Move It Mama Monday! Just Dance 2!!!!!

If you read any of my tweets last Wednesday, you know I finally got my copy of Just Dance 2, and that I started playing it just as soon as I could tear the wrapper off. Hubster and the kids and I got right to it, jumping in with James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” I kid you not, Just Dance is a terrific game, but Just Dance 2 really kicks things up a few notches. The dance routines are more challenging, though the motion detection seems to be better at catching your moves. The songs are terrific, although there are one or two that I’m not as likely to play, unlike the original game. But that’s okay, because Just Dance 2 offers the option of downloading new songs from an online store! We haven’t downloaded the first song yet, but it’s a Katie Perry song, and given how much Pixie loves “Hot & Cold” in Just Dance, I’m certain we’ll be downloading this new song very soon.

Other things to like about the new version of Just Dance. There’s a “Sweat Mode” that tracks your level of effort as you dance. You’re given the option of easy, medium or hard levels which set a goal is “sweat points” for you to achieve in a week. Then you get to pick which songs you want to dance to and the game lets you know how hard you worked after each song. I like this a lot, except for the fact that the game is tracking effort level in sweat points as opposed to estimated calories burned. I have no idea how many calories a sweat point is worth, and that’s what I usually go by in other programs like Wii Fit Plus or Gold’s Gym Dance Workout. But since I am soaking wet by the time I’ve danced to a few songs, I’m pretty certain I’m burning enough calories to maintain my level of fitness and my weight.

There’s also an “endless shuffle” mode in Just Dance 2. Endless shuffle selects the songs at random and keeps playing them until you finally tell the game to stop. It’s a good way to work through all the songs and saves on time spent arguing over which song to play next (something that happens quite frequently when I play with the girls).

There are also various challenge modes so players can compete against each other, just like in the original game. We haven’t bothered with these yet and probably won’t. Our goal when we play is to get everybody up and moving, not necessarily to see who’s the best at dancing. This lets everyone play as much as they want, and gives an individual the option of sitting out on a particular song if you like. We sometimes have 5 people dancing at any given time, since we often play when Mich comes over for dinner. That means 4 of us will have Wii-motes and the fifth will just dance along. Usually one of the girls will drop out for a bit and pass their Wii-mote on to whichever adult doesn’t have one, so it works out.

Other notes – you can set your own name in the game, or just go with whatever name the game assigns, like Funky or Sunny or Baby. I ended up putting a name in for me when I set up the Sweat Mode for the first time. You can change names at any point if you hand off the Wii-mote to someone else, like we tend to do. There’s also a few songs that are done as duets. These are nicely choreographed, so that dancers are actually dancing with each other as well as interacting with the game. The girls in particular like April Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” which includes a few cat-fight like moves in it. The animation and graphics are really nice too. “Cosmic Girl” and “Monster Mash” have some fun animations in them that really add to the song.

So over all, we really, really enjoy the game. In fact, I only have two criticisms of it. First, it looks like only one person at a time can play the Sweat Mode. I’ll have to double check to be certain, but on my first try, I couldn’t see a way to log in Pixie so she could play with me (not that she needs to sweat, being the skinny little four-year-old imp that she is).

My second criticism, and this one is big, is that the game includes a song that is not suitable for kids. The song “Tik-Tok” is definitely not a kid friendly song, and if Hubster hadn’t recognized it when he saw it on the play list, chances are good I would have played it while the kids were around and regretted it later. I’m not saying Just Dance 2 should not include more adult songs, but a rating on the song or an option to play the game in endless shuffle mode without including adults-only songs would have been nice.

Otherwise though, the game is good! We played on Friday night for 90 minutes and we were all dripping with sweat and having a good time. I highly recommend both versions of the game, but Just Dance 2 is definitely an improvement on an already good game.

Move It Mama Monday! Gold’s Gym Dance Workout and polywiidelity

Well, now that I’ve had a few more workouts with Gold’s Gym Dance Workout, I think I’m ready to say I like it. Not absolutely-wholeheartedly-I’ll-never-play-any-other-Wii-fitness-game love it, but it’s a pretty good game and I’ll certainly throw it into the rotation.

