November 28, 2011

Better Health Through Gaming - Week 3

Another week is finished, and I am happy to say that I didn't miss a session for the entire three weeks of the Cardio Kick Start program on Easy. There were certainly a few exercises in the workouts that were not easy. There was one that I simply couldn't do at the end of my last session and I did have to skip it. One-leg hip bridges were beyond my ability that evening...especially at the end of my workout.

Here are the stats for week three!

Workouts: 4
Duration: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Calories Burned: 809
Average Heart Rate: 123 bpm
Max Heart Rate: 175 bpm
Distance: 0.94 miles

As you can see, I worked out a little bit longer and burnt more calories than last week. The distance was a little higher also, but I think the distance measurements in this case are weak relations at best. I don't really know how they're rating distance traveled when I'm actually running in place. However, I'll keep posting them up.

Over the three week program my weight went from 263lbs, down to 258lbs. That's a total of 5 pounds lost if you don't want to do the math yourself. While I consider this a definite positive result, I know that it can be improved upon. The simple truth is that I wasn't watching my food intake at ALL over this time period. There was still a lot of junk getting shovelled in. And you know what they say, "garbage in, garbage out."

Now that my kick start program is completed I'll be shifting over the 9-week fitness program. On the Easy setting, it is still a 4-day per week program. I don't know how long each session will be but I'll find out tonight. I'll also be taking some starting photos and measurements. If I do well enough in the program, I'll post them at the end, along with some after photos. Neither one will likely be pretty sights...let's aim for the after pics being less disturbing than the before photos.

Tune in next week!

November 21, 2011

Better Health Through Gaming - Week 2

Another week has passed and I still survive. The workouts this week have been a mixed bag. A few were easy, the last one was harder than I expected, but progress is being made. Here are the stats:

Workouts: 4
Duration: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Calories Burned: 684
Average Heart Rate: 119 bpm
Max Heart Rate: 173 bpm
Distance: 0.90 miles

So it would seem I'm either not working as hard as last week, or my heart is a little stronger. I'd be inclined toward the second option, as my recovery times after high exertion periods is a touch shorter. Don't get me wrong, I'm still winded and red-faced, just not for as long.

This week is the last one of the Cardio Kicks Start program on Easy. I'll be following it up with a 9-week program, also on Easy. Tune in next week for another update on my progress, and don't forget to let me know you stopped by!

November 14, 2011

Better Health Through Gaming - Week 1

Well I've survived my first week. In terms of commitment it actually was pretty easy. Four short workouts spread out over seven days. None of the workouts were longer than twenty five minutes in length. I will say that a few of the exercises, especially in the last workout, were harder than I expected on "easy" but I survived and here are the stats:

Workouts: 4
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Calories Burned: 580
Average Heart Rate: 121 bpm
Max Heart Rate: 183 bpm
Distance: 0.61 miles

As always, feel free to post comments on this or any of my posts!

November 09, 2011

The Best Game Company You've Never Heard Of

A few months back I was scouring the reviews over at BoardGameGeek to find some interesting new games to play. Something that caught my eye was a game entitled Omen: Reign of War. What finally cemented it for me was Drake's review over on his blog. It had been released a few months previously, but I couldn't find anything out about it from my local game shops. No one had heard of it. Turning my focus online I found that this small publisher's games are only available through their website So I took a (smallish) risk and ordered a copy.

When it arrived I found the packaging choice very interesting: they've chosen to use black plastic cases that look almost identical to old-style VHS cases, simply lacking the round knobby things that would keep the tape in place. Distinctive and fun choice.

Looking more closely at the game itself, it is a rather simple yet inspired design. Each of the unit cards in the game has multiple uses, so even if you can't afford to pay for the card, you can discard it to get more gold or more cards. In addition to great game play, the artwork is stunning all 'round.

With what I'd seen of Omen: Reign of War after two plays I decided to order the expansion, Omen: Shattered Aegis. I have yet to try the expansion, but it has more options for variant gameplay, tons of new cards, and even more standout artwork.

