I love cool technology. Ever since I got my first Palm Pilot, I have been a tech junkie. Being married to an engineer has made me an honorary geek, and I have found myself becoming quite intrigued by technological developments over the years. Currently I am very confused by the increasing size of smart phones. Wasn’t the whole point that they were very small? Now I see people speaking into devices the size of a brief case, and I just don’t get it. But I digress.
Since I’m a huge fan of the “smaller is better” approach, of course the latest trend that I love is “wearable tech”. Finally we can all look like Dick Tracy, talking into our watches and consulting a tiny screen on our wrist for directions to the nearest Starbucks. It’s all too cool, and I can’t wait to check out the new Apple Watch when it’s released.
Until then, I am completely enamored with my FitBit. I have heard the buzz, seen them advertised, and admired them on the wrists of people I encounter just about everywhere. My curiosity finally got the best of me, and in the name of fitness research, I finally bought one. I am like a kid on Christmas morning with my new toy.
For starters I am quite impressed by the sleek design and assortment of available wrist band colors for the Flex model. You can even buy replacement bands in different colors to match your outfits and moods. For some people that may not be important, but it does help to eliminate an excuse for not wearing it (“it just didn’t match my outfit”). With the exception of the tiny little indicator lights, they look a lot like the rubber wrist bands that people wear to support their favorite causes. And if that’s not your thing, they even have a fancy Tory Burch designer wrist band for the fitness fashionista. No excuses, people.
Aesthetics aside, I am completely fascinated by its ability to know and report my every move. This is a tiny little device – about the size of a cockroach (the small ones, not the giant, winged kind they have in Florida). This little block of plastic is discreetly tucked into the rubber wrist band and immediately starts tracking.
In addition to being a tech geek, I am very analytical. Thanks to my marketing background, measuring and reporting everything is my version of “fun with numbers”. Using the FitBit dashboard on my phone or laptop, I can track everything from steps taken and calories burned to my food and fluid intake, even my sleep. It’s kind of like Santa – it knows when I am sleeping, it knows when I’m awake, it knows if I’ve been bad or good…
And speaking of bad, there is a pretty awesome food tracker. It displays a little graph indicating how many calories eaten vs. burned throughout the day. Like any other food journal, the graph is only as good as the data you input. So if your journal is mostly fiction, it’s not going to tell you anything meaningful. It can take a bit of effort to enter your every bite (although some find this good incentive to only eat when absolutely necessary). So if you are already using Lose It or My Fitness Pal, those apps as well as many others integrate with FitBit, eliminating the need to do double data entry or start from scratch. If you program your goals on day one, the FitBit will hold you accountable for staying on plan. If you eat too much, you’d better add some steps to your day. Math never lies.
I am somewhat competitive but am totally ok competing with myself, so the FitBit is perfect for me. Setting mini-goals from day to day is fun and rewarding. I started out with a goal of 10,000 steps in one day. The first time I reached it, my FitBit began lighting up and buzzing frantically. For a moment I thought it might explode. At the same time an alert appeared on
my phone, congratulating me for walking 10,000 steps that day. Oh yeah! It even posted a trophy type badge on my dashboard. Only thing missing was a parade. My next level goal is 12,500 steps in one day. I think I can do it. My best day so far was 10,853, and that day included lots of errands and a quick pass through the mall with my daughter. I’ve also learned that I rack up a lot of steps by cleaning my house – upstairs/downstairs, vacuum, carry the laundry, upstairs/downstairs, repeat. On the flip side, if you sit at a desk all day, you will immediately become aware of how little you move at work. You will need to be extra diligent about getting up and walking to your co-worker’s office instead of sending email. Take the long way, and take the stairs! Small steps add up throughout the day.
The sleep tracker is also remarkable. By tapping my FitBit a few times as I climb into bed, it knows that I have settled in for the night. When I wake up I tap it again, and it reports how long it took me to fall asleep, how many hours I slept, and how restless I was. I have always been an excellent sleeper, so I was a little bit surprised to see that I was restless 14 times in one night. That seems like a lot of tossing and turning. Nevertheless, I was proud to have gotten a full 8 hours of sleep – yes, I am a competitive sleeper too. Quality sleep is essential to good health, and I am delighted to be able to track it.
And if you’d like to spread the word about your latest accomplishment, your FitBit data is of course integrated with facebook and Twitter. It will post your 10,000 step milestone so that your friends can congratulate you. A little encouragement can go a long way in helping you reach your goals. Don’t be shy!
PC Magazine has rated FitBit Flex among the top 3 fitness activity trackers this year. For the price, I could not agree more. It has so many features and does a wonderful job of utilizing my VASSAD method for behavior change. That is something I can get behind 100%.