Thursday, May 22, 2008

WII Fit Challenge

A week ago, I got a WII in anticipation of the WII Fit. Fortunately without preordering from anywhere, I was able to get a WII Fit at my local Walmart. It was one of 2 they had left by around 8:30 am.

I want to tell you why I was so excited about it and why I'm posting about it here.

I work from home. I have a fully equipped home gym. Tons of exercise videos. Basically I could be in amazing shape just with what I have right here.

For more of my life than not, I've been on some kind of regular fitness program. The problem for me is that the majority of my day is pretty sedentary. Working out 30-60 minutes a day while sitting on my butt the rest of the day is not an answer. I find myself having too hard a recovery time. I find when I have to do things like travel, go to conferences, or just normal higher activity days, I'm not able to keep up as well as I'd like to. Giving up having a cleaning woman and doing more household chores hasn't helped. (It certainly hasn't helped my house since I have zero motivation when it comes to cleaning!)

I have a theory. No scientific foundation behind this. Just based on what I am seeing in my own life.

For the past couple of decades, fitness experts have all pretty much agreed that to optimize your metabolism you should be eating 5-6 meals a day and not going longer than 2-3 hours without eating. The idea behind this is that one of the best calorie burners is our metabolism. By continually stoking it, we keep the metabolism going. Of course, what you eat is important in the equation as well. In spite of the scientific evidence backing this, many nutritionists, doctors etc still say that you should eat 3 squares a day with 1 or 2 snacks. I know from personal experience that moving to 6 meals a day made me realize that the idea that we simply need a calorie deficit in order to lose weight is entirely wrong. I lost around 70 lbs in 8 months by following a few simple guidelines:
  • Have 5-6 meals per day with the first meal being within 90 minutes of waking up;
  • Each meal should be between 100 and 400 calories;
  • Alternate how much I eat from one day to the next;
  • Have one day every week or two where I go over the max calorie count for at least 2 or 3 meals;
  • Drink lots of water;
  • If I want something, have it - but either in moderation or save it for one of my higher calorie days;
  • And try to limit the amount of processed food - especially starchy ones.

I've never had any difficulty with losing weight but keeping it off is proving to be another story. Even if I stayed with the above, eventually my body starts to adjust and the weight gradually creeps up.

I think that a missing part of the equation for me - and many others - is that our lives in general are way too sedentary. Scientific research has shown that we get a boost of calorie burning from physical activity during the hours after. Doesn't it make sense given what we know about the way our metabolisms function with frequent mini-meals that we could see the same boost in our metabolisms from having frequent mini-exercise sessions?

Having longer treadmill/other cardio and weight sessions is not the answer. Been there, done that. It just makes me resent exercise. Adding on extra sessions is not the answer. It's hard enough to find the time to exercise in the first place, nevermind doubling up sessions. Besides, I've already gone through the experience a few years back of setting an aggressive exercise goal (training for a marathon) and dealt with the ramifications of it - blowing a knee out from overtraining.

So this is why I was excited about the WII Fit. I don't expect it to REPLACE a regular exercise program, but to provide me with an easy way to fit in 5-10 minute exercise sessions every 2 hours or so during my work day. Most of us know that some kind of break during our workday is good. It helps keep us our mental motors running smoothly to get a change of pace. I enjoy games so for me, having game/exercise breaks sounds perfect.

I'm hoping that an added benefit will be a bit of reduction in my stress level too. I know that exercise in general helps settle me down and clears my mind. Hopefully during these mini breaks, it will help me deal with daily stresses a little better.

On my first day (Wednesday), I did only 15 minutes on it. I also spent about the same amount of time on Wii Sports on boxing/tennis and baseball. I find that my upper body strength has been declining as I've been getting older and those 3 sports focused on upper body in ways that my normal exercise routine doesn't. Today (Thursday), I did 21 minutes on WII Fit and another 20 minutes on Wii Sports. A little more than I intended to, but I was having fun. :)

My objective is to try and spend somewhere between 30-45 minutes 5-6 days a week between Wii Fit and Wii Sports.