What’s Up? (10/12/2018)

Wii Fit
It’s been 80 days since I first stepped on the Wii Balance Board to try out Nintendo’s virtual fitness trainer and, though my experience has varied in quality, I have more positive things to say about WiiFit than negatives. A lot of its shortcomings are a direct result of being 10-years-old, and relying on even older technology like the Wii Nunchuk controller for some of it’s best exercises. My goal each session is to burn 115 calories, which WiiFit presents visually as being one piece of flan cake. That can take anywhere from 25-35 minutes using WiiFit’s aerobic exercises, yoga poses, and various games. There are faster ways to burn 115 calories, but the thing I appreciate about WiiFit is that it gives me an incentive to try exercises I normally wouldn’t do. Jackknifes, for example, I find really rewarding–and I’ve never heard of those before trying WiiFit.

If there’s one shortcoming to WiiFit, it’s that 80 days later, getting to 115 calories can feel like a chore. If you were to try and burn that by only doing their yoga poses, it could take over 40 minutes, where 115 calories could easily be burned in 10 minutes or less on a stationary bike. That minutes-to-calories conversion leads to me trying to focus on WiiFit’s more intense programs, which have their own sets of problems. “Rhythm Boxing” for instance, can burn about 65 calories in 10 minutes, which is great, but since it uses the Nunchuk controller to score how well you time your left-hand punches, it leads to about 1 in every 4 of my left punches just not counting because the technology isn’t great. Since the tech doesn’t work 100% of the time, it’s hard to be consistently excited for a WiiFit session — but it works well enough that I’m happy to have it as an alternative to biking, running, and yoga. We need diversity in our exercise routines, and for that, WiiFit gets the job done.

When my parents come to Pittsburgh, I know I’m in for a good time — lots of sightseeing, bar-crawling, restaurants. This year’s visit was a little extra special, since my brother is in town, so we pulled a lot of stops. A tour of a Whiskey distillery; a Steelers game, a Paul Simon concert. It was a lot. And it was good, and if I had some free time last month I may have dedicated some time to write about it in full. Instead, I’ll bank those memories in my head; how the best tasting thing at the Whiskey distillery was actually their rum, how the Chiefs fans at Heinz Field were so funny that they made losing to them a little easier, and how Paul Simon—at 76 years old—can still put on a beautiful show of sonic composition. By the way, happy birthday Paul Simon! (He’s about to turn 77 tomorrow).

Bullet Journaling
This February I tried out bullet journaling, which is basically just a method of keeping track of daily activities like biking and running, or goals like “no alcohol” or “no money spent.” Problem was, in February, I was trying to track too much—almost two dozen items—from “eating fruit” and “flossing” to “no dishes left in sink” or “used Duolingo.” Bullet journaling is supposed to show you a record of accomplishments, and on some level I think, show you where you need work. But when you track almost 20 different aspects of life, it becomes more of a burden than a tool for self-improvement. Under that burden, I stopped bullet journaling in April—after two months I was tired of feeling bad about how often I had “blank space days” where I did nothing that I was tracking in the journal. I also found myself doing things just so I could check them off my list—which should not be the prime motivator for things like exercise.

In August I restarted my efforts to keep a bullet journal and I’m glad to say that it’s working so much better. Instead of keeping track of two dozen different things, now I’m only tracking ten; biking, running, yoga, WiiFit, squats, Pimsleur, Duolingo, sobriety, mediation, and reading. Five physical goals and targets, five mental ones. Two and a half months later, this stripped-down version is working for me. It provides a visual aid that makes it easy for me to notice “Hey, I haven’t run in a week, I should go running” or “Hey, I’ve drank alcohol the last three or four days in a row, time for a sober day.” I can also leave myself notes and reminders in a to-do column. One of those notes for the past week or so, has been to update the blog with some new entry after another long-ish hiatus. So there you go.

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