Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My New Wii Fit, Why It Pissed Me Off, and What I'm Going to Do About It

My parents, at my request, bought me and my girlfriend Maryann a Wii Fit for Christmas this year. They gave it to us on Christmas Eve, along with some other great gifts including a bottle of Carolan's (basically a less expensive Bailey's, though just as tasty in my opinion). I had a few too many tumblers of Carolan's that night and I spent all day Christmas feeling like I just woke up.

So it was Sunday before I set up the Wii Fit. After some confusion (that I wish I could blame on cream liqueur) I got the Fit board synced with the Wii console, and started the Wii Fit Plus game that came in the package.

Now this isn't like Grand Theft Auto. You can't just flip it on and start playing (there's also, I'm fairly certain, very little hooker-killing). You have to choose your avatar, tell the Wii your age and height, and then you stand on the Fit board so it can measure your weight. This way, it can map your progress.

Unfortunately, when I got to the weight-measuring portion of the set up, something went wrong. It kept telling me it couldn't read the measurement, and then the game would reset. I re-entered my height and age and again stood on the board. It kept resetting. I thought maybe the board and the Wii console were out of sync.

There was another possibility I considered, but it was the kind of thing that most people - were I to say it out loud - would tsk-tsk me for saying. They would tell me it was a product of negative thinking or low self-esteem.

It may have been those things, but it was also correct. After resetting 4 times, my new Wii Fit told me I weighed too much to use Wii Fit. I looked in the manual and found the maximum weight - 330 pounds.

Humiliating doesn't really cover what I felt, but it's a start. After some grumbled curses about how I guessed the only people who could use the Wii Fit were people who didn't need it, I took a quick spiritual dive into dark places. The fact that this video game tray deemed me too fat for salvation was all the currency I needed to pay for a quick tour of every failure in my life I could remember. That I am not precisely the man I want to be became the sole fault of this one, soul-crushing moment a TV screen told me not even a soulless, mindless computerized program whose only purpose was to help people get skinnier was willing to help me.

I joined Weight Watchers in October 2009. For my first weigh-in, I clocked in at 393 pounds. Before I canceled my membership this October, I was down to 308. I knew I'd regained some weight since then, but I'd also regained my fear of the scale, so I didn't know how much.

There are a lot of reasons I quit Weight Watchers. Forty dollars a month is not as negligible as it sounds. I used to tell myself, "If it works, it's worth it." I wasn't wrong.

The weekly meetings were difficult to endure. There were the women at the counter who weighed me before each meeting who, if I happened to gain weight that week, would whisper "Looks like you gained a little" in the kind of whisper usually reserved for when you talk about someone who was just diagnosed with something that will slowly and painfully kill them. There were the other members with the backhanded compliments like "You lost HOW MUCH? Wow! But then again, losing weight is so easy for men..." There were the meeting leaders with the dumb thematic costumes and the songs and the cheers. I eventually chose Tuesday night meetings because the Tuesday night meeting leader was the only one who didn't sing and one of the few who didn't single me out as the only man in the meeting every time I spoke.

Regardless, the meetings served their purpose. I kept going without, at first, realizing why. It doesn't take long before the meetings just start covering old ground, but that wasn't the point. Eventually I figured out that the point was that for 30-45 minutes out of the week, I was thinking, talking, and listening to other people talk about absolutely nothing but weight loss. It didn't matter if we kept on walking over the same ground. The point wasn't to learn new things, though that happened. The point was to stay focused.

And that, I think, was my biggest reason for quitting. I was tired of the focus. I was tired of keeping track of everything I ate. First I carried around notebooks. Once I bought a Blackberry, I was able to use Weight Watchers' mobile site to do it, but still it was frustrating. Going out to a restaurant, to a party or to a friends' for dinner could be a goddamn nightmare. When people are generous enough to invite you into their homes and give you free food, you feel obliged to not pester them about their dishes' precise nutritional values. Once, I went to a winter party at Maryann's friend's house and literally didn't eat all day. I had planned on doing my best to estimate points, but after I saw our host making the mashed potatoes and dumping a pile of shredded cheese bigger than my head in the pot, I decided it would be better if I just miserably sat in the living room and silently prayed for vegetables.

I was tired of having to fit my way of eating with the rest of the world. I didn't want to become a food nazi. I didn't want to become That Guy: That Guy who ruins everyone's fun by turning up his nose to whatever delicious crap everyone in the office/party/whatever was enjoying; That Guy who bores people by talking about Weight Watchers; That Guy who sends back the salad because they didn't put the dressing on the side.

Your life is never more about food than when you're trying to make your life less about food. If I could, I would pay someone to just make all my food, every day, as long as it's all healthy and generally unlike poo taste-wise. Occasionally I would make modest requests like "no fish," but would otherwise give them complete autonomy.

