My FitBit and Me

In ear­ly Jan­u­ary, Angela and I got match­ing his-and-hers Fit­Bit One’s to start track­ing our activ­i­ty. Ange­la’s actu­al­ly been wear­ing a pedome­ter for years now. But the Fit­Bit does a lot more data track­ing than a sim­ple pedome­ter. I’ve been wear­ing it every­day since then.

There a few tech­nolo­gies I’ve adopt­ed that I would con­sid­er life-chang­ing. Maybe not the sort that change the entire course of my life, but cer­tain­ly that have had a dra­mat­ic impact on my day-to-day behav­ior. DVR (TiVo), smart­phone (iPhone), and a per­son­al activ­i­ty track­er (Fit­Bit). As a pro­fes­sion­al, I’ve always been at a desk for a lot of my time. But when I prac­ticed engi­neer­ing, I was often going on site vis­its and mov­ing around through­out the day. Now that I’ve been work­ing remote­ly for a soft­ware com­pa­ny, that’s not the case. My activ­i­ty lev­el can vary dra­mat­i­cal­ly from day-to-day. I had no idea just how much until I start­ed wear­ing the FitBit.

Pocket Location

I keep my Fit­Bit one clipped to the watch pock­et in my Jeans.

One day I’d break 10,000 steps short­ly before lunch (if I went run­ning, typ­i­cal­ly). On anoth­er day, I might be lucky to approach 2,000 steps. What’s more, is my eat­ing var­ied just as much. And my activ­i­ty (i.e., caloric expense) had absolute­ly no cor­re­la­tion with my eat­ing (i.e., caloric intake). So my body would one day get twice as many calo­ries as it real­ly need­ed and anoth­er not enough. I was essen­tial­ly train­ing my cave­man-era/lizard-brained body to hold on to every scrap of calo­ries it got because who knew what tomor­row would bring.

Daily Achievement Unlocked!

Meet­ing your dai­ly goals comes with bonus endorphins!

Wear­ing the Fit­Bit and care­ful­ly track­ing my calo­ries eat­en has help to change that behav­ior. I now track my calo­rie intake using LoseIt1. Hav­ing a num­ber of activ­i­ty goals —steps, active min­utes, stairs, and miles— all of which gam­i­fy my phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. Of course, I don’t meet the tar­gets all (most?) of the time, but just hav­ing the goals points me in the right direc­tion rather than stum­bling around in the dark.

Of course, just track­ing the data is one thing. It would be all too easy to just pile it all togeth­er in some use­less place. Fit­Bit’s web site and iPhone app are real­ly excep­tion­al. In fact, I sort of use my Fit­Bit as just a recorder (and occa­sion­al time­piece) and rarely take it out of my pock­et. I sim­ply use the iPhone app. On an iPhone 4S or new­er, the smart­phone syncs direct­ly to the Fit­Bit via Blue­tooth 4.

Power Walker

I must have got­ten lost that day.

I also use the Fit­Bit to track my sleep, although that’s more to make sure I’m get­ting enough rather than judg­ing the qual­i­ty of it. Appar­ent­ly, I’m gen­er­al­ly 98% effi­cient at sleep­ing, what­ev­er that means. The vel­cro wrist strap is a pain and tends to come off my arm. I’m on my sec­ond wrist strap, as well as sec­ond sil­i­cone clip. As a result, I’m con­sid­er­ing upgrad­ing to a Force next year. The One has been great so far.

  1. LoseIt has a great iPhone app and syncs both ways with a Fit­Bit account. []

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.

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