The long road to squatting pain free- Part 3



The much clearer picture on the left is because I had better lighting on that one. But the results are pretty clear. The pelvis is finally where it should be and its holding, after a month of rehab and 2 sessions of light squats, its still holding.

Does this mean I’m in the clear? Far from it.

Living with a shorter leg has caused my squat to shift in that direction, so now I have to train my neural system to shift back to squatting straight. Consciously shifting it won’t cut it on the higher weights. Im also not allowed to perform deadlifts and lunges or participate in any impact exercises for another month.

The good news is, this is the bit I can rehab on my own. We train a lot of people out of hip shifts anyway, and now I’m going to have to do that for myself.

This is an excellent video detailing how you can do that for yourself :

And that, along with other exercises and light squats should get me back into powerlifting in good time.

I had initially gone to Sagars’ to check if I’m ready for heavy lifting at competitions.

I had absolutely loved the one competition I had gone for and was getting better at it. My last squat PR was quite close to double bodyweight, and that was my goal for the next meet… a double bodyweight Squat.

Today my goals are very different. I no longer care if I can hit that PR. It is not a priority. I might still compete, but if I do, it will be for the love of lifting heavy and for the honour of competing alongside women who have chosen to try their hand at being the strongest in the state.

If I manage to even get close to my old PR and manage it pain free, thats all I want for christmas.

My body has carried me around and allowed me to experience life at its fullest. In the 25 years I’ve played, jumped, run, lifted, thrown myself around and tried every sport that I have come across, it has complained very little. For every goal I’ve set, it has rewarded me with two more.

It’s now, just a little bit hurt and it needs some TLC…. Its now my turn to respect my body and help it heal. And Im not complaining at all.

Here’s to a pain free 2016!


The long road to Squatting Pain-free – Part 2


What are my options? I asked Vidhyasagar, after clearly stating that a life without squats CANNOT be one of them.

So he gave me 2:

1) Wear a shoe on only one leg during squats and deadlifts (Which felt very unsteady).

2) Try traction, a slightly unconventional method that is based on the theory that if a large impact is what moved the pelvis up, a similar strong force applied in the opposite direction should set it right again.

Against better “google” judgement, I decided to put all my trust in Vidhyasagar and go with option 2.

For as long as I had 2 legs and could walk, I’ve enjoyed doing squats  and I just couldn’t imagine giving up without a fight.

And so I had my leg pulled, and pulled, and much to my dismay, it wouldn’t budge. Years of strength training my muscles + many injuries to my joints(playing sports) meant that dislodging my pelvis from my core muscles was harder than dislocating a connecting joint like my ankle or knee (or worse, tearing it).


So I was asked to go home and come back in 2 days, when, he assured me, he’d try another technique.

The other technique after many many attempts, worked only a tinge. A tiny 0.5 cms worth of traction had happened. I was happy it had even moved.

Again I was asked to rest 48 hours and come back for session 3. This session was productive, the other 2 cms was achieved and I went home elated. No squats, no jumps, no impact for now. I had to rest and only do some mild core strengthening, while allowing scar tissue to form and reset my hip in its new position.

I went home, head in the stars, dreaming of when I could squat again, did not see a tree branch on the road, tripped, fell hard and stabilised using my right leg.

The impact sent the pelvis right back to where it used to be. I was crushed. I doubled back to the Vidhyasagars clinic hoping for damage control, but was told that continuously manipulating the pelvis could cause joint laxity.

“Go home and exercise, do whatever you like for 2 weeks, let the muscles heal a little, we’ll try again in 2 weeks” he said.

So I did. I sprinted more than I usually do, Squatted till my knees hurt, did 2 workouts on some days.. all in preparation for a forced rest period that I knew was coming.

I binged on training the way some people binge on food when they gear up for a diet.

2 weeks later, I was ready, I put myself under a forced house arrest, refused to go out or climb stairs, got the other trainers to take class so that I wouldn’t accidentally demonstrate something or clear weights, and went for it.

Two sessions have gone by since and the corrections are in place and holding. Im doing the rehab exercises every hour and nothing else. There is still a .5 cm difference, but I’m told thats muscular, and will need lots of correctional exercise and stretches.

