Growing up, I was what you might call a hyper active kid, someone who couldn’t sit still for a moment (sounds familiar?). I was full of energy and always ready and eager to play out doors (fortunately there was no I-Pad, I-phone or even cable TV for that matter). As I grew older my interest in outdoor sports deepened even further and went on to play a number of sports for my high school and college. I was tall but extremely lean for my age. As a teenager, I was conscious of how skinny I looked and started lifting weights in order to bulk up. In my ignorance, I believed that if I lift enough weights somehow it will magically transform me into a mini version of Arnold Schwarzenegger . I started going to gym every single day and even twice some days. But I was extremely disappointed when I did not get the gains that I was hoping for.
Finally, I turned my attention to diet. I was told by most of those around me that it is the proteins (specifically the animal proteins) that makes our muscles strong and help us grow, so I started loading up on proteins (though my mother did made sure that we had plenty of seasonal fruits available to us in the house. Needless to say, at that time, I was completely ignorant about the healing and rebuilding power of ripe fruits and raw vegetables and thought of them as a snack foods which I did enjoy. I wish I had realized a simple fact that the mighty Gorillas / Apes who are closest to the humans physiologically but many times more stronger do not consume animal proteins (other than some bugs here and there) as a means to become strong and muscular. In fact, their diet primarily consists of fruits and vegetables – Ever wonder where they get their proteins from ? for that matter where do elephants, rhinos, and bulls get their proteins from to become some of the strongest land animals on planet earth ? If your guess is plants, you are absolutely right.
Being ignorant, I started drinking more milk shakes, and ate more meat and eggs, but still not much happened. Since I didn’t had a car, I used to walk a couple of miles to the gym and walk back after lifting weights for one hour (often till my body scream with pain and exhaustion). I was beating up my body without any gains and I had no idea about the harm I was causing it. unbeknownst to me, I was building systemic acidosis throughout my body by consuming a protein rich diet followed by faulty exercise routine. At that time, I didn’t even know that the body does most of rebuilding / regenerating at night time when we sleep and the critical importance of quality sleep. As I was really committed and motivated I kept working out. By the time I moved into my early twenties I had spent thousands of hours in gym and ate a ton of proteins. All the hard work had resulted in some progress and I had finally put on some muscles.
Than, one fine day in spring, as I tried to get up from the bed, something weird happened. I couldn’t find any strength in my lower back. There was not much pain but there was no strength as well. As I tried to getup again and walk I went down in a heap. Needless to say I was completely mystified and freaked out. I couldn’t figure it out what was going on with my body. I was just fine the night before and had a pretty good sleep. I called my mom and off we went to the doc (My first serious foray with an MD) for X-rays. Nothing much showed up in an X-ray so the doc gave me some injections to relieve my discomfort. It helped and I started walking a little bit. I thought I was getting better but after 3-4 days the strength was gone again.
So this time, we went for an MRI. The MRI confirmed that my last two vertebra had pretty much squished together. I had recently applied and got into an MBA program in United States and was devastated with the news. I was told to get complete bed rest and intense physical therapy. The physical therapist I went to was old school (really old school – he was at least 70 years old but strong as an ox). He didn’t even bothered looking at my MRI’s. When he saw me coming in he knew what was wrong with my back. He believed that best way to open up the vertebra were to pull my body in two opposite directions (get the picture). It needed two people to do the job. One held on to my lower body (not letting it move) while the other swung the upper torso in the opposite directions (with my screams in all directions). He told me “son don’t do anything stupid like lifting weights and just take complete rest. I followed his directions (not that I had a choice).
It was now summer of 1996 and I ended up delaying my trip to United States by one semester. I spent three months in physical therapy and took complete rest. As I gave my body rest, I started seeing improvements in my situation. In just 3 months I was able to walk and slightly jog again. I was not completely healed but the eagerness to come to states had motivated me enough. I started doing the stretching exercises that the therapist had given me and that helped me enough to fly to States and start my MBA program.