Monday, February 9, 2015

Fitbit: helpful friend or negative nancy?

I got a shiny new toy for Christmas this year: a Fitbit.

It’s actually surprising that I didn’t get on this bandwagon sooner. I’m typically all about fitness gadgets (I may or may not have two Garmin watches, a foot pod, a heart rate monitor, and other techy stuff affiliated with fitness). So, I was thrilled to get it as a gift (kudos to my hubby for the great gift idea).

I’ve been using the cute little Fitbit for a while now and wanted to share my thoughts:

1. It’s eye-opening: I’m a runner. I like working out. I like when my muscles are sore and I tend to look forward to workouts (not always, but generally). I’m technically overweight for my height but I’m happy with the way my clothes fit and my general strength (I can move my furniture myself, etc.). So all things considered I would call myself ‘fit’. Sure, I could lose weight and eat better (couldn’t we all) but I’m capable and strong.

When I started getting my Fitbit stats I was BLOWN AWAY by how little activity I did on non-gym days. On days I go to the gym (generally only three days a week) I hit 10,000 steps no prob.

But on days when I don’t go to the gym I am seriously sedentary. On non-gym days I average 2,000 – 3,000 steps. That’s it. That’s not great.

I decided to change my habits (take more steps on non-gym days) based on the information Fitbit provided. Now, I’m not beating myself up over it or running every single day (recurring injury prevents it). But I’m making a conscious decision to walk more and so far so this guy:

2. Tracking sleep is harder than I imagined: One of the things that sparked my interest about the Fitbit was its ability to track sleep. I was pretty confident that I was getting 7-8 hours a night but how many minutes of that sleep was restless? Inquiring minds (well, my mind) want to know.

Here’s the thing, tracking sleep requires that you remember to turn ‘sleep mode’ on before you zonk out. At first I did this no prob. But as the weeks wore on I forgot more than I remembered. So now my sleep data is incomplete (which bums me out).

What data I did collect was interesting. I was actually getting far less sleep than I thought (think 5 – 6 hrs instead of 7-8). No wonder I was tired every day.

3. Getting badges (Fitbit awards for achieving goals) is actually fun: My little brother described it best when he said, “so it’s like your life is an RPG and the Fitbit tells you when you level up?” YEEEEEESSSSS.

It is just like that. I love getting badges for achievements. And I love when it vibrates to let me know I’ve hit my step goal for the day. It’s actually pretty fun to use.

4. The web interface is better than the mobile interface: This bums me out. You can do so much more (and see so much more) on the full ‘web’ version of the app versus the mobile version.

Here’s the rub, I pretty much only use the mobile interface on my phone. I rarely think to log into my Fitbit profile on my laptop. So it’s a bit discouraging to have limited capabilities on the mobile side of things. Maybe this will improve over time (or as I learn more about the mobile side of the app).

Overall, I really enjoy using Fitbit.

I like to think of the Fitbit as my fitness CP. Sometimes I don't like what my Fitbit has to say but most of the time its feedback is hugely empowering. Too often, I think we default into believing we are doing ‘enough’ to stay healthy.

I know I certainly fell into that boat. So having new information on my habits helped me make better decisions. And, so far, Fitbit has been fun to use and unobtrusive.

I would definitely recommend Fitbit to someone interested in better understanding their current habits or looking to make changes.

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