First of all – thank you everyone who reached out to me with encouragement after yesterday’s post. When I first mentioned that I had ordered a FitBit on social media, I got so many positive responses from FitBit owners. I haven’t come across anyone with anything negative to say, and I now I can see why. I’ve fallen in love with this tiny little device!
Picking a Model
When you go to the FitBit website, you can see the summary of all their tracking products:
I pretty much knew I wanted one of the “Everyday Fitness” products. The ChargeHR and Surge have features I simply didn’t want or need, like continuous heart rate moniorting, GPS tracking, and caller ID. I’m sure it’s great for some people, but that’s not what I was looking for in a device. When you’re looking at the “Everyday Fitness” devices, they all have a different combination of features. Obviously all of them track your steps! If you’re just looking to track steps, the Zip is probably for you. It’s also the least expensive model at $60. The One and the Flex are both at the same price point ($100) but have different features. Both of them add sleep tracking, which I think is a cool feature. The One also tracks the number of floors you’ve climbed, which I thought was another cool tracking feature. When you compare the products on the website, it says that the Flex tracks active minutes, whereas it doesn’t show that feature for the One. While I can’t see “active minutes” directly on my One’s interface, I can see it on the mobile app and on my desktop dashboard….so it seems to track it anyway. Go figure. The Charge is higher in price than the One and Flex, at $130. It has the floors climbed feature along with sleep tracking and active minutes tracking. Additionally, it adds a caller ID feature.
When I was picking out a model, I was interested in the sleep tracking and floors climbed in addition to the step tracking. Also, I wanted one that I could clip on to me rather than a wristband. That’s just a personal preference. I wanted to be able to wear the FitBit everywhere, no matter where I was going or what I was wearing. Both the One and the Zip can be worn on waistbands, inside your front pant pocket, or on your bra. So far I’ve done all three. One of my friends told me that she wears her on her bra all the time. I did that for the first time yesterday because I was wearing a sweater dress. It wasn’t visible under my dress at all, and it’s so small and lightweight that I didn’t feel it at all. The only disadvantage is that it’s kind of awkward to look at your actual device to see your progress….you become more dependent on the mobile app! I will say that you can get different bands, including more “fashionable” Tory Burch accessories for the Flex (and only the Flex, not the other wristband models). But, the Flex didn’t have the stairs climbed feature that I wanted, so in the end the One was definitely the right choice for me.
FYI – different models come in different color options. As I said, you can buy different colored bands for the Flex, so it can be made into almost any color under the sun. Of the clip-on models, the Zip comes in 5 colors and the One comes in 2 colors – black and burgundy. I ordered us one of each color so that Dave and I could easily tell them apart. I gave him the black (it’s the more manly option, right?) and I took the burgundy. Honestly, I don’t know if the color really matters with the clip-on ones because it’s almost always hidden under a piece of clothing.
Using the One
The One has one button. You can use that button to flip through the different screens….a clock, steps walked, floors climbed, distance walked, estimated calories burned, and a little flower that grows when you’re active. I’ve already mentioned about all the placed you can wear it during the day, but it also comes with a little wristband to wear at night. There’s a little pocket on the wristband that the FitBit just slides into. The band is pretty soft and you attach it together with Velcro so it’s never too tight. I barely notice that I’m wearing it! To start the sleep mode, you just hold the button and a little timer starts. When you wake up you just hold the button again, the timer stops, and you go back to the regular mode. I just keep the wristband or the clip on my bedside table, and it only takes me a couple seconds to switch it in the morning. There’s also a silent alarm feature that I haven’t tried out yet. I think you have to set the time on your desktop dashboard, and then it vibrates to wake you up. As an insanely heavy sleeper, I have my doubts that a vibration on my wrist would really wake me up.
The desktop dashboard is where you can take a really detailed look at all your stats. I’m using screenshots from last Saturday (an active day for me!) as an example. You can flip between days and see the stats for whatever day you want, but the default shows you the current day’s stats.
The first little box shows you your total steps for the day. The larger box on the right breaks down those steps by time – so you can see when you were the most active. Each bar is a 15 minute increment in time, and if you hover over the bar it tells you the time period and the exact number of steps taken during that time. It’s also color coded for intensity. Yellow is light, orange is moderate, and green is intense. You can see at the top that the box is defaulted to steps taken on a daily basis. You can change it to anything else your FitBit tracks (distance walked, calories burned, floors climbed, or active minutes). Here’s what my floors climbed looks like that day:
You can also change all of these views from a daily scale into a 7-day scale or a 28-day scale. I haven’t even had my FitBit for a week yet, but here’s what my floors climbed looks like in the 7-day scale.
Every measure has a default daily “goal” – 10,000 steps, 10 floors climbed, 5 miles walked (or run!). I think the calories burned is different for each person, depending on the height and weight you enter when you set everything up. By the way, I set everything up in my car in about 5 minutes, so that process is really easy. In this view, green means I met the goal for that day and blue means I didn’t meet the goal for the day.
When you hover over this box it also give you the option to “See More” where it takes you to the “Log” section with an even more detailed graph.
