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My FitBit Experience: Answering a friend’s questions

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Today I received an e-mail from a friend who congratulated me on my progress and my new FitBit Blog, and asked me several questions about the FitBit. As I usually do for e-mails of this sort (although usually of a technical nature), I decided to answer her in a blog article.

My friend says that she is trying to lose her excess weight, but has complications that come from being on medicine for Diabetes. She knows that she has to exercise in order to lose the weight, and is not a fan of going to the gym. She has already modified her food habits and knows that if she sheds the pounds she will be able to get off of all of her meds while still controlling the disease. Here are her questions (and my answers):

1) How did you decide to use FitBit?

I started on a diet that I no longer am on and do not endorse (especially for a road warrior) but that did provide me with a cheap pedometer (that looked like one I had gotten from a box of Special K). I wore it most of the time, and occasionally would use it to track my steps. I was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania one day and did a good deal of walking, and I must have posted the steps achievement to Twitter. Karen Lopez (@datachick) tweeted back that the next time I was in the US I should head to Best Buy and pick up a FitBit, telling me it was the bee’s knees of pedometers, as it were. Because of the price tag ($99) I pinged Theresa first and asked her what she thought. She told me to pick up two – one for me and one for her.

I got back to the hotel and charged it up. I had forgotten what was involved with that until today, but was just reminded because I just picked up my NEW FitBit Ultra and am looking forward to seeing how many ‘stairs’ I climb in a day. Smile

2) How does FitBit work?

I don’t know… It’s for the most part a pedometer. However it also has an entire site behind it that helps keep track of all sorts of things, from mood and allergies to thoughts, food intake, and calories burned. The device comes with a docking station that connects to your computer’s USB port, and aside from being the charger for the device it will also synchronize with the site wirelessly when you are within range.

According to the site’s FAQ: ‘We’ve tuned the accuracy of the Fitbit Tracker step counting functionality over hundreds of tests with multiple body types. For most wearers, the Fitbit Tracker should be roughly 95-97% accurate for step counting when worn as recommended.’ While I find that it is really accurate on the number of steps, I noticed that when I jog it is off with regard to distances. I am told that you can go onto the site to manually enter the length of your stride, but I have not yet gone to that trouble.

3) How did you arrive at the 15,000 steps per day?

I assume by this she means my self-imposed daily goal. The FitBit site allows you to set your own goals, but I have left mine at the default, which are:

o 10,000 steps per day

o 10 floors climbed per day (this is a new one for me as of today!)

o 5.00 miles walked per day

o 3,663 Calories burned per day

o 1,000 Activity Points per day

I have noticed over the past few weeks, since I started jogging really, that if I jog for 90 minutes per day I will easily hit 12,000 steps, and when accounting for all of the other walking I do throughout the day that means I can easily hit 15,000… as long as I jog. Some days it is harder, some days it is easier. Yesterday (blogged about here) was a disaster, but I forced myself to go to the gym. When Dimitrios told me he was leaving I looked at the FitBit and noticed that I had only taken 6,000 steps all day… and that included 35 minutes on the treadmill. I had no more jogging left in my legs, but I was going to at least hit 10,000 steps. I got back on the treadmill and walked for another 30 minutes, and behold, I went to sleep with 11,000 steps. I didn’t hit 15,000, but these goals are all arbitrary. The point is to work hard and do what you can.

4) Is blogging part of the FitBit?

The FitBit.com website is replete with resources and tools, including community forums, advice, the ability to enlist and compare with friends, and yes – a blogging (Journaling) engine. According to your whim you can do as much or as little as you like. These days I am highly motivated, and find that blogging about my training helps to keep me going, so for me it is a part of it. I will bet that most people who use the FitBit don’t, and that is okay too. It is not a structured program, it is a framework. Depending on my mood I may spend an hour in the Forums, and then not go back for weeks. I have blogged a lot in the last week (and you noticed that their engine allows me to publish those articles to my own blog, as well as Twitter and FaceBook) but doubt I posted one article from the day I started (August 2011) through February.

The FitBit is a great tool for me. I am glad that it forces me to pay attention to things that I normally wouldn’t, and I will continue to wear it for a very long time. However it is not for everyone… is it right for you? Try it and find out. It certainly motivates me, which is a huge endorsement as far as I am concerned! Let me know what you think if you do try it… and don’t forget to add me to your Friends List!

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4 Comments

  1. […] to be fun and provide fairly immediate feedback. I recalled seeing posts about Fitbit from Beth and Mitch, and about Nike+ FuelBand from Brad and Ashton. After comparing features and evaluating their […]

  2. Elka says:

    Hi Mitch,
    I am thinking of getting a FitBit for myself and my fiancé, but it’s not showing that it syncs with Win8 phones/devices. What do you sync with, and/or do you have any suggestions for an App that will work for Win8?

    Cheers,
    Elka

    • Mitch Garvis says:

      Hi Elka,
      While it is true that Fitbit does not currently sync directly with Windows Phone devices, it does sync with Windows 8 – I sync to both my Lenovo and my Surface. I also have heard that Fitbit has actually hired a Windows Phone developer who may be working on a proper Windows Phone app so that they will sync in the future… but for now syncing to my laptop and tablet just works 🙂 -MDG

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