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Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Week Down. More Pain to Come

Well, one week has been successfully completed. Four scheduled workouts and a diet change have occurred in the past week and things are going well. There has been some swearing, lack of motivation and even some triumph to report on so let’s not drag the suspense any further and get to what you are all waiting for, the weigh in.
Waist Measurement - 132cm (a loss of 6cm)
Resting Heart Rate – 78bpm (same as last week)
Weight – ready for it………….. Wow the suspense must be killing you………. 143.5kg (a loss of 4.9kg)
I can be bought!
Yup that’s right, I lost almost 5 kilos this week all by following this game to the letter. I know what you’re thinking; EA got to you and is paying you off. While I can be bought (and for pretty cheap as well), I haven’t been bribed in this case. I am still driving my 10 year old car and still paying off the mortgage which should tell you that the fat cats haven’t gotten to me with a large wad of cash.  
So in short things are going well at the moment. This weigh in result was just what I needed after a very hard week. All week I have been ill, suffering from one of those random “itis’s” that strike folks down from time to time. Throat sore, nose blocked, eyes red and swollen meant working out was not the highest thing on my priority list. This of course didn’t matter. After weeks spruiking what I was going to do and having friends and family all excited to see how I was going I couldn’t let a little thing like being crook hold me back (my wife wasn’t either).
 I dove into the workouts with minimal enthusiasm, and attacked the game as best as possible. The workouts were all a challenge. The game gave me a wide variety of ways to hurt and build a sweat. As I said last week there was one exercise that wouldn’t register for me and this continued through the week. This one and only exercise just wouldn’t pick up my movements. However, apart from this exercise the game has been pretty spot on in picking things up and telling me if I am not doing the movements correctly.
More of this.
The dietary side of things is somewhat minimal in that it only gives you dietary advice.  There are 10 main things the game asks you to do as a part of your daily diet and I have been following these to the letter. These tips mainly consist of common sense, like “Eat 5 serves of fruit/veggies a day” or “drink 8 cups of water a day”.  It is the same stuff we have been hearing for years but as it has been around for so long I can safely assume that it is solid info that can be trusted.

Unfortunatly less of this.
Another tool the game offers to help with your overall health is two daily surveys. The first is a nutritional survey which keeps track of how you are going with your daily health and diet intake. It is a good way to see how you are going and as long as you answer the questions truthfully it will keep an accurate journal of your daily nutrition. The second survey is simply a quick question that asks what other activity you did during the day. This asks if you have done any extra sport, walking or even household chores and gives you an approximate amount of calories you have burnt during this activity. It is another helpful tool that really gives you an indication of how you are going with your fitness (or how slack you have been).
Well that’s pretty much it for this week. A really positive week and even feeling like I was dying didn’t stop me achieving some great results.  Hopefully next week is just as productive and I will be back with a similarly positive result (and maybe some more fat jokes, which are conspicuous in their absence this week.)
Hewso’s Stats tracker – Week 1
Workouts completed – 5
Hours of Exercise – 2 hours 16 minutes
Calories Burned – 1236
Distance Ran – 2.92km
Average Heart Rate – 130bpm
Maximum Heart Rate – 185bpm
Weight loss total – 4.9kg
Waist measurement difference -  -6cm

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming to terms with fatness. Day 1 of the 9 week challenge

Well Day one is here and the nasty stuff is about to begin. With all the talk and self-promotion on this blog there was no pulling out so I dove into the game with the full force of good intentions and stern determination.
Setting up my 9 week challenge was a breeze. I simply selected the desired intensity of workout from easy, medium and holy shit I am going to get smashed (I mean hard). I chose medium as it was suggested by the game for a person in my condition. Speaking of condition, well it isn’t so crash hot. I have realised for a while now that I need to do something about my health and this game made it clear that this issue couldn’t be avoided any longer.  My health has been a growing concern for me and I feel many little niggly problems I suffer can probably be attributed to my weight and fitness. Hopefully this is the first step to fixing that.
So let’s get the dramatic out of the way. The measurements:
1)      Waist measurement -138 cm
2)      Resting heart rate – 78bpm (beats per minute)
3)      Weight – umm well this is the hard one. Its its………………….. 148.4kgs. Yup you read that right 148.4 kg.
Let me tell you I wasn’t expecting that, I mean high 130’s, maybe low 140’s but not nearly 150kgs. But unlike a certain reality show starting soon I didn’t burst into tears. It simply steeled my resolve to complete these 9 weeks. So now that the shock and drama have been completed, let’s talk about the first workout.
Well it became apparent very quickly that this game was serious. It started with a simple warm up, getting the blood flowing by some light jogging and stretching exercises. It quickly moved onto the more difficult. My sweat was freely flowing by the 5th workout and I had 21 to go. My resolve was severely tested at that point. I ploughed on however with an audience of my 5yo son cheering me every time I completed an exercise (it actually helped believe it or not).
The exercises were varied and some of them were even fun. The basketball shooting which combined side lunges with jumping was a great exercise and fun to do. Mountain biking was not fun, it was just plain evil. It involves a combination of squats, squat jumps and running to complete, the second time I did this I was almost at the point of worshiping Huey (that’s vomit time for those that don’t know).  I only had one problem with the motion sensors, in one exercise it wouldn’t recognise my movements but I am not sure if that was the game’s fault or mine as all the other exercises worked fine. At this point I will put it down to incorrect technique.
So as I sit here I feel many different things. Fear at having to go through this for the next 9 weeks, exhaustion because I am basically knackered, pride at taking the first step, and intrigue as I wonder if this will work. With all of these different emotions swimming around in my head I am sure this will make the whole thing an interesting journey.
Well that’s it for this week. Next week I will do a new weigh in/measure and let you all know how I am going. I will also go into more detail about some of the other features in the game which I have found interesting.  In the meantime I have three more workouts to do this week (4 workouts 3 days off per week) so wish me luck.

