Weight watching

So there are two reasons I habitually check on my weight:

Number one, I’m vain 😉 I was a bit of a chubber when I was a kid, and got sick of it when I was around 15 and went on a crash, anally retentive diet for about 12 months. No snacks, smaller portions, exercise, no dessert, stuff like that. It ended up working – between a couple of growth spurts and a serious change in diet, I shed all the weight over a year, and managed to keep it off while my metabolism continued to kick in. Thankfully for me, despite my good dieting habits taking a bit of a dive during Uni (cheap meal deals at Hungry Jacks and a fresh doughnut place at the train station were good fun ;)), I managed to keep it all off throughout my studies and until I graduated and moved out. True, looking at some photos of when Wifey and I first moved in together I was definitely too skinny, but anywho, I managed to kick the fatty gene.

Number two, keeping your weight steady is *essential* as an amputee. The socket has to fit the form of your body, so if you drop too much weight or stack on too much, your prosthesis isn’t going to fit because your body shape changes in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Thankfully you normally get some warning – the prosthesis starts slipping off your stump or won’t sit on it correctly, you get chaffing, skin breakdown, stuff like that.

Note that I said “steady” up there – you get problems if you drop too much weight as well as put it on, in that the prosthesis just falls off in addition to all the rubbing and chafing! Mind, all that’s needed in order to fix this is to have a new socket moulded, but it depends on what you’re doing – if you’re trying to loose weight, it’s all good, but if you start stacking on the weight (and you don’t need the extra kilos), it’s the start of a slippery slope – it gets harder to walk, you might eventually get into strife trying to find a knee and ankle/foot that’ll support your weight, and the cycle hits pretty hard the further you go. As those who have been/are overweight know, it’s harder to exercise when you’re heavier, which makes it even more difficult if you’re an amputee *and* you’re overweight. Hence why I take it seriously and keep an eye on it.

In terms of my weight (moving on from my teen years), things started getting interesting once I started nearing my mid-20s and I found the weight was starting to roll back on, especially over the 12 months I had off from training around 2005/2006 (hit the archives for details – here’s the lot, most recent entry first). So, to keep it at bay and get back on track, shortly after moving into our current place I started keeping track of my weight each week. I had a few aims behind this – I wanted to trim some excess weight (particularly around my belly and waist), get back into my weight training and continue to intensify my karate training. With my weight, I was aiming to bring myself down to about 70kg (remember that I’m not that tall, coming at around 5’8″!) despite the fact that the weight training was going to pack on extra weight as well (muscle weighs more than fat, or so popular opinion tells me!), which would mean that theoretically I’d shed more fat weight by combining it with increasing my muscle mass at the same time.

So this brings us back to now – while I’m not too sure what my muscle mass is sitting at since I haven’t done any intense weight training in about a month, at my last weigh-in I was a hair’s breath away from my goal weight, so I’m pretty chuffed with myself at this stage. Funnily enough I’ve still got my damn love handles, but hopefully if I continue on, start up my weight training again next week (now my thumb’s sorted itself which means I can lift the bar without worrying about splitting the wound), kick in with intense, focused training at karate and some extra stretching and exercise between these (such as taking the dog for an extra walk or two), I might eventually get rid of them 😉

… and that ends my jumbled rant about weight, amputees, and another one of my stories 😉

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Amputee country driving

Wifey and I took a trip to the country to escape from things for a few days recently. It’s been a few years since we last jumped out that way, and it’s definitely been the first time in a while (and possibly since starting this blog) since I’ve spent a couple of hours at the wheel driving in a single hit.

Mind, the drive wasn’t too shabby at all – Wifey and I loaded the car up with tragic 80s tunes (bad habit, tragic 80s seems to suit country driving :)), so it was good fun 🙂 I did find though, rolling towards the end of trip, that my stump was getting a bit grumpy from sitting still for so long (probably didn’t help that we went straight from work, and I’d been sitting on my arse at work for about 8 hours before we headed out!). The angry muscles were along the base of the stump, my left hip and a little higher into the waist – it was nothing serious mind, but it was definitely there.

Anywho, this presented an issue – how do you stretch the stump out when it’s held inside an airtight socket, and there’s not exactly a whole lot you can do with your prosthesis when you’re driving!

