Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wii Fitness Coach - In Depth

I was asked by a friend to give a more thorough evaluation of the Wii Fitness Coach. So here it is.

When you initially log in, you're asked if you'd like to complete a fitness evaluation. In that eval, you enter your height, weight, gender, etc and then do a few physical fitness trials. First it has you take a resting heart rate, then again after two minutes of jumping jacks. Then it has you see how many squats you can do in proper form as well as abdominal crunches and modified push-ups. After entering this info, it tests your flexibility with a toe touch exercise. After it's complete, it gives you a recommendation on where it thinks you should focus in terms of the exercise programs available (weightloss, aerobic fitness, upper body strength, lower body strength, or flexibility). You are then allowed to 'over-ride' the recommendation for your 'default' program. Keep in mind that you can over-ride the default program at the beginning of every workout session, so it's not locking you into anything.

It asks you what equipment you have available for your workouts including hand weights, cardiac monitor, exercise ball, and aerobic step. Again this can be changed at the beginning of any workout.

It then asks if you'd like to commit to a schedule. It brings up a 7-day calendar and you get to pic which days and the length of the routine for each of those days. You can change session duration at the beginning of any workout.

You then get to pick your music. I believe the three options were hip-hop, Latin, and something else (sorry for the bad memory here but I've only played it once). You then pick the graphical environment that your trainer appears during the workout session with options of: dojo, outdoor garden, penthouse apartment, and others.

The workout begins with the question, how are you feeling today? You're options are (paraphrasing here) On top of the world!, I'm okay, and You're lucky I'm here. Not sure how this impacts your routine but it may adjust the intensity up or down accordingly?

Then the routine begins. It's a combination of different exercises and from the reviews I've read, it is never the same thing twice, so no risk of getting bored. The workout appears to be broken into segments with rests in between (a lot of rests for me since I'm out of shape). It asks you during your rest time how you're doing. Options are Piece of cake!, I'm working hard, and I can't keep up. The program says it will adjust future routines accordingly based on your response to that question. It automatically includes exercises that include the equipment you've said you have available, so make sure you have it right there when you start. Understand that it will NOT give you time to put your step in front of you and then move it out of the way when you move to the next non-step exercise, so plan accordingly. For me, one half of my area has the step and the other half is open, with a mat available for floor work exercises that are interspersed throughout your routine. There is a cool-down period at the end with some simple stretching. That's it.

The evaluation period really seemed to do an effective job at identifying an appropriate workout for my fitness level. I was very impressed.

The only thing I felt was missing was an option for low-impact only workouts. My knees are bad and they were crunching quite a bit from all the hopping, skipping and jumping...which wasn't pleasant.

I hope this answers your questions about the Wii Fitness Coach. :)

Jason's Twin Brother Interviewed on CBS!!!

Watch CBS Videos Online

Here's Jason's twin brother on TV. Spot on predictions too! Go Sean (Smith not Penn)!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Fitness Coach

This is what I got for Valentine's Day from Jason and, no, it's not a not-so-subtle hint from my sweetheart to get in shape. I asked for this item. I already know I need to get back into shape.

I used it for the first time last night. And can I just say this: "LOVE IT!!!!"

After my sad experience with Wii Fit for use as a workout routine (see my blog entry here), I am happy to have found this. I did a lot of research looking at different Wii options (trying to justify the expense of the Wii itself since the Wii Fit was novel fun but not a hardcore workout tool) and this software really had good reviews and now I know why.

It also has an initial fitness evaluation (not nearly as humiliating as the Wii Fit eval though), and it allows you to select from music and graphics options as well as letting you pick both the length of your workout and the type of workout you'd like to focus on. Through the workout, it asks for input on how you're doing and adjusted the routine accordingly. It will even ask you if you have hand weights, aerobic step, exercise ball, or heart monitor, and it will incorporate those items into your routine...although it doesn't give you time to move them in and out of the way during the routine. I really felt like I got a great workout that fit my fitness level. FINALLY!!!!

