Saturday, September 10, 2011

Me and My Mii

Cheek to Cheek (Tanzania)
The last Saturday in July was one of those lazy summer days where I was spending my time doing not much of anything.  The kind of day where the most pressing thing on my mind is whether there was an episode of Law & Order (any variety) that I hadn't seen yet.  Picture me, ensconced on my nice soft couch weighing the watching of television with a long walk in the heat.

At some point in my channel trolling, I stumbled across an infomercial for a DVD set that would teach me the ins and outs of Zumba.  For those of you who, like me, have been living under a rock, Zumba is a dance exercise program craze that has been sweeping the country.   I had recently spent some time visiting with Lisa who is one of my oldest and dearest friends and who is now a CERTIFIED Zumba teacher and skinny.  So, I paused on it (of course the caloric restriction (hmm, deprivation?) piece of this was in small print at the bottom of the screen and easily ignored for the moment).  It was compelling.  How could it not be with visuals of rock solid abs and everyone having so much fun.  I'll confess that having been an early acolyte of Jazzercise, this seemed like something I would really, really like.  I was hooked.

Alas, my television and my DVD player are not currently speaking to each other.  A casualty of the bedbug sightings and ensuing cleaning of last year.  I have a very nice-looking connection wire coiled up in the television cabinet that is likely the culprit but I just haven't had the need to find and read all of the books in order to figure it what is wrong with my connections.  Rather than try to solve that problem (whatever happened to my younger self that liked to get the technology all in order?), I cast my eye around my living room and saw the dusty Wii remotes, the Wii balance board, and the Wii itself.  New batteries and a trial run showed that everything was speaking to each other.  It also earned me a message from my Wii Fit trainer (aka a talking balance board) that it had been something like 1,200 days since she (he?) had seen me and that I was obese!
Hipster (Mara Mara River, Tanzania)

Now, I think the designers of the Wii Fit software may have made a bit of a misstep on this categorization of people into a spectrum that ranges from underweight to overweight to obese.  And, if we're going to nail the top end of the spectrum as "obese" then shouldn't we be calling the bottom end "anorexic"?   Aren't they equally problematic states to be in when thinking about overall health of an individual?   Rather than quibbling over how the message was framed, the reality was that the Wii wasn't telling me anything that I didn't already know.  I might be carrying my weight well but I am carrying more weight than I should.  

I do so like a challenge.

So I threw down the gauntlet then and there.  If I could have a sport at the callow age of 16, lose 30 lbs in my mid-20s by doing Jazzercise, and become a weightlifter in my 30s, I could certainly lose 20 lbs in my early 50s with a combination of some diet changes, adding exercise back into my life, and dedication.  Just to be completely honest, my talking balance board thinks that I should lose quite a bit more and get to that same weight that I was when I was a Jazzercise fanatic whose diet consisted of salad, salad, and more salad.  I have a picture someplace of that period in my life.  I look a  bit emaciated.  Suffice it to say that my trainer and I have a disagreement here.  The good news is that I don't really have to argue -- after all there are limits to talking balance board's capacity to engage in repartee.

You should also know that aerobic exercise and me are not such a great fit.  This goes back to that formative meeting when I was a freshman in high school with my guidance counselor Mr. C.   I asked what I needed to do to get scholarship funding and Mr. C. laid out a plan for me.  Some things were easy for a bookworm like me -- good grades, extracurricular activities like the school newspaper and the Spanish Club, scoring well on things like PSATs and SATs, making the National Honor Society.  And then there was the hard thing -- you MUST have a sport.  Sport?  Did I hear that correctly?  You want me to PLAY a sport.  Mr. C was pretty reassuring on that front.  It wasn't that I needed to play a sport but rather that I needed to have a sport -- any sport -- on my high school resume.  

Nah! Nah! (Tanzania)
Have I mentioned that I like a challenge?

So there I was, a kid who had gone to a Catholic school through the 8th grade where the auditorium served as the gym and the gym time was something like once a week when you get right down to it.  The neighborhood kid who was picked last for teams and generally stationed so far out in the field (think kick ball played on a football field) that everyone else could conveniently forget that I existed.  The kid that had no eye hand coordination and who on the first day of ski class demonstrated how to ski down a hill backwards and into a tree.  A kid sandwiched between two brothers -- one of whom played football and the other one of whom was a superstar swimmer (repeat after me -- his 1978 high school record in the 100 free is still standing as of today, August 9, 2011 at 11:31 pm).  Me.  I was a teen age bookworm in need of a sport.

