Monday, November 18, 2013

Wii Fit U and Wii Fit Meter Review ...

I'm going to be honest here. I am not a video game fan. As a child, my parents never let us have a gaming system (handheld or otherwise). I'm sure at the time, I was really mad about this, but as I grew older, I kind of got over it. I guess you can't miss what you never had. Of course, there's also the fact, I don't really like doing things I'm not good at and I am really horrible at video games, so for my sanity and my ego, it's just better that I stay away.

Unfortunately (for my children anyway), my perspective on gaming systems hasn't ever changed. Although, J had a PlayStation when we first got together, it quickly fell into disuse when the girls were born and I was sure that was the end of gaming in our home.

But then, just a few weeks ago, I was asked by Nintendo if I would review their new Wii Fit U and Wii Fit Meter. Despite my initial hesitation, I decided that I needed to give it a try. I mean, if anything was ever going to convince me to change my mind about video games, it was going to be a game that focused on fitness. And did it work? Yes and no, but we'll get to that in a minute.

So, you're probably wondering what the Wii Fit Meter is. Well, let's just think of if as a pedometer on steroids.

Wii Fit Meter
The Wii Fit Meter does a lot more than count your steps. It also has an acceleration sensor (to measure intensity) and an atmospheric pressure sensor (to measure altitude changes). This means the Wii Fit Meter can more accurately calculate how many calories you burn, based on what you’re doing. Running up stairs, for example, will torch more calories than taking the elevator—even though the distance is the same.

And then of course, there is Wii Fit U, the game and interactive community that the Wii Fit Meter is designed to sync with.

Within Wii Fit U there are numerous activities ranging from games to personal training to dance to yoga. There is even a virtual gym where players can connect with not only their friends and family, but other Wii Fit U users around the world.

Anyway, once you set up your personal profile in the Wii Fit U program, you can sync your Wii Fit Meter to the Wii U and get moving. All you need to do is wear the Fit Meter on your waistband and it will track your activity throughout the day. At the end of the day (or whenever you feel like it), you can wirelessly sync the data to your Wii U. And you don't have to workout alone, Wii Fit U can be set up with profiles for your entire family (separate Wii Fit Meters are needed).

So, what do you need?

Well, other than the Wii Fit Meter, which retails for $19.99 and Wii Fit U, which you can download HERE (Note: Wii Fit U has a free one month trial if you download by Jan 31st. You can keep the game permanently if you purchase a Wii Fit Meter), you'll need:
Everything you'll need

Now, you're probably asking yourself, "Is this all worth it? Do I want to workout with a video game? What did TMB mean by "yes and no"?"

Well, here's my take on Wii Fit U and the Wii Fit Meter:

The Good:

The game has a pretty awesome concept. As a data hungry person, it was awesome to see my stats from the Fit Meter incorporated into the Wii Fit U game. This feature alone would help anyone stay on point when it comes to reaching their fitness goals.

The game can be configured to your fitness needs and desires. All aspects of the game are customizable, allowing the player to control their experience and workout. And even better, if you don't want that kind of control there are over 70 built-in programs to select from. This game has nothing but options.

The Fit Meter will show you how much (or how little) you move throughout the day. Even though I think I am pretty active, if I didn't run, I never got the 10,000 recommended steps, usually falling in the 4000-5000 range.

There are some cool mileage and elevation challenges designed specifically for the Wii Fit Meter. This is perhaps my favorite feature of the game.

The Not-So-Good:

Although the Wii Fit Meter does appear to accurately track steps taken while walking, it starts to lose some accuracy while running (versus my GPS watch). Not a huge amount, but over the course of five miles the difference was about two-tenths, not huge, but there.

If you are already fit, this game might not fit all of your needs. While many of the games and activities are challenging and can work up a good sweat, I found that it wasn't always the workout I was looking for. So, unless you're just starting out, this isn't likely to be your go-to workout choice.