If you're looking for a workout routine, this is one worth checking out. Afterward, I popped in my Wii Fit and played some games and my 15 minutes workout ended up being a bit longer. I didn't realize how long I'd been playing and when I finally stopped, I was sorry I hadn't reigned myself in a bit more. I was whooped! Went to bed early and could barely get out of bed this morning.

My mom is in the hospital right now with blood clots in both her lungs and I can't help wondering if how many of her health problems are a result of her sedentary lifestyle. It has definitely motivated me to start doing something about my own trends in that direction. Plus, with the stress of her illness and my step-dad's upcoming cancer surgery, I could use a stress release tool. Here's hoping I can make this a new pattern just like I did my morning stretches a few months ago. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Things I Want to Learn or Do (In no particular order)

Learn to Speak Spanish
Learn to Speak Japanese

Travel Europe (Ireland, England, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Germany...)
Visit New York during Christmas
Visit New Zealand and Australia

Learn Hashi Flow Yoga
Learn short form Tai Chi

DONE Learn Silver-Smithing
DONE Learn Rug Weaving
NOT DOING Learn Glass Blowing (as opposed to lamp work)
DONE Learn Basket Weaving
DONE Learn metal weaving (jewelry)
Learn how to tear down and rebuild my own handgun
NEED A CAMERA Take a photography class
Learn how to make pottery on wheel
NOT DOING Learn how to do wood-inlay
NOT DOING Learn how to rebuild an engine from the block up

DONE (Extensions not a cut, but I like it!) Get a haircut that I actually like

Read classic literature

Learn to "really" play the piano (not just self-taught)
Learn to play a Congo drum (well bought a djembe, that's a start!)

Take a sketch/drawing class
Learn Z Brush/3D modeling

NOT DOING Brush up on C++ and specifics for game programming
NOT DOING Learn how to write apps (Cocoa) for the iPhone (need a Mac first)
NOT DOING Get MCTS - SQL Server 2005 Certification (Exam 70-431)
NOT DOING Get MCITP - Database Administrator Certification (Exams: 70-443 & 70-444)
NOT DOING Get MCT Certification

I'm sure this list will evolve over time.

Updated in December 2011.  Looks like some have completed and some of dropped off, the rest are still on my bucket list.

Kindle 2

Okay, here's the new "gotta have" on the technology front. This thing is amazing. Not only can you download nearly any book you can get your hands on in seconds, but it has a built in dictionary, annotation and bookmarking capabilities, AND text-to-speech. When I found out it had a headphone jack, I was IN. This thing is available next week. As soon as I can scrape together the funds (it runs about $350)...I'm buying it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Changeling

I watched The Changeling last night via VOD. After having viewed a "the making of" snippet on the film, I was happy to have a chance to finally see the movie. I'm so very glad I did. This movie was really wonderful. Today, I'm still ruminating on the life of Christine Collins. Eastwood did a great job. The acting was first class. The writing (J. Michael Straczynski) although seemingly over the top Hollywood, after an online search of the topic, appears to be dealing with the facts of the case amazingly enough. This is a film I'll watch again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's still working! (aka Tracy can touch her toes now!)

My new context driven personal pattern re-engineering effort is still working to some extent. I'm still doing the morning stretches and crunches, and some of the commute activities I've been trying to incorporate into my routine. I'm starting to feel better, have less back pain, and seem to have more desire to do more physical activity. I can even touch my toes again after only 3 weeks of my new morning routine, something I've not been able to do for more time than I care to divulge. I really love the reward of checking the stretches and crunches off my Toodledo list each day. What a treat!

While at WineStyles with friends from work, I met a gal in her early 50s this week that has raced in multiple triathlons, biathlons, and marathons. She was very passionate about running. It was infectious. The seed of desire was planted within me to start running again. In light of the past few weeks, and the changes moving in this direction of physical fitness, I'm wondering.... serendipity?

