Out experiences in life make us who we are. These are my experiences and they have made me who I am today.
- I was born in Chennai, India. For 17 years my diet consisted of rice, wheat, lentils, yogurt, milk, sugars, oils, fruit and little vegetables. Snacks were frequent and either savory, fried stuff or sugary, fried stuff… or both.
- At the age of 9, I was hospitalized with typhoid. It took me weeks in the hospital to recover. Once discharged I remember being advised to eat only biscuits/cookies soaked in milk for a month. So I gobbled in 2-3 family size boxes of biscuits/cookies with 1-2 liters of whole milk. Following this I was advised to eat only rice, yogurt and lentils for a month. I ended up a 115 lbs (52 kgs) 10yr old.
- At the age of 10, I was diagnosed with sinusitis. A month later I was diagnosed with asthma.
- By 1994, I was the sick fat kid who could not play any sport.
- I was forced to go for Karate and Tennis classes to lose weight. When made to run laps, I would collapse with an asthma attack within 3 mins of starting to run. I’d cry because I couldn’t breathe.
- I would be admitted in a hospital every single year without fail. I would get the flu twice every year.
- By the time I turned 12, I figured out that physical exertion was the source of my asthma. Trying to treat the disease at it’s source I stopped exerting myself physically. Life was good.
- I went on a “diet” when I was 13 and lost weight. I ate no breakfast, 2 idlies (rice cakes) for lunch and a roti or two for dinner.
- Meals in college revolved around white rice, bread, potatoes, soda, chocolates and ice cream. I was not fat because I never ate. I was not tired because I never played.
- In grad school I tried my hand at squash once. I had an asthma attack just 15 mins into the game. I hid the discomfort and ran out of the gym.
- In 2006 I got my first job – a well-paid desk job, and could now afford 3 good meals a day. I discovered cuisines. I fought hard to finish my giant plates. I forced myself to like Starbucks.
- I cheated on pizzas with burritos… threesomes were pretty frequent too. Jack-in-the-Box and Carl’s Junior were my midnight booty calls.
- By 2006, I made my way to 185 lbs (84kgs) @ 5′ 7″. Body fat was unknown and irrelevant. My lipid profile was a royal mess!
- Nov 2007 – a series of tough life situations made me want to fight back and redeem myself .
- Running had been my greatest enemy and I decided to fight that first up.
- The first week of running was torture to say the least. I would run 1/10th of a mile, have an asthma attack and sit on the curb. My will power and my inhaler helped me go further. My first ever mile took 23 mins.
- I ran more… and then some more. In about 6 months I was clocking in 45-50 miles (70-80 kms) per week.
- By mid 2008 I could run 15 miles @ 9 min/mile at any point of time on any given day. I didn’t fear any food. I
knew thought I could burn off anything by running.
- I lost a solid 50 lbs from running and hardly eating! A lot of that was muscle, but I didn’t care. My knees and ankles hurt a lot, but I didn’t care. The scale now showed 132 lbs (60 kg) and that was success enough.
- Early 2009, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone – P90X, p90X+,Crossfit, Starting Strength, Catalyst Athletics and RKC had a big effect on my training methodology. I saw body composition improvements and muscle gains for the first time and my endurance improved but my inhaler was still in my left pocket.
- Oct ’09 I cleared the fitness trainer certification exam and my journey of a million miles just began.
- Early 2010 I realised the importance of fuelling my body, right thanks to Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, Dr. Kurt Harris, Dr. Michael Eades, Martin Berkhan, Gary Taubes and The Jaminets among others. I geeked out on the science of nutrition, got myself certified and used what I learnt as a tool to help people become better versions of themselves.
- I did extensive research, dropped the allergens, upped the nutrients and embraced an open mind. In 3 months my asthma disappeared! The demon that hindered me for 18 yrs was defeated just like that. As a plus, my lipid profile got cleaned up rather well!
- I gained about 20 lbs of muscle during this time and resurrected my joints that were pounded over and over from running.
- In 2011, I quit my desk job, moved back to India and founded The Quad along with Arvind Ashok. From then till now, I spend all my time thinking health and fitness and working with real people helping them look, feel and function better.
- I currently serve as a co-founder and coach at The Quad, a regular columnist for The Hindu and a motivational speaker.
- I use this space to ponder, learn and hopefully, educate.