Suek wants to know more about the Fitbit. She’s thinking about getting one, and asks if it’s making a difference. Yes, yes it is.
Some general comments. I have had mine– an Inspire HR– for just over four weeks. (Mr. Big Food has had his– a Versa Lite– for about two weeks.) There is a learning curve but it’s not too steep if you like gadgets. And as with all such gadgets, one probably gets out of it what one puts into it in terms of learning what it does and does not do, how it does what it does, and how to interpret what it spits out based on one’s own personal goals.
I’m sure there a folks who are very happy with theirs who are not inclined to figure out all this stuff– and who do not have four pages of notes and calculations confirming the numbers that Fitbit spits out. I’m also sure their are hundreds if not thousands of Fitbits sitting in dresser drawers because their owners just got bored with them.
Who remembers PDAs (Personal Data Assistants)? Same thing. If you took the time to plug stuff into a PDA, you were probably more organized than you had been. If not… .
Two more general comments. First, be sure you set your own goals. I, as a 60+ year old woman living on a 60 acre farm with three separate habitable structures (read: a lot of drudge work is required to keep things tidy) do not need to take 10,000 steps every day. And so I do not care how many hours per day I have been active (= 250 steps/hr.). Those functions are useful to me though because the draw my attention to being more efficient as I go from room to room to room… . (In the days immediately after being run over by Missy it was also helpful to make sure I was not walking too much.)
Second, if you are a privacy nut, know that you can turn the GPS off. The Fitbit will learn the length of your stride and calculate number of steps accordingly. I naturally tested this by measuring my stride the crappy old fashioned way (tape measure) and Fitbit was pretty accurate.
Below the fold, I’ll talk about one of the functions that’s of prime importance to both Mr. Big Food and I: Calories In (keeping track of how much you eat vs. how many calories you burn).
There are a zillion YouTubes and forums and whatnot that describe what information is here, how to set your goal, what the zones mean, etc., so I won’t bore you with that.
This is the part that is for Mr. Big Food and I, the most time consuming. I want to focus on ways to make it less so.
When you hit the + sign (top right corner) to log a dish or food item you can search for a food from the database, or use your phone to scan the barcode on the item which will download the nutritional label and log that info.
Once you assign the item a meal time, which are fixed (you cannot create the category “Elevensies”), adjust the serving size if necessary, and hit “Log,” you’re done.
If you eat lots of chicken pot pie type things, or simply want to enter a PB&J made with off the shelf stuff (scan or search) it’s really easy. If, on the other hand, you do a lot of from scratch cooking, scanning and searching could be quite cumbersome– not to mention taking the fun out of cooking. You can, however, add a “custom food.”
For every custom food, you have the option to record as much or as little nutritional information as will be helpful to you in achieving what ever it is you want to achieve. I care about calories, and to a lesser extent, amount of protein and fat. Mr. Big Food only cares about calories. We’ve found three ways to add collect the information we need about our custom foods.
1) If I’m making a smoothie according to the generic recipe: 1C frozen fruit + 1 carton yogurt + 1/4C cashews + 1 cup juice, it’s pretty simple to look at the packages, add up the number of calories (and protein/fat if significant) and log 224 calories, 8 protein, 8 fat for each 2C serving of a “peach3 1/2oj smoothie.” Next time I make a peach smoothie with peach yogurt and half OJ, half white cran-peach juice, I’ll just search for it from my list of custom foods.
2) If Mr. Big Food is making something moderately complicated (i.e., with more ingredients), it’s still pretty simple to look at the packages, search the internet (how many calories are in 1 pound top sirlion?), add it up and divide by number of servings. This is mostly ad hoc while we’re in the kitchen. We don’t bother with the trivial ingredients like 1/2 an onion.
3) If there’s a dish– frequently our dessert snack for the week– with enough ingredients to make looking at the package labels, adjusting serving sizes to amounts called for in the recipe and such a pain, I use the recipe builder at Nutrientfacts.com. You simply plug in the ingredient, adjust the amounts from your recipe, and it spits out a nutritional label for that recipe. It’s sort of quirky sometimes. For example, “tomato” yields no results. “Tomatoes” does.
Again, from my perspective the calories in function is the most time consuming. But once you’ve gotten the hang of it, and built up a list of the foods you frequently eat (whether custom or not) it’s not bad at all. And it generates a trove of interesting information if you’re trying to eat healthier or manage weight.