My whole life is currently about the fight to get my squat back.Every 2 hours, my alarm reminds to stretch one side of my body. Every 4 hours I have core work that needs to be done. Its painful. But as long as it works, it’ll be more than worth it.

Because when you’re blessed with 2 legs, why would you not want to squat/run/jump with them?

Why would you purposely choose to go your whole life without ever discovering the strength you have in you? Thats only a life half lived.

Next up, rehab to train my right leg into taking a load it has so far pushed on to my shorter, tighter left leg.

Bring it on!


The long road to Squatting Pain-free

If you know me, you know that I’ve been playing a sport since I was 9. Recreationally at first and then more seriously after I got into College.

When I could no longer play because of work, I bought every fitness DVD and book in town and continued moving/reading about movement.

I did 7 of my 12 certificates with no intention of ever using them. I just loved movement. I found freedom and peace within it and I did not discriminate between the many kinds of movement available to me. I’ve P90x’d, Zumba-d, Insanity-d, Spin-d, Circuit-trained, Yoga-d and even marathon-d.

Over time, Ive found what I love the most is strength training. There’s just something about lifting massive weights that brings out the best in me. I love training with weights, I love helping other people train with and fall in love with heavy weights. I even tear up a little every time I see a massive pile of barbells and plates.

Where am i going with all this? Well, last year, I decided to try my hand at powerlifting. (Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts for maximum weight)

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.28.13 AM
The very heavy squats and deadlifts made the muscles just above my knees feel tender. It wasn’t a large problem, and I only chanced upon it because I foam roll everyday. But, it was unexpected.

And so I consulted Physio number 1: I was told I had tight quads and weak hamstrings and a little stretching and strengthening would fix it all.

I did that, and the second I started squats, it came right back.

Physio No. 2: Said I had “knots” and I needed myofascial release. Plenty of blood-curdling screams and painful sessions later, I squatted and sure enough.. the problem came right back.

Physio No. 3: Noticed that when I stand “straight” I’m actually quite funnily tilted (she was right). “Do more Uni-lateral leg work”, she said. And I did. Oh boy did I ever. But…. NOTHING.

Chiropractor No. 1 and Physio No. 4: Noticed I have mild scoliosis and tried “correcting” it by cracking my spine in various places. Didn’t hurt. But did not really help either.

And so I found myself standing in front of Physio no. 5, Vidhyasagar, from Sagars Rehab.

He listened patiently to all my previous attempts at a pain free squat, asked me to squat without weight, agreed that technique wasn’t a problem and decided to take a video of me squatting heavy.

I loaded up the bar, and squatted, I was asked to squat till he was satisfied he had all the footage he needed. Around rep no. 10 (just as I was getting real tired) he noticed a little blip in my technique. He replayed the video several times till he realised that while squatting, my right leg opened out a touch more that my left.

“Squat again”, he said, and this time, purposely push your left knee out as far as it’ll go. I did, and it still wasn’t far enough.

Well, the only thing left to do was measure my leg length. As suspected, my left leg was shorter than my right by 2.5cms. X-rays confirmed that the problem originated at my pelvis which had moved upwards by the same length.

How did this happen? Honestly I don’t remember. I tried my hand at every sport that came my way from Cricket to Volleyball to basketball(which I played for 15 years) to (more recently) Ultimate frisbee. I’ve fallen in all kinds of odd angles every time.

Ive torn all ligaments on both ankles, one knee and hurt my right shoulder. I have no idea which of those falls was bad enough to send my pelvis flying upwards. But here I am. A tilted pelvis and a spine thats curved around to accommodate it.

15 years of weight training has given me enough strength to mask the problem during most activities. But powerlifting needed me to be better.

So what next? I’ll save that for my next post.


Diabetes and the Eastern Diet

In India Diabetes has become an acceptable part of the ageing process. So many of us have it, its no longer regarded as the dangerous, highly preventable lifestyle disease that it really is.

Type 2 Diabetes is a choice. A choice you make every day, every week, over many years till finally your body stops fighting you and gives in.

A study conducted by the Asian American Diabetics centre and the Harvard medical school, highlights the importance of a good diet when trying to manage/prevent diabetes.

50 participants were chosen at random(28 were Asian) and for the first eight-weeks, everyone consumed a traditional Asian diet. For the next eight weeks, the participants either ate the same diet or switched to a traditional Western diet.

