I Look Good and I Do What I Want

a journey of loving my body and myself

wii fit June 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mae @ 2:46 pm

My husband and I love games. Mostly, we like to play boardgames together. We got tons for wedding presents, too. The hubs has an X-Box 360 he spends alot of time on while I’m at work, and last year I surprised him with a Wii as a special present for achieving a goal (paying off all his debt).

To tell you the truth, the Wii has not seen the action I thought it would. We never really “got into” Wii Sports as neither of us are sports junkies. We did go through a couple months of a Zelda craze, because Zelda is decidedly awesome. Six or so months ago, I read about a game in development called Wii Fit and I was very, very interested. I have waited for months with varying degrees of patience. Not realizing it would be the sellout hit it was, I didn’t preorder it (huge mistake) and had to read all over the internet about how everyone but me got one and was totally enthralled with the game! Torture, sheer torture.

Well, that all came to an end Sunday morning. I heard about an effective stategy for obtaining games or game systems that are routinely sold-old. Stores like Target will advertise in their Sunday circulars that they have the game in stock, and will hold at least a couple to put on store shelves first thing Sunday morning so the ad isn’t misleading. I bee-bopped out of bed Sunday morning– this, after a Saturday spent at the pool with friends at a steady and constant level of intoxication– with an hour before the store opened, just enough time to shower, hit the ‘Bucks, and parade through the doors of our local Target at opening time, 8:00 a.m.

We showered, we coffeed, we drove to Target. We strolled through the doors just as they opened. I beelined for the electronics section, and… *heavenly chorus* there were about eight on a shelf. The hubs grabbed one, and I did an impromptu dance of joy in the Target aisle. And danced through the rest of our mundane Target shopping trip. My husband said he hadn’t seen me so excited about a purchase since my wedding band (the e-band was a surprise that he selected).

The best part is that the game totally lives up to the hype. We both played for a bit last night, trying out the different types of exercises, and I actually leapt out of bed this morning at 6:30 a.m. to get in a workout before dogwalk/shower/dress/packlunch/commute-ing.

The game begins with a body test: it asks for your birthdate and height, and then it weighs you and calculates your BMI. This was the hardest part for me, because I weighed in at 229 lbs. That puts me at exactly the weight I was before I started the pre-op diet to get the lap-band surgery last August. Reaching that weight again is a huge, huge signifier that I have Failed. And while I did already “know” this intuitively, since my clothes have no been fitting (I haven’t weighed myself since early March!), it was still a blow to read the actual numbers on the actual screen. I didn’t want my husband to see the screen while I was being weighed, even though I watched him (he went first: 260 lbs), so he moved to the dining room. I didn’t want to react because I didn’t want him to know how badly the weigh-in went, so I just kinda shoved it aside and kept playing.

But, at the dinner table, after we’d both played (me: 26 Wii Fit minutes, him 15 Wii Fit minutes), he asked me how the weigh in went. He wasn’t asking for my actual weight, but how I felt about it. I know he was asking out of concern and not judgment, but of course I immediately burst into tears. Last night (and today) feels like I just took two giant steps backward when it comes to IE/HAES/self-love. I want so badly to not have to look at a number like 229, which is my highest weight ever. You know, when I met my husband two years and a couple months ago I was right at 200. I didn’t appreciate that number then, but now I desire it with a heat and a passion that kept me up, tossing and turning, last night.

My husband wants me to start going to a once-a-month lap-band support group run by Emory University, very near our home. He also wants me to start actively following the band rules* again, and to consider a trip back to the surgeon to basically say, “IT AIN’T WORKIN’.”

Of course, that makes me tired all over. I can’t simultaneously be trying to make my lap-band work, because “lap-band working” means losing weight, when the point of IE/HAES is to accept my body as it is, right now. Not a transitional body that is subject to improvement through proper usage of the lap-band. I want to just focus on eating when I’m hungry, eating what I want, and doing things for fitness because I enjoy them and the feeling of my body working well.

So, back to the Wii Fit. The rest of the body test is a balance test, which turns out to be harder than you’d think. It also asks you to select a goal, since my BMI of 42 elicited a high-pitched “That’s obese!” the game asks me how much weight I would like to lose in what amount of time. I set it to something like -0.1 lbs in 12 weeks or something, dumb game doesn’t get to tell me what to weigh! But once past that part, it was all fun and games. There are four categories of exercises: yoga, strength training, aerobics, and balance games.  You select a category, and then have a selection of different exercises, 1 to 5 minutes long, within each, and you also see gray boxes where more exercises, which you need to unlock as you use the game more and more, will appear.

