Dancing With the Stars is proving to be quite the physical transformation process for AJ McLean, who told Us Weekly Monday that since beginning training with Cheryl Burke for Season 29 of the ABC dance competition, he's "lost probably seven or eight pounds," which works out to "almost a pound a week."
Burke added to the publication, "I keep telling him he needs to eat," to which the Backstreet Boys member responded, "I am eating, but it's almost like I'm fasting." McLean explained he eats breakfast and "a little bit of lunch" during the day's practice session before another meal at night, but the weight keeps dropping due to the pure physical demands of dancing. "I don't think people understand though how many calories [you burn]," Burke explained. "It's not just you running on a treadmill [while training], so you end up burning way more calories than if you were just running on a treadmill or at the gym."
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That, plus the changes he made to his diet and exercise routine amid the pandemic has led the boy bander to lose "almost 20 pounds" since March. McLean previously revealed on Instagram ahead of his announcement as a member of the DWTS cast that he had converted to a "very strict" grain-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and sober way of living for the past nine months, which helped him get into the "best shape of [his] life" as well as contributing to making him "happy — physically, mentally, and emotionally."
All the hard work is paying off, with the musician showing off before-and-after photos on Instagram on Sept. 8 to celebrate the change in his body and mindset. "The transformation is unrecognizable and I couldn't be happier," he wrote at the time. "Still got a ways to go but now that I'm dancing like I never have before it's coming."
McLean and Burke's training regimen is also paying off on the dance floor, with the team earning a 21/30 for their cha-cha to the Backstreet Boys' own song, "Larger Than Life," which featured a special virtual guest appearance from McLean's bandmates during Monday's show. Next week, as the dancers travel back in time for '80s night, the duo will perform a waltz to "Open Arms" by Journey. Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.