Listen to this interviewThe Bulk Hackers robot can read Sarah's interview aloud for you (playtime 12 minutes and 47 seconds) 🤖
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello, my name is Sarah Ramadan! I’m a Vancouver-based fitness enthusiast, self-love advocate, and social media content creator. I am the dog mom to my beautiful handsome boy Atlas, and I have a pretty incredible husband named Ryan.
I like dabbling in fitness, but self-love means more to me. It serves as the foundation to my health and wellness, and because of that, I’ve been able to become the athlete I am today.
My fitness journey began in 2014. That year, I was recovering from a long battle with a severe eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. To put my recovery simply, I just grew sick and tired of being sick and tired. Anorexia nervosa is a belittling and cruel mental illness that would never be satisfied until it completely took my life. Which it almost did, countless of times.
But in January 2014, my mind was made: I would completely recover, honour my life, and delve into a world of self-love and unconditional self-acceptance.
Easier said than done, though. Because I had a lot of weight to gain, disordered thinking I had to confront, and above all, I had to learn how to have a healthy relationship with who I am, beneath and beyond my skin.
I began my weight-gaining process almost right away. Once I reached a stable BMI, my medical team advised me to begin resistance training to counteract the muscle wastage I endured from battling ED (eating disorder).
Thankfully, I had my brother to turn to. My brother Aladdin was a bodybuilder, fitness enthusiast, and simply embodied what a healthy lifestyle entailed. He worked out, maintained a social life, and was the happiest guy I ever knew. He was my role model and the catalyst to my new life – absent of ED, and full of life!
For Aladdin, fitness was fun. The gym served as a safe haven where he’d go to, embracing his strength over magnifying his weaknesses. This was a mental perspective I now know on a personal level, and I thank him every day for that. His athleticism and outlook on life inspired me to be the woman I am today.
My brother passed away later on that year on September 24, 2014.. Today, I train for the both of us.
In 2016, I channeled my grief and decided to compete in a bodybuilding show to honour Aladdin. I placed second place in my class as a bikini athlete.
After my competition, I continue training as an outlet for my grief, but it has become more than that.
Like Aladdin, the gym is now a place where I can feel empowered in my body and the strength it carries. I get to experience my body for what it can do, as opposed to what it merely looks like.
My role as a content creator is to showcase that fitness and self-love go hand in hand. And that growth, while terrifying at times, is not only life-saving, but life-giving. We were never meant to fear growth, but to fight for it instead.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
Currently, I’m training through a push/pull split that combines hypertrophy, strength, and endurance. I like to give love to all my muscle groups with a little extra care to my weaker points. This is reflected in the frequency I train each muscle group.
I complement my training with daily mobility work and restorative yoga, which has been such a great stress antidote for me!
Currently, I’m training five days a week. My workouts are about 45 min to 90 mins, not including my warm up. I actually love warming up. It helps to prime my workouts by getting out of my head and into my body.
My preferred way to warm up is dynamic stretches that put my body in the motion patterns it’ll go through in my workout session. I still prefer warming up my entire body regardless if I’m working that body part, it just feels so good!
As for my workouts, you can expect me to hit my lower body three times a week, and my upper body two to three times a week. I incorporate compound movements like the squat, deadlift, and bench press, and of course, my most favourite exercise, the hip thrust!
I perform cardio about once a week right now, simply to work on my endurance and boost my cardiovascular health. I don’t quite echo the detest for cardio the general public exudes, I actually enjoy it! I just prefer focusing on resistance training as it better supports my strength goals.
I reserve my weekends to my recovery days. It helps me prioritize my social life and not be so caught up in the gym! Fitness is not the totality of my life, but a part of it.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
I attribute a great deal of my fitness commitment to the intention behind my training. I am not working out for a quick fix, a short-term goal, or a change in season. I’m working out because I genuinely love it and it makes me feel so good.
Of course, there are days where my motivation slips, and that’s natural! In those times I think it’s so important to not beat yourself up when that happens. And instead, try to find the reason why your motivation is lacking.
For example, when I genuinely don’t feel like working out and require a mental health day, I totally allow myself! I’d argue that this serves my overall health better, because I’m listening to my emotional and mental needs.
Another example is when I lose motivation because I’m bored! In that situation, I honour my athleticism with some fun! That sometimes looks like signing up to a new yoga class, working on my handstands, or walking on a treadmill while listening to an audiobook.
Other times, my lack of motivation is simply because I forget why I started training in the first place. I’ll lose sight of the bigger picture, and instead let anxiety roam through my day with its accompanying ambivalence and fear-induced stressors.
In those moments, I find that focusing on smaller steps helps to regain my momentum and develop motivation again. I’ll give myself smaller goals and go (grow) from there!
For example, one small goal might be to change into my gym clothes. Another is to put on my gym shoes and stretch for two minutes, then three, then five.
