I am very excited to share another VR weight loss story. Twenty-seven year old Emily, from Florida, recently shared her story with me. She was able to lose 35 pounds, and gain 10 pounds of muscle through the use of diet and exercise. Virtual reality exercise was a big part of this weight loss.
Emily has been using virtual reality for almost a year, and owns the Oculus Rift. Her favorite workout games are BoxVR and Beat Saber. Emily actually originally purchased the Rift for her husband. “I bought this system for my husband for Christmas, thinking it would be his favorite thing. He rarely plays it. I’m the one that fell in love with it the first time I used it.”
Emily says she used to enjoy playing Just Dance on Wii. She feels that virtual reality is a much better version of ‘exergaming’, and enjoys working out with it weekly. “I try to play at least twice a week for about 30 minutes or more depending on how I feel. I usually play at night after work (I work 10 hour shifts), but sometimes I’ll play during the day if I have the time. My typical VR workout varies. Sometimes I do 30 minutes of just BoxVR. I have added my own music to make playlists of my desired music. Sometimes I’ll do 30 minutes of Beat Saber. Which I have modded to allow for downloads of different songs. And sometimes I’ll do a mix of Beat Saber and BoxVR. “
For her diet, Emily joined Weight Watchers shortly before she started using virtual reality. She says her main diet changes include a decrease in carbs, and an increase in fruits and vegetables. “I focus a lot on balance. Without balance I would fall off the rails and not eat right or exercise. I still allow myself to go out, have dessert, and live my life, but I tell myself that’s not an every day need.”
As Emily lost the weight, she was able to add in more forms of exercise. She even plans on doing an upcoming 5k with her husband. “Previously most of my workouts were VR, but in recent times my husband and I have decided to do our first 5K, so more of my workouts involve running outside, but I will still do VR workouts on the days I don’t feel like running.”
What Emily enjoys most about working out with virtual reality is that she truly enjoys it, but that it also feels like a workout. “I really like the workouts because what motivates me at the gym is classes anyway. There’s that pressure in a class to keep going even if you’re tired, and with the VR you still get that pressure. Either you want to beat your high score, or get a good streak. It motivates you.”
“Also, I don’t have to go anywhere. The nearest gym is 25 minutes from me which does not motivate me to go. With the VR I can do it whenever I want and it doesn’t have to be scheduled. Honestly, I love that I actually like doing it, and I feel sore afterward. I always have a stupid red line on my forehead from the VR itself, but I feel so sweaty and strong after each session. It’s also cool to see your progress. If I used to be able to play a song on hard and can now play it on expert it’s a cool feeling.”
She uses a FitBit Charge HR2 to monitor her heart rate and calories burned during workouts. It also is able to link directly with her Weight Watchers app, which is an added plus. During a 30 minute workout, Emily burns an average of 220 calories.
Emily’s biggest motivation to lose the weight was to be ready to start a family. “What keeps me motivated is knowing that I have to get healthy before I have a family. My husband and I have been together for 11 years, married for 3, and we want to start a family in the coming years. I know that if I don’t learn healthy habits now, once I have a family it will only get harder. When I hit my goal weight I was so proud that after years of saying ‘one day I’ll lose the weight for good’, I actually did it. I was never obese, but always felt overweight. I never played sports in school, I hated any exercise with a passion so to finally have something that is a workout without feeling like a workout it makes it more fun to do.”
If you are considering VR as a fitness tool, Emily suggests that you find a way to try it out, and that you make Beat Saber the first game to try. “Try it out, that’s the only way to know if you’ll like it. See if you know anyone that has one, or a place that lets you try it out before you buy it, as it can be a commitment. With the Oculus products too, you’re not able to mod the new one or add new music, so knowing which model works best for you is also important. I would recommend Beat Saber to start out with. It has so many easy levels to start out with that you get the hang of it. When friends come over and want to see what it’s like that’s what I have them play.”
I asked Emily about the benefits she has seen with virtual reality. She commented that she has more definition in her arms, and a stronger upper body. In addition, her resting heart rate has improved. Aside from these physical benefits, she has also noticed that she has more confidence. “Before this I hated the gym, hated exercising, was never motivated to try anything new. Now with VR I get to try something new whenever I want, and I get to do it on my terms. “
In the future with VR, Emily would like to see more full body workout options. Most games currently are great for upper body, but lack in leg movement. She likes that BoxVR adds in squats, but feels that more leg exercises would be a definite plus. She would also like to see more variety in terms of what workout games are available.
The story of Emily’s weight loss through the aid of VR is very inspiring. It seems that more and more people are really starting to better their lives through virtual reality. She also has great advice for those just starting out. “I think for anyone who wants to lose weight, exercise is a key component, but making lifestyle and diet changes together are really crucial. I could increase my exercise all I want, but if I kept eating tubs of ice cream and packages of Oreos, my weight wouldn’t necessarily decrease. Finding your reason why you want to do all this in the first place is important. I wanted to lose weight the first time for my wedding, which was great, and yes I lost some weight, but as soon as the wedding was over, I had nothing to motivate me to continue, so I gained the weight right back.”
“Understanding that weight loss is a lifetime journey and not a quick path is important. You didn’t gain it overnight, and you won’t lose it overnight either. Don’t get discouraged by the scale. Since increasing exercise my weight has gone up. I had lost 35 lbs but gained 10 back, but my clothes still fit, so I know it was a healthy and needed weight gain, and mostly muscular. Our scales only measure how much we weigh, not how much fat or muscle content we have on our bodies.”
I really want to thank Emily for sharing her VR weight loss story with me. It is great to see success stories such as these. It really inspires me to keep going with my journey, and to keep up this blog as a source of inspiration for others.