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June 04, 2008

Will Wii actually get Fit?

Caption: Me in a sari and a friend at an event, two years ago (pre-baby). You can't tell from the photo, but the back definitely bares quite a bit of stomach flesh.

A few days ago my mother called, stressed out that I wouldn't lose the thirty extra pounds of pregnancy weight in time for my little sister's wedding this October. I'm a matron of honor, you see, which means I'll be in the wedding photos, wearing a sari. A sari is lovely and elegant, especially if you are tall and slim. But it is not a forgiving piece of clothing. It actually bares your stomach!!! At a formal event!!! For photos!!! My mom suggested that maybe if I couldn't get up off my ass and exercise myself, it might be time to hire a personal trainer. (My mom would never actually use the word 'ass,' but you get the gist.) For four months, once a week, that'd be about $250/month, or $1000. The family might even spring for it out of the wedding budget if necessary.

Okay, so that was embarrassing. I don't think I could stand to tell my little sister that she can't have flowers at her wedding because her big sister just couldn't seem to get her ass in gear. So a renewed commitment to exercise. I'm still very conflicted on the whole dieting idea, but a regular amount of daily exercise and a more active lifestyle is pretty clearly a greater good. Even if I don't lose

pounds of fat from my waist, lots of toning there has got to help with the whole bared stomach thing, right?

Now, don't laugh. But a few days ago, I went out and bought a Wii Fit. I feel like I should state for the record that we already had the Wii system (not for the kids, since my daughter is only a year old -- no, it's for me and Kevin, because we're big geeks. We play games on it). So buying the balance board and disk you need for the Fit is only $100 more, instead of the full amount you'd need to buy to get the system too. So not too extravagant, right?

I was worried that I would buy it and not use it (like so many gym memberships in the past). In fact, I got a YMCA family membership a month ago, justified partly because I hope to take Kavi to swimming class this summer, and have only gone to work out twice in the last month. (One time swimming laps on my own, once taking a water aerobics class, which was actually quite fun, and had a nice range of folks of all ages/genders/sizes). Still, only twice in one month? Worrisome. I was telling myself that once classes end next week, I would have a more free schedule and would start exercising then. Really I would. And until then, ten minutes walks with the dog every day still counted as exercise, right? How about pulling up dead rosebushes?

Hence, the Wii Fit. It feels a little ridiculous, needing to play a computer game to make myself exercise, but if that's what works... Today was my third day using it, and so far, so good.

  • It starts out very low key, so even someone in terrible shape, like me, can still do stuff. Gym aerobics classes, for instance, tend to exhaust me halfway through the class, and I have to stop, which is incredibly embarrassing.
  • They have yoga, weight training, aerobics, and balance games, so lots of variety. I get bored easily, and this helps.
  • The more you exercise, the more games you unlock, so there's a built-in motivator to keep going.
  • I have bad ankles, so some of the balance elements are tough for me, but there's enough variety in exercises offered that I can work around them.
  • The tone is super-friendly and encouraging, and the focus is on balance, toning, and overall health, not weight loss. (Although when you take the little body test, if you're overweight or obese, your little icon does suddenly plump out in a rather disconcerting manner.)
  • I'm competitive, so it really pleases me that it tracks absolutely everything, and I can see not just my own scores, but Kevin's. (He's only just started, and I don't know if he'll keep doing it, but I hope he does.) It's a huge motivator.

Three days in, I've pretty eagerly turned on the game to exercise daily. But will I keep going??? That's always the question. Long-term, I actually do want to keep the gym membership, and have some of my exercise be things like weekly swimming, or really long walks with the dog and baby, which will make them both happy. I'd love to take a martial arts class, or a dance class, or take up a regular team sport, which I think I'd love (but how do you find them?). I want to transform myself from a couch potato to one of those active lifestyle people, dammit.

Gaining a pound or two a year isn't the end of the world, and I'll understand if I never get my college body back, post-baby-bearing. But I also can't believe it's healthy for me to just add on thirty pounds with this kid -- and since we're thinking of having a second, I definitely don't want to add on another thirty next time around! And regardless of the whole weight issue -- I really do feel insanely better in terms of energy, endurance, keeping my breath while walking up the stairs, when I exercise regularly. So, if it takes a computer game to make it start happening, so be it.

Fingers crossed that I keep it up.


Original post of Chicago Moms Blog.

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion, a collection of Sri Lankan-American immigrant stories.  She also blogs at An Ongoing, Erratic Diary about her life as a fiction writer, literature professor, and new mother. She's been blogging since 1995.

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