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Harmonix Fitness Post-Challenge Update: Adam Cardoza

Leading up to the launch of Dance Central 2, a group of Harmonixers joined forces to participate in a Dance Central Fitness Challenge to get in better shape and improve overall health while having fun. As part of the fitness challenge the group was separated into “Crews” for accountability and motivation. One of the guidelines of the fitness challenge was to make Dance Central or Dance Central 2 a primary source of exercise (that’s where the fun part comes in). Participants were required to weigh in every two weeks and keep journals for progress tracking.

The fitness challenge came to a close last month, and whether it was reaching a weight loss goal or seeing a significant improvement in fitness levels, our participants had very positive results. The crew "Body By Jake And The Fatman" found plenty of success as part of the fitness challenge and have shared their stories.


I was going to write a nice narrative of my struggle and perseverance through this challenge, culminating in my eventual hard-fought victory, but it wasn’t that bad or hard or competitive. In reality, I just needed to start taking care of myself and trick myself into actually doing that.


For most of the last decade, I’ve been walking around at around 270 lbs., so this recent 25 lb. increase was troublesome for me. My body was starting to rebel and creak a little more than usual. I don’t exercise. I hate it. I’m practically sedentary. Combine that with a desk job and the inherent joys of eating to excess and well, you can see how I got to this point.


The first thing that needed to change was my diet. For me, this was the easier part. There were just a lot of basic maintenance and self-control things that I needed to commit to in order for this to work. I went from lots of sugared beverages to almost none. Sodas were replaced with flavored seltzer waters. “Extra cream/sugar” coffees went to “milk no sugar." I ate more salads. I avoided stopping at local coffee shops for (delicious) sausage croissant sandwiches. I reduced my carb intake (not completely, but more like "I don’t need pasta every day"). I ate reasonable amounts of food for dinner and didn’t have several helpings (or for that matter, several dinners). I have the capacity to eat like a complete self-indulgent gluttonous idiot and while I do enjoy it, it doesn’t mean I have to do it all the time.

Part of the problem I’ve had with previous diets is cheating. Well, not cheating so much as just giving up. And not giving up so much as letting my desire to eat terrible food build to the point where I stop and do nothing but that. So I opted to indulge from time to time -- typically on the weekend immediately after the bi-weekly Harmonix weigh-in. An example would be this deep-fried steak and cheese calzone I ate at a work outing in November. It was really bad for me (and really delicious), but also took some of the mental pressure off and actually helped me stay on track with my diet the rest of the time.


As I mentioned before, I really hate this. I’m easily bored. I have trouble keeping my mind engaged. It’s hard to do. Also, I hate sweating. And being tired. And just everything about exercise in general. I have friends who are all “YEAH, EXERCISE! WORKOUTS! ENDORPHINS!” but I really don’t get it at all. However, I am super competitive. This fitness challenge was a competition, and according to the rules we needed to “incorporate Dance Central as a main component of the workout regime.” So I made it the only component of my workout regime. As it turns out it wasn’t that bad. Actually, it was pretty fun.

When it comes to doing things that I’m not exactly excited to do, it helps to set a schedule that can work around my ability to procrastinate and be lazy. I opted to set my alarm about 15 minutes earlier in the morning and immediately got up to start dancing. I knew if I did it this way, I wouldn’t be awake enough to find something else to do. Additionally, I only did it four out of five weekdays. By building a “skip day” into the schedule, I could leverage that as motivation to not skip. For example, it’s Tuesday and I’m really tired so I opt to sleep in, but I know that by doing so, I commit to getting up Wednesday, Thursday, AND Friday. I reconsider. I get up and save my skip day for later in the week.

As for the workout itself, I really hadn’t played the game all that much so a lot of the dances were new to me. My plan was to learn at least one new song per day until I’d gotten through them all and could make a real workout from it. Typically, I spent about 20 minutes (one Break It Down + a couple of songs) in those first few weeks. It’s not a long time to dance, but when you’re pushing 300lbs, it takes a lot of effort to move that much meat.

I’d been playing songs on Easy, which at first seemed like as far as I’d get. I beat both Dance Central campaigns on Easy. Then, the contest took a twist, challenges got introduced, and suddenly I was looking down the barrel of a playlist that was about three times longer than my longest dance session. These were full of songs that I didn’t know with a requirement that I had to play them on Medium (or Hard if I wanted to really complete it). And I did it. I found that I could play songs on Hard and I started learning more songs that way.

By the end of the fitness challenge I began to Gold Star the songs on my regular playlist and looked forward to chasing down scores on the leaderboards that were ahead of mine. Like I said, I’m very competitive, and having better scores shoved in my face is almost all the motivation I need to keep going (once I get myself started, of course).


Run (I Feel Like A Natural Disaster) The Breaks Bust a Move Technologic Sex Machine Sandstorm The Humpty Dance Satisfaction This is How We Do It


I’m also the drummer for DnA’s Evolution (OMGCHEAPPLUG!). Regular rehearsal for several hours on Sunday evenings served as the major staple of my exercise for the weekend.


Possibly due to system shock from the sudden change in personal upkeep, I dropped about 12 lbs. in the first two weeks and another eight in the following two weeks. After that, I had a steady decline of a couple of pounds every weigh-in. Over time, my 3XL t-shirts stopped feeling tight and I went down to 2XL. I had more energy in the morning and I didn’t feel as gross at the end of the day. People began to notice the difference, first in my face and eventually in my body. That was pretty helpful. Also, I got to see the stats of everyone else in the competition. I knew I was ahead from the first weigh-in and I made sure to keep it that way. My teammate Jessa helped keep me motivated by staying in a close 2nd place, constantly threatening to steal my lead, and keeping me paranoid that I might not have done enough to stay ahead. We both resolved from the moment this challenge started that our crew was going to win no matter what.

FINAL WEIGH IN: 257.2 lbs.

That’s 38 lbs. lost in 18 weeks That’s 12.87% of my starting weight gone That’s…..pretty good Jessa came in 2nd at 9% lost so it was pretty awesome to have a total victory like that!


  1. Don’t be sedentary. Your body will hate you. You need to do something. I needed my exercise to be presented in game-form to keep it engaging. Maybe you do, too. Or maybe you want to go running and get all the endorphins. Whatever. Just do something.

  2. You can have a good diet and still pig out from time to time. It keeps you sane. Also, it’s totally cool if you have a cookie. BUT JUST HAVE ONE. GET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM AND MOVE ON.

  3. Don’t diet alone. Or, at the very least, have people close to you who know what your goals are and are willing to support you by helping to provide the proper environment. For example, my girlfriend tried to avoid waving completely unhealthy (but delicious) snacks in my face. She aimed to cook a little healthier when she made meals. And she made a point to tell me when she knew I looked like I lost weight. That kind of stuff is really helpful.


So the challenge has been over for a few weeks. My workload has ramped up considerably so I haven’t had as much time or energy to dance as often as I should, but there are mornings where I do have time and I do have energy so I do dance. I’m sticking to the diet changes I laid out from the start of this and it seems to be allowing me to maintain my progress. This morning, I weighed in at 257 lbs. When things slow down a bit, I’ll probably ramp my workouts back up. In the end, I’d like to lose another 25 lbs. or so, but for now, I’m walking around more than 10 lbs. lighter than I have in a decade.

That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

Stay tuned for a blog from the other half of "Body By Jake And The Fatman" about her experience with the Harmonix Fitness Challenge.