Which brings me to the term polywiidelity. Gold’s Gym Dance Workout has a lot of things I like, such as calorie-burn estimations, pre-set workouts based on the user’s goals, a heart rate check (that’s something I’d like to see in EVERY game), and lots of sweat-inducing cardio activities so I won’t get bored. However, GGDW seems to assume that since I purchased it, it must be the only fitness game in my life. Wrong!! While I do like GGDW, I also still enjoy Wii Fit Plus, EA Sports Active, Gold’s Gym Cardio, and of course, Just Dance. Yet for some reason, GGDW seems to think I should spend a little time every day playing with it. In fact, just about all those games (with the exception of Just Dance) seem to have this expectation that I will commit to them so regularly, I might as well be married to them.

Well, it ain’t happening. First, I like to mix things up too much to stick with just one game. I’m not always in the mood to do Latin dance or rhythm boxing. Sometimes I want circuit training. Sometimes I want to jog in place and pretend I’m running laps around a little digital island with all my friends. And other times, I’d like to engage in physical activities in the real world, by doing things like taking karate classes and swimming. And yet, every game I’ve picked up (again, except for Just Dance), seems to think I’m going to turn them on every day and sweat with them.

I will admit that EASA and GGDW do at least allow me the option of not using the personal trainer aspect, thereby allowing me to avoid the annoying demand of prescheduled participation. Wii Fit Plus, on the other hand, gets a little pissy if I don’t show up every day, and that’s down right annoying.

I wish someone would come up with a master program that would tie all these different games together so that I could play them on a rotating basis and not have to deal with the nagging from each individual game. And I also wish that master program would allow me to make note of the fact that when I don’t use it, it’s because I was actually doing some exercise in the real world. Sadly, no such program exists, and thus I’m stuck with a bunch of persnickety workout programs that all whine to compete for my undivided attention.

But back to GGDW. Now that I’m past the tutorials, I’ve moved into workouts that do make me sweat. The game estimates I’ve been burning around 95+ calories a workout, with each workout so far lasting 25-30 minutes or so. That’s not bad, in my opinion, and I know from poking around in the game that the intensity is definitely going to go up if I stick with the personal trainer workout. But I probably won’t in the long run, because I can’t devote time every day to it and I hate to be nagged. Which is a shame, because I’m betting the other feature I like, the heart rate check, is probably only available when I use the personal trainer portion of the game.

Anyway, I say give Gold’s Gym Dance Workout a try. It’s certainly growing on me, even if I don’t plan to marry it like it wants.

Move It Mama Monday! Gold’s Gym Dance Workout

I ordered Gold’s Gym Dance Workout two weeks ago, and had hoped to have spent some quality time with it before writing a review. So far, however, I’ve only managed to do the three introductory training workouts with it, so please take this review with a grain of salt.

Bottom line up front – Gold’s Gym Dance Workout could be better. It’s not at all like Just Dance or DDR. Instead, it’s set up like a gym style workout. When you first load the game, you’re asked to set up preferences and input personal info to create an avatar for yourself (which you will rarely ever see). Then you’re asked to pick out a personal trainer and set a long term goal like weight loss, fitness, etc. Once all the introductory stuff is set up, you’re given the option of choosing to do a routine set up by the personal trainer, based on your goals; do a quick workout where you select what you want to do as you go; or set up a routine of your own to work through.

For my first full week with the game, I opted to go with the personal trainer’s workouts. These workouts have been very short, consisting of 4-5 segments of warm-up, dancing, cardio boxing, and mini-games mixed together. And when I say short, I do mean short. So far the longest workout has lasted 15 minutes. I do work up a light sweat in that amount of time, but that may be because it’s been so dang humid here lately. I’m certainly not getting my heart rate up.

