Friday, February 13, 2009

A Balanced Decision

My name is Don, and I am a procrastinator. I thought having more time in retirement might cure it. I thought by writing about it and sharing that with my friends and family might do the trick. But time and confession have not cured it. I still procrastinate. In fact, my whole life seems to be run with the motto, "Never put off until tomorrow what you might be able to get away with never doing at all."

Take a couple of these posts as an example. In mid-September I wrote about our proud acquisition of the Big Green Egg, the superduper smoker/griller/barbecue. We had great plans for it. We were going to smoke fish and turkey legs and our own home-made sausages. Well, given that the cover has not yet come off five months later, you'd have to wonder if we weren't smoking something illegal ourselves when we decided to buy it.

The other procrastination is a bit less severe - I only stalled a couple of weeks. But if ever I start to feel vaguely guilty for not doing something promptly, this has cured me. Sometimes it is better to just wait. And wait some more.

On the last day of January I wrote about getting the fitness program that runs on the Wii. To no one's surprise, I am sure, I only got around to actually using it today. And that was because it was bucketing down rain and I didn't feel like combining the dog paddle with my daily walk.

Even back in January I had had my suspicions that this Wii Fit might not be all that enjoyable. Now that I've tried it, let me tell you it isn't. Oh, it's actually quite effective and entertaining as a workout program. But the stuff I had to go through in the process -- well, that was not fun.

First off it starts by measuring your weight, your body mass index and your balance. I have scales, so I knew what I weighed, and because I have not been able to convince LK to remove all the mirrors in the house, I also have a pretty good sense that my body has put the mass in massive.

So it was no surprise when the Wii told me I had weight issues. The fact that it had to use 10 to the third power to express my body mass index was odd, but I could bear it. But the Wii started to test my patience when it took my little cartoon character that I use with it and made his belly enormously round.

But it really was the balance assessment that made me realize Wii Fit and I were not going to be good friends. After having me do things like lean and stand on one foot, it proclaimed that I wasn't doing very well in the balance assessment. And then it asked me - and this is 100% true - "Do you fall over frequently when you are walking?"

The fact that I do in fact stumble occasionally in no way lessens how annoying it was to read that question on the TV screen. Fortunately it was a rhetorical question and I didn't have to answer it. The program then went on to calculate my fitness age. Turns out I have the agility, strength and fitness of a 71-year-old.

When I told my mother this, she didn't think that was too bad. I had to point out to her that it probably looks damned good for someone in their 80s, but it's not all that encouraging when you're only 60. Of course, it does make me one of the few 60-year-olds in the world who can set a target of being as fit as a 65-year-old for their workout regimen and be proud of improving to that level.

Anyhow, I wasn't about to let Wii's snide comments stop me in my quest for fitness. I started the program's activities. First came some yoga. I got pretty good scores on the breathing in and out part. But I suppose if you're not breathing in and out, no fitness program is going to help you much.

The program didn't like my hunter pose because it felt I was "fidgety", which meant I couldn't stand still while voguing. But it was the one-legged pose - in my case, think of it as The Fat Flamingo - that was, literally, my downfall.

Oops. You put your foot down, my screen instructor said. Oops yourself, I said. It was either that or fall into the new TV. Anyhow, I didn't get much of a score for that one, but I did get a label. Apparently I fell into the category that Wii Fit labels "Unbalanced".

In the course of my first workout, at least four other activities declared me to be unbalanced. I choose to believe that this refers to my physical state, because I don't know how they could evaluate my psychological condition. But it is a bit odd to have a now rolypoly cartoon character decide you are unbalanced.

The program does have some neat games that at least make it enjoyable to be working out. I tried the hula hoop and thought I was doing OK except the program kept pausing with a message saying the trick was to make a big circle with your hips. "That's what I'm doing, you dumb machine," I replied. "It's not my fault if you're too stupid to know it."

Probably the most fun is the ski slalom. The fact that I missed at least seven gates every time I played shows, I believe, a design flaw in the program. Also problematic was that this was one of the activites that decided I was unbalanced.

On the premise that it's probably not good to have the body of an unbalanced 71-year-old, I will persevere. Besides, I am assuming I will get better at most of this. Certainly I can't get much worse than I was on the stepping exercise. Basically, all you do is step forward or backwards or sideways based on the directions on the screen.

I thought I was doing OK until the program stopped four or five times with a message that said, "If you can't follow the directions easily, just watch the characters and do what they are doing." That made it easier until I fell over taking a step to the left. Fortunately, theWii couldn't tell that I had stumbled. It just assumed I was too tired to continue. It ranked my results on this activity as "Couch Potato", which surely must be better than "Unbalanced".

See. Already I was showing improvement. On to tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You had me rolling on the floor! So, is the image a snapshot of the chartoon character that the wii gave you?

Mark Hall