17 Mar Boxing: My Saviour
My journey with boxing began about a year ago and with it came some major life changes. All for good, I believe. It might sound cliché, but this sport makes me feel alive. There is a common notion that feeling has a lot to do with pushing one’s own boundaries and boxing pushed me to rediscover various aspects of my personality. It was a self-love journey I didn’t know I needed…
It was the summer of 2019, October to be specific. I was accompanying my friend to her gym. Now for someone who thought walking up the stairs of the GCUH tram stop was her workout for the day, it was an overwhelming environment for me. Ripped humans doing all sorts of lifts, bends and squats. It was one-stop shopping for muscle. Amidst all this, in a far corner at the back, I saw a trainer wearing boxing pads, moving sideways from person to person as they fired their punches at him. He gave them instructions “One, Two, Hook, Jab”. It was captivating for reasons I still don’t know but I was sold. All I knew at that moment was that I needed this in my life. Kind of like my Facebook feed convincing me in seconds that I need to buy personalised Game of Thrones mugs! 😉
Well, I signed up on the spot and the rest is history. Since then, and as my family would attest too, I have deeply fallen in love with this sport (post workout endorphins? 😉). I often think, was I even living life before this? You might think I am overselling this, but I actually am not. Here’s why, and I think you are going to want to hear it.
I started slow. Learning the basics, practising my footwork, learning the different punches, attacks and defences. I am not going to lie to you, it was hard at first. Anything out of your comfort zone is hard initially, but once you let those inhibitions go and just start and stick to it, you will soar high. Some amount of stimulus generalization helped me here. I associated this new experience with med school. Med school is hard. So, you start slow. Learn the basics, practise the metaphorical footwork, punches, attacks and defenses and with every study session you increase your chances to exceed and learn. Moreover, when we stop treating our schoolwork as a burden and acknowledge it as knowledge, strange things happen. Strange things like, we beat procrastination and learn things? My God. Strange. 😉
One week into starting boxing, I triggered my disc herniation pain, which let me tell you, is excruciating. I could not walk and was on bed rest for a week. It was as if boxing was leaving me on ‘read’. You’d think something like that should have given me enough incentive to stop. Guess what, I was back at it after a month of physiotherapy sessions. I learned something about myself after that. If I want something, I will go to the ends of the earth to make it happen. Hence, why not use that drive for completing LO’s? Basically, I learned that setbacks and disappointments are a part of the deal. I also learnt how I respond to them is what eventually matters. I either find reasons to give up or I find an appropriate way to make it work.
Amidst all this, boxing also became about breaking stereotypes. Yes, I am a girl. Yes, I am ‘plus size’. Yes, I lift heavy weights. Yes, I love pleated short skirts. Yes, I love painting my nails and yes, my cross can render you unconscious.
Boxing improved my focus. I learned if my focus shifts for even 0.1 second, I could suffer from a concussion or worse a cranial fracture. I assume you all have seen the images in Dissa’s lecture; it’s safe to say no one wants that. Applying this to med school, if I lose track of my goals for a weekend, I let them slip away. You think a weekend is not going to make a difference to your goals, but you’d be surprised how much consecutive weekends tend to add up later in the year. It also taught me to take a break from the grind in times when med school gets overwhelming. As Morgan Freeman said, “Sometimes the best way to throw a punch is to take a step back”.
There’s always going to be a million reasons to not do something. But it was important for me to understand that med school is not my life, just a part of it. If I make it my life, I’ll burn out in a week. It is important to have an outlet. It feels good to punch a bag after a long day of lectures and never-ending study plans. As if every punch I do recharges me for another day.
Imagine having a reset button for your enthusiasm and motivation. When I am on my last round and completely out of breath, I only hear my trainer’s chants “keep breathing, don’t give up, this is when it matters” and everything else is background noise.
Lastly, I am going to leave you with this quote from Mike Tyson, “everyone has a plan until they get punched”. So, my fellow Med Colleagues, it is up to you to give up or get up!
Image credit: Tiitstitanic via Wikimedia Commons. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Female_boxing_04.JPG
Interested in writing for the GUMS blog? Email our Publications Officer, Ashraf, at email@example.com