Sudden Belly Syndrome, it could happen to anyone…

Wii Fit

Wii Fit (2008)

Have you ever just woken up fat? I guess it’s possible that you were fat anyway, but it was weight that you knew about. This time however, it’s unknown mass – just fat that seems to appear and makes your shirt unflattering. It goes beyond a mere bloating, and it even happens after you’ve been eating less, not more.

I tend to be in harmony with my body in most aspects, especially when I need it to get sick or if my brain has had a big feed of alcohol, checked out and now I need my bandy legs and blurred eyes to get me home safe. Bring weight, macros, calories, metabolism and all sorts into the mix though, and my corps is as stumped as a Greek doing his tax return.

It was time to get on the Wii Fit board. Lugging the beast home is the first workout you’ll do – the case has a handle, but it’s still a hefty prospect. You won’t get any weights workouts with Wii Fit, naturally, although there are some exercises where it wants you to do push-ups against the Balance Board. But it’s not as if the board can assess your form and really know how much effort you’re putting in.

Ultimately it might get you off your feet and more open to a healthy lifestyle, which is great, but a set of bathroom scales can only go so far. Nintendo really are geniuses to have sold these to so many households. but you will grow to hate the loathsome board as it keeps delivering you bad news on a daily basis.

There’s an instruction manual for the Balance Board that’s almost as thick as the object itself, featuring all kinds of legal health and safety requirements. I didn’t much fancy stepping on the Board after reading all that, but needs must, I had a belly to vanquish. So anytime I wanted to weigh myself I’d give a tearful goodbye to my family, look both ways and jump on.

You’re immediately introduced to the Wii Fit Balance Board, come to life.  Of course you can see what they’re trying to do here – it’s giving you an e-personal trainer, someone to keep you accountable. You will have seen the shysters on social media who advertise themselves on PTs and talk about “programmes”, in the same way that obese desk monkeys like me talk about “slideware” – because it sounds a lot better than telling you to move more and most importantly eat less, fatty.

I do agree with the idea that having someone alongside you on the journey to hold you to account is a useful thing, although the last thing you want is someone who’ll make you feel guilty when you want to pop into the boozer on the way home from your run – the fitness partner you want is someone who’ll order a pint for you while you nip off to the loo. After all, exercise is pretty thirsty work, you know?#

The game version of the balance board ain’t shy with its words – when turning on the game for this piece, after trying to replace the exploded old batteries without corroding my hands into stumps, it took a savage glee in guilt-tripping me, telling me that it hadn’t seen me for 4,271 days. See, this is the problem with robo-society – if you’ve been avoiding old friends for years, when you do see them again, it’s awkward enough that both parties agree to draw a line under what was once your blooming friendship, now reduced to a barely smouldering ruin. Sounds good, right? What you don’t want is an old robot companion literally counting the days since it last got a chance to laugh at you.

And laugh at me it did, because it had been 12 years and the old metabolism had taken a few knocks since then, shall we say, although I was being benchmarked against my teenage years when I thought I was fat as anything but in reality I was getting gaunt. Alright, stop laughing, I know I was never gaunt. But I had a good jawline even when sitting down, and you could see my wrist bones, which is as good an indicator for me as any.

After the balance board had had its fun, and asked me to do a few balance exercises (which I nailed, but they’re pretty easy to game), then you can actually get into the exercises. It’s split, broadly, into bodyweight exercises where you’ll do push-ups and the like against the board, the yoga poses that’ll have you twisted into a flabby pretzel, and then some fun stuff – the best of which was heading footballs that come towards you. They lose their appeal pretty quickly, and there really isn’t as much variety as you’d think, which means that eventually the only use you get out of the whole package is an admittedly pretty accurate scales.

But should you really trust the numbers, when how your clothes actually fits you is a much better barometer of how you’re doing? That’s why you should have target clothes, and use them as your yardstick. Like my pulling shirt, for example – in the midst of a strong exercise program, it looks the biz on me. Too many fish suppers though and the buttons cry out for dear life and my hair belly pokes through.

Look, I’m embarrassed enough to admit that I’ve always struggled with my weight and used both Wii Sports and Wii Fit as genuine attempts to get active. I have flashbacks to getting really into Wii Sports Boxing, and jogging in place on Wii Fit with the Wii Remote in my hand. And I suppose if a game like Wii Fit can get players to improve their attitude and get up from the sofa for once, then it should be lauded. But this simply isn’t going to help you lose weight, any more than a good treadmill and a bit of discipline with your grub.

If you really do want to lose weight, you can try starving yourself although this usually works against you in the end. I always advocate walking – walking is the bomb, and if you can get jogging, even better again. I used to think that exercise simply wasn’t for me, and that was for other people, the type of people who weren’t always picked last in PE. 

Well, when I tried the Couch to 5K almost on a whim, it was a revelation to me. Suddenly I became a runner, and what do you know, I even took measures to drink girly drinks like gin and slimline tonic rather than taking in hundreds of beer calories. As the third side to this health and fitness triangle, I tried not to eat kebabs, chicken rolls and Chinese food after a night of drinking.

With those small tips, I became… if not slim, then at least I could still fit into medium shirts, which you wouldn’t think to look at me. My body was still pasty white but at least I could take my shirt off at the beach and only blind people, not crush them. There’s your fitness advice then. I just wish someone had given me the same pointers back when I was 17; it would have saved me from spending 80 quid on a bathroom scales.

3 May 2022

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