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Needs a few tweaks to the online dashboard ...then I'll give it 5 stars
on 31 July 2012
I am currently on a weight loss diet, and I count calories using 'my fitness pal' (MFP).
My reason for purchasing a fitbit? I wanted to have a better idea of exactly how sedentary or active I am, but my primary reason was to gain a better understanding of what my total energy expenditure is each day, and how this varies through the addition of physical activity and exercise. The fitbit has met my needs in both respects, and although I do appreciate this is not an exact science, I feel much more informed than previously.
Fitbit integrates easily with MFP, 'feeding' it information on how many calories I have burned each day based on my activity, and MFP in turn tells me how many calories I can eat on each particular day, while still achieving weight loss.
I always knew that I was more active on weekends, and fitbit has confirmed this, on average it 'tells' MFP that I can eat an extra 600-800 kcals at weekend days (normally I'm allowed 1200 kcals per day to achieve a 2lbs per week weight loss) however I tend to favour not 'eating back' all of these kcals, leaving the majority instead to hopefully end up as extra weight loss. I do treat myself at weekends, going up to around 1500 kcals, and for the first time ever, I don't feel guilty about it because I know that I'm burning the calories to justify it!
The fitbit itself is very small and unintrusive. It clips discreetly to your clothing and you easily forget it is there. However it soon becomes part of the daily routine to clip it on in the morning. I am a sound sleeper, so I don't find the sleep tracking function to be of much interest. Nor do I bother adding specific 'activities' to my fitbit tracking, I just let it do its own thing.
However, on the few occasions where I have felt it necessary to add specific activities to the fitbit online dashboard, that has been a simple process, and I have been much more comfortable with Fitbit's burn estimates that with MFP's (IMO, MFP is way, way too generous). When I added 20 minutes on my exercise cycle, for example, my cycle's onboard computer gave me a burn reading of 180 kcals, and fitbit came in at around 190. That's close enough for peace of mind.
There is a single function button on the fitbit, and just scrolling through this now, I can see that I have taken 4667 steps today, walked 2.04 miles, burned 2161 kcals, climbed 21 flights of stairs, and as I am now seated in front of my computer, only two flower leaves out of a maximum 11 leaves, representing recent physical activity. I actually feel concerned when I sit still too long - conscious that fitbit will be racking up this sedentary activity, so it is actually working as incentive for me to keep busy.
Set up and configuration was easy - connected the fitbit via its docking station to a laptop, downloaded the settings from the fitbit website, keyed in my personal data, height, weight, goal etc. Then I selected to sync to MFP and voila, the two work very well together.
Only a few minor annoyances:
1) my primary computer is an ipad, which has no usb port to charge the fitbit, nor to sync the data (wirelessly) from it. So I need to boot up my partner's windows machine to charge, and to receive the latest fitbit activity tracking wirelessly to my ipad. At least the battery life is excellent.
2) The online fitbit website provides additional interesting and useful information on your activity levels and energy expenditure, however a significant exasperation is that several of the charts rely on flash technology, which my ipad cannot display. I wrote to fitbit customer support to complain about this, however I received a standard-response brush off, which they clearly provide to all customers who complain about this. So in the meantime, until they address this issue to make the charting technology accessible to all, I won't be upgrading to fitbit premium. And I wont be purchasing the matching aria scales.
Other than that, fitbit is a brilliant gizmo and I love it. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding .... and since acquiring this little gadget, the information it and MFP provide in combination, have enabled me to lose over two stone since the start of June this year.
A FINAL NOTE FOR IPAD OWNERS - check out the comments section of my review, where I have given a list to the best of my ability of the charts/summaries which are viewable/not viewable on fitbit online dashboard when using ipad (I don't want to clutter this review with the information). High time fitbit got their backsides into gear and sorted this.