Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FitBit: A Week Later

So, I've been using FitBit for almost a week.  I've found the device very easy to use.  The interface is great if you are looking at one week or one month at a time.  The daily view is very difficult to interpret, but then again, we shouldn't be focused on hour to hour changes...the interface is great if you are watching your progress over weeks or months!

The communication between MyFitnessPal and Fitbit could be quicker, but for the most part, it works.  I think the key is to use MyFitnessPal solely for recording calories.  Do not enter a goal or a food plan into MyFitness Pal, and then completely disregard any  exercise/net/remaining calories.  If you disregard these, then you base all of your data/plans on FitBit, which works fine.

Then again, you need to realize that the online data will always be behind the device that is attached to you.  This is fine if you are sitting at your computer at home, where the wireless connector resides...but if you spend hours in front of a work computer, don't even bother checking FitBit, unless you are reviewing historical information.  It does do a decent job at estimating calorice burn rate, but it could easily be a couple hundred calories off by the afternoon of a work day.

So, have I learned anything this last week?  First and foremost, I now know why I'm always so disappointed with a lack of results when going on a diet.  I'm amazed at how sedentary my life is!  The graph below (from FitBit's site) clearly illustrates my burn versus eaten.  My burn is easily increased when I exercise, but if I don't I'm shocked at how low it is!

A few realities have already set in:
  • During a typical work day, assuming I do NOT do cardio, I burn a mere 1900 calories.
  • During a somewhat busy weekend day, assuming I do NOT do cardio, I burn around 2300 calories.
There are no stairs in Florida.  Its so hot that we rarely spend much time outside unless its between Novemebr and April.  I have a desk job....which means I just don't walk much during the day.  All of these play into those low numbers above.

I suppose I've always understood the concept of in/out calorie-wise, but I presumed that based on my weight, my natural metabolism would burn much more than 1900 during a week day!  Just going out to lunch and having dinner typically puts me over that...so in essence, if I indulged over the weekend as well, I would put weight on every single week.  This was definitely an eye-opener.  I was always so discouraged when I wouldn't lose a pound when I went under 1600 calories.  Well, assuming I only burned 1900/day, I would have to do this for 12 days before losing a single pound...and with the changes in water weight that occur throughout a body, this may not even be seen on a scale for a good three weeks.  Wow....maybe I was delusional to think that I burned more than 2000 calories/day. 

So, the Fitbit has thrown it into my face that I need to be more active....not just for "exercise" sessions, but for every day activities.  I need to take the stairs whenever possible.  I need to walk around work more.  I need to do things that don't require me to sit for extended periods of time.  This is very obvious to me now.

On the other hand, I have worn it while sleeping, and the site assigns a percentage to your sleep efficiency...I had one bad night of sleep, but for the most part, I consistently scored above 95%.  So, at least I know I'm getting a decent amount of sleep and a decent quality of sleep.

I think I always had a good sense of my calorie intake, but its this other side of the equation that I was just assuming that the quick-and-dirty formulas were working for me.  And maybe without this kitchen fire which has forced me to eat out for the last 4 months would never required this type of understanding, but I'm glad I did it!

Our kitchen will not be done for a good 3 weeks, so I definitely plan on wearing this at least until then.  Will update you after another week!

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