Not only does this view give you summaries of your steps, floors, miles, and calories, but the graph breaks everything down into smaller time increments. You can hover over each bar and see how many steps taken in a 5 minute period in the daily view. It also gives you more time period options – one week, one month, a year, or your entire history…and the totals on the bottom change accordingly.
The next section is the sleep tracking. Honestly I had pretty low expectations for this section. It’s measuring everything based on your movements, not on your brain waves, which is really the gold standard of figuring out if a person is asleep or awake. However, I’ve been surprised. It’s nice to track how much sleep I’m getting, and so far the measures of how long it takes me to fall asleep and the number of times I wake up in the night. The default view on the dashboard is on the left. It shows you a clock indicating when you went to bed and woke up, and that total time (for me last night, that was 8 hours and 57 minutes. When you hover over this tile, it shows you how many times you woke up and how many times you were restless. When you hover over the tile you also get a “Quick View” option that shows the previous night compared to the last 7 nights.
The “See More” view shows you an even more detailed view…
This is where I have one critique of the FitBit dashboard. You will notice that the “Quick View” says that I was restless for 42 minutes, but that I awoke 0 times. I know this is inaccurate because I remember waking up several times last night. Katie was in bed with us, and instead of staying down by my feet like normal, she decided that she wanted to come sleep by my head. I was sandwiched between her and Dave, and I’m sure she kicked me a few times while she dreamed of chasing rabbits. Anyway, it wasn’t my best night’s sleep. As you can see from the more detailed view, it says I woke up 22 times…that’s a big difference from not waking up at all! This is actually a good night to use as an example, because usually I only wake up about 3 to 5 times, so there are usually very few of those pink bars! When you hover over the pink “awake” bars it tells you exactly what minute(s) you were awake. Also on this page is a sidebar of “sleep stats” for the previous 30 days. Obviously I haven’t had the FitBit long enough to get a full view yet, but I do like seeing the summary of how well I’m sleeping over time.
Next on the dashboard are the little summaries of your progress towards your goal calories, active minutes, miles, and floors. The default view shows your totals for the day (I’ve gone back to using Saturday as an example here, to show you a full day). Hovering over each box shows you percentage of completion towards the daily goal for that metric. It’s just like the view of your steps at the top of the screen, next to the graph. I should also mention that you can drag and drop all of the tiles to rearrange your dashboard in a way that works best for you.
This is what I consider to be the “meat” of the dashboard, but it’s certainly not the only stuff on there. There’s a “weight” tile. I believe that if you have a FitBit scale (Aria) it automatically syncs up your weight / body fat / body composition / BMI into your dashboard. However, Dave already has a fancy scale that measures a lot of the same things. I can’t see us justifying buying a new scale just for the wireless sync option. Instead, I can manually enter weight and body fat in the “Log” section of the site. There are other things you can log manually as well. Sleep can be logged if you don’t have a device that tracks it for you, You can also log specific exercises, your food intake, and your water consumption, but I haven’t tried these features yet. You can also link your FitBit with a bunch of other 3rd party apps. I just synced mine with the Balance Rewards program at Walgreens. I know one of my friends uses hers with MyFitnessPal. My husband’s company developed an internal program where they can track steps taken by the employees and they award cash bonuses each quarter based on the employee’s average daily steps. On your dashboard there’s also a list of your friends (and you) ranked by 7-day step total. Don’t worry, you can choose the metrics that are shared with your friends. Things like weight are defaulted to be private.
Mobile App Interface
For the record, I’m using FitBit’s iPhone app, but there’s an app available for Android and Microsoft devices as well. The main dashboard screen shows you what device you’re using, if it’s syncing or connected, and the device’s battery level. This information is followed by your daily steps, distance walked, and calories burned. Scroll down a bit more and you can see the number of floors you’ve climbed and your active minutes. There are more things if you keep scrolling, but the top ones are definitely the ones I look at the most!
You can go into any of the categories to get more details, similar to the desktop dashboard. It gives you a graph and also the totals for that metric in past days. You can scroll down to see farther back in time.
One cool thing about the FitBit app is the “Challenges” section. One of my friends is always organizing challenges! There are 4 different type of challenges. So far we’ve participated in one over the weekend (“Weekend Warrior”) and now we’re doing a week-long one (“Workweek Hustle”). Basically, it challenges you to get the most steps in the designated period of time. As you can see, I’ve got some catching up to do right now!
Syncing and Charging the One
Syncing a FitBit to your phone is easy…you just pull up the app and it automatically syncs. Once it’s connected, it updates in real time….you can walk an watch your steps accumulate. Just try not to walk into anyone or anything while you’re looking at your phone! The phone data automatically syncs up with your desktop dashboard. You can sync your device directly to your computer with the wireless sync dongle, but honestly I haven’t had to do that yet.
So far I’ve been impressed with how the FitBit holds its charge. When it arrived, mine had about half its battery remaining. This morning (so about 6 days later) I got an e-mailing telling me I should charge my FitBit. The e-mail notification was a really nice touch! I only had it plugged in for an hour or so this morning, and it seems to have a full battery now.
I know that’s a lot of information for one post, but I hope that it can help you out if you’re considering getting a FitBit. Overall, it’s getting two thumbs up from me! Stay tuned, I’m planning on posting how this little device is already changing my habits!
Until later, Ashlen