Friday, June 17, 2016

Wii Fit U Part 2 - My Personal Experiences

So, I bought a Wii U for the express purpose of playing Wii Fit U.  I was determined from the beginning to give it a shot, after all, what do I have to lose?  Only unwanted weight.

After doing all the initial setup stuff, it was time for my first Body Test, to see where I stood weight-wise.  I had a general ballpark that I was expecting my weight to be in, which was in the 270-280 range.  This cued my first bit of happiness, in that I was only 253 pounds.  Still, though, for my height (5'10"), this is enough to have a BMI in the mid-30s, placing me off the top of the game's BMI range labelled "Obese".  It became clear that I had a lot of work ahead of me.

I've heard from various sources that BMI can be flawed in some situations, but I'm not sure if that applies to me.  The game claims my ideal weight is around 150 pounds.  I've always thought it would be nice to be around 180 pounds, personally.

The other metric the game uses is calories.  It helpfully informs you of how it calculates calories burned based on the intensity of the exercise, measured in METs, and some other factors.  I can't really vouch for how accurate it is, because I don't know enough about these sorts of calculations myself.

I initially started out doing 30 minute workouts, but quickly jumped up to an hour because I noticed I was just getting going at the end of the 30 minutes.  An hour had me feeling pretty worn out, so I feel like that's right for me.

I went into this with an experimentative mindset.  I wasn't very active to begin with, so my first question was "how much can I get out of just increasing my level of activity by itself?".  After all, I'd had a prior experience while living in the apartment and doing contract work for Silverchair.  I basically ate whatever I wanted, parked somewhat far from Silverchair where I could park for free, and walked in from and back out to my car every day.  While still continuing to eat whatever I wanted, I noticed after a while that I wasn't completely exhausted when I got into the building, so I started taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

I will note that I didn't make stupid dietary decisions while eating "whatever I wanted".  I had a fairly regimented meal setup: breakfast was a bowl of Quaker Apples and Cinnamon oatmeal, supplemented with some coffee once I got into the office.  Lunch was a stir fry concoction of vegetables, buckwheat noodles, beef, and some sort of garlic+ginger sauce, all put on a 6" hoagie roll; supplemented with a Chocolate and Peanut Crunch Clif Bar and a can of Sprite Zero.  Dinner was one of three things: a Bird's Eye skillet meal, pre-made pasta (either ravioli or tortellini) with one or another Classico pasta sauce, or my usual at Bodo's, which is a whole wheat bagel with pastrami, provolone, mustard, and pepper spread.  I ended up in the habit of walking to a nearby convenience store around 2 or 3 in the afternoon to grab a snack, usually this was a bag of chips or pretzels and a 20 oz. drink.

Every now and then I'd go to Cook-Out or Sticks or something just to change things up, but my point is already clear: by simply increasing my activity level to above zero, I was beginning to feel better.

Well, the first week of Wii Fit U was a bit rocky.  I gained weight overall, and it spiked up and then back down twice.  But then, after the second spike, it kept going down.  Not as fast, but it kept going down.  It's had a couple of spikes since then, but I've already noticed that I can easily deal with the spikes by just sticking to my routine.

My diet was already quite good.  It's been low on fats and oils for a while now, and relatively high in fiber thanks to whole grain everything ever.  I did, however, make a minor and very easy change to my diet.  I have a hankerin' for some frozen snacks, and most if not all of these sorts of things are incredibly bad for you, or at least they are in the quantities that I was consuming.  I didn't get rid of the frozen snacks, but I did replace them with much more healthy things.  I've got a cache of lightly sauced frozen vegetable mixes and Campbell's Chunky Soup.  I typically eat the vegetable mixes along with a couple White Castle JalapeƱo Cheeseburgers, just to get some meat in there.  Even before I settled on this, I was enjoying Totino's pizza rolls in smaller quantities, basically just heating up one serving at a time instead of half the bag at a time, without it really affecting my weight loss.

Other than playing Wii Fit U and making that minor diet change, I've started taking walks around the neighborhood.  One of the only good things about Central Virginia is that it's very hilly terrain, which is great for burning some calories.  A lap around my neighborhood is about a mile and takes about 15-20 minutes depending on how fast I walk, which is pretty fast to begin with.  Recently I started being less winded after one lap, so I bumped it up to two laps.  If I start getting less winded after that, I'll bump it up to three.  I probably won't go any further than that, though, because I'll be pushing an hour at that point.  If I take the Fit Meter with me, I can keep track of all of that and get credit for it in-game, which contributes a lot towards me meeting my calorie goal.

Speaking of the calorie goal, I've already noticed that it's not everything in the equation.  For the most part I've actually been falling short on my calorie goal and still losing weight.  So, just keep that in mind.

Also, with regards to weight loss, there are no "quick and easy" answers.  Anyone else who tells you otherwise is lying and probably trying to sell you something.  Healthy weight loss takes time and perseverance.  Once you begin tracking your values and working to lower them, you may not see a benefit immediately.  Recall that I actually gained weight in my first week of being more active.  All you need to do is find something that works for you and keep at it.  Whether that something is Wii Fit U, or a gym membership, or buying some weights and running shoes and whatnot, it's most important that it's something you feel that you can do.

I like Wii Fit U because it makes a game out if weight loss.  It harnesses the gamer's natural drive to want to do better at the game and get better scores, and it turns those better scores into weight loss.  I can lose weight while doing something I enjoy, which I'm quite pleased with.  I personally feel like the ability to get fit in a way that works for me was worth the $400 price tag for a Wii U, the Wii Fit U + Balance Board + Fit Meter bundle, and two Wiimotes.

Now, because the game supports taking screenshots via Miiverse, here's some images.  I've noticed that it's incredibly picky about your center of balance, wanting you to have exactly 50/50 balance.  While good balance is important, I feel like it's not as important to have it be perfectly in the center as the game makes it out to be.  It actually complains that your balance isn't perfect when it's 50.1%/49.9%...

Image showing my balance being 50.1% on the left leg and 49.9% on the right, which apparently isn't good enough.

Also, my workout is split up into all three of the routines you get under My Routine.  The first one is my warmup, then there's the actual workout itself, then finally the cooldown.  At the end of each, it updates you on a few things like how long you've been working out for, calories burned, and how many calories you've got left for your daily goal.  Well, I suppose it was inevitable, but this happened one time at the end of my warmup...

666 calories left for today's goal!

I will leave you with one more picture, which is an indicator of my progress so far in the one month I've been playing Wii Fit U.  The four red dots are when the game decided to ask me to explain why I'd gained the weight I'd just gained.  It offers you eight cookie-cutter reasons to pick from, none of which truly explained each gain, and all of which seem incredibly judgmental, so I just selected "I don't know" for all of them.  The bigger picture is that in the month that's gone by since I started playing Wii Fit U, I've lost ten pounds.  Miiverse refused to screenshot this for some reason, so I had to take a picture of this screen with my phone.

10 pounds of weight loss over the course of a month.

I'll probably do Wii Fit U check-in posts periodically, as I hit milestones and whatnot.  This is something that's very important to me, so it's gonna get done, dammit.

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