What I ended up doing was clenching/flexing the muscles around my stump to start with, tilted my hips slowly left and right, and then gently twisted my stump to the left and right in the socket. Wasn’t much, but it did the job and took the strain off the muscles.

I think the reason it worked was because while the motions weren’t that big, they involved stretching the muscles relatively deeply from a restricted sitting position; the restricted position meant that the body didn’t have the ability to move with the motions, so they were all built on resisting other muscles.

… or at least I think that’s the theory behind it 😉 I’m sure those more in the know with muscles/physiology/anatomy will not only be able to dispute my theory, but possibly say I’m doing the wrong thing too! 🙂

Mind, I also might have described things really badly too 😉 Still, for other amputees involved with road trip or country driving, the above might prove useful!

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Crazy prosthetics technology – the i-LIMB

Was doing some random Googling and found this awesome blog – The Adventures of the i-LIMB. The blog’s author, Darin, has had his left arm amputated from just below the elbow from what I can see in the videos he’s posted, and he’s documented a daily journal of his experiences with his i-LIMB, an awesome piece of crazy cybertechnology (i.e. his prosthesis 😉 ). There are plenty of videos documenting what he’s been up to and stacks of content – regardless of your background, check out his site and read up on his experiences.

Oh, and check out the vids, the technology is awesome to see in action 😀 I’ll be adding a link to his blog in my side bar, so if you forget where his blog is, you’ll be able to easily get to it regardless of where you are on my site.

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Wishlist: transforming leg

A friend of mine fired through a link for a story about a double amputee in New Zealand who had a mermaid tail prosthesis created by WETA, and it got me to thinking about stuff.

When I was 12, I was watching the very awesome third series of Robotech (which I later found out was called Genesis Climber Mospeada when ADV were kind enough to release the set on DVD, which I promptly snatched up several years ago 😉 ) on repeat on early morning TV, and in that series they have these awesome futuristic motor bike things that transform into these equally awesome power suit things (Wikipedia tells me they’re called Cyclone Veritech Ride Armors).

Genesis Climber Mospeada cover

Anywho, I remember thinking at the time that it would be awesome having a leg that could transform into something cool from Macross, like a rocket or something, and when I was reading that story I linked up above, out of nowhere I remembered that crazy thought I had when I was younger.

But who knows, following Rodriguez’ awesome premise behind Planet Terror, maybe the dynamic duo of the former + Tarantino (or someone following in their stead!) can do something crazy and awesome. I mean, when Rodriguez comes up with this:

Planet Terror (Dutch promotional poster)

… I think anything’s possible 🙂

This reminds me, I really need to buy Planet Terror and Death Proof 😀

I was about to finish this one off, but I realised I hadn’t posted a video of the super awesome opening animation from Mospeada 😀 😀 😀

Gold!

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Wii Fit and amputees – first impressions!

Akin to what I was nerding about in my earlier post, below is my awesome review/first impressions of Wii Fit!

Balancing act 1

For those unaware what Wii Fit is, check out the Wikipedia entry – it’ll make more sense than my crazy ramblings in trying to describe it. Probably more informative too 🙂 To quickly summarise to add some context though, Wii Fit is a game on the Nintendo Wii (aka Nintendo’s money-printing machine) that aims to have you do daily exercises instructed on-screen by standing on a board that wirelessly communicates with the Wii console. Fancy and ingenious piece of kit, much like the Wii in general to be honest. Wifey and I don’t have a Wii ourselves, but we recently caught up with my brother and his family and they’ve got one, so it proved the perfect opportunity to demonstrate my extreme awesomeness. It also gave me the opportunity to give an amputee’s view on how it works.

After doing my initial data entry to get the ball rolling, it appeared there were going to be some skewed results in one of the main tests you go through when you start up your session on Wii Fit, as there are all sorts of balance tests. It tests and works your center of balance, and how you hold your balance according to your right/left side of the body. Not surprisingly, it confirmed my feeling that my center of balance is slightly behind me, and a little to the right in lieu of having one leg. Things really got interesting when it got me to do the one-legged balancing tests though!

Now, this was all well and good on my right leg, given I have one! But what to do when the tests come up for the left leg?

