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How going meatless can kickstart an exercise plan

Ravinder and his wife Jyoti Minhas

Chris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

Last December, after 30 years as a carnivore, Ravinder Minhas decided to go meatless for a month. The Calgary native, who is a partner with his sister Manjit in Minhas Micro Brewery, quit meat while vacationing in Barbados with his vegetarian parents. But he didn't do it for religious or health reasons.

"I love the taste of elk, duck and pheasant; along with eating a steady supply of chicken and beef. Rather, I wanted to see if I had the willpower," says Mr. Minhas, 30.

Since then, he's dropped six pounds – without losing muscle – and discovered his motivation: mental toughness. Now, he's ready to put that into action on a new challenge.

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My goal

"I want to balance business and family with my fitness. No matter what I am doing, I want to have the most energy, a 'can-do' attitude and focus like a professional athlete."

My workout

"I get to the gym four days a week. I do 35 minutes of intervals on the elliptical or cross trainer. For variety, I change the incline or the speed.

"Then I do 40 minutes of free weights and machines, alternating upper- and lower-body workouts on different days, doing exercises in four sets of 10 reps. I pulled this program together from friends who are athletes. I've followed it for 12 months and haven't changed it up.

"On weekends, I do a one-hour walk/run with my wife downtown.

"I have never taken an organized fitness class in my life. I always have opted for a free-spirited workout."

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My lifestyle

"My schedule is one week at home and one week travelling, with many fancy dinners and late-night drinks.

"I have the greatest job in the world. I am constantly trying new beers, recipes, cocktails and now pizzas, as we are opening a specialty restaurant beside our Calgary brewery.

"In some cities in the U.S., I found it difficult to find good vegetarian food. Otherwise, it has been surprisingly easy - other than the occasional craving for a steak.

"To compensate for my lack of meat protein, I eat brown rice, lentils, nuts and drink protein shakes. My go-to vegetarian dishes are chole, a chickpea curry, and rajma, a red-kidney-bean curry. I am fairly satisfied in my vegetarian experiment. I don't feel a drastic difference, but may reintroduce meat back into my diet."

My temptation

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"I love dark chocolate and beer, sometimes together."

My original motivation

"When I put on a business suit and look great, that is a rush I really enjoy.

"I find motivation in highly fit people and athletes such as George Saint Pierre and Jarome Iginla - they are so focused and dedicated to an extreme goal.

"I always remember the expression, You're one workout away from a good mood."

My anthem

"Bhangra music, upbeat Punjab disco like Rhythm, Dhol and Base's Shera Di Kaum."

My challenge

"My travel schedule makes it difficult to get a workout in or drains the motivation to do it."


Sebastien Rahman, who holds a bachelor of physical education from Brock University, recommends Mr. Minhas act as an athlete by applying sport psychology.

Connect senses to each session

"Before a workout, Ravinder could get into a peak-performance zone. He should close his eyes, imagine the hardness of the ground underfoot, soft wind on his face, hot sun on his skin and birds singing. Through connecting his sensations to the activity, Ravinder taps other aspects of fitness, enriching his workout."

Create a performance checklist

Mr. Rahman suggests Mr. Minhas establish performance markers and measure his progress.

"Post-exercise, Ravinder can review his performance, identify and solve problems, adjust and excel. This gives him structure and satisfaction. If his results add to his enjoyment, this is an indication he's doing it correctly. From there, Ravinder could take on bigger athletic challenges."

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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