Hats off to to a company called Fitbit! It’s rare in this day that a company can improve upon an existing technology. However, they took something as simple as a “pedometer” and turned it into a feedback junkies dream and a fashion divas must have item.
From the Company:
The Fitbit accurately tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. The Fitbit contains a 3D motion sensor like the one found in the Nintendo Wii. The Fitbit tracks your motion in three dimensions and converts this into useful information about your daily activities.
You can wear the Fitbit on your waist, in your pocket or on undergarments. At night, you can wear the Fitbit clipped to the included wristband in order to track your sleep. Anytime you walk by the included wireless base station, data from your Fitbit is silently uploaded in the background.
I’d like to share my experience with the Fitbit in hopes it you might find it useful. As I type, the Fitbit is telling me that in order to reach my target goals, after this post goes live, I’m going to need to get a few more minutes of activity in if I want that body of my dreams (cliche but true).
When the Fitbit arrived at my doorstep, I had already signed up for the free fitness tracker portion of the website. Without even owning the little device, you can do such things as:
- Log activities
- Log food
- Track weight
All displayed in a neat historical and daily graph. Nothing fancy but simple. In my world, feedback is EVERYTHING. I thrive on it so I can continually adjust, beat my last efforts and improve. The less I think about the little things, the more I can focus on what matters. While the free portion is the site is comparable to many other sites, you can:
- search from an extensive list of foods
- add your own custom foods and
- see foods that others have entered and make publicly available. But just keep reading ….
The REAL power of the Fitbit is the device itself and the information it sends back to the wireless base station.
With Fitbit, you can monitor such things as:
- Intraday Calories
- Steps Taken
- Miles Walked
- Record Specific Activity
- Sleep Patterns
- Leaderboard Activity
Now imagine that you sat down and calculated how many calories you need per day to reach your goals. You guess about your metabolism and if you are lucky, you might get to use tools that take into account your perceived activity factor. Here’s the REAL deal with the Fitbit that drives me crazy as I love the continual feedback.
How active are you really vs. your perception. I work out quite hard during my 60 minutes in the gym. I sweat, I push myself, I have fantastic workouts on average. But be honest… there’s 23 hours you don’t do that in a day and truth be told, I’m not leading an active lifestyle according to Fitbit in the scope of a full day. Sure, for those 60 minutes, I’m #1 on the leaderboard but for the rest of the day, I’m quite sendentary. I find myself sitting a lot in front of the computer (answering emails, forum posts, etc). All worthwhile activity but it does change your entire calculation!
If you think you are leading this wildly active lifestyle and you pick formulas that take that into account, you will be frustrated over time as to why you might not be gaining muscle or burning fat. However, with something that monitors your activity during the day, you can quickly adjust as necessary to keep that calorie surplus or calorie deficit in check. Let me repeat what I think is the most important aspect of Fitbit.
Intraday Calories based on your activity.
If you’ve ever done a calorie calculation formula, you’ll find that it takes your perceived level of activity into account. However, what it will not to is show you your actual level of activity. You may be overeating or undereating! Many people place themselves into a moderately active lifestyle without taking into account they sit most of the day. Fitbit gives you a very good visual feedback of what’s happening.
How accurate is the device?
From my tests, it’s without 100 calories of the most popular method of calorie calculation called the Harris-Benedict Equation.
Sometimes I’m more active and sometimes I’m less. I can adjust my intake based on what I’m doing vs. what a formula thinks I’m doing as input by my own bias. You just can’t adjust quickly using a formula but you can using a feedback device like Fitbit.
Quick Note: I’ve found that Monday thru Friday I’m eating what I’ve calculated but I am not as active as I am on Saturday and Sunday. Interesting to note, on the weekends I’m more active but eat less as I’m out more. Knowing this tidbit, I’m able to adjust my weekday calories to fit more of my actual exertion and attempt to eat more on weekends. Without Fitbit, I’d be overeating 5 days a week and undereating two days… thus making it much harder to reach my goals. Not many people re-work formulas based on the intraday activity.
