A few months ago, I decided to get a Fitbit Flex. Here's what happened...
What is a FitBit?
Fitbit is a brand name for pedometers. I use the Flex, which is a simple bracelet that counts steps. If you look at the picture in this post, then you will see that it basically looks like a blue bracelet. To track my steps, I created an account for free at Fitbit.com. When I press a "sync" button my iPhone or computer will find my Fitbit and download the latest data. (Note: the "Fitbit Force" has a wider rubber band and has been recalled but the Flex is fine.)
How Did I Use My Fitbit?
Using the Fitbit.com interface, I have set goals for myself:
- Distance per day: 5 miles
- Steps per day: 10,000
- Active time: 1 hour
- Goal body weight: lose 5-10 pounds
What Were the Results?
Goal setting, awareness, and accountability are important for any endeavor. Health and fitness are no exception. Fitbit made walking a lot more fun and I became more aware of the distance required to make all 10,000 steps. I also learned about the calories I typically burned in one day.
I found that I could walk the mall on bad weather days, walk outside twice a day on busy days, walk while I was waiting for someone to meet up with me, and walk at a desk treadmill when performing mundane tasks. I also like to walk outside while I'm on the phone because I can pay better attention to what someone is saying and put the time to good use. Instead of sitting and waiting I am always working on more steps! One of my fellow FitBit friends says she never stands in place, she even walks while doing her dishes.
After 6 weeks, I had lost 10 pounds! I was absolutely shocked when I stepped on the scale.
Since I have owned my Fitbit, I have walked 1,081,148 steps -- that's 491 miles in just 4.5 months! That is like walking over 18 marathons!
Of course, no record-keeping system is perfect. One day with 11,000 steps and 5 miles is missing from my tracking data because I accidentally left the Fitbit at home that day.
The Fitbit is easy to wear and I like the computer program. It not only tracks my progress, but also helps me find friends online so that we can compete and keep each other on track. It is fun to download your progress.
It is fun to have a goal and a way to track that goal every day.
The Fitbit can also show you how many calories you can eat in a day. Most of the time I am allotted around 1500-2000 calories per day. I like to divide those by 4 (3 meals plus 1 or 2 snacks) so I know I have to stay around 400 calories per meal. That equates to one healthy plate that is half fruits and veggies. I don't think I really went on a diet -- I always eat healthfully, but I did pay more attention to portion sizes and I did concentrate on making a healthful plate more often.
The badges are fun -- I have received one for 20,000 steps when I decided to take a long 5 hour hike. I got one more for 10 pounds lost.
If you run or do other activities you can add those to your Fitbit tracker too.
And the FitBit will email you when the battery is low.
Of course, the Fitbit is not perfect, but it comes darn close. The one drawback I found was that, if you are walking up a steep hill, it won't count that as very active time because you are not moving that fast. Seriously, other than that, I really cannot think of any cons.
Fitbit: Extra Equipment
I did purchase the matching wireless scale that tracks my weight. It's never hard to stay on track when you are weighing in a few times a week. After all, it helps you keep an eye on what you are doing. I am motivated to reduce the fat and sugar in my diet and use portion control and more veggies at every meal. After all I am 52 so every calorie counts!
1 year update: 2,581,056 steps, 1178 miles, within 5 pounds of goal weight and BMI 22
For More Information:
One lesson learned is that you have a lot more opportunity to restrict calories than you do to burn excess calories away via exercise. Check out our 7 Simple Steps poster:
A high fiber diet is key - check out our brand new High Fiber Poster:
Here is a fun infographic that was emailed by Fitbit - they have done an amazing job with emailing stats, allowing you to compare them with friends, and with emailing you to remind you that your FitBit battery is low.
And here is a free exercise handout about getting 10,000 steps and how to find the pedometer that is right for you. Getting 10K Steps