Author: nadiaelawady

The “little” things that breed terrorists

It’s Eid. Today is the first of three days of celebration following an arduous month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. No food or fluids are ingested between those times.

Muslims love Ramadan. It’s a month of self-discipline, which is difficult. But it’s also traditionally a month when families and friends gather in the evenings around the table to share food. It’s also a month of spirituality, prayers and re-connecting with God.

Muslims love Ramadan, but we’re also happy when Eid arrives and we can get back to our creature comforts and normal daily routines.

During Eid, families get together. Friends stop by for biscuits and tea. Children receive gifts and money in-hand. Fun outings are organized. But before all that is the congregational Eid prayer.

I haven’t been going to mosques for years, with only a few exceptions. (more…)

The Ramadan Workout Final Report

For all intents and purposes, my Ramadan this year is over. That means I can sit back

Swimming-clip-art-vector-swimming-graphics-clipartbold-clipartix-2

Because this is how I THINK I look while swimming in open water.

and reflect on what was a relatively intense training schedule while fasting this year.

Ramadan officially ends near the end of this coming week. But women don’t fast when they get their periods. There are other exceptions as well: those who are too ill don’t fast, and travelers don’t have to either. I feel fortunate to be a pre-menopausal woman. Sadly, that can’t last for much longer.

I’ve been exercising during Ramadan for a few years now. Every year I’ve pushed it just a little bit more than the previous year. The gradual progression has helped me understand my limits; or rather figure out just how far I can actually go.

This year was a particularly challenging year because I have a couple of important (to me) long distance events that require lots of training. I just couldn’t afford to pull back on the training too much for a significant amount of time. But I did need to pull it back enough to make sure I didn’t hurt or deplete myself. (more…)

The Ramadan workout

I’ve been Ramadaning while keeping up a workout schedule probably for the past three

This was taken about two weeks before Ramadan. But it represents the same exact swim I did last Tuesday evening while fasting. It was actually quite an enjoyable swim!

years. I can’t remember what I did while I was in Egypt. If I did work out in Egypt during Ramadan, it will definitely have been at night after I broke the fast.

Since I moved to the UK, I’ve been getting more and more serious about my training. That means that it is very inconvenient to completely stop training during the one month of the year when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. A lot of fitness can be lost in a month.

But Ramadan follows a lunar calendar, and what that means is that in the few past and coming years, it’s happening in the summer months. That’s a real issue when you live in northern Europe. According to the timetable I’m following, it means I can’t eat or drink (yes, not even water) from about 3 AM till 9:30 PM. Also, the gyms in my area all shut around 10 PM and all the group training activities are held some time during the day.

So I’ve been testing my limits with working out while fasting for the past three years. (more…)

A good, gloomy day for an existential crisis

Today I woke up feeling like it’s one of those days when I need to have a full-blown IMG_3147existential crisis.

Don’t worry. These rarely last for more than a day or two.

I wish the writing bug bit me more often when I am in a solid, content state of mind. Being solid and content does happen to me sometimes, you know. Unfortunately for my blog readers, it’s my down states that make me feel like I REALLY need to write and get it all out there. Writing to me is what food can be to others. It makes me feel better when I’m down.

Ever since I woke up I’ve been asking myself: What the fuck am I doing with my life? And… Why does it seem like every single person who locks eyes with mine wants to drain my bank account?

When I find myself in this position, I’ve learned to ask myself another question: Well, what would you rather be doing?

Now that question is starting to feel like a trick question.  (more…)

Peeling faces

Several years ago, I was in such a bad place that, for a few moments of time, I considered suicide.

In those moments, I truly thought that death was my only way out.

I am so grateful that someone inside me allowed those moments to pass.

It took me a few years to get myself out of that bad place. Things got worse before they ever got better. But I’m glad I let that moment go.

