Saturday, July 23, 2011

What a crock

I've long suspected that my digital BF% Scales are not as accurate as they could be, not for digital scales which, one would assume, should be quite accurate.

Although I don't believe in them yesterday could be considered my "cheat day". Liz drove into downtown to join me for lunch and we ended up at the Eastside Market where I consumed an entire sausage & meatball sandwich. I've been pretty good for the last few weeks and my voluntary commute change means I now walk 2 miles to work and back, plus daily workouts on the Wii Fit, so it's not like I undid the past few weeks work.

This morning, post workout, I weighed 185 lbs. I got dressed, shorts & t-shirt, then weighed myself again. 187 lbs. Really? Okay, I'll take your word for it. I hit the button to measure my Body Fat (allegedly via Bioimpedance) and the scales said I was at 22%.

I'm sorry. 22%? Yesterday, at 182 lbs, you said I was at 20%. Now, I weigh 5 lbs more and you say I'm back up to 22%? I decided to conduct a very simple test, grabbed a 5 lb weight and my two 10 lb dumbbells, and returned to the scales. With 5 lb weight in hand I stepped on and now I weighed 192 lbs. Ok, fair enough. I stepped off, grabbed my two 10 lb weighs and stepped back on.

209 lbs.

I see.

I hit the button to measure my body fat, the scale ran it's alleged bio-impedance test and a few seconds later the number 27 appeared on the screen.


Because while I might "weigh" 20 lbs more than before, I'm pretty sure that's not an extra 20 lbs of fat, so my body fat percentage should have not changed. In fact, if anything, it should have gone down, because now the fat-to-weight ratio has decreased...or increased, depending on how you look at it.

So the Body Fat Calculator doesn't really calculate your actual body fat via bio-impedance but simply goes off your height and weight. What a fucking crock.

I also know the scales are not entirely accurate either. I can weigh myself prior to using the toilet, then immediately afterward, and the scales will give me the same weight. I can drink a large glass of water between weighings and the scales will tell me no change.

FWIW, this was a Taylor Body Fat Analyzer & Scale, Model #5564, which are no longer available.

If you have a combination Scale & BFA, I'd like to ask you to conduct this simple test and post the results in my Comments section. Weigh yourself and calculate your BF%, then weigh yourself again while holding a heavy item. Does your BF% change? If so, which way?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wii down! Wii down!!!

A few years ago we got our Wii and while it's not an XBox or a PS3 it's still a lot of fun, and aside from a couple of glitches which never required anything more than a reboot to resolve we never had any problems with it. Until this weekend.

So a few weeks ago my office decided to have a Weight Loss competition.

Wait! Weren't we talking about your Wii?

Yes, we were. We'll get back to that.

So my office weight loss competition is being held over 3 months with a $20/month fee, and the winner & Biggest Loser takes all at the final weigh-in on October 5th.

Last year I lost almost 30 pounds in a couple of months, going from 210 down to 180, simply by watching what I ate (and watching less of it ;), and using my Wii and Wii Fit Boxing. I got down to 180 but then stopped working out as diligently, and my weight slowly crept back up. Fortunately it never went over 190, which is healthy for a 5'11", 41 year old guy who doesn't work out that much, but I could do better. According to my scales I've got approx. 20% Body Fat, so let's do some math, shall we? No? I don't care. My Blog, my rules.

I was 210 lbs with 25% Body Fat. That equates to ~52.5 lbs of fat. Last night I weighed 183 lbs and my scales told me I was at 20% Body Fat. That equates to 36.6 lbs. Doing the math we see that I've lost approx. 16 lbs of fat, but my weight has dropped by 27 lbs. How did I lose that extra weight? Muscle mass. I lost approx. 9 lbs of muscle. But that's okay. I'm a big guy but I don't need to be. I don't play any sports other than golf, and I work in an office, not on a construction site. I don't mind losing a little bit of muscle. However, I don't want to lose too much, either, because muscles burn calories. Even just sitting still, if you're a buff guy, you naturally burn more calories than the flabby guy next to you. The more muscle I shed the less muscle I have to burn calories, which is one of the reasons people hit a plateau when they're trying to lose weight. They don't just lose fat, they lose muscle; lose enough muscle and the calorie deficit you created (aka "diet") has just been negated. Now you need to work out even more to continue losing weight. But unless you know exactly what you're doing and are consuming sufficient protein and carbs and essential fats you're going to lose muscle along with the fat, making it harder & harder to lose more & more weight.

And in order to win this weight loss competition I need to lose weight.

I don't necessarily want to add bulk because muscle, being denser, weighs more than fat. Sure, I can tone up and get lean by working out, shedding fat, and adding muscle, and I'd look great, but I'd still weigh 185 lb, if not more. I'd look great, but I want those Benjamins, so I need to accept that some of the weight I'm going to lose will be muscle. I'll lose fat, sure, but I'm going to lose muscle, too, and if I want the money there's nothing I can do about that.

Our initial weigh-in was 3 weeks ago, on July 6th, being right after July 4th, and the wife had already mentioned that uncle was having a BBQ at his house. So that was a great opportunity to stack the scales in my favor by stuffing my digestive system full of yummy, bbq goodness, then holding onto it until Wednesday. Sorry. TMI?

