My First Week Wearing a Fitbit Surge
Around the turn of the year I stepped on to my scales and wasn't happy with what I saw as I was about 10kg above my "happy" weight. When I was a student I could eat what I wanted as I was training daily so never put on an ounce of weight but in the 10yrs since, I have fluctuated up and down, the downs usually triggered by an event like this of stepping on the scales.
I quickly downloaded to my phone the usual array of apps that I use when trying to lose some weight such as MyFitnessPal to count calories and MapMyWalk etc. to track my exercise. In an ideal world I'd start hitting the gym daily and lose this weight through exercise alone but with two young children, finding the time was always going to be a challenge, a challenge that was only going to get worse with child number three arriving in early February. In many ways you could argue the birth of a newborn is the worst time to start a new fitness regime, however, with midnight walks with the baby, I actually could see the opportunity of burning a few more calories. This is where I am fortunate as I am a numbers geek so if you give me a target that I can track, I will do everything to stay under that target.
At Christmas I had looked at possibly getting a Fitbit but in the end decided against it. However, a month in to my new regime and with a small payout from some share dividends, my wife decided to give me an early birthday present and bought me a Fitbit Surge exercise band. Now I would be able to track everything from heart rate, steps, calories burned as well as sleep patterns, I was going to be in a geeks paradise of stats. The Fitbit arrived on Sunday of this week and through this hub I am going to log how I get on with it during my first week of wearing and log what I learn if you too are considering buying a Fitbit band.
Day 1 - Monday
After my Fitbit had arrived on the Sunday afternoon, by the time I had charged it up and got it all set up and synced with the app on my phone, it was far too late to get much use, especially on a lazy Sunday evening. This was evidenced by the fact that I had already done three times as many steps by the time I had sat down for breakfast. Therefore the first function I was excited to see in action was the sleep monitor.
Wearing your Fitbit Surge whilst asleep will track when you are asleep, when you are restless and when you are awake. With a newborn sleeping just inches from my head, sleep is obviously at a premium at the moment. However, with the exception of two wake ups (ironically for my 2yr old, not the newborn) and a bit of restlessness while my wife started feeding the baby, I slept like a log for 7hrs 4mins, not a bad night all told!
However, what I was really interested to see on this first day of wearing my Fitbit was just how sedentary is my day to day life. Like many my day is spent either mostly sat at a desk or sat in meetings so just how much walking would I do? The Fitbit surge comes with the standard pedometer so I was able to track steps throughout the day (and with the continuous sync to my phone app I couldn't help but keep checking!). As previously mentioned I started on a bit of a roll with jobs like putting out the bins helping to rack up some early steps. However as the screen grab shows, it was then downhill from there with only surges as I walked to get lunch and then once I was home again. The target is to do 10,000 steps per day and whilst I always think this is slightly harder for me than some (I am very tall so my stride pattern is probably about half a foot longer than most so I have to walk further to do same number of steps!) but at the end of day one I am sat on about 6,000. This definitely shows there's is room for me to improve in that area although I always knew this to be the case.
The other interesting thing for me is the fact that my heart rate has been tracked all day and thankfully has been very constant, not far above resting all day (no meetings with the boss today!). It will be interesting to see how this varies over time, especially as this seems to help drive the overall calorie burn figure that the Fitbit also gives me, actually meaning that MyFitnessPal shows a positive calorie adjustment for the day. I.e. I can actually eat more to hit my daily calorie target.
Overall day one has been a pleasant learning experience, next for me is to see how the GPS works as I will try to take my son out for a push in his pram when I get home tomorrow (it was raining heavily this evening).
Day 2 - Tuesday
It is funny how your brain can play tricks on you. During last night I knew I had been awake three times but it felt like they were always a couple of hours apart. However, when I checked my Fitbit app after this less than ideal nights sleep, actually they had all come in the final hour before I got up anyway so I did still get a better than realised sleep. Not that I felt any less groggy.
The most telling thing today has been how I am already starting to compete with myself which can only be a good thing for my health! One option that the Fitbit gives you to measure is the number of hours during the day you achieve more than 250 steps, helping towards the overall 10k target. Just knowing this I found myself walking to ask questions of colleagues rather than sending emails and at the end of the day I had hit the target for 12 of the 14 hours tracked! I have overheard colleagues in past with Fitbits claim they have been shaking them of an evening to get more steps in but for me you are only cheating yourself, not the technology so you won't see me doing that!
The one key thing I did want to test today was the inbuilt GPS that you get on the Surge. Recently I have been taking quite a few walks with my son in his pram and loved looking at the map after as I explore new roads etc. in our town as I have tracked the routes on my phone. However, this tends to drain battery so having it as part of my watch is great now. The setup was very easy and off I sat for a short walk (during which I actually hit my daily 10k step target). At the end I was able to see clearly in the Fitbit app all of the key data of my walk, all mapped out nicely. This will be invaluable when I start running again as will help me identify better where I am too slow/fast. The only very small bug bear was that the run data won't automatically sync back to MapMyWalk so doesn't count for challenged there, although I did find a work around that involves downloading a TCX file.
All in all its been another enjoyable day getting used to what my new technology can do and how I may use it better moving forward.
Day 3 - Wednesday
This was always going to be a harder day to test the features of my new Fitbit as I was going to be spending most of my day sat at a conference. This was evidenced by the fact that in the whole day I only managed 6,396 steps. It was also a tough day being sat in a warm, dark room, listening to people talk when I had had such a disturbed nights sleep, again shown in my app stats as the Surge synced with my phone.