I think where the game really shines is in the yoga category. The very first pose you are taught is deep breathing, and the game even uses an expanding and contracting circle to help you breathe in time with the virtual trainer. The poses are organized in increasing difficulty and the game is designed to encourage you to maintain perfect balance, which, if you are doing the pose correctly, your body will be inclined to do naturally. I have tried yoga before and found it intimidating but the way the Wii Fit breaks it up into small bites makes it really accessible and fun. And, astonishly, I’m actually pretty good at (the easy poses so far) it right out of the gate!

The strength training is actually pretty hard and I think I’ve only done three of those so far. They are all exercises done with the resistence of your own body, such as leg extensions and push-ups. They are well-chosen, from what I can tell, to target different parts of your body, and as you get better at them (for example, I’ve done the leg extensions twice with high scores), the game “rewards” you with a higher number of reps next time you do it.

The aerobics starts off with three options: hula-hooping, running in place, and step aerobics. All of these are a blast. I was surprised that the hula-hooping was actually a good workout, and my sides are sore from hooping last night! The run takes you around the virtual Wii island and probably most shocking of all, I didn’t find it boring, although I completely expected to. I run regularly and loathe the treadmill. I’d rather pound the pavement outside in mid-teens winter weather than be sentenced to a treadmilll with even the most enticing entertainments. But somehow the Wii running is fun, I guess because you virtually pass alot of people and scenery. (It also made me look forward to Zelda-style games where your ass has to run around instead of sit on the couch!) Last but definitely not least, the step aerobics are really fun. I am entirely without rhythm so its challenging, too.

The balance games I didn’t even try until this morning, and I only tried the first two, one in which you try to “head” soccer balls as they are kicked at you from different angles, and another where you ski downhill, trying to get through gates in the snow that require you to ski back and forth by leaning on the balance board. These (first two, at least) aren’t very challenging in any kind of way that makes me feel like I’m “getting a good workout” but I can see the appeal just as a game. My husband, natch, loved these. They are his favorites.

The appeal of the game is, I’ll admit, partially due to its newness. But, I’ve tried several workout videos and they have always been extremely boring to me. The interactivity, and instant feedback, and the ability to compete against yourself and other family members is a definite motivator. You literally get to stamp a calendar for every day you workout. You get to see your progress on the exercises as you get better at them. You get to “bank” minutes for the exercises you complete (my goal is 30 Wii Fit minutes a day, right now) which earn you new “unlocked” exercises.

There are other games coming out that will utilize the balance board, which will hopefully be fun and encourage fitness in a similar way. I have critiques about the game (using BMI is lame, forcing a weight loss goal instead of a fitness goal is lame, you can’t design routines, the game tells you to warm up but doesn’t offer any warm-up exercises, you can’t buy two boards and workout with a partner simultaneously, I can see the game getting boring once you’ve maxed out on the unlocked exercises), but I can see lots of room for Nintendo to improve with Wii Fit 2 or downloadables or something in the near future. In any case, I think its well worth the time and money for me!

I have a run after work tonight with my group, and I’ve got supper to cook, so I doubt I’ll do any serious Wii-Fitting tonight but dang if I don’t want to, anyway. Good times, and I am completely besotted. I highly recommend!


6 Responses to “wii fit”

  1. I’m so sorry about the weigh-in (how I wish that weren’t a feature of this game–surely almost everyone owns a scale and can keep track of their weight by themselves) and about the lap-band related stress. I apologize if this is too nosy, but would it be possible for you to have the lap-band removed at some point?

    As far as following “the rules” again and seeing if they work, I’m not sure where that would get you since you did so when you first got the band, and still did not lose weight (of course I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, just thinking out loud). I would think that would have been a red flag to your doctor at the time, but–and I don’t know what your experience was so I’m speaking generally–so often if diet, exercise, or WLS don’t “work,” doctors just assume we are lying about how much we eat and exercise.

