For the first time in three years, I’m finally giving myself a chance to take a break.

For the entire month of December, I changed to “light duties” only – I still turned in the occasional gym session but I made sure to spend more time visiting family & friends while enjoying the holiday season.

There haven’t been too many times in the past three years, where I would have given myself more than a couple of days off at any given time.

Boxing is relentless. It requires total commitment – anything less than 100%, and you’ve already lost the fight.

Supplied: © Lyndon Marceau / @marceauphotography

It’s a key reason why many boxers are so reclusive – we’re constantly in our own element, blocking out all kinds of distractions that have the potential to derail our progress in the ring.

But I can honestly say these last few weeks have been bliss. I didn’t realise how much my body, mind and soul actually needed a break until I stepped away for some rest and recovery.

My skin has enjoyed being at the beach everyday, and mentally I’ve been able to recharge the batteries after such a long period of time of constant training and conditioning.

These past 12 months have been particularly more tougher than previous years, as I have become more exposed to the pressures of being a more identifiable athlete.

Supplied: © Lyndon Marceau / @marceauphotography

Although, I’m certainly not complaining about the increased profile; I’ve worked really hard to make a name for myself on the Australian boxing circuit, and I have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.

But on reflection, I don’t think I handled the increased pressure very well, in particularly once the Games commenced.

I put more pressure on myself than I ever have before, because I was more of a public figure than what I’d been used to.

My performances in the ring, during the Games, did not reflect the capabilities and form I was building throughout preparation camp.

It took some time to get my head around that, but once I was able to accept it, I sought to improve my mental game within the sport by seeing a sports psychologist.

That was a whole new ball game for me, because much of the pressure that came for me was through some of the negative media commentary I experienced throughout the commonwealth games, which saw me really struggle in my interaction with commentators and reporters.

There were some photos, taken without my permission from social media pages, that were published by certain tabloid media outlets during the Games.

The photos were of me poolside after one of my recovery sessions, which was used to portray me as an athlete who wasn’t doing all I could to prepare for my fights.

The storyline’s they published with my photo suggested I was pigging out at the free ice cream stalls, and partying hard in the athlete’s village. The storyline’s couldn’t have been further from the truth.

The photos really upset me, because they made me look as someone who didn’t train hard and of an athlete that was more interested in the ‘party lifestyle’.

Which was just absolute rubbish, because as I mentioned, I had never been training so hard in my life. I actually hadn’t even had an alcoholic drink for over a year at that point.

But you wouldn’t have known based on the media story that was published.

So that really got to me. Even as I tried to bury it from my mind, I had so many family and friends keep sending me messages asking me what I was going to do about it.

I felt so helpless and had no idea what to do.

It’s important that I make it clear that I have absolutely no issue with the media – I love the support they give to the sport of boxing, and I have forged so many great relationships with reporters and journalists who cover boxing all over the world.

It was the first time I’d ever been on the “other side” of a bad story, and I had never experienced anything like it.

I had no idea how to handle things, and it had such a large impact on me.

But my sessions with the sports psychologist has been a game changer for me, and together we’ve worked on a number of processes and systems to help me manage it all a lot better in the future.

Supplied: © Lyndon Marceau / @marceauphotography

Because I do want to be a role model for young girls who might choose to follow the path of boxing. I want to be able to show them that you can take the good with the bad, and use every experience as a learning process.

For me, I wish my experience as a “high profile” athlete hadn’t come in full impact during such a significant campaign such as the commonwealth games, but the important lesson for me is how am I going to use that experience to better myself for the future.