It’s My Fitiversary!

Fitbit Charge HR

Fitbit Charge HR

I’ve had my Fitbit for a year as of August 6, so it’s time for an update!

There have been times in the past when I’ve stayed fit and maintained my weight. It would usually last for about 18 months. At that point I’d get tired of the time and discipline involved. So I can meet my goals with or without a Fitbit, but “with” is more fun!

FitbitScreen2 FitbitScreen3

Above are my best and worst days so far this month. On the 16th I did my usual workout, walked to and from work, and mowed the lawn! On the 12th, I didn’t work out, and I had to take my car to work to drive to a meeting.

I have competed in some daily and weekly challenges, but I always fare best when I set and meet my own goals. This is where the Fitbit universe excels. At a minimum, you use Fitbit’s default goal of 10,000 steps each day. Or you can set goals for everything –  weight, calories in and out, exercise minutes, heart rate zones, kilometres walked, and stairs climbed. The basic Fitbit Flex has a row of lights which show progress toward your step goal. Other models have an LED display with readouts for the many goals you’ve set. However, all of them connect with a Fitbit app or website which gives full details of your day, far beyond what the wristband shows you. You can sync your wristband with the app or website any time to see how you’re doing. In my case, it helps me plan the rest of my day. For example, if I work out in the morning, I don’t have to go overboard on steps or activity for the rest of the day, if I don’t want to! Sometimes I wrongly guess that I’ve been somewhat active but I actually need to get moving later in the day to meet my goals.

As I said in my 6-month report, my Fitbit conked out after 3.5 months. I phoned up and they diagnosed the Fitbit by accessing my account, with my permission. They sent out a replacement in overnight delivery. The replacement is the one I still wear. Now that the 1-year warranty has expired, I am worried about the Fitbit dying, since most electronics are not built to last. However, it is still going strong and there are no signs of wear. It still charges fully, has good battery life, and syncs with the app easily. I feel the company supports their products well. It should be noted that problems syncing the Fitbit may be caused by the Fitbit itself and not the app. That’s what happened in my case.

In a perfect world, maybe my Charge HR would have interchangeable wristbands, like the higher-priced Surge smartwatch does. Maybe it would be waterproof and able to track swimming. GPS would be cool but that would be a whole new price point. Also, the screen is hard to read in bright sunlight.

Sleep Tracking

Sleep Tracking

I wear my Fitbit 24/7. I like the sleep tracking and the vibrate-alarm. I use the sleep goal feature: the app reminds me when it’s time to get ready for bed. This has really helped me wind down my evening activities and cut down screen time. I am working toward 7 hours of sleep a night. I can download my own stats into a spreadsheet – they show I really do average 7 hours of sleep a night. But since that includes weekends when I sleep later, it is concerning! In reality, it is more like 6 hours on weeknights and 8.5 on weekend nights. So I am still working on that, but the reminders and tracking help a lot to keep me mindful about it.

I mentioned in my 6-month review that the app underestimated how many calories I needed to take in. Recently I have been putting a higher priority on sleep so I work out 4 mornings a week instead of 5-6 and I just go for a walk on the other days. My weight has gone up just 2 or 3 lbs so I am happy with that.

As a data nerd, I have to say that my Fitbit is one of my favourite electronic toys ever. It is possible that after 18 months, my natural motivation to work out will decline and I’ll stop wearing it. But I doubt it, because I really like the continuous feedback. The only reason I might stop wearing it is because I miss wearing my nice wrist watches, and I prefer not to wear both! It’s more likely that the device itself will pack in. I haven’t been rough with it, so we’ll see what the built-in obsolescence factor is like. I won’t know until it dies what its cost was over its lifetime. I paid $179 for mine, so to date, it has cost me $15 a month!

If you have been thinking about getting a Fitbit but are undecided, I think it is a great motivator, easy to set up, fun to use, and there is a choice of how simple or complex you want your goals and statistics to be. The app and website are well-designed, attractive, and updated often. I highly recommend it.

This is not a sponsored post.

Do you have any fitness tracker stories? If you are fit and you don’t use a tracker, what works for you?

22 comments

  1. Fiona

    22,000 steps! I don’t think I ever do that much in a day! And 10,000 as a minimum. That is a fantastic effort!

    Everyone I know who has a Fitbit has used it long-term and has stuck with it for well over a year. The tracking must really help as people seem to become more committed to it, not less, as time goes on.

    Do you find wearing it at night intrusive? I loved the sleep-tracking feature on the Jawbone but it did irk me to wear it sometimes at night.

    We haven’t replaced the Jawbone in part because it helped me to know that my lifestyle already included ‘minimum’ steps per day as part of the routine. I felt there was no further need to track. I’m interested to hear you comments on calorie tracking. How does that work? Does the Fitbit calculate your estimated calorie needs for you? And can it track calorie intake by linking to food tracking apps or websites?

    • Hi Fiona, I had been working out for a while before I got my Fitbit and was already in a routine, so I set my own goal of 15,000 steps daily. The extra 7000 that one day was all from mowing the lawn: it is a strenuous job! It took me a while to get used to wearing it at night and I still “notice” it, but I like waking to its alarm – much better than an alarm clock. Yes, the Fitbit calculates your calorie needs based on your goal weight, current weight and activity level. It gives you a base level of calories and you “earn” more as you are active during the day. You can also choose to set a goal of how many calories you want to burn each day through exercise. I have used the Fitbit app for tracking eating/meals/calories and it is good, but I found it hard to add in home-cooked meals, home baking, etc. A lot of people do link it to MyFitnessPal instead and import the calorie tracking from that. I haven’t been tracking food/calories since the beginning of the year (!) since I seem to be on an even keel.

