Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My and My Fitbit: Going Over to the Dark Side?

Well, clearly my previous post--a foray into politics, urban planning, history, architecture and public transit--went over like a lead balloon with you, my readers. I guess you're not used to hearing me wax poetic on the subway woes of Toronto! But never fear, this post will be more in keeping with your expectations, although I am not finished talking about Chicago and what a fabulous city it is (at least from this tourist's vantage point!).

So here we go:

This Friday, I hooked myself up to my new Fitbit and well, I'm hooked.

For those of you who don't know about the Fitbit, it's essentially a device that tracks various personal parameters: steps walked, calories burnt, staircases climbed, hours slept, how many times you woke up during the course of the night. It provides a breakdown of your activity levels so you know how much time you've spent being sedentary, lightly, fairly or very active during the day. You also have the option of tracking what you eat, how many calories you consumed and the nutritional breakdown of the food (protein, carbs, fats) as well as how much water you've drunk. Activity fiends can log in physical activities (like swimming or biking, for instance) with the duration, distance, start time etc. Both the food and the activity logs are optional. It's up to you to log in this information or not.

Oh, and how could I forget? You can also log in your weight and your weight loss goal (if you have one). It then asks you how slowly or quickly you want to lose that weight (1/2 pound a week, 1 pound, etc.) and then calculates the number of calories per day you can eat, adjusting constantly for activity engaged in and food eaten. When you first get up in the morning and haven't done anything, your calorie consumption is set at X. As the day goes by, and you rack up steps walked, distance swum, staircases climbed, etc., it ups the number of calories you can consume and still work towards your goal.

Sounds like a real nightmare on ELMM (eat less - move more) Street, right?

And all of this wonderful information can be shared with the whole world (or practically) via the magic of Facebook. Let me say this right now: I find the idea of sharing such information absolutely abhorent. You will never pry Fitbit information from me and if you know me on Facebook, you can be sure that I passed up on the option and you'll never be any the wiser about my Fitbit stats.

So, how am I using my Fitbit and what's my assessment?

First things first: it's cool and quite user friendly. Although not a Luddite, I am not incredibly adept with new software. I did use a few choice words as I got to know the device, but I didn't ask my resident software genius for help once (thank goodness--we always argue, when it comes to computers) and I'm already feeling very comfortable with it.

I'm also somewhat addicted. It's amazing seeing the updates on the computer screen. The device itself is very small, easy to wear, and unobtrusive, even at night. You can read the basic stats right from the Fitbit itself (steps, distance, calories burnt, staircases climbed). It syncs the information to your computer within 30 seconds of logging in and going to the dashboard. Refreshing the page will enable you to see how things are going at all times. In other words, you'll even know how many calories you've burnt sitting at your computer.

I've got a lot more to say about my little friend, including what I perceive as a serious "dark side", in particular for people who have an eating disorder or suffer from orthorexia (trying to eat "perfectly"), but right now, I feel that I have to tear myself away from Blogger and actually do some real work to make some real money in the real world.

There will be more...


  1. Arrrgh! NO! Say it isn't true! You HAVE "gone over to the dark side"...just kidding, of course. :)

    Just because a device like that would make ME crazier than I already am, doesn't mean it will harm you. I suppose it's an individual preference, actually--I simply don't want to know THAT kind of data at this point in my life. I'm happy with my body (well, except for my brain/nervous system function), and the less attention I pay to quantities/measurements of most ANYTHING involving eating and activity, the better I seem to feel.

    Now, on the other hand, if someone manufactures and sells a body monitor that tracks heart rate, breathing rate, amplitude of respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and oxygen perfusion--well, I'm their customer (provided the price isn't ridiculously high, as I fear it would be)!

    Such a device would allow me to practice neuro-biofeedback to help me 1) improve my ability to identify stress triggers (both environmental and internal) AS THEY HAPPEN and, hopefully, 2) improve my ability to self regulate in response to stress--and, thus, to use mindful breathing techniques or muscle relaxation, for instance, at the specific moments when those modalities would be beneficial (so, BEFORE a PTSD episode would have a chance to hijack my nervous system.)

    Now, THAT would be an awesome tool.

    I'm sure your toy--er--device is cool too. :)

  2. No, no, it wasn't lack of INTEREST in your last post, it was lack of INTERNET ACCESS!

    I'm already missing my high desert campground; unfortunately cell phone coverage has been extended, so the damn iPhone continued to function...

    One of my buddies raves about her Fitbit, but I think it would spawn more rebellion in my case.

  3. I'm back from vacation now. Went to a conference the week before that. I just have been out of pocket and am now "catching up." I actually found your Chicago post (which I just read) interesting, because I too love that town.

    Now, as for this post. Welcome, indeed to the dark side, bwahahaha.