Fitbit, Finally

Fitbit Charge HR

Two weeks ago I bought myself a Fitbit. I talked about getting one last December but held off because I thought the upcoming Fitbit Charge HR would be just my speed.

I didn’t need to think about whether I would really use it or if it would be just a passing fancy. I have used diet and fitness tracking software daily for up to 2 years, with all data entered manually, so I knew I would be a fitness tracker’s target audience!

I did pause and compare brands and models. I wanted something with heart rate and an altimeter (for tracking stairs or hills climbed) and didn’t want to pay for a model with GPS or one that was completely waterproof. The one I chose has enough features to keep me motivated – beyond steps – but is not an athlete’s sport-specific device for runners, cyclists or swimmers.

As I go about my day, I can press a button on the band to check the time, my heart rate, how many steps I’ve taken, the distance I’ve travelled, how many calories I’ve burned, and how many flights of stairs I’ve climbed (or equivalent in hill walking).

To that, the app or website adds the ability to manually record weight, foods eaten, water intake, and any exercise that is not steps-based, such as minutes spent on yoga or bench presses. The Fitbit knows what my heart rate is during all my activities (unless I take it off) so it will estimate the calories burned. If I want to know my stats for a specific time period, such as during a game of tennis (joke!), I press and hold the button on the Fitbit when I start, and again at the end, and it is recorded as a “workout.”  I can then compare one workout to another, try to best my previous stats, etc. The Fitbit app adds up my “active minutes” each day based on the times my steps and heart rate were high.

If I wear it to bed, it uses my resting heart rate and lack of movement to guess when I am sleeping or tossing & turning. However, if I am sitting and reading a book, it knows I’m not asleep.

For weight management, I entered my current and goal weights. It has been excellent in recording the calories I burn and in predicting the calories I can eat to lose or maintain weight.

I can sync the Fitbit to the app at any time, or continously. I find it works well to look at the stats twice a day to see if I am approaching the goals I set, then do any added activities required to actually meet them! If I sync and check it all the time, the battery drains quickly (although it’s easy to recharge).

Fitbit 1

Fitbit 2

Screencaps from the website (above)

iPad app screencap for same day (scrolls to show lots more)

iPad app screencap for same day (scrolls to show lots more)

As soon as I downloaded the app and set up the device, I knew it was The Thing for Me because of the lovely stats screen! The device will sync to a phone, tablet or computer (or all three). The stat screens are a little different on each, with the Fitbit website version being the most comprehensive (shown).

As you know, I have always worn a watch, so I am hardly aware of the Fitbit on my wrist. But it has displaced my usual watch and now I am not inclined to grow my watch collection for a while 🙂

When I started using it, I was keen to know how many steps a day I was taking and how much sleep I was getting. On a no-commitments day with no work and no workout, I get about 7500 steps. On work days, with morning workouts and a walk-commute, I get an average of 17,600 steps! I was especially pleased to find that my daily walks to work have enough altitude to give me the equivalent of 15 flights of stairs each day! I joked to Rom that he’ll know I’ve gone over the edge when I start walking up and down the steps in the house to get more “flights of stairs” on my Fitbit! I have adjusted my goals to reflect my actual averages, rather than keeping the default settings.

When I work day shifts, I get 6 to 6.5 hours of sleep. When I can sleep late, I do, getting about 8.5 hours of sleep the other nights. It’s not so bad when averaged out…but seeing the stats makes me want to improve them. I see that my sleep can be very broken up, but by going to bed earlier, I can compensate. Most of my restless sleeping is after 3 am, so the more hours of sleep I can get before then, the better I feel.

It has been two weeks now and I am still quite infatuated/obsessed but I am sure it will calm down in time. I have four modest goals: to maintain my weight, to get more sleep, to keep up my weekday fitness routine, and to improve my fitness by doing active things on the weekends, too.