You have to actually remember to put on the Fit Meter. I almost never remembered to put it on right when I woke up. Most days, I didn't have readings for the first 2-4 hours of my day. Not a huge difference, but it definitely didn't give me an exact view of my activity. But, this of course, was user error.

The cost. Well, if you all ready have a Wii U and a Wii U Balance board, the cost is merely $19.99 per Fit Meter, as Wii Fit U can be downloaded for free with the purchase of a Fit Meter before 1/31/14. However, if you have to factor in the cost of all of the other hardware, this can be quite the investment.

So, what's the takeaway?

Wii Fit U and the Wii Fit Meter are definitely something to consider adding to your workout routine. While I would never promote a video game being your sole form of exercise, if it gets you up and moving, it's good in my book. Is it for everybody? No, probably not. But, it can definitely get you started on the road to fitness, help to motivate you and to keep you accountable for your daily activity. Nintendo is taking video games from a mostly-sedentary activity to a high-energy, calorie burning one and for that, I applaud them.

Monday, November 11, 2013

it's all about the big picture ...

Did you ever think about what it would take to get the life that you want? What would you make a priority? How would you get there? What would you be willing to do to make it all happen? Would it be worth it?

Each and every day, I work on the details to get us a future that we hope for. Sometimes, J and I look around and have to ask ourselves if it's worth it. If the choices and actions we take today are actually going to pay off. Sometimes, it's clear that they will. And other times, I'm sure we are wasting our time. It's moments like those that I get caught in the details and I get overwhelmed, absolutely convinced that nothing is going to work out.

But, then I have to remind myself that the choices we make are just part of the big picture. One misstep isn't going to ruin it all and on the contrary, one success isn't going to guarantee another. Ultimately, we are just striving for our individual concept of perfection, even if it's unattainable.

Just ask yourself, "What would my perfect world look like?"

In my perfect world, J and I don't have to work. We'd have investments upon investments, all of which someone else is managing and we never have to think twice about them.

In my perfect world, I'm naturally a fast runner with six-pack abs that I didn't have to work for.

In my perfect world, my children never face adversity. They are passionate and successful and they have a better life that I had.

In my perfect world, my children have perfect manners, never misbehave and listen to me the first time.

In my perfect world, someone else does all the cooking and the cleaning giving me a wealth of free time dictated my no one's needs but my own.

In my perfect world, everyone sleeps through the night, cleans up after themselves and never gets sick.

Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world. In fact, my perfect world isn't even a perfect world, it's a dream world. None of those things could ever really happen. At least not without some serious sacrifices. Sacrifices I'm not willing to make (like giving up chocolate and cake - I'd never do that, even if it meant that I'd always have a six-pack).

But that doesn't stop me.

I know that reaching for that "perfect world" keeps us accountable. It helps shape us into the best people we can be. The successes teach us that there are great possibilities in this world and the failures remind us to be humble, to appreciate what we have and to get back up when we fall.

Life is in the details. But, the details mean nothing unless they add up to a big picture that you'd actually want to be a part of.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

October Rewind ...

Miles Run: 29.22 miles. Off-season at it's finest ...

Bike Miles Rode: 149.4 miles
Swim Meters Completed: 13746 meters or 8.54 miles.
Rest Days Taken: 8, most of the days were taken immediately after returning from Hawaii.
Highest Run Mileage Week: 10/7-10/13: 9.26 miles
Highest Bike Mileage Week: 10/14-10/20: 36 miles
Highest Swim Volume Week: 10/7-10/13: 4800 meters or 2.98 miles
Long Runs Completed (1 hr+ miles): 0
Current Book: Right now, I am reading Allegiant by Roth. But, I finished a few other books in October. (Note: For those of you who have asked, if it's on this or any of my lists, I would recommend the book. If I don't like the story or the book doesn't grasp my attention, I don't bother finishing it, thus it wouldn't be listed here.) 
  • The Fall of Five by Lore
  • Unearthly by Hand
  • Hallowed by Hand
  • Boundless by Hand
  • Vampire Academy by Mead
  • Frostbite by Mead
  • Shadow Kiss by Mead
  • Blood Promise by Mead
  • Spirit Bound by Mead
  • Last Sacrifice by Mead
  • Bloodlines by Mead
  • The Golden Lily by Mead
  • The Indigo Spell by Mead
  • Dead to You by McMann
  • A Beautiful Dark by Davies
  • A Fractured Light by Davies
  • The School Revolution by Paul
  • Unwholly by Shusterman
Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate Macadamia Hershey Kisses. Best thing ever.

