I was so excited. The moment, and person, I had been waiting for – the UPS man – had arrived. To be honest, my heart skips a beat or two any time I see that big, brown truck pull up in front of my house. But this time he was delivering the key to my new-found physical fitness routine – my Fitbit.
I had done the online research in addition to asking my Fitbit-savvy friends their opinions about which would be the best choice for my lifestyle and me. There are a number of models, and the Fitbit website does a great job of breaking them down and helping you determine which version will work best for you.
I eventually decided on the Fitbit Alta. I liked the slim band, the fact that it was a button closure, the long battery life (I literally charge it once every five days for 15 minutes while I’m in the shower), the texting capabilities, and, of course, the fabulous blue teal color I could choose over plain black.
Setting up my Fitbit was very easy. Long gone are the days where your cell phone or gadget comes with a tiny booklet of instructions. The steps require you to plug it in to charge it (any cell phone wall plug along with the Fitbit adapter they provide will work), wait for it to get some juice, download the coordinating app, and you’re off!
I was surprised that it took only 10-15 minutes for the Fitbit to charge enough to sync with the app on my phone. Accustomed to instant gratification, though, I got antsy, of course, and stopped and started the process about four times in eight minutes, so that could have delayed things a bit.
The feature I was most excited about was the ability to track my sleep patterns. I knew I was not getting optimal sleep on the nights when my 4-year-old crawled into my bed and face-planted me with her feet, but I was curious about the other nights.
The app is great because it shows when you fall asleep, wake up, how often you’re restless, and your sleep patterns in general. However, if you don’t sync your Fitbit and the app in the morning when you wake up, you’ll lose the data from overnight. In the last few months I have accidently skipped the initial morning sync and have no record of the night before.
Additionally, the Fitbit acts as a simplified version of an Apple Watch. It will vibrate to alert you when you receive a call or a text. The name or number of the caller will be displayed, and text messages appear in full. You cannot, however, reply to a text or answer a call. I found this feature to be quite helpful if I was in a meeting or exercising. It allowed me to see who was reaching out and if I needed to respond right away or if it could wait.
My other favorite feature is “Reminders to Move.” You set it up with your profile on the app and you can have your Fitbit encourage you to move at designated times throughout the day (e.g., every hour). I was surprised by how motivating this feature became. The Fitbit has a way of making my personal step goals obtainable, even when they amount to a huge number of steps. The band vibrates, similar to when I receive a text (very tricky Fitbit—you have fooled me into looking) and says something like, “Take me for a stroll” or “Feed me 213 steps.” My boss told me my Fitbit was bossy and that I should yell back at it that “I’m in a meeting!” but yelling doesn’t provide the same long-lasting health benefits as just getting up and walking. If I complete the task, it sends me a congratulatory message like, “You nailed it!” or “Great job!” Well, thank you Fitbit – you have encouraged me to keep going!
Of course, one of the Fitbit’s main features is its glorified pedometer. It counts your steps and constantly pushes you to meet your goal of 10,000 steps a day. There are many tips available for meeting your goals!
Other benefits of a Fitbit Alta are the ability to track calories burned, calorie intake by using the food-entry section on the app, water consumed, and weight lost or gained. There are other apps for fitness that do these same measurements (calorie counting, fitness), of course, but having it all neatly packaged in one device is quite convenient.
Ultimately, the Fitbit has no magical powers to help you get in shape or lose weight – you get out of it what you put into it. But there’s no question it’s a fun, simple, effective way to encourage yourself to get on the right fitness track!