My legs were heavy.
My arms were dead.
My mind was a blur.
My body was not responding.
I was completely exhausted and all I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and close my eyes. No, it wasn't in the middle of training, nor was it post training. I haven't even started to train in my usual evening boxing sessions with Coach Iskandar. My head was everywhere, but definitely not in Onyx. All I saw, was the words "Low Batt" flashing across my mind.
That was me last week. I was broken.
It is so easy to imagine fighters as a symbol of strength and fitness, as though we are all born ultimate warriors. Maybe it runs true for those that are genetically blessed, but I know for a hard fact that I'm not. When preparing for a fight, we don't just sign up and then continue training as per usual. We can't. The mood intensifies, there's suddenly an exponential increase in training sessions, and a new bunch of responsibilities as though there's a deadline to meet for a project.
On some days, the fight team actually trains 3 session in a day, mixing it up with their respective disciplines, and strength and conditioning sessions. It is absolutely brutal. Training sometimes become an endless cycle of profuse sweating, while balancing my mind with work, and school. Again, it is just brutal.
Then there's the added stress of making weight. It's an intricate issue, because it's not as if I'm losing weight to take part in Miss Universe, but to keep in balance between my muscle performance (which I have to keep and maintain), versus losing enough fats (and inevitably, mass) to make sure I am on point when I step on the scale.
That day last week wasn't anything special. There wasn't anything special that happened as well. But it was the day that my body decided that it had enough accumulated fatigue, and hence decided to shut down.
As I was wrapping my hands, I did it purely based on muscle memory, and did not have a clue that I was actually wrapping my hands. Several of the Onyx crew walked past me and dropped comments that rang with echo, like a lucid dream. I didn't answer, it didn't seem real to me.
I was trying to progressively make weight, so my diet generally consists of clean protein with lots of vegetables, and lesser carbs. A diet like this would probably mean a severe calorie deficit, but I didn't think it was that severe because I wasn't feeling hungry. But the flipside was me needing much more calories than usual because of the increased volume of training, and I was also pushing harder than before.
Things only came into focused when I heard a familiar voice.
"What's wrong, Nat?" Coach Iskandar called me out.
All I could muster, in my eyes filled with tears, was to mutter the words, "I'm exhausted...". I only knew that I had to train, and training was the only thing that mattered. I didn't realise that everyone else was looking at me with concern, and Coach Iskandar is already discussing quietly with Jack.
"Go eat and go home, Nat. You're not training tonight."
I can't remember who said that. But the words came to me like orders. I was reluctant. I felt defeated, and not pushing through training in these times of desperation was like a total and utter defeat. But I was not given any more leeway nor chance, I don't think I've managed to convince anyone that I can still train that night. It didn't help that I still can see the rest of my team mates continue with their training, even though they too, had the same 3 session day as me. I couldn't understand why my body reacted this way.
Reluctantly, I left the gym, dead in the mind, and feeling like a piece of shit. On my way home, I was knocked-out cold on the bus, and missed my stop. I woke up, realising that it was probably time to stop and listen to my body.
It needed food, and rest.
I'm not a particularly good example of overall fitness and wellness, but I've learnt to understand my body a little better. I keep hearing the coaches tell me that I need to understand my body, but I never truly paid much attention to it. But your body actually tells you so much more than you know.
That night, I listened to my body for once, and ditched the usual "mind over body" pep talk. It did wonders, and I woke up, ready to push harder than before. Sometimes, rest is indeed the answer.
If you're like me, turning a deaf ear to your own body for years, then perhaps for once, listen to it. But it is not a prime excuse not to work hard, whether for a fight, or like many others, to become fitter, or to lose weight. Only you know whether you've truly crossed the boundary of 'hard work and dedication.'