Confession… I am obsessed with my Fitbit.
Each day my main goal is to register at least 10,000 steps. This, however, is much easier said than done.
I’ve found myself using any spare time I can find to walk… in circles around the gym, on my basement treadmill, during client sessions. (You guys may have noticed I’m a little “restless” lately..?)
Some days I naturally have more opportunities to move than others, and I’ve had to develop a plan of attack for days when I am generally sitting a lot more. It usually involves spending at least 20 minutes walking on the treadmill, as well as picking up around the house, cleaning or making extra trips up and down the stairs.
For those who aren’t familiar, a Fitbit counts the number of steps you take each day, as well as (depending on the model you choose) flights of stairs, calories, miles and your sleep patterns.
All of this information may seem sort of trivial, but when you consider the proven health hazards of sitting, a device that makes us aware of how often we move is a very useful thing.
My initial reason for getting one was to provide clients more accountability and support through Fitbit’s online site, which operates a little something like social media (although with less interactive ability.)
I quickly realized I liked the accountability the Fitbit offered me, too. It’s motivated me to work much more movement into my day, which is so important for general health.
The sleep tracking is possibly my favorite feature. I can see how many times a night I am restless, or wake up. I use this information to compare certain habits and how they may affect my sleep quality, such as staying on the computer right up until bed time. Good sleep quality is so important, so having a tool to help you identify what might be disrupting your sleep is extremely useful.
Another neat feature Fitbit has is the alarm. You can set it to whatever time you like for any day of the week, and it vibrates to gently wake you up. I find I like waking up to this much better than to the blaring phone alarm!
The Fitbit does provide an estimated calorie burn for each day. Except for one of the more expensive models, the device does not measure heart rate. So it is calculating calorie burn based on your age, height and weight then factoring in your activity level. Since Fitbit is tracking your movement, I would say this is a good way to *estimate how many calories you are burning. A heart rate monitor would likely be even more accurate, but the Fitbit could give you a could place to start from when calculating a daily intake for maintenance.
I have not used some of the web features such as tracking food or exercise, and I personally didn’t like syncing the Fitbit with My Fitness Pal. (It added random “calorie burns’ to the MFP Food Dairy and increased my daily calorie/macro goals which MFP does when you log exercise. I find this not helpful since we know we don’t get to “eat” our excess calories for weight loss.)
You can turn the syncing feature off and choose which of the web features you want to track. The app is especially user friendly and provides instant feedback and tracking.
Is Fitbit worth the money? I think that depends on whether or not you will use it. In order for the feedback to be accurate and helpful you do have to wear the band at all times. I have never even worn a watch regularly and I am already accustomed to the Fitbit. It is a little cumbersome under sleeves (especially for one who tends to wear 3-4 long-sleeve shirts at a time) but that’s a minor inconvenience.
I think if you wear it and make use of its features, the Fitbit is definitely a worthwhile investment. They aren’t cheap, the Charge (which is what I have) will run you about $140.00 with tax. The Flex is about $110.00 but does not include the sleep or calorie tracking functions. There is also the Zip which is even more affordable, which only tracks your steps.
The Fitbit, however, is not a guarantee of weight loss or a secret tool to accelerate your results. Like anything, if you don’t wear it or it doesn’t motivate you to be more active then it will be a waste of money.
In the end, you still have to do the work with your diet and exercise program. Consistency and dedication are what get results, things like the Fitbit are just tools that can make the journey more fun and more interesting. Before purchasing one, seriously consider whether or not you believe it will be useful for you. If not, it’s probably best to spend your money somewhere else.
I have the Fitbit Charge – click the image to check out how it works!
The Fitbit Flex is more affordable and still a great option – click the image for more info.