Current Colors: Orange and Pink.
Current Drink: Hawaiian coffee.
Current Song: Sweater Weather - Neighbourhood
Current Triumph: We crushed Halloween as bada** vampires.

Oh, and I am successfully executing an off-season. Something I've never done in the nearly seven years I've been doing this whole endurance sports thing.
Current Goal: Be a better me. Each and every day. And tackle my 2013 To Do List head on.
Current Blessing: Health, happiness and love. I've got all three.
Current Excitement: Thanksgiving is in 21 days. It's by far my favorite holiday.
2013 To Do List:
  • 140.6. That is all. - Yeah, not going to happen this year.
  • Make time for strength training. Don't let training loads eliminate strength workouts completely. And stick to strength training in a group, it keeps you accountable. - Getting back to this.
  • Switch to time-based/HR training. Despite my knowledge of training paces, I have a hard time sticking to them. I'm hoping this will help me train more effectively. - I'm kind of over the HR aspect of this. Summer temps alone make this suck. 
  • Log 4,500 cumulative run, bike and swim miles. Up 485 from 2012. - As of November 6th, 2586.69 miles logged. Not looking good at this point.
  • Race a 10K with a finish time much faster than your very dated current PR of 53:17. I never managed to register for a 10K in 2012 and I'm not sure where it will fit in this year, but it's on my radar. - No progress on this one. But, it does look like I will run one in 2014.
  • Set a new PR in the Half Marathon, currently 1:57:06. I totally blew this one in 2012 and will likely only have one good shot at it in 2013.- Fail. Epic fail.
  • Run a 5K with Dizzle and Doodle, even if that means tricking them into it. - We really need to get on this.
  • Eat like a gluten-free athlete. After struggling with health issues much of 2012, removing the gluten has been key in alleviating the symptoms. Don't be swayed by the lure of wheat. Or cake.- On point, like usual.
  • Find the race day (and training) nutrition plan that works for me.- Ding, ding, ding!
  • Consume no more than 18 desserts from Shyndigz. This number worked well in 2012 and helped me cut back on my serious cake addiction. Plus, their gluten-free menu is limited, so I shouldn't be tempted as often. - As of November 6th, 14 desserts consumed.
  • Drink at least 100oz of water per day.- Oh, heck yeah!
  • Only say yes to the projects you REALLY want to work on. An honest no is much better than a halfhearted yes. - Check.
  • Stick to our budget. We've lived credit card (and credit card debt) free for 13 months. No reason to go back now. - Double Check.
  • Ignore your impulses. Take time to process the true value of the things you are filling your space/life with. - Yes and no. Lots of pondering this one recently ...
  • Figure out what to do with my hair. Keep the mohawk or grow it out. I'm taking opinions on this one.- Nothing but trims to help my hair grow in a normal pattern since May!
  • Continue to balance family life, training and now, work.- Check.
  • Prioritize and be a good example for the people in your life. - Like quadruple check!
  • Help and support J and the kids in reaching their goals. We are a team and that must always be the primary focus of our lives. No one should have to sacrifice so that someone else can reach their goal. If a balance can't be found, it's not worth pursuing.- I would never waiver on this one!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Oahu Vacation ...

The past few weeks have been amazing and exhausting and everything I could have ever hoped them to be. Two weeks ago tomorrow, we boarded a plane (first-class, no less) to Oahu, Hawaii.