And in a way, I appreciate that I had that moment. (more…)

The Michael Phelps in me

I get so frustrated with my selves. In my head, I’m the magical combination of a Michael Phelps, a Mo Farah, and a Chris Froome. Yesterday, for example, I was doing a long distance open water swim. Less than a year ago, I was literally crying as we were driving towards a lake in which I was set to swim a mere 400m. During that swim, I couldn’t catch my breath most of the time from anxiety. I had to front crawl a bit, breast stroke a bit, then tread water a bit while I calmed myself down. Now I can swim 2km with very little trouble at all. I’ll still get small bouts of anxiety if a wave splashes water into my throat or I find myself swimming over ten jelly fish, but I’ve taught myself to control the anxiety, calm down, and just keep going. So here I am yesterday doing my sea swim and thinking: I’ll bet the people on the beach think we’re so cool. I’ll bet they are wondering how we’re so fast. Then, as I scramble out of the water and onto the beach, my daughter says, “Mama, why were you swimming so slowly?”

The Michael Phelps in me was NOT happy with that comment.

That’s how it always is. I’ll be running and thinking the people on the roads must think I’m an Olympic athlete training for Tokyo. Then someone significantly older than me flies past.

I know I’m not supposed to compare myself to anyone else. My focus needs to be on making my today self stronger and faster than my last year self.

Someone tell that to Michael Phelps, please. He’s really starting to irritate me.

Bound to my high school scars

I’m a 48-year-old woman and I still get regular nightmares about having to study for high school or university exams. I’ve been scarred for life.

I can’t imagine that this is how things should be. I’ve heard from several friends that they have similar nightmares. I’m thinking it might be safe to assume that there are lots of people out there who also have these nightmares.

I’d like to blame our educational systems for this. There’s just too much emphasis on test results. In most countries in the world, your entire future depends on the results you get on exams you take when you’re nearing the age of 18. Most 18-year-olds have absolutely no idea what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

When I was 18, I wanted to get into something sciency. (more…)

Male misbehavior, self-blame and cultural boundaries: A glimpse into a woman’s mind

I’m one of those women! I repeated to myself incredulously.

For weeks on end, I had allowed a man to do something to me he shouldn’t have been doing, all while I blamed myself.

Had one of my daughters told me the same story, I would have picked up on it immediately. If it had happened in Egypt, I would have immediately turned into a full-blown monster.

Why had it taken me so long to realize what was actually happening?

I had a brief glimpse into the mind of abused women without having an experience nearly as horrific. It has caused me intense distress, however.

Part of me still thinks it’s a petty thing. And that gets me even angrier with myself. (more…)

Adventures and races: embracing the dread

I find it very difficult (impossible, actually) to understand people who say they really enjoy

I think this was after my first triathlon. I wasn’t even happy AFTERWARDS here.

training. I also find it very difficult (impossible, really) to understand people who get all giddy about and at races they are participating in.

Mind you, I can completely understand that going to a gym class three times a week and meeting up with the gals afterwards for coffee is a truly enjoyable experience. I also can completely understand how going to a running club twice a week and running with people at a pace you can hold a conversation at is really fun.

Those levels of effort are not the ones I’m talking about.

I’m talking about people who train for marathons, triathlons, ultramarathons, ironman races, or arduous adventures (like kayaking across the ocean or climbing really high mountains) and who are constantly going on about how enjoyable their training is. Or you go to the event and they are all bouncy and smiley just before. What the f#$@ are they all happy about? I ask myself incredulously. We’re about to put ourselves through hell! How the heck is that exciting? (more…)

Training me…and me

“WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS TO MEEEEEE?” yelled the complainer, thrashing her arms and pounding her legs on the ground. “I’M SICK AND TIRED OF IT ALLLLL!” Had there been others, she’d have made quite a public scene. Fortunately, as always, they were alone.

“You know very well why I keep doing this. Now, when you’re done throwing your little tantrum, you will get up, put on your running clothes, do your warm-up drills, and get out there and run,” said the wiser one, very matter-of-factly.

Sometimes the wiser one makes the complainer go swimming at 6:30 in the morning. Other times she makes her go cycling in pelting, freezing rain. She’s a relentless slave driver. Just as the complainer never gives up on her whining.

My training is probably more of a head battle than anything else. (more…)