Boxers have all kinds of excuses for faltering in their training.
I am no different.
After dilligently training for most of December, I fell off the wagon a little bit over the holiday break.
I'm chalking it up to a combination of things - the blizzard, the holiday (and all the trappings that come with it) and the fact that I had lingering hack that I was sure was some combination of tuberculosis, emphysema and whooping cough.
Like anything, it doesn't take long to get out of practice.
But in the past couple of weeks I have been back to a semi-regular training routine at Calavera's Martial Arts Academy, Minot's local boxing gym.
When I got back into it, I had certainly lost some of my boxing mojo. Instead of being able to jump rope like a fifth-grade girl, suddenly I was back to jumping rope like a 33-year old man.
My jab, which had been strong and crisp, was now more like an annoying little mosquito that only needed to be swatted away.
Last week, I brushed off the rust and got into the ring for my second sparring session.
This time it was against a smaller, less-experienced fighter than my first sparring partner. It didn't stop me from taking the short end of the stick. I've been working on both my offense and my defense, but neither worked brilliantly.
My training sessions have involved trying to move my head to avoid punches and using my guard to deflect them. I saw some improvement, but still got tattooed a couple of times.
Offensively, there's no substitute for being in the ring working against an opponent. Hitting the heavy bag or hand pads are great, but you don't get a feeling for what combinations may work until you try them against someone.
I've advanced from throwing not much else but jab/straight right combos, but I don't think anyone's going to confuse me with Manny Paquiao when it comes to ripping off rapid fire combinations.
The best news from the session is that I didn't throw any of my patented two-handed punches. It may not be long before I can earn a new nickname - unfortunately "Punching Bag" isn't that much better than "Pattycake."
While my boxing story is still under construction, there are a number of success stories coming out of the gym.
Like in most boxing gyms, there are stories of kids who used boxing to stay out of trouble. My most recent sparring partner has a story like that. He was a trouble-making kid who got into boxing and it helped him turn his life around for the better.
He's entering the Air Force in the next few weeks.
Likewise, there are success stories in the fitness area.
There are a number of people training at the gym who can thank boxing training for helping them lost weight and change their bodies. In my short time at the gym, I have met three different people who have each lost at least 40 pounds with the help of the boxing workouts.
Talk about getting down to your fighting weight.
(Chris Bieri is the Sports Editor at the Minot Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)