Simple, cheat and use your right leg, but ensure you look like a doofus while doing so:

Balancing act 2

Balancing act 5

As you can see from the results in the image below, it took a little bit to adjust to the balance board!! Those squiggles indicate my shift in balance over the course of time it tracked me standing on each side… ideally there should be very little variation 😛

Balancing act - the results!

🙂

And from here, things kept getting better – the trainer decided to offer his evaluation on the situation following my results:

WTF?

lol!

You know, because I totally have a left leg 😉 By the time I got to the second leg I reckon I had gotten the hang a little better in using the balance board, hence the result (remember that I used my right leg when doing the tests for the left leg!). Still, gotta love some canned advice from a computer program 🙂

Once the tests and BMI, etc, were all finished (for those interested, my first Wii Fit age was 11 years older than me; when I gave it a crack a few days later, I managed to bring it down to only 2 years older than my actual age — hurrah!), I thought I’d have a quick go at some of the activities. I can’t remember off the top of my head which ones I did – I had a look at the yoga ones but passed, as it looked too tricky to work my way around them and find a solution given I was in a bit of a silly mood when playing the game. I gave the hooly-hoops a whirl, but that didn’t work that well either (was apparently funny to watch though ;)). I ended up settling on the muscle workouts, specifically the pushups one.

I mean, c’mon – I can do pushups, whether it be on my hands, knuckles, dive-bomber and with/without my leg on. So I figured I’d be right; turns out there was a twist with what was to come!

Now, before I get started, I’d like to share this cracker of a screenshot:

Stupid man

While I’m sure Nintendo means well, I think a “skip” button on these would be helpful since I notice he has all his limbs intact 🙂

Anywho, so onto the pushup – aside from the trainer going infuriatingly slow, he then starts adding in these twists at the ends of each of his motions! Now, this is all well and good if you’re coordinated and have two legs – makes it tricky as an amputee though, as there’s no way to elegantly rotate your body without striking awesome/stupid poses for the people sharing the experience with you in the same room (Wifey was crying from laughing so much as I pulled the most ridiculous poses in trying to keep up with the instructions!):

Push-ups with a stupid twist

Now, with all this being said, you might think I’m being overly harsh with the game – I mean, did Nintendo deliberately go out of their way to alienate disabled people with this game? Of course not. And do I harbour I strong dislike of the game? Absolutely not – it was a blast to play, but it certainly represents a number of challenges to those of us missing a few key limbs to make the experience complete.

Playing the physical games like Wii Fit can be a lot of fun, but there’s also the issue that, when playing socially, it can be a bit alienating depending on how good you are with your prosthesis – I was in excellent company so I had a ball sharing my goofiness, but at the end of the day it makes it very hard to keep up with people who are generally more physically able than an amputee. It’s kind of like Dance Dance Revolution – several years back I used to really like playing it, but the most I could ever get to was… either Beginner or Easy/whatever it’s called – I just couldn’t keep up with enough consistency if the difficulty was any higher, which was a bummer, because I couldn’t physically move around fast enough due to the prosthesis.

But getting back to Wii Fit, I have a feeling there are probably a handful of tricks I could uncover to bridge the gap between amputees and able-bodied players, but in the short time I had playing it, there certainly wasn’t enough time to really dig in and uncover the possibilities and post up straight away to share. Wifey and I are looking at grabbing a Wii with Wii Fit some time later this year (not sure when at this stage, maybe closer to x-mas when there are usually some good bundles/packages available at retail), so I’ll be happy to share some strategies and possibly write up an FAQ then. I think the game has a lot of promise and reckon there’s potential tricks so that amputees can possibly keep up with able-bodied people to some degree, but I won’t know until I have the opportunity to give it as more extensive whirl.

Mind, I’d post my thoughts up sooner if Nintendo Australia is kind enough to gift a Wii and Wi Fit for my household 🙂

… what, can’t blame a guy for trying, can you? 😀

If you want to check out more pics of me making an arse of myself, I’ve added a dedicated Wii Fit 2009 gallery under (funnily enough!) the ‘Gallery’ menu on the top nav bar; alternatively, you can also click here to access it. Huge thanks to Wifey for being a good sport and taking the photos, and to my brother and his family for treating us to some Wii Fit gamage that night 😀 We hada ball, and I can’t wait to catch up again to give it another go!!!

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