I Worked Out Every Day For a Month and Was Shocked at What Happened to My Weight

Hilary outside of Barry's Bootcamp
I worked out at Barry's Bootcamp for 30 days straight. Lisa Richov
I worked out at Barry's Bootcamp for 30 days straight. Lisa Richov

If nothing else, growing up with three brothers has influenced me in two ways: number one, my affinity for playing sports; and number two, my competitive nature. If there's a physical challenge on the table, I'm going to crush it.

Trying out extreme regimens for extended periods of time isn't new for me. I work at a place called Liquor Lab in New York City, and I gave up alcohol for 30 days. I've completed 20 SoulCycle classes in one month. I've taken four classes of Flybarre for six weeks straight. I'm a sucker for a good (PG-rated) dare. But, I digress.

In early March, I started a new challenge: 30 days of boot camp in 30 days — with no days off. I enrolled in Barry's Bootcamp: a high-intensity workout involving 25 minutes of cardio (treadmill) and 25 minutes of strength training (weights, resistance bands, floor exercises). In each class, participants jog, run, and sprint — sometimes on a steep incline — and switch from numbered treads to benches. Each day of the week is dedicated to a different section of the body: Arms & Abs; Butt & Legs; Chest, Back & Abs; Abs, or Full Body. There are six locations in Manhattan; I utilized four of them.

While enduring my adventure, I experienced a lot of new things, starting with how social media played into my workout . . .

Instagram Kept Me Honest — but I Didn't Disclose Everything

Naturally, like a normal 20-something, I documented my days via my Instagram stories. I posted pictures of the lobby, checking in, my after-class smoothies, and my friends who came with me to sweat. IG allowed me to take note of every session: how I was feeling, what time of day I was exercising, and how many more hours I had left.

But I didn't post everything. I left out what I learned about my body, my limits, and my friends during my journey.

Before and After 30 Days of Bootcamp
Before and after 30 days of boot camp. Hilary Sheinbaum

My Weight Remained the Same

When my challenge began, I had just returned from the Charleston Wine & Food Festival. (Read: I had stuffed my face for four straight days, with delicious southern delicacies.) I'm 5'5" and I weighed 117 pounds on March 4. Thirty days later, I weighed exactly 117 pounds.

To be fair, I may have lost fat and gained muscle, but I also amped up my calorie intake and never passed on dessert. After crushing at least 2.5 miles on the treadmill and lifting 10- to 15-pound weights every morning, I was a very hungry woman. I ate roughly 2,500-3,000 calories a day (which is far more than my usual 1,500-2,000 — even when I'm going to an average gym class). My healthier meals came from a fitness-focused meal plan called Kettlebell Kitchen, and my not-so-nutritious fare (roughly a pint of ice cream each day . . . nope, I'm not joking) came from my freezer. My goal was not to lose weight — it was to survive — and therefore, I have no regrets.

My lunch from Kettlebell Kitchen, prior to eating an entire pint of ice cream.
My lunch from Kettlebell Kitchen, before eating an entire pint of ice cream. Hilary Sheinbaum

It Made Me Stronger and Built Up My Endurance

Even though the scale didn't shift, there was a very big difference in my body: namely, the way I was breathing and maneuvering through exercises.

The first few days were the hardest: I felt sore and had trouble catching my breath, which never happens. Despite typically working out five or six days on my own, I don't run every day, and I'm certainly not sprinting 10 mph on a 10-point incline.

Day 7 of My 30 Day Bootcamp Challenge

Day seven of my 30-day bootcamp challenge. Image Source: Hilary Sheinbaum

By week two, my body was accustomed to the increase in exercise. It was amazing how quickly I adapted to the mileage and weights. Sailing through class in the low-to-mid range of speed was no problem — without gasping for air or needing to nap later in the day. With any type of workout, it's a good idea to increase your weights and/or your speed if you still want a challenge.

By week three, my sweat sessions were purely mental. I anticipated sprints for 30, 45, and even 60 seconds. I knew if the incline increased two points, it would likely go up two to four more before switching rounds. I still looked forward to class, but I wished I had scheduled a day or two to rest my muscles or at least my brain.

During week four, I had a slight injury, but still pressed on (more on that later).

It Helped Me Sleep

Speaking of rest, I slept better at night. Historically, I am a terrible sleeper (translation: five hours for me is a feat). Instead of four to five hours of shut-eye, I was pushing seven hours. I wasn't tossing and turning, and my overall vibe was calmer. I even slept up until my alarm went off. This sounds silly, but, again, this never happens in real life.

Hilary on treadmill.
I powered through a cold and a slight injury. Lisa Richov

I Knew I Would Make It to the End, but I Worried, Too

Let me rephrase that: I was not the least bit concerned about completing 30 days of workouts. I was, however, definitely nervous I would get injured. Having run cross country in high school, played soccer for a number of years, and remained active through college and postgrad, I've endured a number of aches and pains — some more serious than others.

Paired with being a bit stubborn, I was not going to let a sprain stop me from completing this challenge. Within the first two weeks, I had a cold but powered through. By week four, my back was uncomfortably sore for days — perhaps because I pulled something or decided sprinting at 12 mph was a good idea . . . who knows. Instead of dropping out, I simply modified my floor routine, even opting for a day of double floor activity (no treadmill).

People Have a Lot of Opinions and Questions

The biggest takeaway from my 30-day bootcamp challenge was how involved my social circle became. Through texts, Instagram, and even emails, I would receive daily messages from friends, followers, and acquaintances.

Some people were eager to participate with me while others were skeptical. I was called everything from crazy, brave, strong, and inspiring, to annoying (for posting on my IG story every day), and beyond. Everyone had questions: was I sore? Did I lose weight? How was I still doing this? There was a mix of encouragement, confusion, and even admitted (friendly) jealousy.

Even after 30 days, I'd still do it again. Photo credit: Lisa Richov
Even after 30 days of tough workouts, I'd do it again. Lisa Richov

I Would Do It Again

As my challenge concluded, a new question emerged in the last week: would I continue going to Barry's Bootcamp beyond my 30 days? (As in: are you sick of this yet?)

Truth be told, I'm going to take (at least) a 48-hour hiatus from the red room — but not because I'm over it. There's no doubt I'll be back, and I would absolutely do it again. But like I said, if I'm going to do another challenge like this, it's going to require a day or two to rest in between.