Each diet was prepared for the participants, and included three meals and one snack daily. The number of calories was the same for each participant, no matter which diet they were on. The calorie count was enough to maintain their bodyweight.

Measurements for bodyweight, blood lipids, insulin resistance, and inflammation markers were taken before, during and after the study,to find out what the difference between the diets would be.

Of the fifty participants, 28 were East Asian Americans(That would be us or close enough to us). The remaining participants were Caucasian Americans. All of the participants were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The Asian diet consisted of 70:15:15 macronutrients from carbs, protein, and fat, respectively. It was also high in fiber. The protein in this diet came mostly from vegetables/beans.

The Western diet was 50:16:34 and was low to moderate in fiber content and protein in the Western protein was mostly animal-based.

Now here’s the fun bit:

The traditional Asian diet improved insulin sensitivity, caused a loss in body fat, and improved the lipid profiles of both Asians and Caucasians. It also reduced inflammation for the Asian subjects

And whats more interesting, when the caucasian population followed the Asian Diet, they all lost weight, even though the number of calories was the same or even a 100 calories higher. Researches figure this is because of the high fibre content.

 The Western diet, by contrast, increased body fat and worsened insulin resistance for the Asians, even when their bodyweight stayed the same. For the Caucasian subjects, the Western diet increased bodyweight and body fat, but didn’t increase insulin resistance as long as they maintained a normal BMI

In other words, when we tried to follow a diet that wasn’t natural to us, all our markers for health got worse, but caucasians who are used to the same diet, did not do as badly as long as they maintained their weight.

Conclusion: Eat what your grandmother used to. She knew what she was doing!

The Morning After a binge

Let me know if this sounds familiar:

You decided to start making healthy food choices(again) on Monday. Its Thursday(or wednesday, depending on the severity of the diet) and the motivation that was coursing through your veins just a few days ago, no longer exists.

You sneak in a few snacks after a lunch, a dessert after dinner, and before you know it, its sunday and you’re bingeing away at food you’re not even all that hungry for, because you’ve promised yourself you can start again on Monday.

Come Monday, you break out the soups and salads and teas(again) to pay for what you consider the sins of the weekend.

Except, if you did do that, I can promise you one thing for sure.. you WILL fail before the week is out.

The average diet lasts 72 hours… just long enough for your body to realise that a famine is upon you, slow down your metabolism, throw out some muscle, and send out hunger signals.

All of this will ensure that the next time you eat, you will store more than you burn. For every diet you try and fail at, you will be heavier.

If you think willpower is your problem.. you’re wrong. Diets are your problem.

Making unrealistic promises to yourself is your problem. Promising yourself perfection in a life thats entirely human and wonderfully imperfect, is your problem.

So the next time your eating goes wrong. This is what you can, instead, try and do:

1) Get back to where you left off as soon as you can. Not on Monday. Not tomorrow but ASAP. The very next meal.

2) Don’t try to compensate for the past. The future will take care of itself. In the long run, one bad meal will change nothing, week after week of binge eating followed by starvation will.

3) Food and exercise are not reward and punishment. Eat because you’re hungry. Exercise because you need the strength. Throw out the guilt that everyone has convinced you, you need.

4) At every meal eat some protein, carbs and veggies. Irrespective of what your last meal looked like.

Think of it this way. If you decide to run a  marathon.. but also decided that you will only complete it if you do not stumble/fall through the entire distance, and will, additionally go back to the starting line every time you fall… would you ever get around to finishing the race?


Get up, dust yourself off and pick up where you left off. Thats really all it takes.

Raising healthy kids

Im going to make a few things very clear here:

1) I have no kids, and its very unlikely I will anytime in the future. So I haven’t a clue how hard it is, nor do I really want to find out first-hand.

2) I do know good nutrition and can give you an unbiased, fact based opinion on what you ‘should’ do regardless of hard it is to actually execute this.

3) I will try and keep this as simple as possible. But I promise not to judge you for being too tired to actually pull this off.

On that note, lets begin.

Most of us average humans are born with the innate ability to feel hunger, and satiety. As kids, we know exactly how hungry we are, and will push food away as soon as we are full.

