While Christmas shopping in December, Kari and I were in the Super Target in Dallas and had gone into the holiday knowing that each of the seven kids were getting their own iPod Nano in their own color and we were seeking out "small" gifts for each of the kids so they'd get something besides their colored jewels.
So on a whim, I said to Kari, "How about we check out the Wii?" She thought about it for a second and we decided to put back a couple scooters, a Barbie, a this and a that and we went to the electronics section. We bought a Wii. We got Wii Games. We got nun-chucks. In the back of my mind I kept hearing, I want to get the Wii Fit. I'll use it. I'm excited. The kids can play the games, I'll get a Wii Fit and I'll take care of me.
Well, before Christmas finding a Wii Fit was like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. There just weren't any unless we wanted to throw another $175 plus after the $300 we'd already dropped on all the other stuff.
A couple days after Christmas Kari was in the Wal-mart here in Balch Springs and said she'd found them in stock in the women's section. They were $89. Meanwhile, through our friends on Twitter, someone had keyed me into an alert for Best Buy when they had some. I'd ordered one. It was on the way. But me being the unpatient soul I am, I thought, well heck, we can go to Wal-mart and get it now, and then sell the other one on Ebay. We wound up doing that.
But there's more to the story. My heart broke when I saw the Wii Box for the first time. Why? Well, it was just a little circle. A bullseye for me. A bullseye with a number. 330. A weight limit and I knew that sadly I'd risen to an unhealthy number above that. So we bought the thing that night. I figured surely there was a way to trick it. I've read a few of them, but I've never tried it. Frankly, I've been too embarrassed to even try to trick it. I didn't want my kids to know that dad's too fat, too big to use the Wii Fit.
And so the kids play on it. And the one thing I wanted to do for myself for Christmas which also would benefit the kids, I've never used.
So with the passage of time, it's up there in the game room. I walk past it from the bedroom, past the game room and down the stairs every morning. We have two ellipticals in the gameroom, too. I've made excuses that because the one really good elliptical doesn't sit flat on the carpet, it rocks, making it even harder to use. So I haven't.
And all the while I've made a daily habit of stopping at McDonald's or Chick-Fil-A on the way to work to get something to eat, but more importantly and worse, a "Large Sweet Tea." Yes, I spent about 20 years in the South in Montgomery, AL. I don't drink soft drinks. Haven't had one as of April 4 in eight years. I don't drink coffee. I do water, but I prefer my tea. It's bad for me. Tons of sugar. (Of course that makes my personality sweet.)
I responded. I'm in. Kari, my wife, is in, too. I'm probably the more excited of us two, but I have more to lose in the case of the two of us. Kari is tiny. I'm huge. It's embarrassing. She's beautiful, prettier than she realizes and I'm not meeting my share of the deal in looking svelt. I'm just not. That's just the long and the short of it.
So what is EA SPORTS Active? Well, it's a new product from EA Sports that isn't going to be released for sale until May 19, our wedding anniversary, by coincidence. This is EA Sports' competitive product that will go after Nintendo's highly successful product the Wii Fit. It will be even better for me because you don't have to use the Wii Fit Board for it to work! This straps a sensor around your thigh and then plugs into one of the nun-chucks so it's taking readings while you're working out and sends them to the console.
Another drawback with the Wii Fit programming was that it just gave a user an individual exercise. To have a routine, you had to decide what you were going to do and then exit an exercise when completed and then choose another. This made it difficult to maintain momentum and energy while you fiddled with the thing to get to an exercise you wanted to do. Think about being in the Warrior position in Yoga and then needing to go through the menus to get to another.
Not so here. From what I've been able to learn, you set up a challenge with the game itself and then it sets you a 30-day program so that it is increasing your activity level as you proceed through time, and it changes the routines daily as you interact with it so, as is hoped, you don't get bored doing the same squats every day and then the same few exercises of Yoga or whatever.
It also looks like the graphics are going to be enhanced, but I have to say, the Wii Fit is pretty cool if you want to do work on your balancing, etc. with snow boarding or even Olympic ski jumping.
So, Kari and I are going to Santa Barbara, April 2. Not to worry, grandparents are supporting us with four of the kids; my three will be with their mom.
We will be sent home a version of the product to use for 30 days leading up to its release. We'll also be sent with a Flip Camera to send in video clips of us doing our routines. Apparently EAS is going to do some sort of online reality show about what we're doing. We're going to California to spend time with Oprah's trainer Bob Greene. From what I've seen of his work, I'm impressed. He seems like a genuine guy. I really can't wait to meet him.
I've been saying through Twitter that I'd like to become to EA Sports what Jared is to "that sandwich company." Lord knows I have the big sized jeans I could hold up when I weigh a ton less. That would be nice on many levels, but this is crucial for me personally. I don't like my weight. It's something I've struggled with since high school when my brother Tommy used to tell me I was fat, but compared to now, I really wasn't. It was the same with one of my first bosses in the governor's office in Alabama under the late Gov. Guy Hunt.
I could go on with excuses about how my line of work has been an obstacle. I won't here.
Help is on the way. In a day or so I'm supposed to get one of the EA Sports Active straps to make sure it fits around my 29 inch thigh. My fat isn't in my legs though. Its the "Tire" another of my old bosses, Stacey Stakely used to warn me would happen 20 years ago. So for those of you out there who are in my same situation, who bought a Wii Fit hoping it was going to be the answer, well, we've got something to cling to as an answer, and it's going to be commercially available in about 40 days. That's exciting for all of us.
So I'm asking for you to rally behind me. Encouragement will be key. Accountability even greater. My wife and kids will be supporting me. At work they're rallying behind me as well. This is important to me, my wife and my kids. Maybe this is God's way, too, of helping us get to the point of where we can get GrowingUpMac.com going once and for all through the additional exposure. But hopefully, this is what turns my lifestyle around and I don't have to ignore questions from good friends of mine like Dr. Chris Roberts who asked me in December how much padding I had to put in the Santa suit to make it look convincing. (None.)
Follow my updates here. When the new strap comes in tomorrow or Friday, we'll videotape my trying it on and we'll see how that works. I am opening up my world to you so that you can help me. If you end up making fun of me for this, well, in the end, I think you're the smaller person and in that case, I'll be okay. But I know there is a huge need for a product like this, and I'm honored to be playing a role in it's release. Stay tuned for more information. It's coming soon!