However, I did still want to test out one new feature which I did. The Surge has a silent alarm system which could prove to be invaluable. You set the alarm via the phone app and when the time comes, your Fitbit will vibrate. As it is on your wrist you will respond, but no one else will be impacted. This could be great when I perhaps have an early flight and don't want to wake my wife with a traditional alarm.
Day 4 - Thursday
It is amazing how quickly you can get used to something. There is no denying that the Fitbit Surge is a large item to be wearing on your wrist. I am fortunate as I am a bigger guy so it isn't that bad but I could imagine that it may be a little large for a petite woman for example. That said, less than a week in it just feels natural to have the Fitbit on my wrist morning, noon and night and I am really enjoying being able to keep track of what I am doing. More and more I find myself going up and down the stairs for menial tasks, knowing at the back of my mind that this will contribute to both my step and flights climbed targets!
At the beginning I mentioned how I had been using MyFitnessPal for a while to monitor food intake to help me try and lose weight and I have not stopped doing this. However, one interesting thing that has come out of wearing my Fitbit and syncing this with the app is that all of a sudden I am finding myself with extra calories to eat each day. What happens is that based on the rate of calorie burn calculated by the Fitbit, it then calculates if you are burning faster than expected and gives you extra (or if you turn the setting on) takes away calories. I thought the adjustments would be quite small but actually each day I am finding I apparently have a couple of hundred plus extra to consume each evening. It does explain why historically I have always lost weight using the app faster than planned as I have obviously been burning calories at a faster rate. At the moment where my goal is to lose a couple more kilos yet then I'm trying to ignore these adjustments but when I get to the maintain stage, it will be key to include this adjustment daily. The only problem is obviously it is a little bit of a moving target as the day progresses and the forecast changes.
Day 5 - Friday
Occasionally I have the option to work from home and on this day this was something I was doing. I have mentioned earlier how working in an office can mean that the ability to get your steps in is quite difficult, however, I have to admit this was even harder at home. Even menial tasks like going for a drink or to the bathroom took a matter of steps rather than maybe getting a few more added to daily total like I would in the office. However, what was obvious was how much easier it was to go well beyond the targeted 10 flights of stairs, and I did find myself chooising the upstairs bathroom, just to help hit this target.
Day 6 - Saturday
Weekends should be days of rest but if my Fitbit tells me anything, today was much more active. The various goals that are set for you turn green on the app when complete and I was very happy to see that I had green across the board. In many ways it shouldn't be a surprise that weekends get more out of me, chasing around after three kids but the volume of steps in particular were pleasing given I didn't do anything too different. Granted when I went shopping I deliberately chose a space a longer way from the shop but otherwise the day was just a normal Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised when I was walking through the restaurant that we had gone to for my Dads birthday, to suddenly feel my wrist vibrating, a sign you have hit the 10k steps. It made ordering a massive feast of fajitas easier to stomach knowing I had hit my target for the day!
I also now have been able to implement the friendly challenge aspect of Fitbit as well. You can link up with fellow users who are in your contact list or on Facebook to give more competition. Most of those of my list are more acquaintances rather than people that I would want to challenge me on steps, however, my Mum also has a Fitbit so we'll now be trying to out do each other I'm sure (although may be difficult as her job has her on her feet most the day!)
Day 7 - Sunday
So Day 7 of my first week wearing my brand new Fitbit Surge came to end with a second consecutive day of hitting all of my targets without doing anything out of the ordinary. It was more of a much and I did find my self doing what I have heard of others doing which is pacing the house, just to get over 10k steps! I definitely wouldn't have been doing that 7 days ago! The interesting thing will be to see if I can get any closer again tomorrow.
What Have I Learned?
One week in and what have I learned and am I still happy with my Fitbit Surge? These are the two questions I had at the start of the week.
Fundamentally not a lot has changed in terms of my fitness regime. In fact in the past 7 days I have done fewer night time walks with my son in his pushchair. However, I have found myself forcing myself to walk a little further, or go up those stairs one more time, all of which can only be good for my general health. I have also had opportunity to get used to the watch so that when I start running training again (and I will!) I look forward to using it to the max. I can also see myself forcing a 10min walk at lunch if nothing else which will help me reach my weight and fitness goals. Yes it does have its little foibles, for example it was counting lots of steps as I was stationary and sweeping the floor yet missed steps as I was pacing the house. However, in general I think it is accurate and a great aid. That said, I think you need to be of the right mentality to fully utilise the technology.
I previously said how I love my numbers and charts etc. which means I love to challenge myself. You do have to realise though that it is yourself you are challenging. I have overheard colleagues in the past speak of how they will shake their arm of the evening to hit the target, but in my eyes you are only cheating yourself. It isn't cheap to buy a Fitbit a Surge so you need to know you'll use it so I would suggest tracking your food and exercise via free apps first. All told though, I am so pleased to now have a Fitbit and fully expect that where it will really come into its own is when I hit my weight goal and want to maintain as far too often I start to balloon up again!
Find Fitbit Surge at Amazon
If this article has inspired you to get your own Fitbit Surge then find them at Amazon here.
Have you worn, or considered wearing a Fitbit?
Do you wear a Fitbit Surge or similar, or have you been inspired to wear one? I'd love to hear any comments that you may have. Likewise, if you are considering buying a Fitbit Surge and have any questions about it then I'd love to answer where I can.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Mike Hey