Feeling the Burn! Final Results

You know those days when you have all these great plans to get a lot of productive work done, and then you get nothing done? That was me last weekend. It started off in good shape. I did a 6-hour group training/working session with my business coaches on Saturday. After that, I can’t even tell you where things went wrong. In any case, obviously, I did not get this blog post written, so we’re doing it now!

Last weekend also marked the first post-Burn weekend! Our last class and final fit test was on February 14. Before I go into my final results, please allow me to paint you a picture of the previous six weeks.

Going into this fitness program, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I’m a dancer, so naturally, right? Not so much. I may have mentioned before that Burn was three days a week. Mondays were designated for cardio, Tuesdays were weights, and Thursday were a combo. Each class was different, so for example, we did different exercises on Monday in Week 1 than in Week 2. I liked this format because I get easily bored with exercise for the sake of exercise. But I wanted to recover my pre-holiday body quickly. So here I was, ready to go.

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Week 1

Week 1 of Burn was all about figuring out how to pace myself. Day 1 nearly destroyed me. Every class had the same warmup, which consisted of doing six exercises for 45 seconds each, then 30 seconds, and finally 15 seconds. I made the HUGE mistake of not holding back in the warmup. They had music playing to get everyone in the mood, and after over six years of ballroom, my natural reaction when I’m moving and music is playing is to move to the beat of the music. That was waaaay too fast to start my first warmup round.

The rest of the class consisted of a fit test, which included 10 different exercises. You did each one for a minute and counted how many repetitions you could do. I got 0 for 4 of them because I had to stop after becoming severely lightheaded and concerned I was going to make an embarrassment of myself and pass out in front of everyone.

It should come as no surprise that I drove home a little freaked out, wondering what the hell I signed up for. Was every class going to be like this? How was I going to make it through the next 6 weeks??

Day 2, I went in with the intention of going super easy in everything. I felt like I was going in slow motion during the warmup, but I didn’t care. I was so worried about overdoing it again. When it was time to grab the weights, I went for the lightest – 3 pounds. I survived the class without feeling faint.

Day 3, the mix of cardio and weights, I found myself getting a little lightheaded again. On Day 1, I concluded that one of my problems was I ate too much too close to class time. On Day 3, I think I ate too little too ahead of time. This was more involved than I expected!

Week 2

Thursday to Monday was a nice break, but it proved to be really hard to come back to Burn on Monday when I hadn’t done much over the weekend (aside from trying to recover from Week 1). If my body, especially my knees, could talk, it would have been crying and screaming at me during this week. I hobbled around at work because my leg muscles and my knee joints hurt so bad. Thankfully, by Thursday, I was starting to feel a little better.

Week 3

I started to notice actual progress! During Monday’s session, I could feel that I was able to go harder and longer in the cardio exercises. I could increase my pace without fear of fainting! Tuesday was interesting because I had to switch class times. Normally, I would go to the 8pm class, but my mom was coming to visit and her flight was getting in at 8. I had a dance lesson at 6, so I went to the 415pm Burn session, rushed home to shower quickly, and then went to my lesson. Doing Burn before my dance lesson pushed both my body and my mind to the limit.

I like how another Burn attendee put it – “the Burn fog.” That feeling of being too exhausted to think. The Burn fog was heavy during my dance lesson, and my stamina when we danced was laughable. Having a dance lesson before Burn was no problem. Burn before dance? Not advisable.

Week 3 finished with a halfway fit test. We repeated the minute-long exercises we did on Day 1 of Week 1 (or didn’t do in my case) to see how much we had improved. I was able to do all 10 this time, so I was much improved! By this point, I had also increased the weights I was using to 8 pounds. Hurray for progress!

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I was also feeling good enough to go to a Zumba class on Friday night. I usually went on Thursdays, but the class was right before my Burn session, and I was pretty sure trying to do both classes would kill me! It felt really good to return to Zumba though. I had missed it!

Weeks 4 and 5

The next two weeks were steady as she goes. By this point, I knew what to eat and when to eat before class. I was feeling stronger, although my knees were complaining a lot. Mondays seemed to be the hardest days. I’m not sure if it was because the longer break before that class, or just because it was cardio and so your heart rate really gets up there. Or maybe it was all of the pushups, squats, lunges, jumping exercises, etc. that my body just loves so much (not!). In any case, I kept going while trying not to completely wreck my achy knees.