For the dance segments of the workout, players try to mimic the steps the personal trainer performs as she goes through a routine. I’ve only ended up doing Latin dance moves so far – salsa, meringue, etc. The dance sections have been hard to follow along, in spite of the fact that she does a slow version first before going through them at a faster speed. I’d read some complaints about that on line from other users. It’s honestly not something that deters me, since I figure with practice I’ll get better.

Intermixed with the all these dance routines are the other segments – the mini-games and the cardio boxing. I’ve only played one of the mini-games so far, the matador game where players have to shift suddenly left or right to avoid being run over by a raging bull. It’s… okay. Not particularly fun, kind of annoying, and I can’t quite figure out how to move to get my avatar on the screen to respond. Just when I think I’ve figured it out, I get trampled to death by three bulls in a row. There are other mini-games that I have not tried yet. I’m hoping they’re better.

The cardio boxing is nothing big. Basically, you follow along to the moves, just like in the dancing, only this time you’re throwing punches. Honestly, you’d be better off getting Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout if you like boxing. It’s much more energetic and will definitely make you sweat. While Cardio Workout doesn’t have all the popular songs on it that Dance Workout does, it’s still a much better game for cardio boxing.

Over all, I’m still in a wait-and-see mode on this game. I’d like to spend at least another week with it before I give it a final thumbs up or thumbs down. And of course, I’d really like to see how it will compare to Just Dance 2, which comes out sometime in October I believe. The original Just Dance really makes me sweat and it’s a lot of fun. Plus it has the added advantage that the kids can play along with me, so I don’t have to listen to anyone whine when I put the game in to workout. We can all dance together. Gold’s Gym Dance Workout will let 2 people play, but I’ve got 2 kids, so that doesn’t work nearly as well.

So give me another week with Gold’s Gym Dance Workout. It may be something I decide I can add to the mix of Wii workout games, or it may end up on the shelf collecting dust. I’ll let you know after I’ve spent more time with it.

Move It Mama Monday – Walk It Out!

When it comes to working out, I have a couple of simple rules. First, find an activity that you really enjoy doing, and second, make it easy to do that activity.

Konami’s new fitness game, Walk It Out!, definitely plays by those rules. As the title indicates, it’s a game about walking. Yes, you heard me, a game about walking. No, seriously. You play the game by walking.

Okay, it seems like a ridiculous idea, I know, but when looking for new Wii games recently, I noticed that the reviews for Walk It Out! on were for the most part very positive. So I decided to give it a try. I know from previous experience that walking is a good way to stay fit, and that I enjoy it. It’s easy, very relaxing, and if I do it often enough, my legs really shape up. But I dropped out of the habit for a number of reasons – kids, schedule problems, pollen allergies, bum knees that hate cold weather, etc. Walk It Out! let’s me get in a walk without having to worry about any of those problems.

The premise is simple. You walk in time to the beat of the music. As you walk, you accrue points, which you can spend on various floating icons that appear in the landscape around you. This landscape, by the way, is called “Rhythm Island,” and it has plenty of places to roam around in. The floating icons that appear all over the place will unlock either landscape items like trees, houses, gardens, or cars; new music tracks to walk to; different parts of the island to explore; different routes through the island; different times of day for the environment; constellations in the sky (if you happen to walk at “night” on the island); and different colors in a rainbow. The rainbow colors don’t cost you any points, but if you collect them all, a brilliant rainbow lights up in the sky and you’ll be able to see for the rest of your walk.

It’s a very simple game. You just have to walk in time to the music. The better your timing, the more points you earn. If you miss steps, you lose points. According to the game manual, you can walk using either Konami’s DDR dance pad, the Wii balance board, or by attaching the nunchuk to your wii-mote and then tucking it into a pocket. I have not bothered with that last method, since most reviews by people who have tried it say it doesn’t work very well. Instead, I’ve been using my DDR pad, and it works just fine (although in the course of an hour of walking, I find the pad tends to travel across the room and I’ll have to pause the game and move the mat to keep from ending up under the couch). Hubster tried the game using the balance board and said it was a little tricky at first, but after a bit he got the hang of it.

