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!