    Furthermore, I doubt you really eat very much now because of the limitations of the band, which leads me to something I’ve always been confused about regarding WLS… why do doctors and others consider it “normal” for a person to only be able to lose weight (because WLS is usually a last resort after diets fail) on 800 calories a day or whatever the WLS will allow you to handle? To me if you aren’t thin on 2,000 or 1,500 or 1,200 calories a day, let alone even less than that, that must mean that you are not genetically meant to be thin (barring illnesses or hormone imbalances or other causes of weight gain). Of course I could be talking out of my ass.

    Of course you already know my opinion… you are a runner, you love activity, you are eating intuitively, and as far as I know you feel good other than some issues related to the band, so I think you are absolutely on the right track. But that doesn’t mean crap when you are kept awake at night worrying about your weight. So just know that I am thinking about you and hoping that you will be able to continue in your quest to eat in a way that is right for you and love your body just as it is right now.

  2. Mae Says:

    Thank you, your words are like a virtual hug. And god, do I need some right now. Which I get plenty of at home, but he doesn’t understand like you and others in FA do.

    Your questions aren’t nosy. Thanks for caring to ask.

    Removing the band: Well, that is technically possible. However, its another surgery, with all the attendent risks of any surgery, and the unpleasant recovery, and the scars, and one that, barring an emergency situation, we’d be paying out of pocket for. You might not know this, but I paid for my own surgery out of pocket, too, because my BMI at 229 pounds– the exact weight I am now, the exact weight I was when I applied for the surgery– is 42, and without comorbidities (I have and had none), it would not be covered by insurance.

    (I talked myself into it, saying, $10,000 is an investment in never getting those comorbidities. How that makes me laugh bitterly now, now that I know my problems are with my head and not my body, when I think of how much therapy I could have had instead for $10,000.)

    The major reason my band is failing me is that I am at maximum “fill.” Basically, the lap-band comes in several sizes, and when you first get it installed, its “empty,” which means that its constricting you a little but not much. You can still eat regular-sized (or nearly regular-sized) meals. Over the course of several months, you see your original surgeon, or, like me, a fill nurse who injects saline into the band through a port just under the skin of your stomach. Since an overfill is very bad (nothing other than liquids will go through), the docs/nurses prefer to creep up to your upper limit than overshoot it even a little.

    In my case, I had the smallest band size installed. It will hold 4 ccs of saline, and is a smaller ring than some people get (I believe the “regular” one is 10 cc and there is a bigger one than that now?– not sure). I haven’t heard of many people getting even over 2 ccs in it without feeling VERY tight. It took me three fills to get to 4 ccs, and I’m still not tight.

    That is problem because technically, I can’t get more fill. Although some surgeons and fill nurses will fill me past the manufacturer’s recommendations up to 5 ccs, I’m sure you can see why the idea of doing that bothers me. So once I hit 4 ccs– early December 2007– I stalled. I was afraid to get more fill, confused about what to do since I wasn’t feeling what others feel at MUCH less fill, depressed about my failures.

    By not tight, I mean at an average meal I can eat about 2/3rds, volume-wise, of what I was eating before. My ability to eat certain foods is a little constricted– for example bread or rice in any significant quantity has a tendency to make me throw up. I think it has something to do with those foods getting gummy or exapand-y and not going through the band stoma (the little opening created by the constriction) very well.

    I don’t think I’m eating more than I was before, in fact, I do think I’m eating (desserts in the last month aside) less than before. Maybe not 2/3rds, maybe 3/4. I’m probably getting about 1500 – 1800 calories a day. But still. My last recorded weigh-in (on my old lap-band blog) was at the end of February: 218. Eleven pounds heavier in three months and all I’ve done is stop weighing myself and let myself eat more intuitively.

    How much should I be eating? Well, successful “bandsters” report being able to eat between 2 Tbsp and about a cup at a sitting, volume-wise. That means, really, anything, even salad, they can eat only a cup of. I can eat three or four cups of salad with little effort.

    You’re right that I followed the rules post-banding with little result. I lost 8 pounds before the surgery because they made me do a liquids-only crash diet before the surgery. I then lost about 10 more, and then… gained them all back. To the tenth of a pound. As of yesterday. Don’t think I’m not railing at the heavens at the cruel joke of my first post-IE weigh-in throwing back my exact pre-band weight at me.

