Last month, I invested in a Fitbit.
A Fitbit is a pedometer….but oh so much more than that. It’s a small device that clips onto your person (preferably somewhere on your torso) and it monitors how much you move using the same type of technology that is used in a Wii-mote. When worn properly, the Fitbit can keep track of how many steps you’ve taken, how many miles you’ve walked and give you an approximation on the amount of calories you’ve burned in a day. In addition, it comes with a wristband that you can wear at night so that you can track how much restful sleep you get. To make it all that much cooler, it comes with a docking station that you can keep plugged into your computer. It syncs your information with the fitbit website wirelessly every fifteen minutes, or whenever you are in range of the station.
Once your information is on the website, you can start to visually see what your activity looks like:
Don’t be alarmed by the crazy amount of calories burned here. I chose my most active day recorded. I mean, think about it: A day when I sat around watching Gilmore Girls re-runs would not be very interesting to look at!
As you can see in this picture, the website shows the calories I burned and ate on March 23rd. It also shows a graph of my active minutes throughout the day. The blue color indicates when I was “lightly active”, the yellow indicates “fairly active” and then the pink lines are when I was “very active”. On 3/23, I went for my “Unofficial 10K” during the afternoon, so that is why I was so active. Following my run, I did laundry, which would be the yellow lines. The blue lines were when I was puttering around the house, watching TV or cooking meals.
There is also a section of the fitbit website where you can track calories. I prefer the nutrition tracker at SparkPeople, however, so I track there, then just enter the amount of calories on Fitbit, so I can see the graphic comparisons against my activity.
Here is another graph for activity. When you look at my activity as a pie chart it doesn’t look so scary. Sure, I burned over 3,000 calories, but I was sitting on my butt in front of the television for over 8 hours as well.
Here is the sleep graph. As you can see, I actually got a lot of sleep that night. This is pretty unusual for me. I typically only get about 6-7 hours of sleep a night, if I’m lucky. Often it is less. This is something I am working on and I enjoy looking at my sleep report the next day. It kind of gives me an idea of what is going on at night.
I had been planning to do this review after a month or two of using the Fitbit, but unfortunately, my own stupidity stood in my way of letting you in on my product review.
I packed my fitbit in rice and left it there for several days, hoping I could get the moisture out. When I plugged it back in, all I got was the message mentioned above. At first, I was hopeful, as many users report nothing but a blank screen. A couple of days went by, however, and I never got more than that flashing message. I tried resetting the device. Nothing. I was super bummed….$100 investment down the drain after only 2.5 weeks!
But then a couple of days later, someone responded to my tweet!
I e-mailed the Fitbit support team. They at first advised me to try the rice trick and then attempt to reset the device. I explained that I had already given this a try. Then they said the nicest thing any support team has ever said to me:
Ok, sorry that didn’t work for you. We would like to accommodate you with a replacement.“
A replacement? Seriously? I am an idiot and I throw your device into the washing machine (accidentally, of course) and you will replace it?! You people are my new best friends!
The Fitbit support team did take the time to let me know that if I am an idiot and break it again, I will have to pay for a new device myself:
We really appreciate your business and are going to accommodate you with a replacement Fitbit. In the future, should a Fitbit tracker get lost or damaged because of exposure to water, you will need to purchase a new Fitbit tracker and base station. In exchange for our accommodation, we may ask you to tell us a bit about your experience with Fitbit. We are trying to understand how people use and interact with Fitbit so that we can create a better product. We would also like to hear any other feedback you might have, both positive, negative, and feature requests.”
Seems fair to me!
They were also incredibly quick with replacing it. We e-mailed on Saturday, it was mailed out on Monday and was at my apartment by Tuesday. Admittedly, they are based here in San Francsico, but still, I appreciate the prompt execution.
So I am going to resume my testing out of the fitbit. Based on the couple of weeks I’ve used the product, I would say that I am enjoying it. I like to be able to look down throughout the day and see how active (or inactive) I’ve been. I find that it encourages me to get up and get in a few extra steps and to not skip out on workouts…I mean, as I said above, it’s way more fun to look at graphs that show how awesome you are vs. how lazy you are!
The fitbit is also now teamed up with RunKeeper. I’m not sure of all of the details of that yet, as my fitbit broke right around the time they partnered up. I noticed from my RunKeeper account that my steps are being noted over there. I don’t, however, see my runs that I log with RK on the Fitbit site. Either I am missing something, or that is a feature that hasn’t been enabled yet. In a way, it doesn’t matter, as if I am wearing the fitbit, the calories/steps/miles are being calculated, which is all that matters. Even so, it might be nice to see the run logged as an activity automatically.
Another feature I’d like to see incorporated would be partnerships with SparkPeople and other nutrition tracking sites. Many of us who began our weightloss/healthy living journeys elsewhere are set in our ways as far as what sites we like to use. I would really like it if I could enter my food in at SparkPeople and have it automatically show up on the Fitbit site.
At any rate, the new ‘bit is alive and well, clipped to my pants as I type. I will let you all know how it goes in the future!
Note: In case you missed it, I purchased the initial fitbit with my own money. The replacement fitbit was sent to me for free by the company. I did not ask for them to do this and I cannot promise you that they will send you a free fitbit if you break yours, so please don’t test this theory! All opinions in this review are my own and based on the usage during the life of my original Fitbit.
Do you use any kind of device (Heart Rate Monitor, BodyBugg, Fitbit, Garmin) to help you in your healthy living routines?