Once you get walking, it’s easy to get around the island. Direction arrows will pop up at various points, allowing you to select which route you want to take. Not all routes are open at the beginning, but you can earn new ones by clicking on their icons. If you’ve already earned enough points, that route opens instantly. If not, the route falls into a que at the top of the screen and you keep earning points toward it. Once you’ve earned the points, you can go back and select that route again and it will be available. And this is the same method for how you earn points toward anything else in the game.

You probably do want to play this game with the nunchuk attached, since that makes it easier to look around the island. Use the toggle switch on the nunchuk to pan left, right, up and down, and click the button on the front to return your view to normal. I use the cross button at the top of the wii-mote to select direction arrows while I’m walking, though you can also click on them by point the wii-mote at them and clicking the A button. Clicking on the floating icons is a bit tricky until you get used to it, but it only took me a couple of sessions to get very good at it.

I’ve been playing the game every morning for the past week, and I enjoy it a lot. I’ve been having a hard time lately getting up in the mornings to exercise because I just don’t have the energy to face a serious bout on Wii Fit Plus or EA Sports Active. Much as I love those games, I cannot seem to drag myself out of bed for them right now. However, I can convince myself to get up and walk in my own living room, and that makes this game a huge WIN in my book. I’m the kind of person who enjoys exploring various environments. I love that the game environment can reflect the time of day that I step onto the mat. If I’m walking at 6AM, I get to see the sun rise on Rhythm Island. Of course, as I unlock the various clock icons, I’ll be able to choose what time of day I want to walk, but having Rhythm Island in sync with the real day works for me. I also love the variety of the landscape. The first session of the game starts out in a stadium, but I was very quickly able to move to the town outside, the beach, local parks, and even cross the river to the farm land and mountain lookout beyond that.

Playing with a second player can add to the fun. Last night I set up a second DDR mat and a friend and I spent more than half an hour marching in place in the living room, and we had a good time! We moved like the world’s worst high school marching band ever, but we were having fun. Of course, when Pixie and Princess played, they weren’t quite as thrilled, since Pixie kept pointing the camera view into the ground just to annoy her sister. So choose your walking partner carefully.

Now onto the one question I’m sure everyone will ask about this game: is it really a workout? Well, you’re not going to work up the level of sweat you’d get with EA Sports Active or even Wii Fit Plus. However, you will burn calories (after a session, the game will even show you how many calories you’ve burned, along with the number of steps you’ve taken and the distance you walked). I know that after playing for a week, I certainly feel a difference in my thighs, hips, and calves, so my legs are definitely firming up. And like I said earlier, I wasn’t getting up to play Wii Fit Plus or EASA, but for Walk It Out! I have gotten up 7 mornings in a row at 6AM and burned calories. And if you have any doubts about whether a simple walk will help keep you fit, you might want to check out the Campaign for Walking.

In summary, it does seem like a ridiculous idea to have a game just for walking, but it’s worked for me and I plan to keep playing the game for many mornings to come.

Good on ya, Konami! Now be prepared to expand that game for next year, because I know I’m going to want more.

Move It Mama Monday! Just Dance for the Wii

Oh my. I have a new favorite workout game for the Wii. Just Dance!

I ordered the game two weeks ago, looking for something a little different that I could add to my Wii workouts. I’d heard some mixed reviews on this game, but thought it would be worth a try, especially when I read one review that mentioned even their 3-year-old was able to play along. Being mommy to a 3-year-old who wants to play Dance Dance Revolution but can’t because she keeps accidentally stepping on all the wrong controls on the dance pad when I try to navigate the game, this made Just Dance particularly interesting to me. I figured I’d get a game I could play with the kids in the evenings while getting a little physical activity in.

