Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Week with FitBit

I wanted to wait until I got a solid week of use out of the FitBit before I made any judgments on it.  The week of January 12-January 18 was my first "full" week of use.  I wore the FitBit nearly 24 hours a day during this time period.

Black FitBit Flex, Small Wristband.

I say nearly because even though it says it is water resistant and can be worn in the shower I've read other reviews that contradict that statement and honestly I don't like wearing things in the shower other than my piercings and the ring my grandmother gave me before she died (just keepin' it real here).  So I utilize the time I'm in the shower to charge it.  Then after my shower and dressing and primping (haha) I put it back on.  I've never had a problem with a low battery, so for me, this method is perfect.

Here are my thoughts on this little contraption.  All opinions are my own.  As you know I was gifted this FitBit through the Pittsburgh Marathon, but I'm not being paid or swayed (nice rhyme, eh?) one way or the other.

First of all, it's a cool little pedometer.  It tracks your steps and as a baseline encourages you to get the standard recommended 10,000 steps per day.  When you get to that goal you are rewarded with some vibrations and dancing lights.  Much different from the old pedometers from back in the day that you could hear clicking and just had a little readout that sometimes worked, sometimes didn't.

As for wear, it feels like wearing one of those rubber charity bracelets - you know, like the old school yellow Livestrong ones.  Most of the time I don't notice it, but sometimes when it's fumbling around (especially with certain shirts) it drives me batty.  I have very petite wrists and even the smallest size band is way big on me.  But not so much that I'm willing to take it off, so there's that.  I definitely don't notice it at night.

One huge plus is the integration with MyFitnessPal.  I use MFP every day, so being able to connect the two is freaking awesome.  Together they measure my activity level and calorie input and output.  I also like on the FitBit app for iPhone how easy it is to track water intake.  They even have a simple icon for a standard 16.9 oz bottle of water that you can click and tap "Log It" and it gets added to your total.

Another cool thing to see is the sleep tracker.  I've been interested in this for a while (my primary reason for wanting one of these, btw).  So far it pretty much confirms that it takes me around 10 minutes of flopping around to settle in and get to sleep and that my dear Calloway cat has a habit of waking me up at night or at least putting me in the "restless" state several times.  But, I'm also shocked that I do have more periods of deep sleep than I thought.  I thought I was a light sleeper, but besides the cat having me up and down, the data doesn't reflect that.  What it does reflect, and I'm really guilty of this, is that I need to get more sleep in general... especially as these marathon training weeks get longer/harder.  I need to get my tail in bed earlier and stop sitting up all night catching up on cheesy TV on the DVR.  Consider my wrist thoroughly slapped.

The online Dashboard is cool to see as well.  It's pretty much a larger version of the iPhone app.  You can see where you stand with friends if you choose to go the social route, you can set up meal plans, see various data from steps taken to floors climbed to how many "active minutes" you've had.  You even earn little motivational badges for milestones and goals achieved.  You can be as social or a reclusive as you want and set things up however you like them.

There are unfortunately some downers, though.

It hasn't proven to be completely accurate for me in terms of distance traveled, which leads me to believe that it is also inaccurate in terms of total steps taken.  That's unfortunate considering that at the very base of it all, this is a pedometer with some cool frills.

Here is my weekly email with my stats:

Yes, Friday is my Least Active Day... it's my rest day!  I don't think that warrants a frownie face, though.  Rest is essential to overall health & fitness!

Now as an average person looking at the numbers I wouldn't be too concerned, but as a someone who uses GPS technology to track running and other activities I see where things aren't right.  Last Sunday's long run was 14 miles on both my GPS watch and iPhone app I use for backup (Endomondo, if you're wondering), yet according to the FitBit my best day (Sunday) only tracked 12.78 miles TOTAL, including all the other steps I took that day outside the long run.  Definitely not correct.

Even today, the app claims I'm only at 5.48 miles at this moment and just over 10k steps.  But I ran 5 miles this morning (North Park lake loop) and I'm pretty positive I've "traveled" more than half a mile extra in walking/other movement today.

So, if you're a stickler for precise details, this might annoy you.  I believe that my step count is much more than the fitbit wants to reflect if the mileage is that far off.  And if I were in one of those uber serious competitions for steps or whatever I'd be ticked if I only got credit for 12 miles of a 14 mile run! lol

All in all the Fitbit is a fun gadget and I'm having a ball playing with it.  If you're someone who is just getting into being active and you like to set and smash daily goals and get a list going with your friends or coworkers and especially if you use MyFitnessPal, I'd highly recommend the FitBit Flex.

If you're a more seasoned exerciser and have a GPS tracker of some form, a heart rate monitor to calculate your calorie burn, etc you might not get a whole lot of use out of this and you might add some additional stress and frustration by the discrepancies.  BUT - if you are willing to just have fun tinkering with it as I am, and you are possibly interested to see if your jerk of a cat wakes you up at night like a newborn baby, then go for it! ;-)

I'm going to keep on wearing it for a while, but I can't promise I won't get sick of it at some point.

Do you have a Fitbit?  Do you find it accurate?  Does your pet disturb your sleep?  If you want to add me on Fitbit, go ahead!


  1. Thanks for the review! I haven't jumped on the fitbit wagon mainly because it's so trendy now...and those I see wearing them are as overweight now as when they started wearing them (some a year or more ago). So I'm skeptical about whether it really helps people be more active or just acts as a fashion statement to *show* people you're more active, you know? I think the only thing I'd be interested in is the sleep monitoring. I don't have a problem with getting enough sleep, but I am curious! The discrepancy in mileage would drive me nuts!

    1. Yep. You've pretty much summed it up. I've thought the same re:the results of people that have had them all this time. I'm all for something giving you a nudge to get off your butt but you've got to put it all together... it's the whole "you can't out exercise a bad diet" thing. If I had bought this myself, I think I would be even more disappointed with it because I know there are iPhone apps out there that can supposedly do just the sleep monitoring thing less costly. Since it was free I'll have fun with it for a bit and maybe give it to someone who will get more out of it. I don't currently see myself using it habitually forever and ever.