The process of either maintaining our fitness or losing weight fit is a game of numbers. We all have been told this – burn more calories than you take in and eventually, you’ll lose weight. In particular, we Americans need to pay attention to our waistlines because we’re getting larger and larger.
Look around and you’ll easily see why. With sugary drinks and processed foods, we’re not eating as well. Also, we’re not moving – we take escalators and skip the steps and each day we’re consuming more and more calories.
However, the point of this post is to give you a tool to help keep track of what you’re putting in to your body and how you’re doing – fitness wise. I profiled the BodyMedia Fit on the Rudy Maxa Show a year ago and now it’s time to look at another option, the Fitbit Ultra Activity Tracker.
As you can see, the Fitbit is a little clip-on pedometer and activity that attaches to your pants pocket or to your belt with an included tip. The model I’m trying is the Fitbit Ultra, which counts steps and has an altimeter to help you track how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed too.
The Fitbit comes in primarily black with a highlighted trim color and customers have two options available: pink and blue.
After you remove the Fitbit and its accessories from the packaging, you need to install the Fitbit application for your PC or Mac and set up your Fitbit.com account. Then, you dock the Fitbit onto it’s included dongle and plug it in to for computer’s USB port. After a simple set up process, you are ready to go.
In the set up process, you get a fitbit.com username and password and are ready to start tracking physical activity, calories burned and diet, if you choose to do so.
I found the set up process to be straightforward and easy. One tip: Be sure to let the Fitbit get a good charge before you start using it.
Using the device
My first event with the Fitbit on my side was the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. I was excited to trial the Fitbit at the show because as with any conference, I do a lot of walking. The Fitbit sits simply on your pocket and is slightly noticeable, but isn’t overly conspicuous.
I like that the Fitbit has a button on the it to give you stats along the way. Clicking the button shows an OLED display that can show your steps, stairs climbed, miles traveled, all numbers visible are for that particular day. The BodyMedia Fit, for comparison, had no display on it, making it hard to track your numbers throughout the day as on the Fitbit.
It was fun to track my steps throughout the day, In fact, on days where I noticed my step count was rather low, knowing the figures encouraged me to take an extra walk during my daily work breaks.
For me, the Fitbit lasts between 3-4 days. On day 4 the battery seemed pretty low so I didn’t let it go more than 3 days without a charge because having the Fitbit go dead would defeat the point of wearing it in first place.
The Fitbit website and apps
The Fitbit website is superb from a usability perspective. In the personalized site (once you log in), you can see a dashboard showing your steps on the current day along with stairs climbed, miles traveled, calories burned.
You can also log other activity such as biking, rowing or weight lifting, which aren’t adept to being picked up by the Fitbit by itself. Logging the activity in Fitbit.com makes the service accurately reflect your calories burned.
One enjoyable factor on FitbIt, it gives you badges and little reminders along the way to urge you to be more active. Also a plus for Fitbit is the fact that it integrates with other services such as RunKeeper and Microsoft HealthVault.
This integration is nice because if you utilize services such as RunKeeper, your stats will be automatically updated just by simply using your Fitbit as you normally would without extra work to update Runkeeper too.
Fitbit’s fantastic iPhone application allows you to view your stats for previous days too, but the real value-add to the app is the ability to log your diet while on-the-go. If you’re at, say Chipotle having a burrito, you can search for that burrito in the Fitbit app and it will pull in the calories and other nutrition information you care about.
Android owners will love that there’s an app now for Android devices too.
The FitBit Ultra is a perfect companion for those wanting stats and tools for becoming aware of your true physical activity level. Also, with the nutrition tools and apps, Fitbit can be of more useful in helping you battle the bulge.
With Summer approaching, consider getting a Fitbit Ultra. The device is on sale from Amazon for $97 in both black and blue.