The Ultimate Universal Remote In The Making

I've been using a universal touch-screen remote for years. I love my Pronto remotes. But now, a new day is dawning. And if this group of iPhone app developers in Canada will be that horizon. Check out this new iPhone universal remote. I simply can not wait to have this.

When is it okay to talk about something negative?

I am often motivated to write negative posts on my blog. Those little rants that you have in your head, you know what I'm talking about?

Like when Best Buy didn't change my last name (post divorce) on my rewards club membership even after I had requested in-store, online, via email, and by phone, had been told it was done, but ended up with TWO memberships (don't ask me, I don't know) and BOTH had my old married name. Talk about livid. I canceled my membership and vow to buy all home electronics through TigerDirect, Amazon, and Fry's from now on. I had this huge rant that I wanted to pose, talking about customer service, the intent of rewards programs, the impact of negative customer interactions in comparison to no interactions or even good interactions. But then I never wrote it.

Or the college course I'm taking where I was told the topic of my 15 page research paper. This is a college for working adults. Am I not capable of picking a topic of interest relevant to the subject matter? I wanted to go off about this in my blog, because it was going to take it's toll on me considering how much of my time was going to be consumed with research on a topic that didn't interest me. But I didn't.

Today I was in a jewelry design and soldering class at a local art studio. It cost $265 and there were 8 people in the class. Not only was I not allowed to design the piece I really wanted to make, but I was ignored by the instructor when I was having problems trying to solder for the first time with an open flame. I am so upset after the first day of class that I have half a mind to not attend the 2nd day of this 2-day class and demand a refund. I could write pages on my thoughts on this experience.

What do you do with negative energy like this? If I talk about it, I contaminate others with it. If I blog about it, I do the same. Where is the line between therapeutic "venting" and just being toxic...or is there a delineation between the two?

Sometimes I'm able to see the humor in a bad situation and turn it around independently. But usually I just bottle it up. That doesn't seem healthy but I'm not the type that is particularly adept at letting things "roll off my back." I would like to develop that ability because I believe those that have it are happier individuals. This is, I believe, the act of letting go. A Taoist endeavor. Change what I can in the here and now, let go of negative emotional reactions and visions of control, and accept what remains as what simply is. Sounds wonderful.

I'm climbing into my boat, and paddling out into the large body of water, paddle, paddle, paddle. Just sit there for a moment, find that quiet peaceful space. Relax. Calm. Center. Focus. There it is, happiness. How do I feel about those issues here, in this place?

The homework doesn't matter, it's a hoop to jump through to attain a larger goal that IS desired, well worth the minor inconvenience imposed upon me by an instructor.

The Best Buy issue is behind me, I tried to enact the desired change, it was not accomplished with the investment I was willing to make, so I closed that door. Now I need to walk away from the door and move on.

My class is not over, I have not learned what I intended from the class, so I will not give up on it. The 2nd class will be one where I must envision being in my boat, so that I can effectively advocate for myself with the instructor so that he is not able to continue ignoring me. I will not accept the role of victim again in this class.

Yes, blogging is a good thing for me, and so is venting as long as the intent is a positive destination.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tidal Wave

"Tidal Wave"

It feels as if I've been let out of jail. Like the released prisoner, freedom has a foreign yet familiar air. After years of oppression, autonomy is sickeningly sweet. I feel like a child over full on candy. The satisfaction and pleasure of having what I've long coveted is so rich, so sweet, so overwhelming that I've found myself unable to fully digest my good fortune. In many ways, I am finding that I must reinvent myself because my self-identity, as I've defined it for the past fifteen years, does not have relevance in my new life. Trying to find sanctuary from the torrent of self-actualization is futile. There is a peace, oddly enough, in the midst of this tidal wave of sweet passionate, liberating freedom. Finally, I am in the midst of a welcome and therapeutic storm.