Over the next ten days, we saw every inch of that island, logging 500 miles on our rental car. We hiked. We explored. We swam. We experienced. We ate. We relaxed. We enjoyed every single second. Here are some of my favorites:

The girls watching the waves at Ko Olina

Splashing in the water before dawn at Lanikai Beach

Sunrise at Lanikai Beach

Swimming at the beach at Ko Olina

Taking a pit-stop in the gardens at Dole Plantation

The waves at Bonzai Pipeline

About to swim at Waimea Valley Park

Waihi Falls

View from Diamond Head Crater

Island view at Diamond Head Crater

Taking part of the audio tour at the USS Arizona Monument

Dizzle learning about the continuing oil leakage at the USS Arizona Monument

Doodle racing up Diamond Head Crater

Us and a view of Waikiki and Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head

The girls feeding the Koi at our hotel

Dilly loving Hawaii

Sunset from the lobby of the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club

Canoe tour at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Watching the Canoe Pageant at the PCC

Family photo at the Hawaii Temple

Relaxing while the girls play at the beach at Ko Olina

Honestly, I'm not sure that any sort of recap of our vacation could do it or the Island of Oahu justice. Frankly, it was heavenly (traffic aside). I didn't want to come home. Not because I didn't want vacation to end, but rather because the thought of living among that beauty and with that weather was just heavenly. I was constantly in awe and that's a pretty amazing way to feel.

But, I will say, if you are ever headed to Oahu, there are some things that you do not want to miss.
  • Sunrise at Lanikai Beach - On the eastern side of the island is well known as one of the best spots to see the sunrise and I fully agree. We ventured to this secluded beach on the first morning of our trip (before we were adjusted to the time difference). It was quiet and breathtaking. The girls were able to splash in the water before dawn, something that made me feel like we were all alone on the island. It's something I'll never forget.
  • Diamond Head State Monument and Park - This volcanic crater has a .8 mile hike to some of the best views on the island. The hike isn't a stroll in the park, but the effort is so worth it.
  • Waimea Valley Park - This botanical garden with over 5,000 species of tropical plants is not to be missed. But the highlight of this park is the .75 mile hike (on a paved path) to Waihi Falls, where you are able to swim below the falls. Bring waterproof shoes, the pond floor is rocky.
  • Bonzai Pipeline - Even on a mild day, the waves at this historic break are something to behold. Doodle said her favorite part of the trip was watching people surf here.
  • Matsumoto's - THE place to get shaved ice. Founded in 1910, this North Shore institution almost always has a line out the door. One tip, do not skip the condensed milk.
  • Dole Plantation - Learn about all things pineapple at this location just south of the North Shore. Activities include the World's Largest Garden Maze (so much fun), train tour and botanical garden tour.
  • Kono's - This breakfast and lunch spot on the North Shore offered some of the best (and least expensive) food we ate on the island. We loved their plate lunches and burritos.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center - If you are going to spend your money on one "experience", this is the one to do it on. The PCC is made up of recreated Polynesian villages that showcase the history and lifestyles of seven Pacific Island cultures. There are demonstrations and activities throughout the day and a luau and evening show to end the night. We loved this place.
  • Pearl Harbor - Talk about walking into a history book. While we only visited the USS Arizona Memorial (The USS Bowfin and Missouri are also at this site), I learned more about the attack on Pearl Harbor and WWII as a whole, than I ever did in any history class. The monument was moving and incredibly somber. I can't imagine how you could visit and not be affected. Tickets for the monument are free, but are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Keep in mind that the audio tour (which I highly recommend) will run you $7.50 per person.
  • The Beaches at Ko Olina - This is the best place for families, especially those with small children. The beaches at Ko Olina are made up of four protected lagoons along a two mile stretch of shoreline. There are minimal waves (and crowds) at these beaches, making for a relaxing day at the beach.
Or you could just sit on the beach with a drink in your hand all day. That option is pretty awesome too.