“My right hand was paralyzed and I bedridden with limited neck movement. This was the most difficult time of my life.” Siddharth Shukla, Vegan Ironman

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When life spins a googly your way, many will collapse with stress and inability to cope. But here is the story of vegan Ironman who displayed grit, determination, and sheer courage to overcome a health crisis recently, just like he did on track 3 years ago.

Let’s go back a bit to your second 2nd Ironman finish in Langkawi, Malaysia in 2019. Can you share your fitness regimen for your second effort?

My schedule was divided into parts as mentioned below:

Daily activities:

  • 10 AM to 6 PM – Office
  • 5:30 AM – Short 5 km run (Included in long-distance run on weekdays)

In addition to the above I had below activities allocated to weekdays:

  • Monday, Wednesday – short swims 2 Km, Short Cycling up to 20 to 30 Km (After office)
  • Tuesday, Thursday – Long swims of 4 Km, Long-distance cycling up to 50 to 60 km after the office
  • Friday – Long distance run up to 30 km
  • Saturday – Long-distance brick workout i.e 120 km cycling and 25 km run
  • Sunday – Rest and open sea swim

What was the crucial factor that helped you break previous personal best?

I improved my swimming by half an hour.

Post the second finish, how have you maintained balance with your health regimen?

The post-race season is the strength build-up season. Most of the workout time is spent in lifting weights. But a short 5 km run is a part of the lifestyle. Sunday long-distance cycling or running is a must. Of course, a proper diet is maintained even after the race season.

You suffered from a major gym accident recently. How have you been coping since then?

Well, it was a difficult time for me. On 15 Jan 2020, I met with an accident in the gym and broke my C5 vertebrae. My right hand was slightly paralyzed and I was lying in the bed with limited neck movement. This was the most difficult time of my life.

After falling into the trap of a corrupt local doctor, I had to suffer for 17 days at least, who assumed it as a nerve compression and fled away after giving initial “so called” treatment which was nothing but steroids, painkillers, and stimulants that too, for a hefty fee.

Later it was diagnosed as a C5 vertebrae fracture and immediate surgery was called upon. After two days of imprisonment in the hospital bed and later 3 months of bed rest, I lost all my muscle strength, stamina & I gained.

A big thanks to my life-savior Dr. Satyen Mehta. I still remember Dr. Mehta, a reputed Spine Specialist from Mumbai entered my room. He was the one for whom we all were waiting for the final observation and course of action to be decided. He had a view of my MRI in front of a tube light and immediately suggested surgery (ACDF). But I got a big relief to hear that I will be normal post-surgery, I just can’t express the feeling I got in my stomach by the sheer thought that I will be able to run again! It was decided that the surgery will take place on 5 February 2020 so I had 1 day in between. It is said that time is the biggest healer and slowly I can see myself getting attuned to the situation. I was so thankful that nothing happened to me despite being on the bed with a fracture, not only this but I was able to attend nature calls in the bathroom and not on the bed. A good doctor is an asset to society whereas a corrupt, incapable doctor is a fatal threat to the same society. A chill goes down to my spine when I think of that unfortunate day.

There were fears and insecurities. But following steps really helped me in getting out of it:

  1. I accepted the reality as it is. There is no problem with crying. I cried a lot that helped me in getting out of the negative mindset. We cannot change the part but we can do something in the present. Life is unpredictable and any moment can be the last moment. We are vulnerable irrespective of all the titles we earn whether it’s an ironman or other. This may sound philosophical but this is the fact as it is. I am thankful to my spiritual Guru Osho – The master for bringing me out of this mess up.
  2. I started having a more calcium-rich vegan diet. I followed a proper diet till the bone is healed and then went on a hogging spree and because of which I gained 15 kgs. I enjoyed all the junk and never restricted myself from it. We even went for a road trip to North India. It took me almost a year to recover.
  3. Meditations helped me a lot

What will you attribute your recovery to?

My wife Disha, my parents, brother, sisters, and my Guru Osho. Disha stood firm by my side in these difficult times though she also had a fracture in her toe. It was an unfortunate coincidence that just a month ago, she had a fall, during the workout and fractured her toe. My parents spent nights in the hospital. And of course I thank Dr Mihir Goswami who did a fabulous job, arranged expert neurosurgeon Dr. Satyen Mehta, and ensure all the medicines given to me are vegan. My friends Shri Ashutosh Rana, Dinesh Bhaiya, Amit Chauhan, Adrish, Mandar, Neha, Roshni, Sandeep, Deepali, Sunita, Priyanka, Pooja, Soni, Saurabh, Sw. Param Prem, Maa Rabia, and others who helped me in building up my confidence.

What are the biggest 3 mistakes one can make during gym workouts?

The biggest mistake we can do in a gym is not listening to the body. Always see whether your body is ready for the workout? If you feel tired, not motivated (not the laziness of course) don’t do it. Another mistake is getting carried away by the other members. Third – Not checking the machine properly. And the biggest mistake is always to keep a check on your ego and don’t do anything to impress others.

What is next on your agenda?

Ultraman (2024)

I will end this with a quote from Gurudev Osho: “This is the simple secret of happiness. Whatever you are doing, don’t let the past move your mind; don’t let the future disturb you. Because the past is no more, and the future is not yet. To live in the memories, to live in the imagination, is to live in the non-existential”

I have started my sports life again and I am thankful for the good vibes I always get from all my friends.

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Compassion India Magazine

Compassion India Magazine

Compassion India is India’s official first ever vegan print publication. It aims is to bring the vegan community closer and create awareness about the ethical and health advantages of following this lifestyle. The magazine was launched on 1t November 2019, which was World Vegan Day.

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