How much is too much?
Those who know me, know me as the person who will try out different forms of exercise to keep things exciting. I will go to tennis, I will take a dance class, perhaps Crossfit, maybe a swim. It’s almost as if I have a phobia of committing to one form of exercise. Like a f*ckboy in the world of physical wellness.
Pathetic humour aside- just as several of my life decisions go, an Instagram advert prompted me to sign up for a 30-day boxing challenge- and here’s what happened:
Endurance was at an all-time high
I have always been rather fond of power and strength training, where I can do one massive block of work and not do it again until the next training session. Do a heavy deadlift set for 8–10 reps instead of 15 endurance reps, or do a few heavy sets of squats for 5–6 reps and not look at the bar again. But hand me 8 kg dumbbells for sets of twenty curls- that’s where you’ll see me struggle. Boxing training changed me and my attitude towards endurance training. The first big sign for me that my endurance was increasing was when I made it up the flight of stairs into my bedroom without panting. But every session I did made me feel stronger and every subsequent session I did, I punched the bag harder and for longer. Strength was increasing and so was endurance.
I didn’t lose any weight
Not to say that this was ‘boxing’s’ fault- absolutely not. I have been boxing for as long as I can remember and I have always supported boxing for its ability to improve cardiovascular fitness and unleash your inner warrior. But I didn’t lose any weight at the end of the challenge- for one primary reason- I didn’t change my eating habits at all. Losing weight was not my goal, so my eating habits hadn’t changed- proving that an intense amount of workouts in the absence of change in nutrition is unlikely to yield the outcome of weight loss.
I started looking better and fitter
While I didn’t lose weight, it is also no rocket science that boxing is going to make you look good and fitter. When you punch a bag, it is a ridiculously high impact on your arms. Now, imagine hitting a bag for 40–50 minutes. Imagine the wear and tear that needs to happen in your muscles to counter the resistance from the bag. My arms started to look fabulous. Not only that, clothes started to fit me better. While I didn’t lose any weight, I could definitely say I ‘toned up’- meaning that a certain amount of muscle formation had happened, which gave me the leaner quality in my body that I was after. Name one boxer who doesn’t flaunt a six-pack of abs. If I’m going to complete a boxing challenge, I’m probably not going to end up with a visible six-pack of abs, but I am most definitely going to end up with some sort of muscle formation in my body to show for all the work I have done.
I became disciplined
I am not a morning person. I am usually not a people person but making me interact with cheery exercisers early in the morning will set me up for a bad start to the day. But I had signed up for the challenge and if I wasn’t going to complete the required number of workouts within 30 days I wouldn’t be able to face myself. So I got over it and went to morning sessions and now I feel like I want this to be my way of life. Challenge or no challenge- I want to be able to work out in the morning and have the rest of the day to myself. I want to be able to feel energized for the rest of the day. I want to sleep at a decent hour and wake up at a decent hour and treat my body right.
My energy levels were at a high
It is no secret that exercise helps you feel energized in the short and long run of your life. This 30-day challenge did just that and having completed my workout for the day in the morning meant that I would be up for literally anything for the rest of the day because that was the kind of energy this new discipline had brought me.
I became more motivated
Once you complete one milestone- in my case, the 30-day challenge- you feel even more motivated to get to the next milestone. In other words, motivation comes most naturally from results. So many times it is easy to fall back from the fitness wagon because there are no results, or we become impatient because of how long it takes to see the tiniest bit of progress. The 30-day challenge was not and will not be the biggest challenge of my life, and yet it was so important to celebrate it like it was, because it is in celebrating the smallest of victories that we find motivation. Since completing the challenge I found renewed motivation in not only completing new challenges but also in other parts of my life, like at work and in personal development.
It is incredible how much physical activity can contribute to personal growth and a change in mindset, from almost one of lethargy to one of a driven, motivated person. Would I do this challenge again? Maybe I would. It was not easy. In fact, there were times when I really couldn’t be bothered to wake up to go to class, but the moments when I showed up when things got harder were the moments I enjoyed the most. It is true that nobody ever regrets a workout and now if ever I feel like I want to skip a session I will remind myself that sitting on the sofa, binge-watching Netflix, I would probably regret not going to the gym, but there was absolutely no way that I would be at the gym looking at my chiseled self in the mirror, regretting working out.