Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fitbit Review

Nutrisystem catalyzed a giant change for the better in my life. After committing to start that program about 10 months ago, it's been a while  a new product came along that has changed the way I look at my every day actions in such an intensely rigorous, fascinating, and encouraging way- Until NOW

Fitbit is changing my life step by step and meal by meal. I've never had more energy, more awareness of my physical activity, or been more at peace with my diet.

I'm a competitive gamer. I love to see my "stats." Setting goals and tracking my progress are huge motivators in-game and in life. It should come as no surprise that I discovered this device/program while making friends on the Nerd Fitness forums! With Fitbit, I get to go through that process every single day. You can set a stride goal, a calorie burn goal, a specific diet plan with a daily deficit to match the intensity of your desired diet or simply plan for maintenance, and you can follow along as you work towards those benchmarks every day. You can enter your measurements, your weight, and your stride length for increased accuracy from your activity readings. You can sync the device to a online dashboard which you can view and make changes to both on your computer, a tablet, or on the fly if you use your smart phone app. Not only is it an incredibly dynamic system, but if you use the phone app, it will send you notifications if you are particularly close to your goal or if you need to step it up in order to meet your daily goals. 

There can be a competitive aspect to using Fitbit. You can use social media to connect with your friends, see how they're doing, and cheer/taunt/comment on their achievements. You also get badges for lifetime achievements like your first 50 miles walked, or your first time taking 20,000 steps in a day. This encourages friendly competition between you and your comrades, and of course it encourages you to compete against yourself! You can see stats on your best day or your lifetime miles walked while wearing the device. I encourage my whole family to get them and their awareness and activity level has increased exponentially over the last three weeks. 

Sometimes it's hard to pair weight loss programs. In my opinion (and you're welcome to disagree and discuss in the comments!) you can't do Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem, or successfully gain the benefits of Paleo while sticking to the raw food movement. Usually you have to pick one thing that works for you and stick with it for long enough that you can sustain success and encourage the results you're looking for. I previously wrote about wanting to transition to Weight Watchers when I got to maintenance because you can easily track your food whether you make it yourself or purchase it from a chain restaurant. Plus (unlike Nutrisystem), Weight Watchers takes exercise into account and allows you extra points to spend on food based on how much energy you expend. 

Fitbit allows me to do that all right now, without joining another program that I have to pay for. There's just a one time expenditure to buy your device and the online tracking dashboard is available to your at no charge. In addition, I don't have to wait until I'm in maintenance to begin learning how to plan my diet around my actual activity. It seems silly to say that, but before I started using Fitbit, I'd just pick out my Nutrisystem entrees for the day based on what I wanted or what I "thought" I'd be physically doing, since the requirement was simply to eat all the fresh add ins and land between 1250 and 1350 calories each day. Now with Fitbit, I can make more educated choices about which entrees I should eat on which days AND I can more easily flex the plan when I need to go out to dinner for a special occasion. I can base those choices off of my actual activity rather than an arbitrary number. I'm a huge fan and it has left me feeling way more energized from day to day. It totally broke me out of the plateau I was in. Their database holds nutritional data for all sorts of food, both from groceries and chains. You can adjust the portions based on what you actually eat and if it doesn't have the nutritional data for an item that you have (like a Nutrisystem entree or a salad dressing you bought at the store), you can simply add a new food to the database and enter all the relevant information.

You should eat for the life you're living. Fitbit helps me do that in a fuel efficient and dynamic way!

Bonus? If you're someone who uses Weight Watchers and loves it, then you can just pass on the food logging and continue to use your other program while still getting your calorie burn, strides, distance, and your activity score. If you already use a log like MyFitnessPal, you can link it with your Fitbit account so that you can integrate them with each other. 

My only concerns are making sure that I have a store of batteries for when my Zip needs a new one so I don't miss a day of tracking (mine hasn't shown signs of wearing out after three weeks), making sure I get in the habit of religiously putting it on every morning, and making sure I remember to log activities that aren't measured as accurately (aka yoga, long boarding, or cycling) so that I can get proper credit for the calories burned.

Fitbit offers a variety of different devices at varying levels of expense (from $45 for the Zip on Amazon to $100+ for the other models). Personally, I use the Fitbit Zip (the cheapest option) but you should check out all three devices they have available because each one has varying benefits and you may have different priorities than I do. Keep in mind, they're sometimes available for less money on Amazon, so definitely check out whatever deals they have.

I simply can't recommend this product enough. Go get one! You won't regret it!


  1. In the same way that WW subconsciously encouraged (a nice way of saying "tricked") me to eat more fruit and veggies as snacks (when you think something is "free" you naturally want to eat it), having a fitbit has subconsciously encouraged me to be more active. When I had a day off from work and was in my apartment all day, my fitbit showed the difference. When I left to go to the movies, I thought, "I'll just walk there so I have a similar mileage to my working days." It really does get you more active!

    1. Seriously! It just makes you think more critically about your actions. It gives you a "Why not?" Attitude. If you have the time and the weather is nice, why not walk? If you have a huge deficit already and you've met all your goals for the day and you're sitting down to dinner at a nice restaurant, you've EARNED your right to have something a little more indulgent than you might have otherwise. Move for the life you want, eat for the life you're living. It's great all around.

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