It was just over one year ago that I introduced myself to the DoG audience as Jason Helton, a self-proclaimed fat ass. The plan was to embark on an experiment to see if a videogame, Wii Fit, could make me lose 100 pounds in one year. It would be a daunting task for anyone, and certainly would be tough for a fast food eating, sedentary working, couch potato like myself. But win or lose, I promised accountability, and I am here to deliver on that promise.
In the beginning, the workouts were tough, the eating was harder, but the motivation was there to keep me on the balance board. In the first few weeks, taking the weight off as well as the writing was both easy and fun. Every time I felt I had accomplished something, it was simple to jump on the computer and write, and even when I struggled, I could still express my feelings about it to my readers without issue. But as the experiment went on, boredom reared its ugly head.
First, my accomplishments started diminishing. I expected this, because quite frankly, if I continued to lose weight at the rate I did in the beginning, there would be health consequences, plus I really didn’t want to explain to people that I didn’t have an eating disorder (I’m a failed bulimic, by the way. I can binge but can’t quite get that purge thing down).
But the thing is, at least for me, when you put in a ton of work one week and lose double digit pounds, but the next week you put in more work and lose one or two, it gets discouraging. And over time, you get downright pissed when your kids want you to have an ice cream with them, and you have to say no for fear of destroying your efforts. It got very old to keep myself limited to an 1800 calorie per day diet, work out as much as I could, and still not lose any weight.
It sucked to watch my family enjoy the foods they love, while I looked on, eating my salad. If there is suffering involved, I want compensation, and as it went on, there was more suffering for less compensation… kinda like my job. Second, I really got sick of frakking Wii Fit.
As I mentioned in one of my articles, over time, I found the game boring. As time went on, it became abysmally boring. I mean, when the balance board character asked if I wanted a fitness tip, I was looking for the “Fuck Off” button instead of Yes or No.
Instead of seeing a dejected BB walk off the screen, I wanted Solid Snake to make a cameo and put two bullets into its anthropomorphized plastic brainpan. As an educational tool, the Wii Fit works for a time, showing you new exercises, yoga postures, and other fitness techniques to help you along the way. As a game, however, Wii Fit is kinda like Elf Bowling – it’s fun for a few minutes, but eventually the repetition will get to you, and you will wonder why in the hell you actually shelled out cash for this.
But the sad thing is, for a console that is theoretically hooked up to the Interwebz, why not put out some downloadable content? How about an expansion pack to make it more fun and exciting? Oh, wait – they did that. It was called Wii Fit Plus.
Original Wii Fit users had to shell out $20 for a few extra mini games. My ass hurts just thinking about it. But the boredom with the game also led to the decline and the end of my articles on the Challenge. It became harder and harder to write about the Challenge, well, it was easy to write about the Challenge, hard to keep it interesting.
As I went along, it became more of a bitch session about how hungry I was, and how much I wasn’t enjoying the Wii Fit. Looking back at the articles as I went along, they got increasingly whiney as my weight loss slowed down. Add that to my increased excuses as to why I wasn’t doing as well as I thought I should be, and I sounded downright pathetic.
Third, I discovered that for all that it is worth, the Wii Fit isn’t very effective as a weight loss tool. Don’t get me wrong, it is effective to a point, but when you get to be as large as I was when I started, the Wii Fit isn’t anywhere near enough. The Wii Fit by itself provides you with basic aerobic and strength training activities, but there really isn’t any opportunity to raise the level of difficulty.
Sure, you can increase the difficulty of the game, or the amount of time that you do an activity, but there aren’t many ways to make the game force your body to work harder. In a gym, when you no longer find lifting 50 pounds difficult, you increase to 60 pounds and so on.
With Wii Fit, if you can do 10 pushups, why not do 20. While this certainly helps, eventually it felt like it became ineffective. The things I did to try to make it more effective helped, like carrying dumbbells while stepping, or by raising the balance board off the ground to make me step higher, were almost more effective than the game itself.
Quite frankly, I could have accomplished the same workouts with items around my house rather than spending all that money. The images on the screen weren’t much of a motivator, and there was only so much I could do to augment my workout. But do keep in mind that I was trying to lose 100 pounds, or almost one third of my body weight. For someone like me, it was almost impossible to do all of that with just diet and Wii Fit alone.
For a teenager/young adult, or someone who only needs to lose a few pounds to feel better, this might be the perfect route for you, but for fat asses like me, it just fell short. In looking back, I think I have found the true audience for this game: children. My kids love Wii Fit, it gets them off the couch and active, and while neither one of them are overweight (yet), they are getting exercise and learning the importance of it as well.
In the end, I think that while the Wii Fit certainly played a role in my weight loss, it was being made more conscious of my lifestyle that really helped.
I think that, while the increased activity helped move things along in the beginning, it was really my diet that played a larger role. The largest benefit that I found was that the Wii Fit (and my readers) held me accountable for mistakes that I made. It would chastise me if I failed to report for a workout, or if I put a few pounds back on. It also made me almost obsessive about weight loss, and I started to adapt my life around my weight loss goals.
