When it comes to health and fitness, my body and I have reached a fairly comfortable arrangement over the years. Or at least that’s what I thought.
My body had, to my knowledge, made peace with the fact that it was never going to be an ‘athletic’ body. That it was never going to run a marathon or play contact sports. That it was never really going to be a good dancer. Perhaps it once dreamed of these things, as bodies do, but its complaints were firmly silenced by my brain: “Fuck you,” my brain would say, “I’m going to drink Verdelho and eat chocolate cake for breakfast on a Thursday. And I’m going to dance like someone who’s sustained a head injury.”
Oh, that brain of mine.
Now, Body wasn’t entirely happy with a lifetime of binge-eating and alcoholism, so he and Brain forged a compromise; I would try to eat a little better, and exercise every now and then, and in exchange I wouldn’t get cankles or drop dead at thirty from heart disease. And for the past decade, our little agreement has worked out pretty well.
But Body isn’t keeping up his end of deal anymore. Well… okay, I’m not keeping up my end of the deal anymore. Working in a shopping centre, I eat exclusively at the food court – foot-long Subs, Oporto burgers and Japanese bento do not a balanced diet make. And exercise wise, I’m definitely a fad chaser. I’ve played a number of fitness games (Wii Fit, Your Shape Fitness, etc.) for a few months at a time, nothing long term, and I even got myself fitted for a pair of running shoes and went jogging with the Runkeeper app for a while – although in Mayfield, you’re always running from something.
As a result, I’m feeling a little more run-down these days. My jeans are getting a little harder to button up. It’s nothing drastic yet – I have to keep reminding myself that I’m technically underweight, just below the median BMI of 22, so I’m lucky really. But things are starting to… sag a little, and I’d rather not spend my late twenties looking like a used condom, so perhaps Body needs a little more commitment from Brain.
So I bought myself Wii Fit U a few days ago following its release (the retail version I mean – an online trial has been available for about a month now), and this time, I made myself a promise. If I was really going to do this, it wouldn’t be just a fad. It would be a regular part of my daily schedule – nothing crazy or unreasonable (I want a gym membership like I want a criminal record), but a solid, realistic amount of daily exercise that I could stick to without flaking or losing interest.
I played the original Wii Fit and its expansion, Wii Fit Plus, quite a bit when they were first released. It was the first time I’d done any sort of Yoga before, or really considered the effects of posture and pelvic alignment on long-term health. I’m aware that I was probably being given extremely simplified information; a friendly cartoon Wii Balance Board is hardly a reliable source of medical and nutritional science. But it did get me thinking about my body in way I hadn’t before, and it featured an interesting mix of muscle training, Yoga, cardio and balance games that were deceptively taxing on my untrained physique.
Wii Fit U includes all of the original activities (except for that Zen meditation one, which was just pointless – you don’t need a balance board to sit very still and stare into the middle distance), and features several new ones as well. I’m pleased with the overall mix. Core Luge is my absolute favourite so far, because I’ve always wanted to tighten my abs (or have abs); I’m getting more and more addicted to beating my time on the advanced course, and at the end of each attempt, my entire torso feels like it’s on fire. Rowing Regatta is much the same, a genuinely demanding activity disguised as a silly mini-game.
My biggest problem, in fact, has been severely underestimating Wii Fit U’s difficulty. I stupidly assumed that I could just wade in to the advanced levels and higher reps that I had once achieved when using Wii Fit years ago. Now I’ve spent the better part of a week in crippling pain because I overexerted myself and didn’t cool down properly. Yesterday, I thought that a dedicated Yoga session might untwist that knot in my lower back – I was very, very wrong.
There’s an online community through Miiverse this time around, though I haven’t quite figured out the point of it yet. I joined a ‘gym community’ called First Time Fitness, or something like that; you can see other Miis around you and get a general sense of the kinds of activities they’re engaged in, but what I’ve seen so far hasn’t been all that engrossing. Head-to-head multiplayer and the ability to challenge each other’s scores would have been a good idea, and a social incentive to really push yourself further. (Perhaps those things are actually in there and I simply haven’t found them yet.)
And then there’s the Wii U Fit Meter, which I’m wearing at the moment, despite the fact it looks a little dinky. I actually like the fact that it’s not a wristband – I’d grown quite tired of my Jawbone UP Band rubbing against my wrist every day and night like a second watch. Its shape and size and display remind me strongly of a Tamagotchi, which brings back all kinds of traumatic memories. But it’s clipped to my waist, and I really don’t even know it’s there most of the time. And I have a morbid fascination with the creepy little ‘Connecting! Connecting! Connecting!’ sound that my TV makes whenever I pair it wirelessly with my Wii U gamepad.
I cannot yet say whether Wii Fit U is going to have any lasting effect on my lifestyle; it hasn’t even been a week yet. But I’m enjoying it so far, and with the new year hurtling towards us, it seems like a good time to make some concrete resolutions, particularly now that I’m wearing out the good graces your body often affords you in your early twenties.
Today is Thursday. This morning I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and fetta, which I’m feeling good about. Later I may eat a bowl of rocky road ice cream, of course – we’re still hammering out the terms of our new agreement, Body and I.