Well I got more than I bargained for! The day we got Just Dance, I popped it into the Wii and told the girls to grab Wii-motes. We went through the first four songs, trying out the game, and before I’d gotten through the second song, I was sweating. More than I sweat for DDR, even! Just Dance has players follow along as a dancer on screen goes through various dance moves to popular songs. The game to me straight back to the parties I used to attend in college, where a bunch of students all piled into one apartment living room and frantically danced their asses off until they collapsed sun-up the next day. The dance moves are terrific, and very energetic. Unlike DDR, where you have to hit the right spot on the arrow pad at the right time, you’re mimicking actual dance moves on the screen. The dance styles and music range from 1950s rock and roll to recent hits and dance moves. So far the girls and I have danced to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Ring My Bell,” “A Little Less Conversation,” “The Surfing Bird,” “Cotton-eyed Joe,” and “Move It!” (the theme song from the Madagascar movies). We love it!

Pixie, my darling 3-year-old, has managed to win a few rounds of the game even though she holds the Wii-mote in the wrong hand. She just gets up and shakes her little tushie and waves the Wii-mote around, and every now and then manages to hit enough of the moves just right to win. Princess is hooked on the game, especially since she thinks the dancer in “The Surfing Bird” looks just like one of her uncles (I have to admit, the guy could be a dead wringer for my brother-in-law). And me, I’m just tickled to have something fun that causes me to sweat that much!

We played the game Saturday night with Mich, a friend of ours. I was worried that we might be causing her to have a heart attack, but she was having a blast. Players are able to drop in and out of the game at any time in the “quick play” mode (don’t know about “challenge mode” yet), which meant we could swap off or take a break as we needed to. Mich and I did agree that next time we needed to be better prepared to play, by wearing sweats and sports bras. These dance moves are not under-wire friendly, and I seriously worried that I might bust a bra while busting a move.

Over all, I highly recommend the game. Yeah, it’s only got 30 songs, but they’re very cool, the graphics are a candy-colored acid trip, and you’ll work up a sweat while having fun. I’m thinking of playing the game in the mornings along with a short EASA workout, to combine strength and cardio in one session. I’ll let you know how it works!

Move It Mama Monday! Another New EA Sports Active?

I found this article earlier in the week, discussing the newest version of EA Sports Active coming out this fall. It looks like the new version will incorporate a new leg strap as well as an arm strap and heart rate monitor. No more remotes required to do the workouts, and if that’s the case I’m hoping it may possible to use hand weights instead of resistance bands for the workouts. I’ve broken two resistance bands using EASA and have had a bit of a time finding replacement bands that are long enough and sturdy enough to use with the game.

Supposedly, the new EASA will also be able to download new content for the PSP version. No work yet on whether the Wii version will also be able to do so. I’m hoping so, otherwise Wii owners who play EASA will be up in arms.

Other improvements I’d like to see, but that weren’t mentioned in the article…

  • More stretching exercises. A lot more stretching exercises, in fact.
  • More warm up and cool down routines. The EASA More Workouts only has one routine for warm up and one for cool down, and doing those for six weeks straight got old real fast.
  • Yoga routines. With the new wireless leg and arm remotes, I think this would be the ideal time for EASA to incorporate yoga into it’s workout options.
  • Bring back some of the old games from the original version of EASA, including the baseball, basketball, tennis and volley ball games. I put together entire workouts that were nothing but those sports games and they gave me a real workout. I’d love to see them brought back.
  • An option to pre-program EASA for a certain number of workouts a week based on what the user wants. The 6-week challenge demands you do 4 workouts a week for six weeks straight, which can be a little tough to work in if you do other forms of exercise during the week. I would rather have done 2 regularly scheduled workouts in addition to my water aerobics classes, karate classes, and other Wii workouts. Granted, I can still do that by picking the 6-week challenge workouts on my own from the menu and going through them in order, but the pre-programmed function would have been nice to have.

Keeping that last comment above in mind, I’m thinking of working EASA back into my morning workouts, maybe twice a week, interspersed between Gold’s Gym Cardio, Wii Fit Plus and DDR or the new Just Dance game that I’ve ordered. I don’t like to get bored, obviously, and mixing things up like this will give me plenty of ways to keep active.