Another of their deluxe sized games was recently released. It's also a card game, but comes with more components than Omen. It's called Hemloch, and is designed by the same fellow that designed Omen, John Clowdus. You can certainly tell that it was by the same designer as it does have a similar style. However, it's also quite unique in the game play. While still technically an area control game, the method in which you go about things is vastly different, and the feel of the game is unique enough that you don't feel like you're playing the same game.

If there was one negative thing I had to say about Small Box Games it actually wouldn't be about their games at all. It would be about their shipping. Of the three items I've purchased from them, two of them have arrived with broken boxes. John was quick to reply to my emails personally, and sent me a replacement for the first broken case. I haven't bothered to notify them about the second because it's a minor break of one corner which can be fixed with a touch of glue. It is frustrating though, and I can see people being upset about receiving damaged goods. A simple fix for this would be a small investment in bubble wrap.

So if you're looking for a unique game to add to your collection, try something from Small Box Games!

November 07, 2011

Better Health Through Gaming - Prologue

People are offended by stereotypes. But stereotypes exist for a reason...they're simply a distillation of a widely known fact. One example of said stereotypes would be that gamers are fat and lazy slobs. Trust me, I have seen many, many examples to support this particular stereotype. So in my experience, it is a fact. Of course almost any generalization has exceptions to it. Unfortunately at this point, I am not one of those exceptions.

About 10 years ago I had to undergo shoulder surgery, and following that, spent several months rebuilding all the muscle and mobility I had lost. Once I reached an equilibrium again, I decided to continue in my journey and make fitness a regular part of my life. A few years later I was a lean 179 pounds, 6% body fat and was training anywhere between 6 to 10 times per week. I was busy with training and all my other tasks in life, but I was fit and happy with myself.

Do I sound vain yet?

When I moved overseas I found it difficult to keep to a regular training schedule and diet. My work hours were strange, money was tight so I couldn't afford to go to a gym, and slowly mild depression set it. With it, came weight gain and loss of fitness.

Coming back home a few years later, I was a little heavier, but not seriously so. However, the rediscovery of all the things I'd missed while away that were not my family and friends, amounted to food and drink. The Japanese make many fine beers. Their pizza and nachos...not so much. A few months of binging turned into loose habits. I have had brief periods of less-unhealthy existence, but generally only for a few months at a time. The bad habits kept winning the battle. Building good habits is hard, and breaking bad habits is even harder!

So I find myself at a crossroads in life. As I age, I realize that my metabolism is no longer on my side and those bad food and exercise habits show greater and greater effects on my body and well being each year. My pants are also telling me that I'm a fat bastard. Being healthy is a much smoother road to being happy than drowning your sorrows in sour candies and cheese burgers. When you're active and eating well you feel better, have more energy, can thus do more things and perpetuate the cycle. But how do you do that when everything else you've tried has seemed to fail?

Simple, you turn to video games.

Well at least, that's the oh-so-brilliant plan! Consider this more of an experiment than anything. I'll be your friendly neighbourhood lab rat. You can be my unwilling spectators. Or willing, if you're into hearing about other people's pain and suffering. And really, who isn't!? If reality TV can find an audience, so can I! In all seriousness though, by posting things up here, I'm really just trying to find a way to keep myself honest and focused.

Over the next 12 weeks I am going to subject myself to assorted the pain and embarrassment of exercising, or not, and updating all you folks out there in the wide, wide world of web on my progress.

How am I going to track things? Yesterday I purchased a copy of EA Sports Active 2 for my Playstation 3. The game comes with three sensors: two that attach to the arms just below the elbow, and one on the right upper leg. I'll follow the exercise program as set out in the game, and update you all here on my weekly progress. The first program is a three-week "Cardio Kick Start." Following that I'll do one of the more advanced nine-week programs for my total of twelve.

At the end of it all I'll post up before and after photos, as well as statistics from my first and last workout, and assorted body measurements such as weight, BMI (body mass index), skin folds and all kinds of weird stuff. We'll see if you really can get into better shape from a video game.

Microscope, on!