The biggest surprise? The app has actually motivated me to drink water! (hell has frozen over…)

If you have a fitness tracker, I would love to hear how you’re doing with it. If you are a Fitbit user and want to add me to your friends (which I would like very much!): I am not able to link it to Facebook right now, but you can use my email: anexactinglife (at) gmail (dot) com

Not a sponsored post / No freebies, discounts, compensation or shopping links

See also: What Keeps Me Fit and Am I Athletic?

40 comments

  1. I’ve been debating getting a FitBit for a while now. Im glad you like yours. 17,000+ steps per day is amazing!!!

  2. I applaud your use. While I try to do something active every day, I am one who weighs himself only once a week. So, I would be less inclined to monitor more than I do. But, more power to you.

    • In theory I would like to judge my weight only by the way my clothes fit, but in real life, I can convince myself they still fit by wearing only the stretchier ones for a long time 🙂

  3. You’re in heaven! All this data!

    I haven’t worn mine for a while. But I do love it. I don’t have the heart rate model. Have done challenges with friends. That’s quite fun. Wouldn’t do one with you. You’d win too easily! Lol.

  4. So glad you finally got one! You’re doing so well! 🙂 I’ve done a few pedometer challenges but they don’t hold my interest long-term. Maybe a fitbit (or similar device) that syncs and shows such pretty stats would be more motivating? I keep thinking about buying one but can’t seem to justify it.

  5. Had a thought. If you go to bed earlier wouldn’t your restless sleep time just move earlier?

  6. Fiona

    I’m amazed at the 17,000 steps a day! And probably even more so at the 7,500 steps on a ‘rest’ day (my weekend days used to work out at about 3,000) I loved the sleep tracking on the Jawbone. Unfortunately, ours broke / stop recharging. I really miss it – it was helping a lot with fitness and health generally. I hope you have great fun with it and look forward to seeing all the beautiful stat images!

    • Thanks. Sorry to hear your device went kaput! Hope you get another hike in one of these days – J will be a force to be reckoned with after all of his after-school walks!

  7. I sometimes use a pedometer and can go anywhere from 5,000 to 16,000 depending. Now that I am only going in to my office one day a week I’ve got to get my walking back up to get more of those 16.000 days, or hit the gym. I don’t want to turn into a sloth (particularly since I found out I have high cholesterol (?!). I don’t know if I want a fit bit (one more thing to keep charged), but I can easily undercount my calories and over count my exercise.

  8. I so so very want one, I just can’t justify buying one right now. Anything that might get me drinking water does sound worth the money though! I have been bad with water consumption this last month.

  9. NicolaB

    I bought a Fitbit Charge HR a few weeks ago- I have found it is great at motivating me to walk a little bit more to reach 10,000 steps on those quieter days when I do less. It also stops me lying to myself about how much I have eaten (although I use the My Fitness Pal app to enter food and that syncs to the Fitbut app, as I found the Fitbit app lacked a lot of foods).
    So far it has been working for me and I’ve lost a bit of weight- and I feel more toned and healthy. I’ve set a goal to get my BMI into the healthy range and out of the overweight category before I am 30 next year…

    I attempt to find you and add you!

    • Hey Nicola, we joined only a couple of days apart! You are doing great. I am also feeling more toned already (just over 2 weeks). Thanks for the add & see you over there!

  10. Wow as others have said, you’re impressive! I stopped wearing mine, but I can’t work out why – oh when I lost it, and they replaced it, but I didn’t get back in the habit I think? Anyway the BF has used it a bit (overnight only) to do some tracking of his sleep. Nothing conclusive, except i always feel less rested when we’re in the same bed.

  11. mtandb

    I thought about getting one of these last year but decided against it as anytime I buy anything purposely for weight loss/fitness it seems make my progress go to pot! However, I’ve been losing weight all year (yay!) with the help of fitness pal and the Endomondo app on my phone. The app’s not great for calories used – no heart rate etc – but it does measure walking distance. Anyway to cut a long comment short I’ve been revisiting the idea of a Fitbit again now that I have good habits, and you may have just sealed the deal for me. All that info looks exciting to me! 🙂

    • Very nice, Laura! I have done well in the past with DietPower (software, no app) and MFP is well-designed too. You would be pleased to know it’s compatible with Fitbit, so if you are accustomed to tracking food on MFP, you can continue, and sync it with Fitbit. I think they are good for people who have already developed some promising habits, and like stats!