If anybody has comments on working out with any of the above games, or with any games I haven’t mentioned, post them below. I’m interested in hearing what others have to say about working out with the Wii.

Move It Mama Monday! Snap goes the exercise band

I discovered a serious flaw in EA Sports Active last Friday, and it caught me completely by surprise. I suppose I sort of knew about this, because it happened before with the previous version of the game, but this time it happened right in the middle of my work out, and it kind of stung.

I’m talking about my exercise band snapping apart, of course. The original EASA came with a wimpy elastic band that I wore a hole in pretty quickly. It definitely wasn’t made to last. But I had a much heavier band on hand and was easily able to use that one with the handles EASA provided. It worked pretty well too, until Friday.

I was right in the middle of doing some squats when suddenly SNAP! The band ripped apart just a couple inches below one handle. The long end snapped right into my leg, thus the sting I mentioned earlier, while the left end just hung there, a now useless stub. I had to pause the game to fix the matter, swearing as I struggled to undo the handle from the short remnant of elastic band. When I had the handle reattached to the remainder of the band, the whole deal was a good six inches shorter. That was great for the exercises where I frequently had to double up the band to get enough resistance, but not so much for a lot of other exercises where the original length had been just right (i.e. providing enough to make me sweat). In fact, I’m seriously afraid that the band is no longer good for some exercises, like the shoulder presses, because too much stretching on the now truncated band may cause it to snap again.

Sigh. I guess I’ll hunt down a new resistance band, or a set of them, and maybe some extra handles too so I can swap back and forth between resistance levels. I’d like to find something sturdier than what I’ve been using, but I don’t know if I’ll have any luck with that. If I do find something, I’ll be sure to post a note about it here.

I’ve only got one more week left on the 6-week challenge, and I should be finishing up my final workout in that on Wednesday. Once I do, I’m going to evaluate the final results and maybe rethink my exercise routine. EA Sports Active has definitely provided me with a workout, but it may be time for a change.

Enjoy your Monday and go work up a sweat!

Move It Mama Monday! The real challenge of EA Sport Active’s 6-week challenge

Well, I’m heading into the fifth week of EASA’s 6-week challenge, and it’s been interesting. I do like the new version of the game better. The exercises aren’t as painful on my knees and I especially like the fact that the game has a weekly weigh in to track my weight. Over all the game has improved, and it’s the only one I’m using right now for fitness on the Wii. And that’s the problem. It’s the only fitness game I can use right now, because the 6-week challenge demands so much time.

In order to compete 24 workouts in 6 weeks, I have to do 4 workouts a week (basic math, I know). And I thought that would be fine, especially with two of those workouts being done on days I don’t get any other exercise. But over the course of the last four weeks, a couple of things have happened. The first is that I was out of town at Marscon for three days and then came home entirely wiped out, so I missed my Sunday workout, and never got the chance to catch up on Monday. This is a real pain in the ass, because even now, a couple weeks after Marscon, I’m still one workout behind, and I can’t seem to find a day when I can sneak in a workout, because all sorts of screwy things have been going on with my schedule – parent/teacher conferences, prodding children to do homework, snow days, etc. Anything that interferes with me doing one of the two evening workouts I need to do forces me to do a makeup the very next day, which means I still haven’t caught up with that one workout session. And with 4 workouts a week, there are only 3 other days available to sneak in an extra workout. There is a reason why I didn’t choose those days to workout, and that’s because they are already full to the gills with other things to do!

So I’m behind by one workout and can’t seem to catch up. My second problem is that the workouts keep getting longer. As I progress through the 6-weeks, the sessions become more demanding, require me to do more sets and reps, and so on. I started out doing 20-25 minutes per workout, easy to fit into my schedule. Now I’m doing 30-35+ minutes a workout. Not so easy, especially when we once again look at those evening workouts. 10-15 minutes can be a huge deal in whether or not I get dinner on the table at a reasonable time, or manage to squeeze in story time with my girls before bed.

