I made plenty of previous incarnations of trying to be more fit – eat better, work out more often and drop a few pounds. I wanted to feel more energetic and undo some of the bad habits I acquired. But I would invariably do one of two things: a) work out too much and maybe hurt myself, slowing down my progress b) my eating habits would out-pace my workouts. I needed a system that allowed me to have the food match my level of activity appropriately and allow me to safely lose weight. I don’t like drastic measures. I wanted something sensible.
So once the Fitbit came along, I was interested. I knew that I didn’t walk enough – my job is mostly sedentary, and I wanted to see how much I was walking each day. I used to work out, and feel ravenously hungry – but was never sure if I was overeating after a workout. Also, the Fitbit can help to track sleep each night. I knew I wasn’t sleeping enough, but I was also worried about the quality of sleep I was getting. For $99, I figured it wasn’t too expensive to give it a try.
Currently, I have the Fitbit One:
From left to right, the clip that the One slips into, The one, the charging USB dongle, the wireless USB sync, and a quarter for reference. (Not shown: the wrist strap to assist in tracking sleep.) I was disappointed that this version didn’t use Bluetooth to sync (I like to sync at work and at home – carrying the sync device makes me nervous as you can see how small it is). However, you can sync with the iPhone 4S, 5, iPad 5, iPod touch 5th gen, and Samsung SIII/Note II.
For a few months, I only observed my step data. Then I tried to make small changes. I had many fits and starts with trying to get it right. Then I got frustrated and decided to go all in. I challenged myself to walk more – park further away, walk a mile to the office, walk up stairs, make a visit instead of sending an email. I may have driven my family ragged trying when we were out.
I have recommended this system to many people, but always with one caveat: You may lose the Fitbit, even for a little while. I’ve had it twist and fall off of my belt clip or waistband a few times. I’ve had it fall off when I was getting undressed. So I now wear it on my collar or on my shirt. I’m constantly checking if I have it on. Over time, I’ve become quite dependent on it.
I set a weight goal, I used the Fitbit site to enter my food intake for the day and stayed within the ranges I set for myself. Well, I stayed within those ranges more often that not. To some, the counting and logging of food is too tedious. I’ll agree that it can be, but I put that in context of the bigger goal I had, and pressed on.
For tracking sleep, I slip the One in the wristband (shown at left) and let it track activity (done by holding down the button). I found out that I am getting less sleep than I thought. There are weeks where I get less than 6 hours per night. Once I noticed it, I took measures to fix it. (And hoped that my light-sleeping family would sleep the entire night.) I stop recording by holding down the button and then sync once I turn my PC on.
I love seeing the data, telling me exactly when and how many times I woke up during the night.
Fitbit also has a Premium service that lets you see how you stack up against other users in your age range (of course, gender-specific). It costs $49.99 a year. I can dive into how I’ve been eating, how active I’ve been, and the site sets up a 12 week program where it challenges you to be a little more active than the week prior.
After setting up the trainer for this week:
And the plan for all 12 weeks, notice how it gradually nudges you to do a little bit more.
Overall, I love the system. I would prefer that they added another sync dongle, or had a program where you could insure/replace the device if you lost it. Their customer support is helpful, and the results have been great for me. My peak loss was 40 lbs, but I’ve backtracked recently (new job, less movement) but I am at 35 lbs lost. Not quite at my goal, but I’m going to continue to work at it.Even if you don’t use it to lose weight, just seeing the level of activity each day is motivation enough to get up and be a little more active.