at meal time. Of course, not every day is the same with various commitments and priorities but regarding my fitness routine, the best way to stay motivated is remaining true to the vision and end goal!

Personally I don’t have any issues heading to the gym in the mornings as I see it as ‘my time' but I do know some people find it difficult to remain focused. What I’ve learnt is the more you focus your energy on your vision and not the tension that is helping you reach your vision, the more likely you are to achieving it.

3. Where did the protein ball idea come from? 

The idea of making protein balls was first introduced at the gym. A few of my fitness friends were going to share their healthy eating ideas with the rest of us by bringing in salads/ breakfast options etc. I decided to participate by making my own version of protein balls. I’ve tried a few from highly recommended retailers but nothing so far has satisfied me. Either they’re too heavy on one content or another, or they haven’t experimented with some of the ingredients I wanted to try so I thought what better way than to give it a go myself. They seem to be a big hit with the guests at Haute Elan and since then I’ve taken on a few orders too which I find highly encouraging. 

 4. What inspired you to begin creating healthy dishes? 

Last year I was in my element! Training up to two times a day, 6 days a week with boot camps and PT, running in my spare time and constantly conscious of being active for the remaining day. But what I was finding is, although I was toning, I wasn’t necessarily losing the weight. This was not only disappointing but disheartening. After talking to the personal trainers at the studio, about weight loss and what I found out was alarming. I was so concerned with the gym and working out that I had dismissed the need to eat a healthy well balanced diet, and be consist with it. But with a mix of healthy and non-healthy eaters at home, I had to do a lot of work around utilising the indigents I had at home that would satisfy everyone's individual tastes. 

My husband loves the idea of healthy eating but is reluctant to experiment after a hard day at work. My children, having always eaten a certain way were reluctant to be introduced to a complete left wing approach to food, so I had to be tactful and clever about how I introduced this to them. Because of this, the idea of Asian fusion was introduced to my kitchen, mixing western food with Asian spices. Soon, I will also be featuring in a cook book where some of my recipes will be shared. 


5. What sort of training do you do? 

Initially my goal was to shed weight but this has overtime changed into the desire to increase my personal strength and to tone and re-shape my body. I enjoy my boot camp as well at the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes that I attend, as they are fast paced, and a lot of fun. I get to use a range of equipment, ranging from tyres, TRX, battle ropes, medicine balls and weights. I also use the machines for cardio, burpees, squats and sit ups. 

My training consists of participating in a number of varied HIIT classes which I attend @ptstudioone.  These classes incorporate a range of high intensity cardio exercises with weight training, a combination which I find yields optimum results.  I also train with a personal trainer (Emma Edwards) once a week to help me with strength and endurance. 

Although weight training is relatively new to me, I have embraced it as a new challenge and a new focus. My body fat has now reduced to an all-time low and my abdominal muscles are starting to merge which is very exciting.

I have also recently started Mauy Thai training (with a fantastic teacher called, Nasrine Zakia), which again is a completely new experience for me, one which I am thoroughly enjoying. Muay Thai has helped tone my body and increase my stamina, which has a positive impact on my endurance levels and my performance. 

6. What is your diet like during Ramadan? 

I have followed a strict diet this Ramadan as I think its most important during this month to be conscious of what we are feeding our bodies. As we are fasting for long periods of the day, it is vital our bodies receive the best forms of nutrients to regain strength. Hydrating one’s self whilst eating natural sugars and proteins is very important and I take it very seriously. I have been mixing it up with a range of salads and meats for Iftar. At Suhoor time, I predominately have been eating oats with fruits and a dollop of Funky nut peanut butter! If you haven’t already tried it, make sure you do! it comes in a range of different flavours and it is fast becoming my favourite ingredient.  

7. Have you ever reached a point during your training, where by you have 'plateau' and how have you overcome this?

I had, at one point gone through this, however what I have learned is that if you're exercising and not seeing the results you had hoped for, it could be that you're missing one key factor "Your Food!!" The biggest misconceptions I see. Most people believe that simply by exercising they'll get abdominal muscles, toned arms, and legs. I don't think so! Exercise will not change your body much at all unless you are also cutting calories. To really change your physique, you must watch your diet, consume fewer calories than you burn and exercise with a combination of cardio and strength training. Same goes for dieting. Cutting calories will result in some weight loss, but your body will not necessarily look more cut or toned if exercise isn't also part of your plan.

8. What words of advice would you give to others who want to change their lifestyle for the better? 

Time is precious. Therefore, your life is precious. If you don’t selfishly take some time out to either stay fit or educate yourself on the importance of healthy living, you will regret it later in life. Slightly harsh I know, but the absolute truth is what it is! I personally believe it doesn’t have to be as hard as people or even celebrities make it out to be! And don’t let ‘I don’t have trainers’ or ‘there’s no space at home’ be an excuse for you either. With or without trainers, with or without cradling a new born, it is all possible. Today we have endless social media platforms, something that previous generation has not been exposed to. Everything, absolutely everything is at our fingertips and the sooner we redirect our focus and structure our lives around our own personal fitness, the sooner you will be living a more proactive, healthy lifestyle where stress and fatigue will be at an all-time low! Make the right choice today! 


Check out Rahima @rahimagoga



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