    The surgeon that did my surgery is in Tijuana. To go back to visit him is expensive and likely to be unfruitful, based on information I’ve gathered on lap-band forums. I’ll be wrist-slapped for not following the band diet (lean proteins, friuts and veggies FIRST, other stuff only if there is “room left,” minimal carbs, only three meals a day, no liqiuds with calories) and told to go home and diet.

    I have stopped seeing my primary care doctor, ironically, because she was extremely judgmental about me getting the band– she thought I should “try Weight Watchers and Curves”– I’ve done WW like, oh, ten times, and I found the Curves suggestion insulting considering at the time I was running 20 miles a week and strength-training with a personal trainer 3x a week at a level of intensity that Curves can’t approach.

    I hate the band. I hate what it represents, the fantasy that I bought into, that I paid for with a lot of hard-earned money, the glaring symbol of my abject failure as a dieter even with The Ultimate Crutch. The thing that is so maddening is now I get to feel bad not just because I’m fat, but also because I failed in a spectacular way!

    Please excuse my black, black mood today. I am plain foul-tempered today.

  3. I did not know that you paid for your surgery out of pocket (of course I guess it would have probably been expensive even if covered by insurance)–and of course the removal would be expensive and not without risks either–for some reason I didn’t really think of that. Thanks for the explanation. FWIW I can very easily see your reasoning (investing against future comorbidities). High blood pressure and diabetes run in my family, and even though I have been skeptical about the health risks of obesity, and adamantly opposed to WLS, for many years now, I have considered WLS because the scaremongering about those two conditions, combined with relentless fat hatred, was just too strong for me at times. (Of course the period when I most seriously considered it was after seeing one of those “before and after” “news” programs that is practically a WLS advertisement and that showed women thinner than me getting the surgery, and in my mind if they needed such a drastic intervention then I must be about to drop dead tomorrow–the “news” shows should be sanctioned for that stuff IMO, but anyway.)

    Actually it’s probably a good thing I didn’t know about what the lap band entailed–and that those creepy prescription-drug-like commercials for it didn’t exist yet–because the “no cutting” feature may very well have sold me on it. I still wouldn’t really have “believed in” it, but the idea of finally being thin, maybe not even wanting to eat compulsively anymore (like Carnie Wilson said she felt after her R n Y), not constantly hearing that I was going to die of high blood pressure and diabetes tomorrow, was that compelling.

    The idea of going past mfr’s recommendations on the fill does sound ill-advised and I can see why you don’t want to do it.

    Eleven pounds heavier in three months and all I’ve done is stop weighing myself and let myself eat more intuitively.

    The relatively small regain does seem telling as regards the efficacy of IE, as does the fact that you settled at exactly your pre-band weight. Although I’m sure it is infuriating and incredibly frustrating, maybe you can take a small amount of comfort in the possibility that this is just your setpoint weight? If so, that would be pretty amazing that your body “knew” to go back to that number even after the surgical alteration.

    To go back to visit him is expensive and likely to be unfruitful, based on information I’ve gathered on lap-band forums. I’ll be wrist-slapped for not following the band diet (lean proteins, friuts and veggies FIRST, other stuff only if there is “room left,” minimal carbs, only three meals a day, no liqiuds with calories) and told to go home and diet.

    Yes, exactly. It really pisses me off how medical care of fat people consists of blatantly NOT doing your job, because every tiny “transgression” the patient makes on a diet gives you a get out of jail free card to say “try more, try harder, it’s your fault.” Or even if the patient was “perfect,” you can always fall back on the old “You’re lying,” or “you’re fat so you’re obviously a glutton–you must be underestimating how much you eat.” When even if you are not “perfect” on the lap band guidelines, an intake of 1,500-1,800 calories a day is basically a diet anyway, and if someone (especially an active person) is not losing weight on that then perhaps they are not meant to be thin or there is something else going on.

    I certainly don’t mean to fixate on the number of calories anyway; the right intake is arrived at based on how much your personal body needs, not some stupid guideline off a chart, whether that number be 1,000 or 3,500 or anything else, but my point is more that any logical person would recognize that the band has failed you, not the other way around. Yet I know that you are exactly right–you’d pay through the nose for a plane ticket and appointment, and the doctor would see you for a few minutes, take your money, and the sum total of the “care” would probably be him scolding you and nitpicking your diet.