More progress was noted in Week 4. I had lost between 2 and 3 pounds, and dropped 0.5% in body fat. I never really paid attention to my weight before, and didn’t even own a scale for years. Admittedly, it was nice to have a tool to measure different parameters, so I could track my progress. What was cooler to me though was how I was feeling. It was great to be able to go harder in exercises that made me almost pass out on Day 1!

Week 6

This final week came up faster than I expected. Has it really been nearly 6 weeks already?? The format changed up slightly. With the last day being reserved for the fit test, we did cardio plus ab work on Monday and then cardio, weights and ab work on Tuesday. Oh. my. goodness. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe and pause when the room started spinning.

The moment of truth finally came! It was fit test time again.

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I did pretty darn well! Body measurements showed it too. I lost 3 pounds, 1.5 inches around my waist and 2 inches around my hips. And my arms looked a LOT more toned.

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Holy cow, right?  Even I was surprised when I made my little before/after collage.

After Burn

Since completing the program, I’ve continued to lose weight. I hear that can happen. Sometimes the results are delayed compared to the work. In total, it’s been about 6 pounds, which puts me back to where I was before I ate everything in sight over the holidays. So yay, Burn works!

My knees were acting a lot noisier than before Burn, so I finally went to see an orthopedist this past week. I’ve had cranky knees since high school, so I wasn’t very alarmed to hear them cracking and popping. Since they were talking to me a lot more frequently though, I wanted to make sure I hadn’t acquired a new problem.

Turns out no new problems, just aggravated old ones. I’m pre-arthritic with chondromalacia patella and I picked up a mild case of tendinitis (not surprising with all of the repetitive squatting, lunging and jumping that my body was not used to). The good news is I don’t need any surgery or therapy, and I can keep doing what I’m doing.  I can keep dancing (most important thing!) and exercising, just with some mindful moderation. I was a little amused by the look on the doctor’s face when he suggested doing this Burn thing once a week instead of three times while I was also dancing.

Confession: I totally went against doctor’s advice yesterday. Weeks ago, I had bought a ticket for a two-hour Zumbathon. The event was to raise awareness of the threat of heart disease and all proceeds were going to the American Heart Association. Well, the event was last night and I had my standing dance lesson right before. So I waltzed for 45 minutes and then Zumba’d for about 90 minutes (I was late getting there because of traffic, parking and then trying to find the stupid parking pass kiosk). My knees were hurting hella bad by the end of Zumbathon. I had ice packs on them before I went to bed. Luckily, this morning they were just a little sore. I was honestly wondering if I’d be able to walk.

So in conclusion, the Burn fitness program was highly effective for me. I got amazing results for just 6 weeks AND without following a strict nutrition plan. As I wrote in my last article about Burn, I started making adjustments to my eating habits naturally just to avoid feeling lousy in class. Makes me wonder what would have happened if I went all in and followed a meal plan! I know myself well enough to know I wouldn’t be motivated enough to follow it consistently though.

The knee issues are something I’ll have to keep a closer eye on moving forward. A new session of Burn is starting at the beginning of March, and I was thinking about signing up again. But after seeing my knees on x-ray and knowing I’m still aiming to compete at the beginning of April, I decided to skip this one. Better to save the torture for what I really love doing – dance!

The hardest thing is just making myself rest. I took it easy the week after Burn, and my knees were doing better by the time I saw the orthopedist (of course, right?). Now, they’re angry at me again for doing so much dancing last night. So I need to not feel guilty about doing a modified solo practice at home tomorrow instead of going to the studio. Like the doctor said, it’s about finding a balance. You don’t want to stop exercising completely because that isn’t good for your joints either, but you also don’t want to overdo it. So just like in the beginning of Burn, I’m having to figure out what the best pace is for me.

I know I’ve been going on forever, but before I sign off, I wanted to share one more thing with you. We’ve officially choreographed draft routines for all 4 Smooth dances! Now it’s time for rehearsing, tweaking, and finessing. I haven’t submitted entries for Ballroom Beach Bash in April yet, and I’m not going to for at least a couple weeks. I want to feel out how I’m progressing in getting comfortable with the routines before I commit to a date to first compete with them. I know I won’t ever feel fully prepared, but there is still that point where you can feel prepared enough to not make a fool of yourself. That’s the point I’m aiming for.

If you’ve read this far, you’re amazing! Thanks for sticking with me to the end. Happy dancing!

Edit: After continuing to experience pain and inflammation, I got a second opinion about my knees. The diagnosis was still chrondromalacia patella, but I was not doomed to live with the symptoms as the first doctor told me with a shrug. As you’ll read in blog posts following this one, I started physical therapy and was able to reduce the pain to practically zero. 

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