Feeling the Burn! Unexpected Benefits of Joining a Fitness Program

As the clock tick-tocked its way to midnight on December 31, 2018, were you one of the millions who thought, “2019 is the year I will [get in shape/get healthy/eat better/exercise more/insert your own version here].” I was! Well, in a way.

I allowed myself to indulge in any and all treats put in front of me during the holidays, and the scale showed it. Not that I care that much about what the scale says. It’s a number that is only one variable in determining a person’s health, and is affected by so many things, you can’t put that much stock in it. That being said, the number on the scale kept creeping up. By the end of the year, I was up about 5 or 6 pounds. The thing that really pushed me to make a cliche health-related resolution though was the fact that I could feel the difference in my body. I didn’t like it.

I’m pretty active. I walk my dogs several times a day. I have my dance lessons and practice, of course. I also started going to an hour-long Zumba class once a week (and took some of you along with me in my Facebook livestreams). I was pretty confident that if I just went back to eating how I normally ate (and not eating every holiday treat in sight) and kept up the physical activities, I’d get back to my normal weight range. I wanted quicker results though. It’s a LOT easier to gain weight than it is to lose it. Those 5 or 6 pounds I gained over the course of a couple months were not going to go away as quickly without a bigger change.

The fitness studio where I take Zumba also has a signature 6-week fitness program called Burn®. I had heard about it plenty of times, and the fantastic results people experienced, but never signed up. I liked Zumba because it was dance fitness. Take the dance part out, and I lose interest. I really wanted to get rid of this extra weight though, and I knew I wouldn’t stick with exercises I did by myself at home. I needed something I paid for and had scheduled classes where I needed to show up.

A new session of the program was starting January 7, so I took the plunge and booked my spot! I was committing to three hour-long classes a week for the next six weeks. Each class had a repeating theme (Monday is cardio, Tuesday is weights, Thursday is a mix), but the exercises would change so you and your body wouldn’t get bored. There were six different class times on each day to choose from, and if you couldn’t make your normal class time, you could show up to one of the others. I went for the latest time: 8pm.

I just completed Week 3. I plan on writing a full recollection of the entire 6 weeks at the end, but for now, I wanted to share some of the unexpected benefits I’m experiencing from this fitness program.

1) I’ve stopped snacking late at night. This has always been a bad habit of mine. I’ll be chilling on the couch with some TV before I go to bed and end up craving a snack, usually something sweet. Eating right before I go to bed is a great way to gain some weight! Now, because I’m taking my Burn classes from 8-9pm, when I get home, all I do is walk the dogs, take a shower and go to bed. I’m too tired to stay up and eat!

2) I’m eating less sugar. Since late at night is when I’d consume most of my sweets, going to bed instead of snacking after Burn also means I’m eating less sugar, particularly the processed kind like candies, cupcakes, cookies, etc. that don’t carry any real nutritional value.

3) I’m drinking less alcohol. I’m a big wine drinker. I love me a glass of red with dinner or after. But I can’t drink wine with dinner on Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursday because I have Burn class that night. Wednesday is out too. So I’m going all the way to Friday before I open a bottle. Note that this is another source of sugar I’m reducing!

4) I’m drinking more water. I’m prone to exercise-induced headaches, so with Burn, I’ve been extra careful about making sure I stay hydrated and not just during class. I’ve learned that if I don’t stay hydrated all day, it will affect me even if I’m drinking water right before or during class (another reason I stopped drinking wine during the week). I also started drinking a full glass of water with a Nuun electrolyte tablet* after class, which has made recovery a lot easier.

5) I’m watching less TV and getting more work done. One reason I chose the late night Burn class was I would still have time between the day job and class to get business stuff done. That small window means the TV doesn’t get turned on at all at least on the 3 evenings I have Burn. I focus on more productive activities and then, with my glass of wine, enjoy some chill time in front of the tube on Friday.

6) I’m eating better without really trying. Along with cutting out the late night snacking and therefore reducing the amount of processed sugar I’m eating, I’ve realized I’m also becoming more conscious of what I eat in general. I spent Week 1 of Burn figuring out when and what to eat for dinner before class to give me enough energy to finish the class but not leave anything heavy in my stomach that would upset it as I worked out. Without actively planning to overhaul my diet, that level of awareness led me to make ongoing changes anyway. In addition to putting more consideration into what I ate for dinner, I was also less tempted to make poor choices during the day. I always stopped by the candy jar that sits on the reception desk in my office, but since Burn, if I’m craving something sweet at work, I opt for fruit or a flavored greek yogurt. I don’t even want the chocolate in the candy jar because I know I’ll feel like crap in class if I eat that instead of something more nutritional.

A lot of these benefits are tied to the fact that I’m taking my classes late at night. I know a lot of people like to work out in the morning, but I’m loving my late night schedule. I’m also loving that this program and my chosen class time are providing all of these unexpected benefits. I’ll be honest, the scale shows questionable progress. I lost a few pounds and then seemed to gain a couple of them back. I suspect I first shed a bunch of water weight and then started gaining muscle (which weighs more than fat). I’m not tracking calorie consumption and burn, so this is all conjecture.

More importantly, I’m feeling better. Over the 3 weeks, I’ve been able to increase my intensity in the cardio exercises and increase the weight I use in the weight training. I’m also seeing more definition in my muscles AND I’m feeling stronger in my dance routines. I had stopped going to Zumba because I felt like Burn + Zumba classes would be too much. I started to miss it too much though, so I went on Friday night, after doing Burn on Thursday. I felt awesome! I’m thinking about adding a Zumba class back into my schedule for the second 3 weeks of Burn. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Anyone else working on their fitness this month? Are you sticking with it or starting to lose motivation? Share so we can support each other!

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