I’m assuming you’ve all heard of Fitbit, the latest craze for those trying to get fit and active. In case you haven’t, it’s a band you wear on your wrist or a device you can attach to your clothing, for example the waistband of your trousers or the side of your bra, that will count how many steps you take in a day and provide you with information such as the distance travelled, active minutes and calories burned in your day. Some of the more sophisticated ones also monitor your heart rate and your sleep. You can also connect with friends who have Fitbits and compare your steps to theirs and challenge them to walk-offs. It’s a great device and encourages you to be more active than you usually are simply by wearing it. I would walk back and forward waiting to cross the road or if there was a few minutes until the bus arrived, I’d walk to the next bus stop or even walk home all the way. It definitely made me more conscious of my movements in a day.
However, it is not… what I’m going to write about today.
I started my activity tracking journey with an Fitbit Flex and I absolutely loved it. In fact, I got obsessive with it. Especially with beating people with it. I loved seeing my name at the top of the leader board in a friends challenge or even just in the list of my friends (I’m a little bit competitive like that). If it ran out of battery or I forgot to wear it one day, I’d feel lost and I would deliberately take as few steps as possible because they didn’t count. I do see that may be taking it too far, but that’s how it was so I gotta warn you all of the side effect.
My fiancé also got a Fitbit Charge HR at the same time and I loved nothing more than beating him. But then I started noticing that when we did the same things, he would somehow get significantly more steps on his, so I started testing it. We would check our steps at the start of a journey and head off somewhere, walking hand in hand so that we fell in step with each other so theoretically we’d take the same number of steps. Maybe not exactly, but it should be close enough. However, when we got to where we were going and checked again he’d have a few thousand steps more than me. I also noticed that my Fitbit would buzz to let me know I’d reached my daily step goals long after I actually reached them. Sometimes a good 5,000 steps afterwards. Then it started needing to be charged every couple of days instead of once a week. Then it died completely.
Now maybe this one was just faulty. I got it from Amazon so it was under guarantee for a year so I sent it back and got a replacement and this one worked much better. The step counts were more accurate and it buzzed on time so I was super happy with it. Not long after this the Fitbit Charge HR broke down and had to be replaced. Soon after that I was talking to my aunt, who also had a Flex, and she was telling me how it stopped holding a charge and then stopped charging altogether and she needed to get a replacement. Then Flex 2 started playing up… At this point I was just a few months away from the end of my warranty and I was not confident in getting a replacement again when I’d seen 4 of these die in the space of a year. After much deliberation, I sent it back for a refund.
So now I was Fitbit-less and kinda lost. This was at the same time of year Amazon does it’s lightening deals. I think it may even have been Black Friday week. That’s when I say the Jawbone Up and it was beautiful.
The one thing I had disliked about the Fitbit was it’s appearance. They were all made from rubber and were pretty chunky. I chose the Flex because it was the slimmest one, but it still looked ridiculous with a dress. For a special occasion, I’d have to consider not wearing it and not getting my steps (see aforementioned obsession to understand why this was a though choice) or just having it stand out with my class masquerade outfit. The Up looked like jewellery. And it was on sale.
The only drawback of the Up compared to the FitBit was that none of the models had a display. This didn’t bother me too much as the Flex didn’t have a display either, it had dots that showed you progress towards your goal. So I went ahead and got me an Up!
The best thing about it is the app. The app is just so cool! Initially, it will start giving you random information about exercise, health, diet and sleep and you have the option to give feedback on these tips. You can give them a thumbs up or a thumbs down or nothing at all and the app learns which ones you find interesting and gives you more information on those things. It tracks not just your steps, but your sleep, your heart rate, your active minutes, your resting heart rate and your workouts and diets too if you enter what you did and what you ate. It then gives you recommendations based on this date. For example, after a rather unplanned, midweek night out for a friend’s birthday, my Up noticed that my resting heart rate was pretty high the next day and that I hadn’t gotten much sleep. It then sent me messages through the day reminding me to drink water, advising me when to have coffee, what kinds of foods to eat to keep my energy levels up, when to do my most difficult tasks for the day and when to schedule in the mundane things that don’t need much thought, but will keep me awake. It suggested I try and go home early (I didn’t get away with that one) and when to go to bed for a good night’s rest. It also sets me challenges based on my recent performances. It’ll look at my average step count over the last 7 days and challenge me to either match it or beat it by just a bit.If it notices my resting heart rate increasing, it’ll challenge me to drink 8 glasses of water that day or to go to bed by a certain time to maintain a good sleep schedule. It really is looking out for me.
It also has an alarm system that you can set for a variety of things. I currently have 2 smart alarms set. One is if I haven’t taken many, or any, steps in a 30 minute period, it will vibrate at me to let me know I’ve been inactive for a while. You can chose how long you can be idle before it buzzes at you and I chose 30 minutes. My second alarm is a smart alarm to wake me up. I set my alarm for 6:30am on week days and let my Up know that this is when I want to get up. It then monitors my sleep cycle for the 30 minutes (again, you can chose the time) before this and will vibrate gently at me when I move into a light sleep in this 30 minutes to start waking me up more naturally. Sleep cycles are generally 90 minutes and you cycle between light, deep and REM sleep so sometimes I don’t come into a light sleep in this 30 minutes so it doesn’t buzz. It’s not the same as an alarm clock, so you still need to set that separately.
You’ll love it and never go back! If you get one, add me as a friend. I don’t have any yet as everyone I know is still replacing their FitBits. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notifications of updates. The box is below the comments.