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!

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