Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wondering About a Fitbit?

"Should I get a Fitbit?" ... I've seen the question come across various fitness boards a many times. You know I am a fan! While I've done a few posts about the Fitbit here on my blog,  I thought I would do one that I could refer people to when they are thinking of buying one that shows just what you get with this device.

The Fitbit One is small and unobtrusive (unlike my Omron, a HRM or BodyMedia). I wear mine pretty much 24/7 (I take it off for showers and use that time to recharge the battery). It gives you feedback on your entire 24-hours, not just your workouts.  The graphs, available on the computer or app, give you a visual representation of your day.  I find it extremely informative and motivating. Here's a snapshot of a portion of my dashboard from a few days ago ...

  • SLEEP. Included on the main dashboard is just a small peek at your sleep. There is more detail provided as you click on the tile or look in the "Log" section of the website (see my post here for more detail on the sleep tracking).
  • FOOD: Fitbit does provide it's own food tracker, but many people (myself being one) find that other sites dedicated to this function may be a little more user friendly. I use My Fitness Pal, which syncs with Fitbit (as do a couple others). I personally look more to MFP for food info, but Fitbit does have some graphs and images to help you  calculate and control your calorie intake throughout the day. 
  • ACTIVITY GRAPH: This is my favorite Fitbit feature! On the day pictured above ... I did five 20 minute sessions on the elliptical. See the green spikes? Those are my workouts. The orange section early in the day was some shopping. The yellow spike mid-day was a 40min ride on the stationary bike (I moved the Fitbit to my sock). The small yellow spike was a game of ping pong with one of my boys.  You can SEE when you move, you can see when you don't. It's a great motivator!
  • INDIVIDUAL STATS: The Fitbit will show your total calorie burn for the day (great function if you want an informed estimate of your TDEE), your steps, your very active minutes, floors and distance. You will see the progression through the day ... here's a snapshot of today (so far) below ...
You can see I need to finish up this blog post and get moving!

The individual statistics move along through the day. The Fitbit is wireless, so whenever you get close you your computer (where you've plugged in the base) it will automatically update. Another WONDERFUL new feature with the One, is that it can sync with the app in my iphone too, I love being able to update even when I'm not at home, and all of the information is available on the app, and also on the device itself (just press the button to scroll through the different numbers.) The color in the dashboard boxes changes as you progress, from blue, to yellow, to orange ... green when you achieve your goal. You can customize your goals to the numbers of your choosing.

Beyond the day to day picture, Fitbit also keeps a 30-day snapshot to help you see trends in your activity. I really like the "Intake vs Burn" graph. This is my second favorite feature! Although, before joining MFP and tracking food calories, I didn't have the second "intake" line. The graph is SO much more informative and helpful when you track your food! I love seeing the average burn and average intake, and the graph to help you see the separation (or lack thereof).  MY goal is to keep those lines from touching or crossing ...  you can see I'm not always successful.  If you follow this blog at all, you'll see me capture and post this graph as I look back at each month.  You can see your steps and activity levels for the past 30 days as well. Can YOU tell which day I was sick last month?

The Fitbit is a STEP tracker ... so it doesn't create an accurate picture of weight training activities, swimming or biking. You can add these activities manually quickly and easily, and they will be added into your graphs and totals. Some people find the elliptical questionable (with any pedometer), but I'm quite comfortable with the results I get. The distance doesn't line up perfectly, but I feel that the calorie count is fairly on-track. You can "record an activity" for any individual workout and get specific stats ... Here's my elliptical workout from yesterday. My machine estimated 205 calories, my HRM said 150, and Fitbit estimated 168.

This is a snapshot of my jogging a couple weeks ago.
My HRM came in at 572.

... a another feature is the FRIENDS section. You can make Fitbit friends to compete with or compare to. It will show your steps for the past days ... one down day and I DROP way down.  You can opt out of being shown in lists if you want, but many people find it very motivating to try and climb a little higher. There is a community on the website for questions, groups and support.

That's just a small snapshot of what the Fitbit does.  The functions here are mainly for the One. I do find it an improvement over the original Ultra (which did have trouble staying on, I'm really surprised I didn't lose it in my three years of wearing it). The One slips into a silicone case which is quite snug. This doesn't mean it can't still get lost. I turn it inward so it presses against my body. So far so good. 

The Flex is a wrist Fitbit. Unlike the One, which displays all it's stats on the device itself, the Flex has lights that will show progression. You can't see the numbers themselves, but would need to check in on the computer or app for more information. The Flex does NOT track stairs, but does track activities and sleep. 

The Zip is a slightly less expensive Fitbit ... it does NOT track stairs or sleep. You can record an activity on the website to see the stats for an individual workout, but you can't record an activity directly from the device like you can on the One or the Flex.  The Flex and One have rechargable batteries (charge it every 5-7 days, it doesn't take long, I stick it on the charger during a shower) while the Zip has a replaceable one.

Updated April 2015 -- Fitbit now has the Charge, ChargeHR and Surge. You can check out my review of the two Charges (Charged) because, being a true Fitbit Fan, I HAD to try it out! 

No matter your device ... you'll also get a weekly report from Fitbit which is a great summary of your week~

There are other devices that do what the Fitbit does (or similar) ... Misfit, Striiv, Pebble. Body Media is one touted for accuracy (taking into account body temperature too, which I would think would be interesting to track). It seems a little bulky to me, and it requires a paid subscription to it's website (Fitbit does have a premium version for a fee, but the basic version is free ... everything shown here is available for free).  The JawboneUp and NikeFuel Band are similar to the Flex. I'm sure they are good too ... but we are a Fitbit family (I've picked them up for my two oldest sons, and my parents are now Fitbitters as well).

Another thing I LOVE about Fitbit, as that so many companies trust it enough to link with it. Fitbit  works with MyFitnessPal (which I also love, and love how they work together), and many different reward programs (Everymove, Achievemint, Walgreens, ShopYourWayRewards, PACT, Eandit ... they all accept Fitbit's steps, automatically linking and syncing. You can read more about the various reward programs here ... Reaping the Rewards).  I've actually earned enough to pay what I paid for my Fitbit! I've also been able to pay it forward donating to charity, just from my activity I would be doing anyway.

So is a Fitbit right for you? Which one? I hope this helped a bit *Ü*


  1. Great post! Very informative. Thank you, Jen!

  2. Excellent post, Jen! My Fitbit One should be arriving in the mail today! I found your blog through MFP and am reading regularly in Feedly.

    1. I hope you like it! There is a Fitbit group in MFP. Feel free to ask any questions as you get going. I might be able to help :)

  3. loved this article! Please add me on there...the more friends I have the better!

  4. This was a really helpful article - I've just picked up my fitbit one.

  5. Thanks for linking up and for the info! I really want a Flex!!

  6. The fit bit is definitely more affordable than other products that are out there.
    I love my fitbit, and I love how it links up to MFP too. Win win.

  7. I LOVE my Fitbit One! Although I am always so paranoid about it falling out of the little pouch! It's such a great tool, especially for a numbers nerd!

    1. I do think the One is an improvement on the older Ultra ... I'm SO surprised I didn't lose it (it did fall off a few times). I did have a scare with the One, when it did fall out of the case (in the car, so I did find it). Now I always wear it turned in to decrease the chance of it slipping out. I do find when I work up a swear and there is a little sheen of moisture on it, that is when it's the most likely to come out of the case. I've had mine for a year now, and only had the one issue. I'm a TOTAL numbers nerd!


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