Friday, January 24, 2014

FitBit Review

55,875 125,831
That's how many steps I have taken in the week I have been wearing the Fitbit Flex. I picked it up last Friday Jan 10, 2014 and here it is the following Saturday Jan 24, 2014. I feel that I have worn it long enough to give it a fair review. Before I get into the review lets just give you a few stats and information on the device.

Fitbit Flex
Cost: 99$
Colors: Black/Slate/Lime/Pink (standard)
Bands also available in Teal/Tangerine/Navy
Purchased at: Best Buy but widely available

Of course I Got the Tangerine Band so add 30$ to my bill for the extra pack of bands. (I could of ordered just the band I wanted online for 15 bucks but I'm just an instant gratification kind of person.)

I also linked my FitBit Account with an App/website called MyFitnesspal. This is an App/Website that makes tracking the foods you eat really simple to do. It also helped to educate me as to what I’m actually putting in my cake hole. (is cake hole one word or two?) Also like the fitbit I found that knowing that I was going to record everything helped me to make some changes (I still went to Quaker Steak Buffet but I know I ate much less than I would usually. Between the fitbit and the App I feel like I am making a conscious change for what might be the first time. If you have a smartphone and are even a little serious about making a real change in your eating habits I would recommend giving Myfittnesspal a try.

Setup was a breeze. The Flex comes with a wireless Dongle that allows your computer to read the sensors in the wrist band. I also Got a small use charging cable that so far I have only had to use to charge the sensor when I took it out of the box and after a week I am at half a charge (so far the charge has lasted about 10 days). After it was fully charged I followed the setup on the fitbit site and after 10 min I was good to go. The website says the fitbit is waterproof and you can shower with it. Which I have done with no problem.

The fitbit dashboard sets up some starting goals and since I signed up with Facebook it let me know who of my friends were also Fitbit users. This added a social side of the fitness tracking that I did not expect but I found very helpful. Seeing how many steps my friends had taken over the week helped me to know I wasn't alone in this, it also added a bit of competition. I would be lying if I didn't admit to finding myself trying to get extra walking in knowing that my friends were going to see how much or how little I walked each day.

10,000 Steps
That's the goal that Fitbit starts you out at. You can easily change that goal but I decided before I went changing things I would see just how reasonable of a goal this would be for me.  Lets see:

  • Saturday 3604 steps
  • Sunday 6561 steps
  • Monday 10236 steps
  • Tuesday 8534 steps
  • Wednesday 9358 steps
  • Thurdays 9555 steps
  • Friday 8027 steps

You can find my FitBit Profile here:
You can find Myfitnesspal profile here:

I have made almost all of my information public to everyone. I don't have much to hide. You should be able to see how far I have walked each day, what I ate, and when the weather improves, I will add my other outdoor activities (biking and whatnot)

So for me I think that 10,000 steps is a good starting goal, My day isn't particularly active and the one day I managed to get over 10,000 steps was one that I had to do a bit of extra walking around but I could also see that I could have easily gotten to my goal with just a little bit of extra work. When I can make this goal for a week straight I will up it by 2500 steps and see what happens. I have noticed that I have been more active since I started wearing the Flex. and just after a week of wearing I have noticed that I am moving around easier. After trying to take 10,000 steps on Monday I was sore and my knees ached, but by Friday I found that I was able to walk around easily and felt more comfortable walking than I had in the past. I am hoping this continues.

I purchased the Flex instead of the Force for a couple of reasons. First was price, the Flex was 99$ and the Force was 129$. For the extra 30 bucks you got a nice OLED readout that acted as a watch as well as giving you all kinds of nifty information. As much as I am a closet watch whore I didn't really want another watch. I have a watch I really like and several times I have not bought a new watch because I wasn't gonna stop wearing my Black and Orange G-Shock. I knew that the Flex used a line of 5 lights as a readout and I was a little leery about what kind of information I could get with just 5 little lights. Turns out the answer is “A lot” I know how close I am to my goal (each light is 1/5 of your goal and the lights blink faster as you approach each level.), and I can see about how many steps I have taken. I can see if the band is in Sleep mode or not and if the tracker needs recharged. For a row of 5 little lights I’m calling that one a win. Also something I found out that I must of somehow missed the first time. When you reach your goal the FitBit goes just a little crazy. lighting up, blinking and buzzing. It’s a nice feeling.

Sleep Tracking
One of the other things the Flex offers is Sleep tracking. You tell it (with a series of Taps on the tracker) when you go to bed and when you get up. (it has an alarm function but more on that later) the Flex will track how many times you get up during the night and how many restless periods you have while you are sleeping. While I don’t know about the restless periods I found the number of times you were awake to be accurate. at least twice it knew I was awake at night even when I didn't actually get out of bed, just woke up and stayed in bed before falling back asleep. Being a data junkie I love this kind of data. I don’t know what would happen if you don’t put the Flex into sleep mode at night. (I do know you can log your sleep manually on the fitbit site.)

Silent alarm
You can set up alarms on your flex through the website that will cause your band to vibrate until you tap it off. I was doubtful that it would be able to wake me in the mornings but it worked well enough that I am going to turn off the alarm I have on my phone and rely on the Flex to get me moving in the morning.  This is probably the one function of the Wristband I found most surprising and the one function I think I like the best.

Online Dashboard
Everything has a social aspect anymore. Sometimes I agree with this, sometimes I don’t agree or find the social side just a little silly. In this case I agree wholeheartedly. When you first sign up over at you can sign up with Facebook and it will tell you which of your friends are also using the FitBit. I only had a couple but it was enough to get me moving and see how I stacked up against the others I knew. It didn't take long for me to find a few other people on the fitbit forums to friend.

I have wondered just how accurate the Fitbit (and all the other Fitness Trackers) is and over the last week I have had time to look at the data and think long and hard about this.

Is the Fitbit accurate? I have no idea,
Is the Fitbit consistent? I believe so.

What I mean by this is I have no idea if I have taken 10,000 steps when it says I have. What I do believe is that I have been twice as active on days when it reads 10,000 than on the days when it read 5,000. I also believe that knowing how active I am is more important than knowing how many steps I have taken. Looking at each days readout I can see when my active times are (heading to work and heading home) and when my inactive times are (after lunch and from 7pm to bed). I'm not sure what I’m going to do with this information but observing will change the outcome.

again I point you to the Hawthorne effect

*** One of things I believe is that things like this will help you lose weight and get into better shape if you are looking to lose weight and get into better shape. They are NOT some kind of magical item that will change you without work. What they do is to make you more aware of how active you are and encourage you to become more active. They act as a reminder when you are going out to lunch, so that maybe you want to skip the buffet or at least hold back a little.

I am reminded of my rules for cycling, Rule 9 You can do so much more than you think you can.

So if you’re trying to shed those pounds, get out and be a little more active or just want to see how active you are during the day then the Fitbit Flex, Force or any of the other Fitness Trackers out there is something to consider.

Or just pick up a 5$ Pedometer, I have had my share and perhaps its just my Gadget love but they never really did for me.

1 comment:

  1. In my experience, cakehole directly relates to fatass, so it's definitely one word. Thanks for the review too!