It isn't that I'm a pig. It isn't that I only care about what tastes good. It's that when I wake up and make my breakfast, I want to make my breakfast. I don't want to have to consult a Weight Watchers guide or their website. I want to be able to just grab something and shove it in my goddamn face. I'm not against shoving broccoli or low-fat yogurt, as opposed to Doritos or beer, in my face. As long as I don't have to check it and cross-check it and measure it and research it and catalog it digitally and register it with the fucking Library of Congress, I don't care.

The truth I'd like to avoid is that if I want to lose weight, if I don't want to gain weight, if I want my clothes to stop tightening, if I want to be able to one day sleep without a plastic mask strapped to my face, then I just have to goddamn deal with it. I need to not just shove things into my face. Maybe one day I'll lose enough weight that I won't have to take keep track of things as much, but for now I need to be strict about it. And maybe I'll have to become That Guy. I don't want to, but it's a price I'm willing to pay. And I guess we're probably all That Guy in one way or another. That Guy who drives like an idiot, or That Guy who talks at the movies, or That Guy who makes noises when he eats and eventually you just have to live with the fact that no one's perfect. The guy who talks at movies should probably just shut the fuck up though.

I signed up for Weight Watchers Online Sunday night. I had been planning to wait until January 1st. They changed our insurance at my job and one of the benefits is a small discount to Weight Watchers Online, but the discount is only $10. That isn't enough to justify waiting another week.

I had to weigh myself before I signed up. It was scary, but I lived through it. I weigh 342 pounds. I lost 85 pounds before I quit Weight Watchers and afterward I regained 34 pounds. I can deal with that. I don't like it. It doesn't make me want a parade. It doesn't make me want to run into the street and roughly kiss a nurse. But it's okay. It's manageable.

Weight Watchers Online is less expensive than the plan that includes meetings. It gives me access to the tracker, the points calculator, a bunch of recipes and I'm sure a bunch of other things that are helpful or at least that would like to be helpful. Without the meetings, I'll need something new to focus myself every week. There are message boards that could be helpful, and in fact I guess that has the potential to be more helpful than the weekly meetings because it isn't limited to a schedule. I'm considering doing something here at the blog, something chronicling my weight loss, but I'm not sure. I don't even know if I could come up with material for something like that on any kind of regular basis. I'm not sure how many times I could write "Yeah, so...I really wanted a doughnut. Didn't have one. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!" I don't know.

I almost want to do it just because I have a really good idea for a feature name. And a banner.

Well, in case I eventually decide to do a regular feature, and at some future date I want a before-and-after comparison, here's what I look like now.

Okay, just kidding. Here's what I look like now.

No, seriously, here's what I look like today.

No, this time I'm--wait, wait. Okay, yeah that last one was right.


Chris said...

Ah, the fear of becoming that which you despise. I know it well.

Good luck, sir.

Karen Tese said...

Now you only need to lose 12 pounds to be able to use your Wii Fit! I have one that I enjoy for short bursts and then don't use for months... What is really super-fun is that when it allows you to weigh-in, it takes your skinny little avatar and makes it fat. That's a little depressing. I've often cursed in my head and the skinny little geeks who designed that game, but it does have some fun stuff on there.

Arielle said...

Agree with both comments above. My only advice is to stop assuming your diet is bothersome to the rest of the world. Chances are, nobody feels inconvenienced or insulted if you ask for dressing on the side or ask about ingredients. You're psyching yourself out for no reason.

And just to add onto what Karen said.. the Wii Fit will make your avatar fat until you're skin and bones. Mike's avatar is fat. Now does Mike look fat to you? Exactly. So, have fun with it, but take the graphics with a grain of salt.

Mick Martin said...

Thanks for the support guys.

And Karen and Arielle, thanks for letting me know about the thing with the avatars. Honestly, though it might sound silly, if I had known about that I think there's a good chance I wouldn't have asked for it. That makes me want to find one of the developers and beat him up in front of his family.

Maybe, once I'm light enough to use it, I'll just make a Mii of someone I don't like and use that for the Wii Fit.

Unknown said...

Feel very proud that you are taking the step. Just keep taking them. I wish I had some sage advice for you that would inspire you or make it easier. I've dieted, lost and gained back weight over the years. This time I just had to move to another state and live with my parents for 6 months to get it. I ate only what they provided, drank a ton of water (which requires carrying 2 water bottles around all the time). And went swimming 5x a week. It changed my relationship with food. You're probably right about the need to have someone else choose your meals for you. It was surely true for me. I had been making horrible choices for years.
I'm rooting for you over here! It IS doable :)