So I went out for the field hockey team and I made it!  OK, OK, in those days pretty much anyone made the field hockey team.  And there ensued four years of relative misery just to be a kid with a sport for that all important college application.  The thing I learned from this formative experience as a member of a team is that even if you are the kid that can't run all that fast and who has no eye hand coordination, you serve an important function for the more athletically gifted and talented who can run around you on the practice field.  Somewhere along the way I learned how to wield a hockey stick in a self protective mode and every once in a while I would score a pretty good hit from my fullback position.  I also learned that I wasn't necessarily built for running or at least for running fast over a distance.  I could run the Burma (our not so complimentary name for the training course that we'd run at least once a week) but I generally came in close to or dead last.  A big deal then and not so much now.  And I played in a varsity game.  The last five minutes of the last game of my senior year season.  And I lettered.  In a nutshell, after four years, I was a kid with a sport AND a varsity letter.

Flapper (Kangaroo Island, Australia)
And, yes, Mr. C was right "having a sport" was viewed favorably on my college applications.  I got a very nice offer from a liberal arts school that provided a good scholarship, a right-sized loan, and a work study job.  I was in and the very FIRST thing I did was to promise myself that I was never again going to be a kid with a sport.  Don't get me wrong, I dabbled in recreational swimming and rollerskating (is that a sport?), and assorted other activities.  For the most part, I studied, worked, and spent my free time socializing.  Some twenty pounds later, I was a young adult with a college degree.  A young adult without  a sport.  

That year after college was the first of my periodic flirtations with exercise.  I quietly took up Jazzercise, moderated my diet, worked hard, continued to socialize, and I lost 30 lbs.  Not a bad outcome.

Then I started to be an adult with knee pain and the remedy -- NO more Jazzercise.  Too much twisting and turning said my mother's orthopaedist.  Find another exercise.  Easier said than done.  Rather than find a new exercise, I found a new life -- going back to school to earn my Masters and then moving to the big city where at some point in my late twenties, I picked up the exercise habit.  Again.  

Now this exercise period was different -- and more long-lived than my previous incarnations.  I was running with a crowd that liked to exercise, I'd joined a gym, and I had discovered weightlifting.  Let me be clear -- not merely doing the "circuit" a couple of times a week with one set at each machine.  Real, weight lifting with free weights, spotters, and a great delight in running with the boys early on a weekend day as I occupied space in the the free weight room.  I worked out five to six days a week for two hours a day - a little spinning, rowing, or running to get the blood flowing and then to the weight room where I'd work my back and chest one day and shoulders and legs the next.  Biceps curls and triceps work -- not a problem.  My favorites -- shoulder presses and working my lats.  The best part -- controlling the weight on the way down.  I was jacked. 

Jimmy Durante (Kangaroo Island,  Australia)
And, then I turned 40 and I switched jobs.  Less time to work out and the onset of what has always seemed to me to be a battle that I am destined to lose.  It's pretty well-documented that women easily gain weight once they turn that 40 corner.  I'm no exception.   I moved to long walks, acquired a photography hobby, and had a brief flirtation with swimming at a fancy gym in 2009.  The walking and photography stuck but the swimming didn't and aside from starving myself, the ins and outs of dieting eluded me.  Which brings me back to my Mii and that dang talking balance board.

So on that lazy Saturday in July, I decided that I was good to go.  That if I could lose 30 lbs as a callow young adult, I could lose 20 lbs as an older and presumably somewhat wiser 50-something year old who was basically living a sedentary life.    

It bears repeating -- if only to remind myself -- I do so like a challenge.

Having tested the electronics, I did some Amazon (you all know the url) research and in addition to the aforementioned Zumba program for Wii, I purchased  Wii Fit Plus, a walking program (Walk It Out), and a set of two-lb hand weights.  Then, I started to exercise.  Just me, my Mii, and that dang talking balance board.

I have to say that so far this has been a pretty entertaining adventure and I can see the benefits.  I'm sleeping better and my talking balance board tells me I am down to just being overweight (progress!).  As for the fine print on the Zumba infomercial, I've limited my intake of things like bread, pasta (sigh), and white sugar while increasing my intake of (gasp) proteins, fruits, and vegetables (not doing so well on the vegetables truth be told).   The pact with my inner self on that front is that if I'm out to dinner, I can have ALL of those bad carbs that are currently out of my diet and a glass of wine (or scotch or beer if the mood strikes). And, if I feel like a cookie every once in a while, that is OK too.

Big Waves Coronado Island
I came back to my Mii and my talking balance board this week from a one week vacation and the prior weight loss was relatively intact despite a week of being "off the diet" and certainly not exercising as much.  As for my Mii, she is not looking any thinner but I must say she is a pretty cool little avatar.  For most activities, she wears a purple tunic, black leggings, and sunglasses.  There are some activities where she is decked out differently.  I particularly like her skateboarding outfit -- all decked out in purple and white and helmuted and padded.  She is a Mii who is ready to tackle the skateboarding course.  Her only problem is that her avatar -- that's "Me" -- is a 50 something year old woman who can't seem to get the hang of steering the skateboard.

It bears repeating -- I do so like a challenge.  Which is good because this weekend -- I'm gonna crack open the Zumba program and add it to the mix.  

No comments:

Post a Comment