I’ve only got two weeks of the challenge left, so I will do my best to finish it, but I don’t think I will be doing another after this. I’ll have to wait until summer, when I my time is not as constricted by the demands of the girls’ school schedule and I can do more workouts in the morning. Actually that brings to mind a third problem, which ties into the other two – my enthusiasm is starting to wane. I hate exercising in the evenings, especially if the workout is tough. I’m usually dead on my feet by the time 5PM rolls around, and do not want to throw on my sweats and workout. As the workouts keep getting tougher and longer, I’m having to force myself more and more to stick with the program.

I know self-discipline is part of the challenge, but man. What I wouldn’t give to be able to set up a challenge that only required 3 workouts a week. Then I’d only have to worry about one evening workout, and that could easily be done on Friday, the day I’m least likely to be wiped out.

So, it looks like after this challenge, I’ll be doing something a little different with the Wii for fitness. I’ll probably still use EASA, but pick my workouts ala carte, and maybe throw in some Wii Fit Plus and Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing, two other games I enjoy. In fact, I could easily see myself doing a session of each game once a week. That would round out my workout schedule quite nicely and combat the boredom.

But first things first. Finish up that 6-week challenge. We’ll see how I feel by the end of it.

Move It Mama Monday! Does the new EASA work?

It’s been over four weeks since I got the new EA Sports Active for Christmas. Since then, I’ve started the 6-Week Challenge (at medium intensity level) and am now half-way through that. Am I seeing any results?

Yes. Since Christmas, I’ve lost four pounds and I can definitely see more muscle definition. Even better, the new EASA doesn’t seem intent on destroying my knees like the old version was. A lot of the exercises that caused me so much pain have either been removed from the game or modified. So yes, this game definitely seems to be working for me.

However, I don’t believe I’m getting those results through EASA alone. Keep in mind, we are now past the holidays, which means I am also past the holiday eating. All those cookies, cakes, pies, candies, plus meat heavy meals are now three weeks behind me. I’ve since switched to eating two vegetarian meals a day, plus I’m drinking a lot more water. I’m not perfect at following these two rules, but I do them often enough that I think they’ve also had an effect on my health and weight. Plus I continue to take water aerobics classes and karate classes, both twice a week.

I think what’s worked more than anything is that I’m settled back into my old routine, with a little more emphasis on eating healthy and getting more exercise. Not being able to determine how the day would go over the holidays often meant I had no idea when or what I would be eating, so I ate a lot of junk and high fat meals as a result. I’d love to have more control over my schedule next year, if only so I could control my eating better. To do so, however, will probably mean I’ll have to make some changes to my schedule over all. Celebrating the holidays, in many ways, is like taking on an extra part-time job from October through December. To do all the things I’d like to do for the holidays – baking, decorating, sewing, parties, concerts, etc. – I’d have to cut back on my regular work during those months. It’s something I’ll have to think about before next October rolls around.

In any event, I’m enjoying the new EASA and the new eating habits. So far, I’ve cooked three vegetarian soups that did not suck, which means I’d cook and eat them again. In fact one of those soups, the carrot puree soup, was so good I’d make that any time and enjoy it.

So there you go, the secret to weight loss; healthy eating, plenty of water, regular exercise and a normal, livable schedule. Am I a genius for figuring out the obvious or what?

Move It Mama Monday! The new EA Sports Active

Guess what I got for Christmas! The new EA Sports Active. You know, the one labeled “More Games!” My younger sister gave it to me as a gift, and it has been very much appreciated, let me tell you!

If you’ve been following Move It Mama Monday for a while, you’ll probably recall I had a love/hate relationship with the previous incarnation of EASA. I liked that the game included plenty of strength exercises, but I lamented its lack of cardio activity and the damage it seemed to do to my knees. After completing my one and only 30-day challenge with the original EASA, I wound up having to take 2-4 Advil a day for a week to deal with the knee pain I suffered. In the end, I pretty much shelved EASA in favor of Wii Fit, although by that point I’d played Wii Fit to death.