This instinct is, however, driven right out of us by doting parents, well-intentioned neighbours, grandparents and most fellow Indians who live by the belief that force feeding children is actually the way to go.

We assume without question, that kids haven’t a clue about anything including their own bodies, and that it is up to us to force them into all things deemed right by society from day 0.

Where nutrition is concerned, I’d like to tell you, you’re wrong.

A healthy relationship with food should start early. Food should be eaten to satisfy hunger and hunger alone.

Clearing the plate to help a starving Somalian will NOT save the Somalian and will set one little human up for a lifetime of disordered eating.

Here’s an alternate way to help your child eat:

1) Have a healthy relationship with food yourself. No food is ‘bad’ or ‘good’. There’s nutritious food, food that should be eaten in moderation and food that should be eaten on occasion. All foods are ok. Just not all the time.

2) Don’t fill the poor kid up with sugar filled drinks and send them off to school hyper-active(Cerelac, Horlicks, Boost, Snickers, Dairy Milk.. they’re all just as bad). Plain full fat milk is best.

3) Encourage eating when hungry. Make (nutritious) food available through the day. Don’t keep junk in the house. Save junk for when you’re craving it, and make a family trip out of it IF you really want it.

4) Never force feed a child when they don’t want to eat. We all have different needs and different eating patterns. Allow the one thats most natural to become a habit. Some of us like 3 big meals, some of us like many small meals. It’s all good.

5) You can decide what is available to eat. But never control how much a person(however little he/she is) should eat.

6) Focus on getting out to play. Be it a sport, games with the neighbours or some version of  running and catching, get out, play. Don’t preach about exercising for the sake of exercising, or worse, exercising as a means to lose weight.  Kids don’t need to hear about that yet.

Its as simple and as difficult as that. Have a relaxed but mindful attitude towards food and exercise and you’ll do just fine.


The Learning Curve

I enjoy moving my body, most of the time. It comes from years and years of practice. I no longer worry about form or weight. My mind is free to enjoy the workout and think about how efficiently I can complete a workout. My body needs no instruction, and I love the freedom and mental clarity a tough workout brings me.

That is of course, how I feel in a gym/ at the Unit. Last week, however, I decided to start working on a new martial art. I’ve started Kalari Payattu. For those of you who haven’t heard of it.. this is what a seasoned practitioner makes it look like:








I, however, have only just started, and I’m fairly crap at it. And no, I’m not being modest. For the first time in a long time, I truly understand (in the present tense) why people dread workouts in the beginning. Its hard to feel good about a workout when EVERYTHING you do needs correction or modification and you cannot seem to do anything right. Its hard  to go back to class, when you know that what awaits you, is a whole lot of disapproval and patient-but-constant correction.

And yet, through it all, I feel slightly happy.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through years and years and years of trying every new workout/exercise that’s been around, it is this:

You are not going to be crap at anything you consistently practice, forever. 

Thats not the way your body is designed. Your body simply doesn’t get the limitations your mind puts on it. It will adapt to survive. If you consistently tell it that it needs to jump, kick and fly around to survive, then one day, it will help you do just that.

And yes, exercise feels awesome once you get technique and you can take your mind off it. But it takes time and patience to get there.

So I’m going back, and I will keep going till I finally get it. It might take months or maybe even years. But I am getting older anyway. I might as well learn something new while I’m at it.

And when I finally get it (because I will), how cool is it going to be, to own a body that can do this:









Now that is worth working for.

