Jake’s Video Game Work-Out Plan

As I have oft documented in these pages, I am (trying to be) on a life long low-carbohydrate, high protein diet. I started the diet almost exactly two years ago, when I weighed in at nearly 250 pounds, and had regular colds and illnesses, suffered regularly from fatigue and other maladies. Never mind being embarrassed about my large belly, my increasing large jowls, and yes, even man-breasts.

Since being on the diet, I’ve dropped a lot of weight (was down around 205 pounds, but am now holding steady around 210), losing the jowls, man breasts, and enough around my midsection to drop from a 38-40 waist to a 32-34 waist (and a whole new wardrode). And my health has improved remarkably too. I’ve not had a serious sick day in almost two years, my energy levels are good, and based on a very thorough physical back in November at Duke University’s Executive Health Center, my blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol are also in great shape. That’s all mostly due to diet – I am definitely a low-carb believer.

The area I found to be below par during my physical was exercise. I really don’t like exercising. I find it mundane, boring, and rather pointless. I’m a type-A person, and I feel like I need to be accomplishing something most of the time, and while I cognitively understand the long term benefits of exercise, the short term achiever in me finds “better” things to do. I get my best ordinary exercise when traveling and staying in cities, because I try to walk most everywhere. Duke gave me a pedometer, and I find that most days in a city on business or vacation, I average 8,000 to 15,000 steps (anything over 10,000 is considered reasonable exercise, and 3,000 or less is being a couch potato).

But that doesn’t help me at home. Enter Nintendo. Yes, Nintendo.

Thanks to the game Age of Empires (a turn-based strategy war game) on my DS Lite, I can do about 10 miles on my recumbent exercise bicycle in half an hour, never realizing how hard a cardio workout I’m getting (but I am getting my pulse into the target range Duke set for me), because the game has me so distracted. My cycling activity is natural, autonomous, and repetitive – perfect for doing while mentally focused elsewhere. However, I have found that I’m not getting any upper body work-out doing this bicycle thing, and this week, upon returned from a trip to Santa Fe (see below) along with a few extra pounds of carb weight, I decided to do something about it. I call it my Wii Workout.

Three times a week (that’s the plan – I’ve only done it twice so far, but the week’s not over), I play Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii in my living room, playing a combination of both Wii Tennis and Wii Boxing (Golf, Bowling, and Baseball don’t appear to give enough of a workout). I’ve used Wii Sports in the training mode, in the workout mode (too short for my needs), and ordinary game play against “computer” players. The latter seems to be the most intensive.

My very sore and aching muscles yesterday and today after my first Wii Workout on Monday (two days ago) bear witness to the fact that playing tennis and boxing on the Wii have already put various upper body muscles to use which have not seen a workout in months, if not years. A couple of ibuprofen or acetaminophen pills and I’m feeling better.

This morning’s Wii Workout stretched those muscles again (they aren’t as tender now, but let’s see how I feel tomorrow), and I also tried playing tennis left handed (I’m a righty) to balance out the workout on both sides of my torso.

An auxiliary benefit to the Wii Workout is that I might finally get good enough to beat my kids at Wii Tennis and other Wii games.

My actual goal, though, is to be really buff in a few month’s time, thanks mainly to video gaming, combined with my on-going diet of course. Think it’ll work?