Well, out comes the new EASA, and so far I’ve completed 6 workouts on it in the last two weeks. I definitely think the new game is an improvement. For starters, all the preprogrammed workouts now include a warm-up and cool-down session to help loosen up the old joints. Many of the original exercises that caused me so many problems with my knees have either been replaced or reworked, although this game does still include a lot of jumping around and lunging, so be careful if you have bad knees. Many of the strength exercises have been reworked too, making them more effective and easier to do in my opinion. And the biggest change? The scenery. No longer are you stuck at the local park/track doing your workout. Now the game centers on a beach resort, which I think is an improvement.

For my first three workouts with the game, I picked sessions from the preprogrammed workouts menu. I stuck with either the medium or easy workouts, recalling how much I had hurt when I first started with the original EASA. The workouts at these levels are still intense enough to make me really sweat, which made me very happy.

On New Year’s Eve, I started my 6-week challenge. Apparently too many people (including yours truly) had trouble completing the old 30-day challenge within 30 days, so the time frame was expanded to 6 weeks. It’s still a demand on the schedule though, requiring 4 workouts a week to meet that 6 week goal. I can do it, especially since I’ve started doing shorter workouts in the evenings anyway, but if you’re already on a regular workout schedule with some other activity, you might want to think twice about the 6-week challenge.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress with my 6-week challenge (and once again, learning from prior experience, I opted for the medium intensity challenge, not the hard!). Meantime, here are a quick list of the pros and cons that I see so far with the new EASA.


  • The exercises I hated most, the ones that really killed my knees, appear to be gone or replaced by exercises that aren’t as painful to do.
  • The new scenery is much nicer. Quite frankly, I was getting pretty dang tired of that park in the old game. If I’m going to work out in a virtual world, then I’ll take a virtual tropical island any day.
  • The new EASA now uses the balance board to check your weight every week! And you don’t have to put up with any snarky attitude if you gain a couple pounds. The game just tracks your weight; it doesn’t try to destroy your soul (like a certain Wii Fit game that shall otherwise remain nameless…).
  • There are some interesting new games, like squash, water skiing, an obstacle course, etc., that are fun to do.
  • The challenge now takes 6-weeks as opposed to only 30 days. I can handle 6 weeks.
  • No more freaky inspirational videos from Bob Whatshisface! I don’t know about you guys, but that very nice man who pimps EASA really creeped me out every time he showed up on camera. The way he grinned, I was afraid he was going to jump out of the TV and eat me!

Now for the cons:

  • The game is still rough on the knees. I’m hoping that getting back into my regular water aerobics class will fix this. Water aerobics seems to go a long way toward strengthening the muscles that support my knees. I’ll need that to keep up with all the lunging and jumping that still shows up in EASA.
  • The new EASA doesn’t seem to have “More Exercises” so much as “All New Exercises.” In other words, a lot of the old stuff is gone. While they updated and improved the boxing, I have yet to see the tennis, volley ball, or baseball games. I can’t say yet if those are really gone, but from comments I’ve seen on line, it looks like they may be. This would be a shame, because those were the games that I enjoyed the most on the original EASA.
  • The warm up and cool down are the same for every single workout. I was hoping for more in the stretching department. Instead, every workout starts and ends out with the same exercises. That’s not just boring, it’s a waste. They couldn’t put together a few more warm up and cool down routines? How about more stretches for the arms and legs? Neck rotations even! Bah! I will never find a Wii game that really includes stretching.

And that’s about it. I’m hopeful that between my regular daytime workouts (water aerobics, karate) and regular evening workouts (EASA, Gold’s Gym Cardio, Wii Fit Plus), I’ll be able to get myself back into shape. We’ll see what the results are in a month, I suppose.

Next week, I’ll make a list of New Year’s health and fitness resolutions. I should have done that this week, but what can I say? I was just too danged excited about the new EASA.