For example, I stopped depending on fast food when out on the road. I take the stairs rather than the elevator when possible, and I try to walk faster wherever I go. While I still don’t make the best food choices all the time, I have certainly learned how to avoid the worst, and I read the labels on just about everything I eat.
I find that I am more active, I play with my children every night that I can, walk the moose (now clocking in at 160 pounds) whenever I can, and plan to participate in a 5k/obstacle course called Warrior Dash later on this year. So, now to the meat and bones of this article: the weight (cue ominous music here).
Since I stopped writing about it, my weight has fluctuated slightly, but never going more than between six and eight pounds higher than my lowest weight. Things like holidays, rough work schedules and my emotional eating are generally the cause for my slight weight gain, but thankfully I am usually pretty quick to get it back under control. Now it’s time to pay the piper:
Starting Weight 1 Year Ago: 283lbsStarting BMI 1 Year Ago: 37.3%Ending Weight: 241lbsEnding BMI: 31.8%
Did I lose 100 pounds? Absolutely not. I didn’t even come close to that. And in hindsight, that would be like trying to lose almost a third of me. That is just a bit excessive, and I was obviously thinking way outside the realm of possibility for that period of time. But even without losing all of the weight I wanted to, the Wii Fit Challenge has had a pronounced effect on my life When the writing stopped, and the large amount of Wii Fit stopped, it was because I was discouraged with the amount of weight I was losing.
After a week of sulking (and throwing a few pounds back on) I tried to get back on the proverbial horse. When you are on a diet and cheat, with a little mental scolding you can get back on track pretty quickly. When you go into relapse, it’s almost impossible to get back on track. In fact, that is one of the reasons I stopped writing as well, to be perfectly honest with you.
I remember reading all the positive e-mails I got from readers, cheering me on, thanking me for what I was doing, and I felt like I had let you all down. And so I retreated back into food. It wasn’t until I went back up a size in pants that I realized what I was doing, and that was enough to break the cycle and get me back on track.
I still struggle to this day. In fact, I’ve been having a bad few weeks with the diet. Not enough to put more than a pound or two back on, but enough to worry me. Looking at it with experience now, I now believe overeating is an addiction, just like cigarettes, Portal 2 and crack.
When things get me down, or I’m stressed, or bored, I get high, with pizza. Just like an addict, it fills a quick need, then I think about it and feel guilty and discouraged. It is now apparent that my struggle will be for a lifetime. So last week, I finally bit the bullet and attended my first Overeaters Anonymous online meeting. I don’t quite know if my stress eating quite qualifies me, or if OA is the right place for me, but I just can’t let myself get back to where I began, which is my biggest fear with every bite I take.
Though I didn’t lose the 100 pounds, there are a large amount of positive benefits to this whole experiment. First off, I lost a lot of weight. A lot. 42 pounds, besides being the Best. Number. Ever, is the equivalent to a large bag of dog food. It really is a lot of weight. So I made it down to condition three on the Fattiness Scale.
Going along with that, while I may not have lost all the weight I wanted, I did go from a size 44 pants down to a 38, I no longer wear anything that has more the one X in XL. I have much more energy now, which I am using to the fullest, and I am no longer morbidly obese. That’s right, my fat will not technically kill me (as fast). While I am still considered obese, I am just a mere 1.8% of body fat till I reach the exalted status of “overweight”.
I can now fit in my hockey equipment, and just for giggles, I was able to get back in to my old wetsuit (though it fit me like a the skin on a sausage. I was afraid it was going to split down the middle!). I’ve saved some money, as cooking and eating at home is cheaper once you figure out how to plan your meals in advance.
Additionally, I’ve actually learned how to cook, and I’ve gotten pretty good at a few dishes. I no longer have to have the fire department or the health department on standby when I serve a meal. I used my new found energy and motivation to return to school, and with a little bit of luck and a few more good grades, I will finish my associates degree and start university in the fall.
I’ve taken up yoga (which in real life is nothing like the Wii Fit) to help with my stress, pain, and to get me one more college credit. And the first thing I do when I get home is play with my kids, and I’m happy to announce that another one is on the way (there goes any chance of sleep, ever). I don’t ride elevators unless there is no choice, I try to walk faster, and as much as I still love them, I limit my videogame playing.
I’ve also learned to have a more objective view of my body. When I first started this, I had this overly negative view of my body. I viewed myself as this huge, monstrous thing. There are still days when I think I am huge, but in looking at the scale I first set up, I think I look more like fat Lee Adama rather than Fat Bastard at this point. I still have a very long way to go, and I can pretty much say I have an addiction to overcome.
With all of the stress in my professional and personal life, I still turn to food as a drug, so I might have to do something more drastic to solve that issue. With the Challenge over, I can safely say that I am glad I started this. I wish I had done better, but I think I learned a lot, and I’d like to think I passed at least some of that on to my readers.
I do want to take a second to thank everyone who read the Challenge, and especially those who sent words of encouragement, it really helped a lot. Den of Geek readers are the best, and I thank you all for being there every step of the way with me. Hopefully, now that I have gotten over my embarrassment of not living up to my own over-hyped expectations, you will be hearing more from me on the site.