Rahul Agarwal, chief executive officer and managing director, Lenovo India, and an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), says his goal at 45 is to get calmer. Fitness became a passion for him about a decade ago, when he realized how important it was for his productivity. He believes in the power of discipline, and follows a workout that has a balance of weight training and cardio. But lately, he says, his fitness goals are changing. “While I have, previously, set rigorous targets for myself such as working out for 300 days in a year, I have now eased into a more manageable number of days and follow a balanced regime that includes yoga too," he says. Being a foodie and socializing regularly, however, adds to the challenge of keeping his health metrics in place all the time.

Fitness mantra

A believer in working out “today" and not leaving it for “tomorrow", Agarwal says discipline is very important. “To be able to get up and hit the gym every day, even on a bad day, when you’d rather stay in bed, requires a certain level of mental tenacity," he says. He also believes that getting eight hours of sleep in a day and being well-rested is as important as regular exercise to stay fit.

Workout regime

Agarwal works out for 75 minutes on a weekday and two hours on a weekend. A good mix of weight training for strength, cardio for endurance and yoga for internal strength and flexibility, is what keeps him going.

At home, Agarwal usually tries a mixture of yoga and simple stretches. Yoga lends flexibility to the muscles, which tend to become rigid with intensive workouts such as weight training. Pranayam helps clean up breathing and builds an inner sense of calm and balance. It works on both the internal and external body, and Agarwal admits that he is quite addicted to it. “I also add in a little bit of weight training, nothing too heavy, just enough to tone the muscles. I try not to miss my workout on any day," he says.

Healthy eating

Protein shakes are Agarwal’s go-to meal after a rigorous workout. He finds them low on carbs, easy and light on the stomach as well as nutritious. He also likes to consume fresh vegetable juices like carrot and amla, a little later after the workout.

A lover of Indian cuisines, on a typical work day, Agarwal avoids sweets, fatty foods and aerated drinks. “I am a firm believer in controlling the portions and try to follow the 80% rule, which is to try and stop when you believe that you are 80% full. I also try to balance carbs, proteins and fats," he says. Not one in favour of extreme diets, as they can potentially harm the body, he includes plenty of nuts, fruits and green tea in his diet.

Travelling fit

Agarwal travels quite frequently for work, both domestically as well as internationally. Most hotels he stays in have a well-equipped gym, so he tries and makes the most of them for a workout. But when he does not have access to the gym, he relies on his own routine, a combination of push ups, lunges, sit-ups and yoga. This is something which can be done in the room, and he ensures that he does it even if he only has 30 minutes. Diet is not the easiest to control when travelling, but he tries to stick to the healthier options from those available.

His fitness inspiration

“I consider Milind Soman to be an inspiration, as he believes in a balanced workout with an emphasis on endurance," says Agarwal. Soman, he believes, has maintained a consistent approach to working out even at his age, 52.

Leaders and fitness

“Leading an organization has its fair share of stress. One is constantly dealing with uncertainties, surprises, pressures, difficult situations while managing multiple stakeholders and egos," says Agarwal. The leader sets the tone for the organization in many ways, hence a fit leader appears confident. Fitness helps an individual generate natural energy and builds stamina, while bringing in more positivity and calmness. It also helps build strength and resilience to power through a difficult day and take on new challenges, he believes.

Finding Fitness is a series that looks at how CEOs work at keeping themselves fit at home and when on the road.

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