Hewso’s Stats tracker.
Workouts – 2
Hours of Exercise – 33min
Calories Burned – 355
Distance Ran – 0.75 km
Average Heart rate – 129bpm
Max Heart rate – 185bpm

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Preparing for the Pain. The Setup

Well with only a weekend left to use and abuse my body (minds out of the gutter folks) I thought I would get the game read to rock for my first workout on Monday. Booting up the disc (and going through the familiar PS3 game update) I was greeted by a cheery welcome video that outlined the features of EA Sports Active 2. An enthusiastic presenter informed me that I would be able to get a beneficial workout that would improve my health while I had fun. A lofty and noble goal to be sure, but is it the truth?

Once I had been taken through this introductory video I was greeted by the setup screen. Here I was asked to set up my on screen avatar with weight, height and age all being important factors. I encountered my first hurdle, Imperial measurements. So with a quick google search for a conversion calculator I was able to enter my height in feet and my weight in pounds (Which I am not putting up here yet. That shocker is for Monday.) So with my dimensions in I got to select what I would look like on screen. This is a fairly typical character creation tool and while not as comprehensive as other EA sports titles there are still enough options to be able to create a fairly good representation of yourself on screen.

So far so good, the only challenge encountered so far is seeing how much I actually weigh in big bold letters on the screen (while the physical pain is minimal the mental traumatisation is something I may need intense therapy to get over). Now comes setting up the motion sensors and heart rate monitor. A tutorial video walks you through the process for the first time making the process so simple even my father could do it (maybe). So with one sensor on each arm and one on my leg I was ready to go. Surprisingly the sensors were quite comfortable so they shouldn’t be an annoyance in the more intense workouts ahead.
All the doodads and thingymagigs that come with the game.

All this has taken 20 minutes or so, which is a fairly significant time to setup a game but it is clear that the developer wanted people to take this as a serious fitness program and have presented it as such. They are making sure that users take the time to customise their experience ensuring the best possible results are achieved. I must say the whole thing is quite impressive (especially when compared to other fitness programs such as Wii Fit and the first Sports Active). Colour me optimistic, this may actually work.

The final step in the process is selecting my fitness coach for the 9 week challenge. I have two options. A Male coach (with an appropriately manly name like Bruce or something) that specialises in strength and conditioning and a Female coach (Can’t remember her name, lets say Vicki. Seems like a good fitness trainer name) that specialises in Fitness and Cardio. As I am a fat bastard I went with Vicki in the hope that she can help me trim the keg currently residing around my waist.

So with the setup completed I have finally reached the main menu so it is time for a little exploration. Heading over to the options menu I find I can change the measurements to metric (Which saves a lot of dreaded math time I am here for the physical workout not a mental one.) I also found another interesting feature. The ability to use custom soundtracks in your workouts. I got a little excited at this point. The thought of having to listen to 9 weeks of generic techno pop was one of the things I was dreading in the challenge. Now I have the ability to burn fat to Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold and not have to try and stay motivated with repetitive beats or bad midi tunes.

My first experience with this game has been incredibly positive.  What I have been presented with is a professional product that obviously takes its intentions seriously, but good intentions and great presentation does not equal results. So with my path laid and ready to walk I am actually looking forward to the start of my 9 week test. Monday is the first day of working out and this is sure to be an interesting journey if not a productive one.

There is a good chance this will be me in the not too distant future

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Getting Fit, The modern way (maybe)

Well it is that time of year. The time when everyone starts to think they over indulged at Christmas and they have an excess of stomach/bum/thigh that they need to get rid of. In this day and age there are one million and one ways to loose weight. Shakes, Diets, Detox's, Vibration machines and of course hard work and exercise are just a few of the ways. However in recent times there has been a new entry into the fitness/health/weight loss arena and that is Fitness video games.

The advent of the Wii fit has bombarded gamers with promises to improve their health and enhance their fitness. The question is of course, do they actually work? Well I am going to test it out. One recent addition to this genre of game is EA Sports Active 2 (EA SA2). I recently procured this (on the PS3) to see if a video game can actually improve my health and well being. EA SA2 comes with 2 motion sensors (one for the arm and one for the leg), a Heart monitor and an elastic exercise band and promises the user a traditional fitness workout in front of their TV.

Caution: Large amounts of sweat predicted in the future.
My plan is as follows. I will partake in the game's 9 week challenge. I will follow this challenge to the letter and complete all exercises to the best of my abilities. I will keep track of my resting heart rate, waist measurement and weight over the 9 week challenge and note any changes for comparison. I will also follow any fitness and diet advice the game has to offer as best as possible.

The reason I am doing this is two fold. First is I need to loose weight and get fit. It is no secret that I need to drop a few kegs but finding the time to do exercise can be difficult with 2 kids, a full time job and a loving wife all demanding your attention. This may be the solution to my time problems. The second reason is do these games actually work? Can you really improve yourself by jumping up and down in front of a TV and looking like an idiot in the process.

From Monday next week I will begin the challenge and I will be putting updates on this blog weekly telling you all how I am going and what changes (if any) have occurred. So fingers crossed folks and wish me luck, because this could be a real life altering challenge brought to me by a video game!

From This to This? Only time will tell!