Watching "The Biggest Loser" a couple of months ago I'd also stumbled across a trick to gain a lot of weight really, really quickly, and in a manner much akin to how you can lose weight really, really fast. H2O aka Water. One 16oz bottle of water weighs 1 lb. Two 16 oz bottles of water weighs? Yes, 2 lbs. And so on.

I weighed 190 lbs. I was 20 lbs lighter than last year, but that's the easy weight to lose. Oh sure, I knew I could get down to 180 fairly easily, but anything past that would require a seriously dedicated effort. What to do? Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet. And so I did. I ate a lot during the week or so leading up to the weigh-in, and on the morning of the weigh-in? I drank. Of course you can only drink so much water without suffering the natural, foregone conclusion of being sufficiently hydrated, if not overly so. Fortunately my boss got in early so I was able to check in with her and my official starting weight was duly observed by a credible witness. With a bursting bladder I weighed in at a staggering 199.6 lbs. And about 10 minutes later I'd lost my first 3-4 lbs :P

Precisely one week later we had our second weigh-in, and knowing I'd already lost a decent amount of weight I again drank a couple of bottles of water prior to weighing in. Don't want to lose too much too fast and scare off the competition. In one week I "lost" 3.51% of my starting weight. One other guy in the office lost 3.54% and I would later learn that he also waterloaded prior to his first weigh-in. The things people do for money ;)

Just like last year I'd been working out with the Wii and Wii Fit Boxing, but this weekend I hit a snag.

Friday afternoon the boy was playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and when I went to join in the Wii crashed on us. I actually forgot it did that, but as I mentioned earlier it wasn't the first time, and as it was almost time for the boy's swimming lesson I turned the Wii off and thought nothing more about it. I wouldn't use the Wii again until Sunday but when I turned it on and inserted the Wii Fit disc nothing happened. The Wii started up, the Wii Home menu appeared, but the disc refused to load. I tried a couple of other discs to no avail. None of them would load. This did not look good. I know my way around the inside of a PC, but a Wii? Sure, it's a computer, but Nintendo do not make it easy to get into them. And even if I did get it open, it's not like I would have the spare bits & pieces lying around like I do with my PCs.

Nope. A malfunctioning video game console is bad news to all but the most experienced tech geek. Fortunately the Wii did tell me that it couldn't read the disc, and as it couldn't read any of my discs I figured it was either a dirty laser lens reader, or...something more serious :P Also fortunate was that Nintendo sell a Laser Lens Cleaning Kit for $10 plus S&H, which is usually another $10-$15.

Hmm, they must sell these things in Toys R Us though, right?

No, they don't.

Best Buy?


Target? Walmart? Gamestop???


A few clerks knew what I was talking about but their replies were all the same: We haven't carried them for a few months now.

I see. To this paranoid conspiracy theorist it appeared that Nintendo stopped supplying the brick & stone stores with these Kits in order to maximize their profit on them. Probably because people bought them, used them, then returned them. Which may not be that far from the truth. Now I wouldn't necessarily have done that, not unless it didn't work. But without it being available in my local brick & stone store I didn't even have that opportunity to see if cleaning the laser lens might solve my problem.

We've had the Wii for almost 4 years now, which is a pretty good run for a console, even though our Gamecube works just fine, as does the N64 (after a spot of blowing on the cart and in the slot ;), but that means the Wii is well & truly out of its warranty period. I went online, and initiated a repair request via Nintendo's website. $75 for the repair, plus tax, plus S&H, for a total cost of $92. IF I could buy a new Wii I could probably get one, just the Wii, for approx. $100. But Nintendo don't sell just the Wii. They bundle them with Mario Kart, or Donkey Kong, or Mario Bros., and they retail them for $150. I'm not spending that much on a new Wii, and the wife said "Screw that!" to their $92 repair charge. Instead we borrowed the in-laws Wii and promised to return it for the weekend when the kids come to visit.

In the meantime I went online and started researching Wii problems, specifically how to disassemble a Wii and clean the laser lens. I found a Youtube video where the guy didn't pull his Wii apart, instead, he used an old CD and built a replica Nintendo Lens Cleaning Kit, which is essentially nothing more than a disc with an absorbent pad for applying cleaning solution, and a handle so you can both remove the disc from the Wii's disc slot, but also use the handle to jiggle the disc around to clean the laser lens. That's what Nintendo wanted me to pay $25 for; a plastic disc with a cleaning pad and a handle.

More useful was that the video creator said that a month after he used his homemade lens cleaning disc and got his Wii reading discs again, it stopped working, again, and this time no amount of cleaning got it working. So he put in a ticket to Nintendo and told them he had been playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl when it stopped reading the disc, and Nintendo offered him a free repair inc. free S&H! Now that's a price not even the wife could turn down.

And that's when my son reminded me that the Wii had crashed on us Friday afternoon while he had been playing Brawl.

I went online. I put in a ticket to Nintendo. I reported that the "failure to read disc" error was attributed to Brawl. And this time Nintendo offered me a free repair, inc. free S&H.

The only caveat was that along with the Wii, I had to include our copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I told the boy that Nintendo would repair the Wii for free, but we had to send them our copy of Brawl, as well.

"Will we get it back?" he asked.

"Of course!" I reassured him. "And if we don't, there will be hell to pay!"

On Nintendo's website was a quote from a happy customer who claimed he got his Wii back within a week of sending it in for repairs. Nintendo themselves say to allow up to 8-10 business days. Let's see what happens.