  12. How exciting! I too love data! But lately have no motivation, depression has set in and I’m fighting to get out of it. I am a good water drinker, glad you are now too! It’s so important for our bodily systems to function well! Anyway, I’ve heard of fitbit and contemplated it, now I think I might look closer at it. I think having motivation and goals helps immensely when I’m down. Thanks for the info and good luck with your goals!! 🙂

  13. I’ve had my Fitbit for a good amount of time now but my friends are all starting to get it. Now we’ve been doing more workweek hustles and weekend challenges that motivate us so it’s def been a really good addition to our lives. Don’t think you’ll be bored of it for awhile 🙂

  14. This is on my wanted list. I have had the fitbit charge (no HR) since the beginning of the year, it still works great, but the plastic is dissappointingly coming off the main central piece. It now has flaps that I quite dislike, so on the days that I am not working out, I just wear my regular watch, which messes up the weekly starts. The damage may be my fault as I am not always that cautious about getting it wet when I wash my hands, or do the dishes, etc.

    • Thanks for the heads up. The band and construction are the same on the Charge and the Charge HR. I wonder how long it will last. Today I was out in the rain and I wore a terrycloth tennis wristband over it (no idea if such a thing is still made!)

  15. 17,000 steps!?! Wow, that’s impressive. Never heard of the HR version, but now I am intrigued. I think I would be trying to ‘beat’ my stats every day.

  16. The Fitbit looks like such a cool gadget to play with! And all the stats!!! I can see how having a tracking device would motivate you to be more active – maybe I should look into getting one as I’ve kind of fallen out of my good workout routine. Good luck with yours! 🙂

  17. Glad to hear you like the FitBit. I’m looking into a new gadget too but I want a heartrate monitor with tracking.

  18. Pingback: In August | An Exacting Life

  19. Teri Fernandez

    I started with the Fitbit One, moved on to the Fitbit Charge and am now on the Fitbit Surge, which is my favorite so far because it also includes other activities I do at the gym such a elliptical, ect. I love it. I also got my entire family hooked as my baby sister inherited my Fitbit One, my daughter the Fitbit Charge and my other sister gifted me her Fitbit Charge. It really helps me keep track of my activity throughout the day, even slow days where I’m sitting at the desk. Best of all it has a heart rate monitor so that I can see how I’m doing through out the day, it pushes me to try a little harder!

    • Hi Teri! I love my Fitbit. Maybe someday I will move up to the Surge to get a better reading for my elliptical and for the GPS. But meanwhile I’m very happy with it and it motivates me a lot!

  20. Ginger R.

    Hey Dar! I’m behind reading your blog and sat down to catch up tonight. So happy to hear you have a Fitbit. I’ve had mine since December 3, 2013. I’ve struggled since the knee injury and surgery and put some of my weight back on. In 2014 – I averaged around 10,000/day. I’m retired so most of my steps are intentional exercise to reach my daily goal. This past Friday I reset my goal for just 5,000 steps/day in an effort to rebuild. I’ll get there. Love my Fitbit. I have the regular Fitbit wristband. It doesn’t count stairs – but that’s okay with me. I’ve thought of getting the Charge HR just to have the HR monitor. By the way – Fitbit provides great customer service and a great community also. Mine quit working and they sent me another one free of charge. I didn’t even pay shipping.

    • Hi Ginger, Good to hear from you. Hope you are having a good recovery time. That was a good idea to set a new goal and build back up. I like the HR monitor. I realized that when I think I am exercising hard enough, my heart rate is not going up much. So I have been motivated to push myself more. Good to know about the customer service!

  21. Donna

    I love my Fitbit. They have great customer service. I have a couple of friends and we challenge each other. Glad you got one.

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