Intuitive eating: Dump the diet and follow your hunger

In my last post i talked about all the diets i tried. I even mentioned how i gave it all up and am healthier for it. I did however, miss detailing one step. That step is what this post is about.
You see, i didn’t just wake up one morning, have an epiphany and magically start eating healthy. The process was long and slow for me. I know several people who get it right on the first try, but I am not that person.
I went from training 8 hours a day to 0. From needing more food than 4 healthy adults to needing only enough for one. From having a disciplined training plan to suddenly having no higher purpose for exercise(no tournament, no team, no trophy)
I had always eaten for one of the following reasons:
i) Training session No. <1-4> starts in 15 minutes, i HAVE to get something in.
ii) It’s healthy/good for me/ good for performance
iii) I hadn’t yet met my required calorie intake for the day and had to make up for    it or suffer through sluggish session the next day.
Never in my childhood, had i needed to eat for something as simple as hunger. And yet, ironically, thats what food is for. We might abuse it in times of stress, try and use it to fill a void in our life or even celebrate around it. But, at its most basic, food is just energy. We need it to live, we get hungry for it and hunger is part of a basic but essential set of survival instincts. Foods’ uses may be manifold, but it can only, fully satisfy one goal and is wasted on everything else.
And so I decided to try out Intuitive Eating (by Geneen Roth). Her rules were pretty simple:
  1. Eat in a quiet surrounding and concentrate on the food.
  2. Be aware of what you eat and the reasons behind why you eat.
  3. Write down everything you observe in point #2
  4. Give yourself permission to eat EVERYTHING but learn to distinguish between what your mind wants and what your body really wants
  5. Your body… your choice. If you choose every time to eat something for reasons other than true hunger, that is your right, as long as you learn to truly embrace the consequences of those actions.
  6. Keep trigger foods out of the house, make the effort to drive out and get them only when you truly have a craving.
Initially i had lots of problems with #4 and #6. You see, my trigger food, is potato chips. Specifically ‘Grand Sweets’ potato chips.
So when i initially followed #4 and gave myself permission to eat potato chips, i stocked up on 90 bags of it (the theory behind it being that if you’re surrounded by it and its no longer considered a cheat food, you’re less likely to binge on it).. without realising THAT was my trigger food. The 90 bags(you read right) disappeared in 1 month.
I learnt my lesson.
I did gain weight initially, but over time i learnt to tell the difference between what my body wanted (hard to do when i had ignored it all those years) vs what i was tempted by simply because my mind wanted it.
Today i no longer constantly want junk… not because I’m on a diet but because it makes me feel like crap.
I understand that my stomach doesn’t really EVER want to deal with cake or potato chips. I do still have both if the occasion calls for it AND i decided i want it anyway.
But I’m more connected to my own hunger signals now.. and its a liberating, fulfilling place to be.
Interested in giving it a shot? I strongly encourage it. I know what it feels like. I’ve been on that side of the fence.. and while it is entirely your journey. I’ll be cheering you on every step of the way.


Diet and be depressed

Diets don’t really work. A committed change to the way you choose to live is what will. So that new Blood group/south beach/atkins diet you started? Its only as good as its ability to fit into your lifestyle. Or you can change your lifestyle completely.. everyday.. for the rest of your life.

That being said…. you’ll get no judgement from me. I’ve been there myself.

Many years ago, when I quit competitive basketball and got into IT, i started to gain weight. As a person who started sport at the age of 9 and had no idea how to handle a non-skinny body.. i panicked.

I had NEVER dieted before that. All I ever cared about was playing well. I was willing to be whatever it took for me to be the best player out there. The focus was never on how my body looked. But i had also, never lived in a body that was heavy and hadn’t moved in a while. I had no idea how to carry it around, dress it or like it.

So i started my first diet. Several diets and many rounds of depression later. I gave up, found my first love(exercise) again, found joy in moving like i always had, ate food not junk… and all else just fell into place.

Listed here are all crazy diets i tried. Beware, this is a personal account, and while i hope it will provide an insight into what each one is about. At the end of the day, what works is personal and unique to each of us.

1) The Low-Fat Diet

Bit of a no brainer. Everyone did it at one point. We were told that fat makes us fat.. so i avoided it all costs. My already dry skin got drier. My cravings got stronger and i found myself binge eating french fries by the time the week was over.

2) The Atkins/The Low Carb Diet

Forget low fat. Try low carb. At only 20 gms of carbs a day in the initial phase( which I realise, now, is ridiculous), I was moody and irritable. If someone had warned me ahead I would have called my friends first and told them not to come over.

Working out on that allotment of carbs was a nightmare. And as a bonus, i smelt terrible. Ketosis they call it. They even convinced me its a good thing(your body dissolving its fat to save itself).

If they’d told me ahead, i would have called all my friends first and told them not to come anywhere near me.

3) The 7 day GM diet.

Day 1: Feel light headed on a diet of fruits.

Day 2: The only veggies i liked raw(back then) are cucumber and carrot. Having eaten my weights worth of them, i feel gaseous and nauseous.

