Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Review of the FitBit Flex

I got a FitBit for Christmas!
The girlie, she is so glad!
I got a FitBit for Christmas,
Cuz my kids and hubby are rad!

Strange that the songwriters association of America hasn't been knocking down my door...

The husband knew that I had been researching the various trackers, and decided that the FitBit would be best for me. So he and the kids got me one for Christmas! Yay!

I do love a gadget, and a gadget that helps me keep track of exercise is even better! I've had lots of fun figuring it out, obsessing over my dashboard, and determining what makes sense for me to keep an eye on.  Here's my assessment of the pros and cons, in case this is helpful to others. (Note that I'm not getting paid for this - I chose the FitBit Flex myself from the available options, I paid for it myself, and these observations are my personal opinion!)

The Downside
It's pretty unattractive. Baby girl insisted they get the slate one for me, because it was "better" than the black. (Of those two options, I probably would have preferred the black, to be honest. But I appreciate her thinking about the fashion aspect.) It's obviously a piece of equipment, not a piece of jewelry. So I am the sort that won't try to hide it and will get the orange or lime or pink band in time, I'm sure. (I also think there's a huge potential market for folks to make more 'jewelry-looking' bracelets that have a slot for the tracker, if you're the crafty entrepreneurial sort who can figure that out!)

 It doesn't do a good job of tracking activity that doesn't involve a lot of arm motion or coverage of distance. For me, that means that huffing and puffing and sweating my way through Tabata circuits barely gets me a blip in activity. Yoga doesn't show up at all. I would image the same would be true of biking or spinning, though I don't do those so I'm not sure. It does record running on a treadmill. I haven't tested ellipticalling (is that a word?) yet. It does, however, give credit for activities that involve a whole lot of arm motion and not much exertion - for me, that means my staff meeting (I wave my arms around wildly as I talk, apparently!) and folding laundry are relative active high points of my day.

Here's an example. This is yesterday. At around 6pm, I ran 3.5ish miles on the treadmill. Then I went and did a 30 minute ab workout that nearly killed me. Then I did a 20 minute Tabata workout. It was about 730pm when I finished working out.  But all you really see is the half hour run. Which is fine, so long as I can look at my calorie burn for the day and know I probably actually did more than that. (Which is how I justified going for chile verde and a beer at about 830pm!)  :)

The food logging is not very good. I think it's the food database they use - it has weird measurements, and it isn't easy to use the search to find the product you want to log. I end up entering a 'new food' from scratch a lot of the time so that I can just put in what I'm eating and the calories the label shows! I used to use Noom, and I think their food logging was a million times better. I don't have experience with any others, though, so not sure what's the 'norm' in this area.

The Upside
You don't have to take it off. It can go in the shower, etc. This is good for someone like me who would likely always forget to put it back on!

The sleep tracking is interesting. I don't have sleep issues (outside of never getting enough of it!), but it's still cool to see the trend of how long I sleep, when I wake up during the night, how much I'm restless, etc. I think if you had some issues with sleep, this could really help you pinpoint what was going on.

The calorie burning may not be exact, but I think it's extremely useful as a trend. And I like the fact that it tracks calories in vs calories out... I figure that if I'm logging my own food and doing similar activities every day, even if neither is being perfectly tracked, I should get a great idea of the day in, day out trend for me! And it does make me move a bit more... I have the lights set to track my progress on calories burned (vs steps - I have no problem getting in the required steps each day), and it really inspires me to take a lap around the office building or go the long way to the printer or run upstairs to talk to the kids rather than yelling from the bottom of the stairs when I'm only showing 2 lights and it's getting later in the day!

The silent alarm is AWESOME. This was not a feature that caused me to pick the FitBit. I didn't really think anything of it, to be honest. But I love love love it. LOVE it. It wakes me up, no problem. But it doesn't shock me awake the way my other alarms do. Just a much better way to wake up!  Also, one of the kids will end up in bed with us at least once a week. When that happens, I used to wake up every 5-10 minutes in the early morning hours to check the time so I could turn the alarm off before it went off, so it wouldn't wake them up. It made for very crappy sleep!  I don't worry now - they don't even twitch when the Silent Alarm goes off, even if they're lying against/on top of me!

All in all, it does what I wanted it to do. I'm very, very happy that I got the FitBit Flex. I will anxiously watch for new bands and new features!

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Any questions for those of you considering a FitBit, I'll do my best to answer!


  1. I am an information junkie!! I have the fitbit one (about 6 months now) which links to myfitnesspal (food journaling ap) so the calories I burn goes towards my calorie intake on the myfitnesspal. I also got a polar heart rate monitor for Christmas because of the exact reason you stated...I'd be burning my butt through a TABATA and not get any credit!! The heart rate monitor uses an ap called digifit and it also links up with the fitbit. It sounds like a lot of stuff and it probably is, but like I said I am an information junkie!! I think you'll love it because at the very least it dares you to move more in your everyday life!!

  2. Same here! I'm a data geek, love looking at data points and trends! I've heard people talk about myfitnesspal a few times - I might need to check that out. Not sure about the polar heart rate monitor, at least not right now, seems like maybe too much gear til I get more serious?!