Maybe the next goal is to make my way to the gym and just park in the lot. Then maybe I’ll go to the gym and walk on a treadmill for five minutes. And then lo and behold, that five5 minutes inspires me to do a short jog, or improve my mobility, or dabble with the dumbbells.
However, it’s important to remember that if you’re struggling with mental illness such as depression, this lack of motivation goes deeper than the surface.
The above recommendations may help, but I strongly advise you to speak to a professional in regards to your health. Please be kind to yourself <3 [speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
I’m doing great! I just got married and had to take some time off my athletic goals to plan our wedding, but now that I’m back at the gym with more consistency, my workouts are so fun! They’re goal-driven, fueled with purpose, and I’m just excited to hold iron in my palms.
In terms of competitions, I don’t plan on taking part in anymore bodybuilding shows, simply because I want to train to feel good and honour my inner athlete. That just makes me happier.
Also, I notice that I seek more enjoyment when it’s just me, the music, and my incremental training progress! I am considering doing a powerlifting competition in the future, but we’ll see. 🙂
Outside of the gym, my goals are to live life outside the parameters of my body. I am an athlete, but I am also so much more. Recovery has given me the perspective that my body may carry muscle and might, but the content within my heart is my greatest strength.
And so, to honour my heart, I make sure I surround myself with people who I love, and who love me in return. I have an incredible family, amazing friends, a supportive husband, and the best dog-son ever. They inspire me to push past my preconceived boundaries on a daily.
I also make a habit to do things that bring me joy. I love to sing, explore new coffee shops, and travel beyond my comfort zone.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I’ve noticed a significant difference in my ability to recover between my training days when I prioritize nutrition, sleep, and manage my daily levels of stress.
It’s kind of like a seesaw: If I’m not sleeping, or eating foods that lack in nutrients, the seesaw will tip in favour of a crappy training session, and consequently crappy injuries or lengthy recovery time.
The first thing I’d advise if you aren’t doing so already – SLEEP! Coming from the girl who slept a feeble five hours a night to now a full eight hours, the difference has been astonishing.
Also, make sure you’re doing some level of a warm up before your training session. It’s important to ensure your body is warm and your joints are lubricated. My warm ups prime my body so that I can ease into my training with more intensity.
But training for this long, injuries do happen. I used to be really stubborn and try to push past the pain, but this only aggravated my joints even more, delaying my recovery and causing more unneeded pain.
Now, I respect recovery time so much more. I’ll rest up my joints, avoid anything that triggers discomfort, and manage the swelling and pain through at-home treatments. If my mobility has taken a dramatic hit, I’ll visit my physio for more intensive treatment.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I’m a vegan for ethical reasons so I eat a plant-based diet. I did the transition from being pescetarian to plant-based last year, which meant I had to exchange some protein sources for others, but other than that, my diet didn’t change too much. I’ve always loved veggies and whole foods like lentils, beans, legumes, and nuts.
I don’t track macros nor count calories. Instead I employ my intuitive skills: Eating when I’m hungry, and stopping when I’m full.
I follow general guidelines, such as having a source of protein and vegetable each meal, and making sure I’m drinking more water than coffee (the true test of strength).
I also don’t have a dichotomous set of rules when it comes to labeling food as good or bad. This is a very toxic and disordered way of labeling food, which I believe leads to more damage than good.
I think it’s totally cool and necessary to prioritize nutrient-dense foods, but that doesn’t mean we must deprive ourselves of our favourite indulgences. The key is balance, and it’s totally doable. I’m an athlete but I also love my cinnamon buns!
When I crave something, I give myself permission to eat it. I don’t have a disordered fallacy playing in my head that compares a healthy salad to a donut, because I know that both can exist in my diet.
It’s not one for the other, it’s simply a matter of moderation and prioritizing foods that will give my body the nutrients it needs.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
Two things: My brother, and my recovery.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
When I was going through recovery, one of my nurses once gave me a motto that I still hold close to me: Have the fear and do it anyway.
Don’t wait until motivation strikes. Don’t wait until you feel like recovering. Don’t wait for the perfect condition of growth that’ll never truly come.
It starts with a seed, and in the roughest of climates, the endurance and resilience acquired become the matter you are made of. It’s okay to be afraid, but do it anyways.
And remember, every inch counts, and every inch is worth honouring: Grow by the inch, and fight for the inches.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
Currently ,I am not taking on clients at this time, but I do have an app launching soon that will include both home and gym workouts that focuses on getting strong, building tone & muscle, and channeling your inner athlete. You can follow me on Instagram to find out when it launches. 🙂
I post free content on my Instagram and YouTube as well, so I welcome you to join our community. We’re very nice folks that love fitness and cinny buns 🙂
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
I am most active on Instagram, and you can find me at @fightforgrowth
I also have a blog where I share my favourite recipes, wellness tips, and self-love stories: fightforgrowth.blog