Day 3: Gnaw my own knuckles in desperation

Day 7: Rejoice

Day 8 and beyond: Put on all the weight I lost right back… and then some.

4) The Beyonce Master Cleanse

I do not know how she did it. But 2 days of severe diarrhoea was all it took to convince me out of it. Lemon water? Seriously?

5) The Starve-All-Day-Party-At-Night Diet

Starved all day… MORE than made up for it at night

6) The Eat-Chapathi-Instead-Of-Rice Diet

Bloated-ness was my friend in misery. Enough said.

7) The Skinny Bitch diet.

Basically went vegan. I was skinny-fat and a mega bitch. I refuse to put my friends and family through it again.

 The Every Other Day Diet.

Requires you to fast one day and eat the other day. This is what it usually went like for me

Day 1: Fast virtuously for the first 3 hours of the day. By noon any food my colleagues eat is being looked at with jealousy.

By 2-ish pm i feel like a martyr that has sacrificed all. Any food talk is quietened by murderous glances.

Given i was in the US and staying with colleagues, if it was my turn to cook, lord help them co-workers. Food would be prepared dramatically(think hindi movie ‘maa’ sentiment) and thrown not served at the table.

Day 2: Euphoria. Its an eat-all-you-want fest. Except, your stomach hurts after a while. And you kinda feel sick.

Day 3: Clinical depression

Day 4: No Euphoria this time. Just a sense of foreboding because you know its all going to end very soon.

Needless to say.. i didn’t last the week.


So what do i do now? I eat. Everytime I’m hungry. I eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, but if i absolutely want that bag of potato chips.. i will have it. And my weight? Its been stable for 6 years :)

Dealing with well-meaning lifestyle wreckers

We’ve all been there. We’ve decided to commit to a healthy lifestyle, we’ve replaced the junk with greens and we’re feeling good, when suddenly, some kind of social gathering comes up. You already know what to do. You don’t really have any intention of breaking away from this healthy lifestyle you have going for you… until.. you meet <insert well meaning relative here(WMR for short)>.

WMR tells you that you soo should eat this amazing <insert food here> and that you’re missing out. Still you hold your own, figure you’re not really hungry anyway. But WMR presses on. Here’s a list of reasons/arguments you’re most likely to face.

1) You’re already so skinny. Why do you need to avoid <junk>?

Le sigh. How do you even begin to explain that thin-ness and healthy-ness are not nearly the same thing? That eating healthy is not rooted in aesthetics? That self respect and a love for your body are what drive you into putting good food into your stomach?

My answer: You don’t. Just don’t explain yourself. You don’t need to apologise for your lifestyle or make excuses for it. If the world worked on the basis of common sense, it shouldn’t be healthy eating that requires an apology.

Just politely decline, thank your stars for having the kind of lifestyle that allows you to say no to food and walk away. Its a privilege a lot of people in this country starve without.

2) One day won’t make you put on weight.

I fully agree. I’m a big BIG fan of moderation. If being a good friend at a wedding means more to you than sugar.. then be a good friend. Life is too short to spend worrying about every calorie eaten.

BUT, the decision to indulge/ show restraint should be yours and yours alone. No one else has the right to tell you when or how you should indulge. Its not their lifestyle to nonchalantly wave away.

3) What is all this dieting? I eat all the food i want and I’m as healthy as a horse. 

Sadly this one is all genetics and probably true. But you can’t bargain with nature. The deal you got at birth is your only option. So if YOU can’t eat all you want and stay healthy.. then its your responsibility to do right by your body.

4) <Insert individual non-science based diet gyaan> (e.g. just eat all you want and drink hot water lemon and honey in the morning… and it’ll all go away)

*SIGH* Just nod your head politely and move on will ya? This is the age of google. You have no excuse for accepting pseudo-science at face value anymore.

5) There are people in Somalia who are dying of hunger

And they will continue to die of hunger, no matter how aggresively you stuff your face with food. If you want to make a difference. Donate. Be an active part of the changes other communities need. Stuffing your face in a far away country helps no one. Especially not you.

At the end of the day, remember, your body is your responsibility. You only have one of it and you can choose to do whatever it is you want with it. As long as you understand the consequences of your decision, no one has the right to tell you otherwise.

You can always choose to eat that cake… wilfully. Just don’t give anyone else the privilege of making that decision for you.