To me, that’s the real power of device. Keeping me honest about my level of activity. It won’t be so accurate on activities like 60 minutes of vigorous weight training. It can’t tell you how much weight you lifted, or how many reps you did. It doesn’t know such but you can manually record that activity in your log via the website to compensate. It does a pretty accurate job of most other walking and moving type activity. (Found it to be slightly off on elliptical machines).
This device tracks sleep patterns based on recording such activity before you go to sleep and stopping the activity upon waking up. It’s movement based so technically you might say you went to sleep and lie there for 20 minutes without moving and get different results. It seems to record my own sleep patters quite well. In my short experiments, I’ve found that I feel the most refreshed when I am able to record 8 hours of sleep. Or at least within 10 minutes of that magic number. Too much more and I feel groggy. Less and I wake up ready for a nap. Generally speaking, people need between 8-10 hours of sleep. But the real way to determine that is for you to record your sleep over a period of time and find your ideal situation. For me, if I can get 8 hours, I’m doing great. This turned out to be a surprise feature.
It comes with a wrist wrap that secures the Fitbit to your wrist at night. Some have found it too small if you are big boned but I find it to work. It’s made of soft cloth and fits securely and snug. You could secure it to your clothing but if you are a stomach sleeper, that could prove uncomfortable.
The #1 Feature of Fitbit:
The ability to deliver me a stream of continual feedback so that I may adjust my caloric intake and/or activity to meet a short term target. Most important of all, I can see my past records and strive to beat them or at least challenge myself.
Please understand, I am biased and I love this device. If you want an unbiased review, you will need to find somebody who will write a review about this tracking device that has never owned or or just saw it at the gym and learned about it through a brief conversation. This device isn’t for everyone but it sure works for feedback junkies or keeping you honest.
What makes Fitbit stand out besides the technology?
There are NO FEES to upload your data.
Once you purchase the device, you pay nothing after that to keep updating and getting your stats.
Okay, so do I wear the Fitbit all the time? Pretty much except in the shower as it is not waterproof. I’ve found placing it on my gym shorts on the side is always out of the way of my weight workouts Using the sleep band at night is not a problem. Hence, I am able to get a good rating of my daily activity. It becomes embarrassing as I stare at the pie chart that tells me I have 7 hours of sedentary activity. At the same time, it is a motivator for me to get up and take breaks and keep moving.
How accurate is the Fitbit Tracker?
“Calorie data from the Tracker is very similar to those from energy expenditure measurement devices used in clinical research. The Tracker will give you a good sense of how your activity levels change from day to day.
The Tracker is also one of the most accurate pedometers. We’ve tuned the accuracy of the Fitbit step counting functionality over hundreds of tests with multiple different body types. For most wearers, the Fitbit should be roughly 95-97% accurate for step counting. We spent a lot of time ensuring that this accuracy is achieved even when you wear the Fitbit loosely in your pocket.
Sleep data from the Tracker correlates very strongly with results from polysomnograms found in sleep labs.”
Does the Fitbit accurately track calories from cycling/biking?
“The Fitbit is optimized for walking, running and general household/lifestyle activities and gives you a good general 24 hour picture of your day. It’s not going to be that accurate for things like biking, but the website will allow you to manually log activities, so that an estimated calorie burn for your biking can be included in your daily totals. If you are only doing the biking for an hour or so a day, the Fitbit will give you a good overview of your activities for the other 23 hours. The Fitbit is really for people to get a general sense of their day and get motivation from improvements in their general day to day trends.”
The Official Fitbit Website
My Fitbit Profile
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
P.S. - My biggest complaint about Fitbit is the apparently lack of International shipping. It’s not at all necessary to be in the United States for this device to work. It just syncs to the base station and uploads data to your account. Your options seem to be at this point to purchase the Fitbit from eBay. While Fitbit the company may not ship the device internationally, an independent seller might.
P.P.S. – You can record specific activities by pressing Start and Stop. You’ll see the activity show up in your dashboard and you will see some specific information on that recording. Maybe you want to see how many steps it is around the block? How long it took? Your pace? You can record individual activities.
You’re just steps away from better fitness. Try Fitbit now.