    • I’ve stopped wearing my Fitbit. All excited at the start and then it wains. I have a flex and charge. I might have to give it a go. Maybe a spring challenge.

      I did like the sleep monitoring too. Seven hours is pretty good for a week night. I too catch up over the weekend.

  2. I have a fit bit too, but only use it when I am working/ in a normal routine. It gets taken off when I am on holiday! I do find them really beneficial as it motivates me to do my daily 10k especially when in the office, I have started walking the 6 flights of stairs1

    • Bravo on the stair climbing! I get out of my fitness routine when I travel but I still like to wear the Fitbit to see how much walking or hiking I do when on vacation. I know you go for a lot of walks, too!

  3. I bought myself a Fitbit last month and love it. I was surprised what a difference it makes. Though I don’t think the sleep feature is accurate. I am a huge insomniac and it counts time I know I’ve been awake as asleep. I also am Fitbit friends with my sister. Nothing like taking a little sibling rivalry into adulthood. Not only has it helped both of us be more fit; I find myself being more compassionate towards her. Can’t wait to see how I feel after a year.

    • My opinion on the sleep feature is that it is good at tracking actual sleep. However, if you lie still and breathe evenly and try to sleep, it counts that as sleep, too. So it is really tracking low heart rate and lack of movement. They probably can’t improve that unless they place electrodes on our brains, ha ha! I wish my sister would get a Fitbit so we could challenge each other!

  4. SP

    My fitbit fell off at work, and they replaced it for free. I think I was still within the first year, but I was super impressed with the customer service. I had a long stretch where I didn’t wear it, but it has been back for the last month or so and it is kinda fun to wear. I don’t really use the sleep feature though, because I use the fitbit one and clip it to my pants.

  5. jollyhollybanolly111

    I totally plan on getting a fitbit once I have given birth – I hope it will give me an incentive to get out of the house with the dog and the stroller!

  6. Jo

    I wear my Charge HR 24/7 too – useful for seeing exactly how much I get out of my PT sessions (an hour’s boxing sparring burns an astonishing number of cals and is great for cardio, whereas my weights sessions may be good fr strength and muscle but burn far fewer cals).

    The step counter also makes me move more on non-training days, the sleep function is a perpetual reminder I need to do better in that dept!

    The resting heart rate function has been a revelation – mine is currently between 49 and 51 which for an overweight 50+ year old is great 🙂

    I don’t use the calorie or food logger on it – mostly because the food diary is so messy compared to other systems so I track my eating on a UK based system.

    I’d definitely recommend the Charge HR though – I really get a lot of use our of mine – more than I ever thought I would.

    • I think the Charge HR is good for anyone who trains or wants to improve their cardio. I don’t think would be nearly as interested in fitness tracking without the heart rate monitor. 49 to 51! That is remarkably low. Do you find it hard to work up into your cardio zone? I gave the Fitbit food log a good long try and it’s OK. I had previously used an old PC program, Diet Power, which is no longer supported, but it was the best for pinpointing nutrition gaps. Whenever I want to clean up my eating, I go back to it. Someday I’ll find an app I prefer.

  7. I got my fitbit as part of a ‘use or lose’ miles program (who coincidently are at me again!). I had a band split and they sent me a replacement, but it took so long, in the meantime I lost the whole thing one day… So then they replaced the little computer. And I’m not sure that since those hiccups I got back to using it.

    I had trouble with it, as I did wear it in the shower, and it got musty smelling due to the crevices. I am not a watch wearer, so not in the habit of taking off and then putting back on jewellry.

    I definitely think this style of tracking is more ‘passive’ than when I have (like you) tracked my eating in MyFitnessPal. I do think I always ‘wished’ myself more calories burnt, which is such a cheaters mentality!

    • It’s too bad the replacement process was slow for you. The Fitbit I have says it is only sweat-resistant and not waterproof. I got into the habit of charging it while I shower and then have breakfast! For weight loss, I do think calorie tracking is the way to go. Right now I am just focusing on staying active an keeping my fitness level up.

  8. I just slam the door to the office after work and stomping walk or cycle home. If I am still annoyed when I come home, I walk some more. Most days I walk 20-40 min, sometimes 60 min. And I even like my job! It keeps me healthy.

  9. This is really interesting to read, every now and again I think about getting a Fitbit, but I worry that I’d focus on the sleep function so much, calculating how long it takes me to fall asleep and wondering why I haven’t slept for longer, that it could actually negatively affect my sleep!

    Out of interest, do you feel that it calculates everything relatively accurately?

    • Hi Amy, Yes, I do feel it’s accurate. For the step count, you can measure your stride length and enter it. (I marked off 100 feet on the beach and counted how many steps I would normally take in that distance!) The sleep one is a bit tricky because if you lie completely still and breathe evenly, it thinks you are sleeping. But really, how could it not?

  10. Thanks for keeping us updated. I keep thinking on and off that I want it. I’ve heard mixed reviews pending model. The problem is I can’t find a fitness tracker that does exactly what I want and I worry I’m just fixating on it because I don’t have it…

    • Hi AP, a new wrinkle has developed – the display screen has started to separate from the band (which isn’t interchangeable). This was mentioned by a previous commenter. I wonder if the band is degrading from light/sunlight. I’m not sure how much longer it will be usable. Wouldn’t you know, Fitbit has just released a new model of the Charge HR with interchangeable bands! Coincidence?

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