My Fitbit Experiment: Week 1 Summary

My previous article on the Fitbit introduced the product and the setup. (See: My Fitbit Experiment, Day 1.) Day 2 was pretty active for me. I worked on demolishing my garage, went on a hike that was probably a few miles long, and tackled some insane blackberry weeds. So what did Fitbit have to say about all this activity?

Absolutely nothing, because I forgot to put on my Fitbit until after dinner. I also forgot to wear it at night for the sleep monitoring aspect.

Great. It's only Day 2 and I'm already a failure. Day 2's accomplishments included: climbing “the world's tallest sand castle” and scheduling a reminder in my phone to wear the Fitbit.

Day 3
Today I managed to remember to keep the Fitbit on, and because I can't be trusted, I've decided to just leave it on the wristband 24/7. I have no fashion sense anyway, so it's a good tradeoff. Today, I got this in my email:

I feel special already. Later in the day I ended up getting another email, congratulating me on climbing 10 floors in one day. I might have been happier with this accomplishment if it hadn't been included with a taunt to climb 25 floors tomorrow.

What am I, a machine?

Day 4
Yes. I am a machine.

After getting this message I did a victory lap up and down my staircase, not so much because I was proud, but because I needed to up my numbers. The dashboard is starting to control my life, and it's only been a few days.

Today my dashboard looks like this:

I have found the base station can take a while to upload. There's been a handful of times when I thought maybe it had missed a few floors I'd climbed, but about 10 minutes later those missing floors got counted.

Overall, the dashboard shows a fairly active day. The red spikes on the “calories burned” chart are for when I was playing with my dogs. The 6 p.m. time slot was when I was working on the garage demo, and the 11 p.m. slot shows a dog walk. Overall it's keeping a pretty accurate track on my activity levels.

I do think the calories tracker is a little unreliable, but they have another product, a scale, to help with that if your main goal is weight loss. As a part of the whole package, Fitbit is encouraging me to keep track of what I eat to get a more accurate feel for calories in and out. But I hate tracking what I eat, because… well, it's just depressing.

Plus, a lot of the foods I eat just aren't on the list of options they provide. For example, for lunch I had half a bag of M&Ms. The closest option they provide is for me to click on a chocolate bar where I can choose either an ounce or a pound. I'm not sure how much I ate, but for the sake of not appearing like a chocolate addict, I'll just lie to myself and say I ate an ounce of M&Ms for lunch. And I'll throw in another ounce of chips, because I like a well rounded meal.

There is the option to enter a completely new field, but then you need to know the calories, fat, and serving size, but because my main goal is not weight loss, I won't be getting that obsessive.

At least, not yet. One of the graphs I actually have been obsessing over is this one:

What? I was sedentary for over six hours? I blame Game of Thrones.

So far, for losing weight, this seems like a great tool. Just looking at this graph alone makes me want to obsessively check to make sure my sedentary time gets smaller than my lightly active time, and that my lightly active time gets smaller than my fairly active time. And can I at least get a half hour of very active time in here? This is just embarrassing.

In summary, this first week I've had a few hiccups in remembering to wear it. Day 5 and Day 7 I forgot about it for half the day, and a few nights I forgot to put it in sleep mode to track my sleeping patterns. But I'm really enjoying the dashboard and seeing what my activity levels are. I notice I'm going up and down the stairs more just to up my score, and my nightly walks have gotten longer. Overall, it's been a positive experience.

Next week I'll discuss the sleep monitoring in more depth along with some of the competition and the design specs.

7 comments on “My Fitbit Experiment: Week 1 Summary

  1. Ariella
    July 18, 2012

    Groovy. I just wanted to say that. Does it pick up on slang preferences?

  2. Cryptoman
    July 18, 2012

    I think if Fitbit was able to calculate the calorie intake as good as it calculates the calories burned, it would be a hot seller. It's true that Fitbit sets realistic goals and presents them in an attractive and visual manner but even if you burn 2500 calories per day and eat 3000 calories worth of food, the numbers on Fitbit will not mean much for someone who is trying to lose weight (like myself).

    In addition to improving the calorie intake calculations, taking the time of the day into account while doing that calculation will greatly improve the accuracy of the results. This is because there seems to be a correlation between what time you eat and how that gets converted into calories. For example, most dieticians strongly discourage eating anything after 19:00 as the metabolism starts to slow down after that time. (Unfortunately, that's exactly when most people feel like snacking!) The great thing about Fitbit is because it already tracks the periods of high and low activity, it can customise calorie intake calculations based on the hours of consumption very accurately.

    Great experiment by the way. It fun reading about about Fitbit.

  3. bolaji ojo
    July 18, 2012

    I just want to know if it counts keystrokes and how many equals one floor. Plus, how about brain activity? Does Fitbit know if the brain has been thoroughly exercised?

  4. Barbara Jorgensen
    July 18, 2012

    I enjoyed reading this, particularly the part about forgetting to put it on. I like the congratulatory e-mails; positive reinforcement is a good thing. But not offering M&Ms as a lunch option? Big oversight.

    July 19, 2012

    Seems to me you are exercising too much and not eating enough calories.  Better watch out you do not fade away 😉

  6. Michell Prunty
    July 20, 2012



    Hah, my calories are all off by maybe 500 – 1000 each day.  How do people who track their food intake every day account for snacking?  An M&M here, a grape there, a cookie to hold off dinner…It all just disappears

    According to this food logging system I should probably be dead. 



    Keystrokes keep me in the “Lightly Active” range – it feels so wrong.  & a floor is 10 feet.  The Fitbit doesn't care about my mind 🙁

  7. t.alex
    July 21, 2012

    It would be great if t can integrate some heartbeat measuring and processing.

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