    I really hate fucking Curves. No offense to anyone who enjoys it, because I don’t hate it for itself. In fact I would probably enjoy it and might consider it as sort of a secondary activity option if we didn’t already have a gym membership. I hate it for what it has come to stand for, because as you said “WW and Curves, WW and Curves” are the first line of recommendation by health care professionals to any fat person and this shows a total lack of interest in the person as an individual IMO. I’m like you; at 275 pounds I was still working out hard at the gym (maybe too hard given my recent post on the matter, but never mind) and had worked my way up to using 20-lb. dumbbells in my weight routine over the course of a few years. Recommending Curves is code for “I don’t believe that you do any activity whatsoever other than lifting donuts to your mouth.” Come to think of it, the whole thing is insulting to both me and Curves. 🙂 And what fat person hasn’t tried WW multiple times? I mean, I hadn’t before the most recent time, but I’m an anomaly in that regard for sure. Even if I didn’t believe in general that diets don’t work, WW is not exactly a cheap “experiment” either, especially when you know perfectly well it’s going to fail you the 11th time just as it did times 1-10.

    I hate the band too, but only because it took so much of your money and is making you feel like crap and because the band manufacturer’s marketing has so successfully infiltrated our society. You already know this, but you are not a failure as a dieter. Diets are like a custom-designed foolproof recipe for failure. And I hate to sound like a broken record on something that is basically beside the point, but you really don’t eat that much anyway. It is the band’s fault, not yours. And as I said, you could almost consider it a sign of success that your body knows what size it wants to be and has found a way to get itself there regardless of outside intervention. I’m just sorry and angry that the whole process has beaten you up so badly and made you feel so bad about yourself. Nobody could blame you for being in a foul mood. ((Hugs))

    I hope you can enjoy the Wii Fit regardless, because it does sound like fun. My husband and I are currently talking ourselves into getting a PS3 because the included Blu-Ray player makes it a “good deal” (if you’ve seen Avenue Q, I am reminding myself of the Bad Idea Bears with the ridiculous concept that something costing $400 could be a good deal at all, but never mind). And if we do, you know I’m getting Dance Dance Revolution. 🙂

    Whew, sorry for the length. I do that, in case you hadn’t noticed. 😛

  4. Mae Says:

    I like your long comments, I tend to be long-winded myself. 🙂

    God, I hate to admit it, but I had considered WLS off and on for many years, but hadn’t really seriously considered it until I spent the summer of 2007 watching TLC shows about how the lap-band isn’t as dangerous as the gastric bypass and, yes, saw a girl more slender than myself get the surgery. Yes, I let a television show convince me to have body-altering surgery.

    Recommending Curves is code for “I don’t believe that you do any activity whatsoever other than lifting donuts to your mouth.”

    Ha! TOTAL AGREEANCE!! on the entire Curves paragraph, but especially that bit. I knew she was recommending WW & Curves to me in a “gee, golly, have you ever thought about portion control and getting your fat ass off the couch?!” like I haven’t spent all of my conscious life dieting and exercising. I continue to tell people with whom I am comfortable discussing such things that if I ever find the “magic formula” I would make a KILLING writing a book about exactly how to do everything, because I feel like I know everything there is to know about dieting.

    I’m feeling better today but am still fantasizing a whole lot about renewing my diet and restricting and such. I did an hour and a half with the Wii Fit this morning, its really addicting.

  5. I bet you are far from the only one who has been convinced in part or whole by TV to have WLS. The surgeons should pay these shows (or maybe they already do) for all the free advertising.

    “gee, golly, have you ever thought about portion control and getting your fat ass off the couch?!” like I haven’t spent all of my conscious life dieting and exercising.

    Oh, I just love the “just eat less, move more, it’s easy” advice. Never thought of that! Nothing could be more condescending, except if it’s “well, you couldn’t keep it off before because it was a DIET and you went off it. This time it’ll be a LIFESTYLE CHANGE.” O RLY? I never considered the possibility that I might have to actually KEEP UP the changes I made. Must be all the fat clogging up my brain.

    Stay strong on not restricting if you can, and I hope the fact that you feel somewhat better today means you will feel even better tomorrow. Hang in there!

  6. Nataly Says:

    Mae, I am also a “suvivor” of lapband surgery. It didn’t work for me either. I would love to connect with you and exchange stories. I had mine done about 6 years ago in Israel (before the surgery was popular here) and the whole thing was a disaster. I eventually had to get it removed. No one ever talks about the failures…

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