Fit Bit: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

A line of new activity trackers have popped up– these trackers will tell you, how many miles and steps you walked, how many calories you burned, how many times you passed the “active” threshold and even how well you slept. Fit bit, Jawbone, and Body Media are a few brands that offer these devices.

I recently purchased the fit bit for myself. Since I am in off season, I am trying to bulk and I thought the fit bit would be a good way to track approximately how many calories I was burning so I could eat at a small surplus.

I had purchased a body media a few years before but it died after a few months and so did the replacement so I decided to try something new this time.

I was super excited to get my fit bit in the mail I even posted to my instagram @valeriewiest

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The first couple of days were really neat– there was a big difference in the number of steps I walked and calories burned on days when I taught classes vs. just working at the office or staying at home. It was great for setting a baseline to see how many calories I burned each day. I also found out that I burn lots more calories when I am on vacation even when I am not intentionally working out. In the past I have always felt that I have to cut way back on my eating when I am not officially “working out” so it was nice to realize that I could relax a little about that aspect. The sleep tracking feature is also really cool, you have to make sure you set it to sleep mode when you are going to bed, but it lets you know how many total hours you slept as well as how many minutes your were restless or awake. My favorite feature of all  is the silent alarm, which buzzes on your wrist waking you up gently each morning or discretely reminding you of tasks throughout the day.

Overall I think that most of the information you need to know can be gained from wearing the fit bit a week or two and noticing patterns in your activity level. Then using this information to adjust your eating and exercise habits to meet your goals. For example, since I am trying to build muscle, I need to eat at a surplus so it is important for me to know that on the days I teach classes I need to eat a little more because I am burning more calories. But once I know this, tracking everything daily didn’t matter that much since my schedule is pretty regular so I could expect the same patterns in activity to repeat.

After a few weeks with the fit bit, though, I was singing its praises. It has lasted longer that my body media, even though there are a few things I liked about my Body Media better (please leave a comment if you would like a comparison of the two devices). I felt like it was exactly what most people need to find out how many calories they are burning and avoid eating too much or too little. I think it also helps encourage people to be more active– take the stairs, walk vs. drive etc.

That is, until I started talking with one of my clients who is a therapist. She told me that a lot of people become addicted to the device in a bad way. They obsess over the numbers the fit bit displays and it can actually make them feel bad about themselves. Users may try to increase their steps or their calories burned each day forcing themselves to set higher and higher limits. Others, who can’t or won’t change their lifestyle start to feel bad about the numbers and feel that they are not good enough.

Once she said this I immediately realized how using a fit bit this way could be a problem for some. I wanted to throw it out there in case any of you have started noticing this with the use of this type of device. If you do, the therapist recommends leaving the device with a friend who you can trust for a week and seeing how it makes you feel.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried one of these devices? Did you like it?

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2 Comments

how much did this fit bit cost you. i think this would be a great idea when i start my offseason bulking next month

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