The Fitbit Flex Review
The Fitbit Flex
My wife and I both put on some unwanted pounds in our first two years of marriage. It's almost unavoidable. You get happy and comfortable in a life together, you stop cooking as much because it's more convenient to pick something up on the way home, and all of a sudden you don't recognize the person looking back at you, and there are times when your pants seem too tight.
Gaining weight doesn't happen overnight, and it's safe to say that losing weight doesn't happen overnight either. We both reached a point where we recognized that something needed to change - and it wasn't going to be an easy fix. I didn't want to take a magic pill, get my expectations raised only to have them crash and burn when it didn't work out according to plan. The only solution for both of us was to revamp our lifestyle, take matters into our own hands (or feet, as the case may be) and make a commitment to something different. We heard about the Fitbit through my wife's mother. I bought one for my wife as an early birthday present, and I was so jealous when it arrived that I bought one for myself as well. While I've only had mine for a week now, I am super impressed by the results so far.
Tracking is Simple and Straightforward
From the moment you take your Fitbit out of the package and set up your account, there is a sense of goals and dedication - at least that was my wife and my experience. The Fitbit is not a miracle cure for obesity, nor is it a diet drug that guarantees that you will lose all of your excess fat in a matter of months. Instead, the Fitbit gives you real, attainable goals and also provides the tools to help you succeed and the commitment to stick to it.
It's all too easy to pick up a product when you want to lose that excess weight, be gun-ho for the first week or so and then slack off, and your product sits on the shelf collecting dust with all of the other products that you've purchased and discarded.
In short, the Fitbit is a tool that allows you to track and see visible results, rewards you for reaching goals and encourages you to keep at it. Losing weight is a long-term commitment, not an overnight success, and I'd much rather stick to a product that has been proven to work individually for me than go for the next best thing to reach the market.
The Fitbit Flex itself is a wristband that you wear 24/7 - it is water resistant and can even go in the shower with you. The tracker itself is a tiny little piece that slides into the wristband that tracks your activity - and even your sleep.
You can access your Fitbit account either online or on your smartphone. The tracker is much more user-friendly than any of the other products I've used - including MyFitnessPal and WeightWatchers. Not only can you track and log your daily steps, which is the main selling point for the Fitbit Flex, but you can also track your food, the calories you've taken in verses the calories that you've burned off, how many more calories you can eat, and it even tracks your sleep and tells you how many times you woke up or were restless in the middle of the night.
Get a Fitbit Flex of Your Own
A Good Walking Spot for Tampa Bay Walkers
a good walking route in the Tampa Bay Area
Information at a Glance
Goals, Tracking Tips and Friends add Competition
The Fitbit out of the package comes with a pre-determined walking goal - to reach 10,000 steps per day. This goal can be modified for users who want either more or less of a challenge. Badges are awarded for total distance walked, total number of steps in a day and total weight loss. Whether you're looking to lose a few pounds before a big event or totally change your lifestyle, the Fitbit can easily provide what you're looking for - as long as you're willing to put in the effort and be honest.
Food can be added, and the reports online can break down the amount of fat, protein and more of your food intake. You can also add other kinds of activities that contribute to your overall calorie burn for the day. You can see exactly how many calories you've eaten as opposed to the amount of calories that you've burned and a gauge on the online site as well as your smartphone show you if you're over budget, under budget, or in the zone. You can adjust the aggressiveness of your weight loss goals from light (losing half a pound per week) to medium (losing a pound a week on average) to aggressive (losing two pounds per week) to fit your needs and goals. I've found so far that the best course of action is not to put your overall weight goal online, but to do it in small, manageable increments. Not only does this give you a sense of accomplishment by reaching a series of smaller, more attainable goals, but it gives you the encouragement to keep going.
Fitbit also acts socially and allows you to compete (by taunting) or encourage your friends who also have a Fitbit. On the friends page, you can access your Fitbit friends and see how many steps they've reached in a 7 day period and see how you match up. For someone like me (and my wife) who are incredibly competitive by nature, this adds a level to the challenge that other weight loss programs seriously lacked for me. I like to know that I'm at least on par with my peers, if not beating them. Knowing exactly where I stand and how many steps I am behind or ahead of them keeps the encouragement on high alert, and allows me to adapt accordingly.
The food tracker is accurate and goal-conscience. As with any food/calorie/point tracker, the key to success is honesty. Track your food honestly and openly - if your calories are over-budget, the app and the webpage tell you how many additional calories you have to burn to get into the zone again, and the results so far have been incredible.
The Fitbit Dashboard Online
My Experience So Far
Although I've only had my Fitbit flex for a short time, I've found that sticking with it is easier, and it's motivated me to get up and moving a lot more than I would have normally. Since I'm highly competitive, I love seeing how my spouse and my friends stack up, and I do whatever it takes to make sure that I'm staying on track. I've caught myself doing laps around my department at work, getting up every time I have to grab something off of the printer, rather than waiting until I have a stack of printouts to claim, and I'm more than willing to go the extra mile (pun intended) to drop off files that my co-workers have completed. Unsurprisingly, the little things really do make a distance. Walking to the corner store instead of driving adds up quick, and I have a feeling that I'm going to start measuring everything according to steps rather than overall distance.
The hardest part for me in any tracker or weight loss plan has always been maintaining my food intake and exercise on the weekends. I stay pretty active at work, and we're always moving around even though it's an office job, but having the Fitbit tracking my every move has added extra motivation to stick with it. Instead of staying home and vegging on the couch watching TV, my wife and I took the initiative to go to the park and walk around downtown over the weekend. I'm being overly cautious with my food choices, and I'm already seeing results. While I don't know if I'll have the endurance to stick with it long-term, I am incredibly hopeful about the potential. When it's finally time to make a change and you make a commitment to yourself, you have all of the tools at your disposal to make real change possible.
While the Fitbit may seem pricey as a one-time upfront cost, I can attest that it's actually cheaper than the alternative. I was on Weight Watchers for several months, and at approximately $20 per month, it adds up fast. The Fitbit costs on average $99, and while you CAN upgrade to premium service that gives you a workout plan and more defined goals, the upgrade is completely unnecessary. You can get all of the tools that you need for the one-time cost, as opposed to a monthly fee, and so far it has been hugely instrumental in not only my motivation but my overall sense of setting a goal and meeting it consistently.
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Conclusion - Commitment is Key
Any weight loss program is about overall personal commitment. You can't buy a Fitbit or any weight loss/tracking device and expect it to do all of the work for you. It's a lot of work to get 10,000 steps in a day for your first week, but it DOES get easier. With the added encouragement of friends and family to keep you going and a true desire to succeed, the Fitbit tracking system gives users the chance to set goals for themselves, meet them and then push themselves to exceed them.
© 2014 Julie McFarland