As the first figure skater from the Emirates to compete internationally, Zahra Lari knows a thing or two about hard work and perseverance. It was her determination at the European Cup in 2012 in Italy that changed a judgement ruling allowing her to wear the hijab as she performed and in doing so, she became the first woman ever in ice skating to compete wearing religious attire. Currently working towards her goal of competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the athlete exclusively reveals to Bazaar what her strict diet and exercise regimen looks like as she observes the Holy Month...
Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: How do you break your fast during Ramadan?
Zahra Lari: “Being an athlete definitely changed the way I eat in general. I am very aware of what goes into my mouth and try to eat as healthy as possible. During Ramadan, I coach children during the day and then train after Iftar; so I eat very lightly after I break my fast. I usually go for a bowl of soup and then after training will have a proper balanced meal.”
HBA: What are the most important dietary requirements you need in your Iftar and Suhoor meals?
ZL: "Since I am still training as hard as ever I need to make sure I'm hydrated, water is an essential part of staying healthy. I also like to make sure I'm getting in some carbs and eating enough protein to give me the energy I need and help me recover after training. My mum prepares all my meals for me, they're delicious, I'm very lucky.
HBA: Can you describe a training day in your life during the Holy Month?
ZL: “During Ramadan I get to sleep in a little, so I usually wake up at around 10am and go run some errands. Then I head to the ice rink around 12pm or 1pm, it depends on my coaching schedule, and finish at around 5pm or just after 6pm at the latest. After that I go home rest a little and then have soup at Iftar. After Iftar I then pray and head to training. I usually start at around 8pm and finish by 9:30pm on the ice. Once I'm done, I then start with my off-ice training followed by a 40-minute jog, I'm usually back home by 11pm.
HBA: Has your training regimen altered during Ramadan?
ZL: “Yes very much so, I usually train as early as possible in the mornings, heading to the rink at 5:30am some days and finishing at 7:30am before stretching and off-ice exercises. After that I head home and come back for my second practice session from 12pm to 2pm on the ice before completing the session with more off-ice training. During Ramadan my training is definitely a little lighter but once Ramadan is over I'll have summer training abroad and it will be very intense.”
HBA: What’s the best advice you would give to someone who is competing/exercising during Ramadan?
ZL: “The best advice I can give anyone is to keep all your meals balanced and healthy and stay hydrated with as much water as possible.”