I've used Wii Fit exactly 6 months. Since the review, I didn't use it every day, or even every week, but since the very first time the game told me I was fat, it never really left my mind. Every meal, every time I passed on exercise to eat a little more ice cream, every time I exercised but stopped a little early, I heard those words resonating through the bit of side blubber on my sleight frame: "You're Overweight!"
I hate Wii fit so much. Sure, it indirectly helped me lose 10 pounds, but I f'ing hate it.
Bear with me on this long post with minimal mention of the game or hardware — the game is not what will make you fit.
Over a few sessions of playing the game, I started what would eventually be, more or less, the kind of body obsession assumed normal for performance athletes and underwear models, coupled with the kind of inferiority complex that one gets when you can't beat a video game, coupled with the resentment one builds towards machines that don't do your meatbot bidding. I mean, I could have dismissed the measurement tell me I was fat — BMI (Body Mass Index) is a crude stat based on height and weight that can't tell a fat person from a really really muscular medium husky guy. The problem is, Wii fit doesn't give a crap about your excuses or perceptions either. It assumed I really wasn't that muscular short guy, it assumed I was a medium husky with a little belly. And it was right.
I did all the exercises, focusing on the harder ones like the pushup and plank exercises, jackknives, the shadow boxing and running in place for sessions, usually for over 45 minutes. But then I got bored of EVERYTHING IN the game and couldn't stand to do more than one or two at a time. And I was not losing weight. I was exercising, it seemed, just enough to stimulate my appetite and give me justification for eating more, and so I was actually gaining weight. The in game scale told me as much.
When you're stuck on a level in a video game, some people look at strategy guides or cheats. The Wii Fit equivalent of this, knowing I was not getting the weaponry to obliterate my chub in the game, was to cheat by resorting to outside exercises like hitting the weights, and bicycling, running and hitting the rowing machine, my favourite for quick nearly full body exercises. This helped, and Wii fit's seemingly lame exercises were great setup in developing the necessary support muscles from head to toe to support rudimentary training — it was like physical therapy for computer nerds about to enter real sporting tasks.
Summer ended. Snowboarding season was approaching, and I knew I wanted to be lighter on my feet this year. It was great to have a goal outside of the game's mere quest for proper height to weight ratio.
But I was still not losing weight and eventually hit 77 kg. Anyone who runs on a treadmill with a kcalorie calculator realises that you can burn only a quarter of a cheeseburger's worth of energy in a 15 minute run, enough to go about 2 miles. Most nerds do not run this much in a day. Wii fit's charts, again, reflected the truth. Even though I was exercising, I was exercising semi regularly, but it was not denting my calorie intake. Without those charts, I would have been satisfied, but instead, Wii fit asked me "why do you think you're gaining weight?" and gave me a set of multiple choices. I choose overeating.
Let me tell you something about eating in my family. It was always my job, as directed by all grandparents, to finish not only everything on my plate, but everything on the entire table. One day, staring at a place of creamy French food, full after the first 3 bites, and thinking about what Wii fit was telling me, and how far my goals were, I realised that I had to change. I felt a bit guilty, but I knew that where my family would disapprove, Wii Fit would make up for it. And sure enough, the charts showed my weight was dropping. First I was below 77, then 75, and then 73. Miraculously, this happened without the pain of extreme exercise and without the pain of extreme dieting. I lost about 1 kg a week, more or less. I never realised this is all it would take.
Checking the calendar, I had one day left til my 6th month of Wii Fit would end. And my BMI had dropped from 26.5 to a low of 25.01. If I lost another half a kilo, the game would crown me fit.
Then, work got stressful, with this economy. I eat when I'm stressed. So, I ate some greasy Chinese food. And the next day at lunch, I had a cheeseburger. I just couldn't resist and I didn't know if I had blown my chances or not at finding acceptance from this stupid game. I thought that I could keep from overeating, something I'd been practicing for 31 years, forever, but the binge made me realise it would never be easy.
The next day, I got on the balance board and took a test. I have to admit, I took my shorts off for the competitive advantage, but I didn't expect to make it: I scored a 24.91, low enough at 71 kg for Wii Fit to declare me normal even with my shorts on. I learned a new lesson, a few days of binging cannot overcome weeks of discipline.
And then, satisfied, I put the game away, ate some ice cream and booted up Fable II. As long as I never start Wii Fit again, I'll always and only remember the last kind word the game said to me, "You're Normal."
The game's core value isn't the exercises, which don't burn many calories unless you play them way beyond the point which a normal person will become bored by them. It's the fact that through charts and graphs and the in game coach, the game makes you think about your fitness and weight enough that you eventually realise you have no real excuse for being out of shape. And that you have no real choice but to go outside the game and figure out the answers for yourself in the real world.
Hmmm...I kind of look the same.