Boxing my way to wellness

In the ring: Lim and her dental school friends at the City of Angels Boxing gym in downtown Los Angeles

Jab! Cross! Hook! Uppercut!

I am no Muhammad Ali, but you can typically find me at a local boxing gym after a long day of clinic and classes pounding away at a heavy bag with my hot pink Everest® gloves.

At a towering 5 foot 2 inches, I am not your typical image of an Ultimate Fighting Champion. Not to mention with pieces of plaster and alginate stuck in my hair from doing lab work, I certainly do not look the part. However, looks are deceiving. I pack a mean uppercut and one-two punch.

I recently took up boxing in my third year of dental school in hopes of switching up my workout routine. I quickly got bored of running on a treadmill and using the same gym equipment all the time. Boxing was a fun, exciting way to get my heart rate up while learning something new. After my first trial class, I was hooked.

Boxing creates friendships. Lim is pictured here with upperclassman Karen, who became her friend through boxing.

While I considered myself in pretty good shape as an avid hiker and long-distance runner, boxing posed a new challenge. Not only does boxing involve high intensity cardio and strength training, it also tests your agility. It is a complete mind-body workout. Unlike the mindless treadmill or elliptical exercise I was used to, boxing challenged me both physically and mentally. Just an hour of sweating and punching heavy bags was enough to clear my head and free myself from the seemingly insurmountable stresses of exams, lab work and clinic. Boxing was my escape.

I completely understand—working out is usually the last thing on our minds after a long day of dental school. We would rather go home, change into pajamas and binge watch Netflix with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. (I am also guilty of this.) While this temporarily helps us de-stress, we usually end up in a cycle of self-loathing and guilt. My solution: find a fun hobby that incorporates exercise and healthy living.

While I personally chose boxing as my means to de-stress, there are countless other physical activities to choose from. How do you jumpstart your own fitness journey? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Find a physical activity that interests you. Whether it is boxing, cycling, yoga or rock climbing, it is important to find a physical activity you look forward to doing. This way, you are more inclined to stick with it even if dental school gets busy. An easy way to explore new activities without fully committing is taking advantage of free trial gym memberships.
  • Invite your friends. Boxing was so much more fun because I went with my dental school classmates. It paved the way to new friendships and strengthened old ones. Exercise does not have to be an individual activity. By having friends to go with, you can keep each other accountable not to skip workouts. You can even motivate each other to reach your fitness goals.
  • Do not make excuses. The age-old excuse is “I have no time.” While dental school certainly eats away at the little time we have to ourselves, this is not a valid excuse. In actuality, exercise helps save time by improving overall productivity and efficiency.

Balancing health and wellness during dental school does not have to be a chore. Find a fun way to de-stress by engaging in a new sport or physical activity that you never thought to try. You will be surprised where it takes you!

~ Rebecca Lim, Southern California ’18

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About Rebecca Lim

Rebecca Lim is a 4th year dental student at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. During her free time, Rebecca enjoys running, hiking and exploring Los Angeles.

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