I'm not a nutritionist. I'm not a fitness expert.

I am a 57 year old woman who has never felt more healthy and fit in my entire life. Five years ago, at 52, I weighed about 80 lbs. more than I do now. I felt much older, with stiff joints and back aches and no energy. And don't even ask about clothes!

My goal was not just weight loss, but to get healthier. I did not "go on a diet," I did not count calories or carbs. I made lifestyle changes, a little at a time. I tried to eat healthier and move more. You can do this, too. You can make changes to look, and more importantly, feel healthier and fit. You don't have to be overweight to be unfit. You will feel a difference in strength, energy, stamina and flexibility. I'm talking to you, men, too!

I can tell you how I did it. Not everything I do will be right for you. Through posts about my progress; tips and ideas about nutrition and exercise; links to sites I like and find helpful, I hope to inspire others to get fit and healthy and encourage a community of support and an exchange of ideas. And have a little fun on the way! Much of our information will be about local Cape Ann sites - walking and bike routes, gyms, types of exercise, yoga studios, good buys on healthy food - but Guests and commenters from anywhere are welcome as well.

Okay, I know you all want to know. Right now I'm wearing a pair of Levis - size 8. A comfortable size 8!

Twenty year old daughter:
"Mom, why are you wearing my clothes?"
Mom: "Because I can!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Getting Fit - with Wii Fit?

Last Christmas my daughters, then 19 and 25 and both living at home at the time, asked for a Wii console and the Wii Fit game.  I groaned.  They have never been into the video game thing.  We have a few old Nintendo consoles in the basement that were given to them as gifts when they were young.  Never mind the zombie-like appearance I've seen on kids engrossed in those things, but when I found out what it cost for games - I was not a happy mom.  Thankfully, they were used for a week or two and never turned on again.  Their choice, for which I'm forever grateful.

So I was wary of the Wii purchase.  "You'll love Wii Fit, too!" they told me.  As Christmas neared, I read and researched (I had absolutely no clue about what a Wii even actually was) and decided I'd do it.  And now I'll come out of the closet as a Wii fan.  I do love it.

Wii Fit has yoga, strength training exercises, balance games and aerobics.  I was walking and going to Curves, and the Wii Fit aerobics were still a challenge - mostly because I put a lot into them.  And it was fun.  The competitive aspect, trying to outdo my daughters and improve my own scores, is motivating.  A funny thing happened - as when they were young, they lost interest after a couple of months. (They would probably tell you that it was because I was always using it.)  But I've kept at it!

It certainly wouldn't replace a gym workout or regular power walks.  I mostly used the balance and aerobics parts.  The balance games really do help balance and coordination - especially eye/body/mind coordination - something I think is really important to keep working on at my age.  I worked my way up the levels of boxing - I was huffing and puffing at the lowest level when I first started.  When the step dancing became too easy, I started holding and lifting 6 lb. weights when I did it.  It's fun.  It's easy to fit in a little time with it here and there.  I sometimes turned it on while dinner was cooking and did a ten minute boxing round.

By the time June rolled around, I was still using Wii Fit, but looking for ways to make it more challenging.  The game marketers must have calculated my progress, because just around then EA Sports Active for Wii was released.  I bought it.  I love it.  It does what I had wished the Wii Fit did - Wii Active has complete routines.  With Wii Fit, you're on your own to pick and choose what to do.  I like having a circuit to follow.  Wii Active has many routines and many levels.  Lower body exercises are mostly old school squats and lunges with variations.  You use a resistance band for upper body exercises.  My arms have never, ever looked like they do now.  Oh, I still have bat wings, but there's a whole lot more toned muscle surrounding them.  Same with my legs.  There are really no ab exercises in the circuit, but I do sets of situps and crunches at Curves when I stretch.

I've never had a piece of home exercise equipment.  The convenience factor of having something to use at home when I could fit in the time was always an attraction, but a single type of working out never appealed to me.  Oh wait ... I did get an exercise bike years ago as a gift.  I do think it worked much better than a treadmill would have ... as a clothes rack.

There are other ways to work out or just get some exercise at home - like the hundreds of exercise DVDs available.  Tae Bo, dance, aerobics, yoga, Pilates.  I have several and my daughter just brought home a kickboxing one that looks fun.  But I never stuck with them like I have the Wii.  I think it's the variety of things available to choose from in the one program and the interactive part that holds my interest.

Wii Fit pros:  It's fun.  It's convenient - you can fit in a little aerobics or a balance game here and there several times during the day.  The balance and coordination games are good, especially for those of us who are of a certain age.

Wii Fit cons:  You're on your own as far as putting together a routine.

Wii Active pros:  Pre-set routines - and lots of them.  There are all-around routines as well as ones that target upper body or lower body.  It's more interactive than the Wii Fit - your "trainer" will tell you if you're going too fast or too slow or when you're not getting down far enough on a squat!

Wii Active cons:   The resistance band included with the program is inferior quality.  I had read that in several reviews and sure enough, after a couple of months mine did break.  I have some heavier duty ones that I had bought in a previous at-home-exercise burst of motivation.  I dusted them off and they've worked fine for me.

My older daughter moved last spring and there was a little discussion about Wii custody.  The Wii stayed.   She was finally able to afford to buy her own a few weeks ago.  She bought the new Wii Fit Plus and reports that it is much more like the Wii Active with preset routines.  I also read that Wii Active released a new edition, EA Sports Active: More Workouts with more routines and includes ab workouts.  I'm still feeling the burn with my Wii Active, so I have no desire to drop money on a new version just yet.

You don't have time to go to a gym.  You're too tired after work to go out for a walk or someplace to exercise.  You can't afford a gym or a game console.  Whether you try an interactive video program, an exercise DVD, or just turn on some music and dance for half an hour - there really are no excuses.  If you're reading this, you have internet access.  There are hundreds of routines, tips, videos and motivating sites on the web.  You can find something you like, something you can fit into your day, something you can afford.  Whatever you find that works for you - you will only get out of it what you put into it.  Getting motivated to put effort into something is the hardest part, but the results - feeling more fit and stronger - will be worth it. And it really can be fun!

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