BodyMedia vs Fitbit

Why I Use an Activity Tracker

While watching a cooking show on QVC I heard one of the winners (Danni Allen) of the Biggest Loser television show say that she lost her weight by using her BodyMedia. She encouraged another contestant that called into the show to continue using his. There was such passion in her voice that I knew that I had to have one.

As luck would have it, while attending the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas I was researching gadgets to write about. I headed straight to the Body Media booth. I was doing research for an article so I showed them my media badge. After some discussion about the Bluetooth Link Arm Band, I was given a business card with a discount hand printed on the back. I immediately ordered my own Body Media Link armband as soon as I returned home.

Over the next year I lost nearly 50 pounds.

I continued to wear my armband. However, I quit recording my food and ignored that I was gaining the weight back. Although I gained many of the pounds back over several months, I learned a lot about how my body's metabolism works.

Again, with the help of my armband I am losing weight. I have lost about 20 pounds so far.

I decided to compare the BodyMedia with another popular activity tracker - the Fitbit. I wear them both and have found some interesting similarities as well as differences. Accuracy is what counts,so like you - I will be interested in the final analysis.

Dieting is a Personal Experience

Weight loss is always on your mind. Thoughts like "What foods can I eat and how soon can I eat them? The word diet is suppose to be a dirty word - but seriously, how else do we describe the agony of making decisions about every bite of food that passes our lips?

I am not a weight loss professional, but I am someone that has watched others suffer with carrying around unwanted pounds and I have struggled with the affliction myself. My theory on weight loss is simple. Eat fewer calories than you burn. Barring any underlying medical condition to the contrary - my theory works every time. Drastic changes are not necessary - even so please always check with your doctor first.

Have I lived with calorie restrictions the way I am telling you to do? Yes, absolutely - in fact I am there right now. Unfortunately I am losing the same 50 pounds that I lost about a year ago. I fell off the wagon - but I have climbed back on and have the reigns in hand. I plan to stay in control. So with The words of Tony Robbins ringing in my ears - "nothing tastes as good as thin feels" I have set my plan in motion.

How I Know How Many Calories is Enough?

Talk is great but doing is more important. Do I like weighing my food - no I do not. Do I enjoy tracking my calorie intake all day every day - no I do not. Do I enjoy telling myself no - no I do not. But, I do all of these things and more. Sometimes my reward is a special meal but often my reward has nothing to do with food. Can you say "new techie gadget"?

I have another theory about weight loss. If you do not know how many calories you burn during the day, how do you know how many calories you should eat? I solved this problem. I have worn a BodyMedia Link arm band for a couple of years and recently I started wearing a Fitbit.

I can hear you asking - why do you wear 2 devices that do the same thing? One tracking device would suffice, I admit it, but I really want to compare the two devises. While both track virtually the same things they are quite different in the way they track. Daily tracking of your steps, your calories burned, your food intake, your activity level and even the duration and quality of your sleep are tracked by both the BodyMedia Link armband and the FitBit. Over the past month I have noticed some interesting results. ame job?



BodyMedia Link

My BodyMedia Link armband is worn around the backside of the upper left arm. Yes, it does matter - the directions say the left arm. The device itself (a small disk with sensors on the back and the “pairing button on hitherto front) snaps into and elastic band designed to hold the tracking sensors against your skin.

The BodyMedia Link tracker reads your motion. It’s built in accelerometer takes notice of how you move. It then analyzes your movement from different perspectives in order to understand your current activity. It measures both your steps and patterns of movement – in other words – it can tell if you are walking or running.

The sensor reads your skin temperature, whether you are sweating and how much body heat you are releasing. This tells the sensor how hot you are and how active you are. Since everyone’s body burns calories and a different rate, the BodyMedia sensor can tell how difficult an activity is for you and provides readings accordingly. Accuracy of the readings were reported with a mean error of <10% by the British Journal of Medicine in July, 2008. Multiple publications verifying arm band sensor’s accuracy is available on the BodyMedia website. I tested the accuracy of distance walked and calories burned on my treadmill monitor. I was pleased to find that the readings were nearly exact on both devices.


Fitbit Flex

The FitBit Flex looks much different and the science behind it is different as well. The actual FitBit Flex device fits inside of a rubber bracket that looks sleek and modern. They come in multiple colors and can be switched out easily by simply removing the device from one bracelet to another. The bracelets are available in two sizes – small and large.

Tiny lights aluminate as you reach particular goals or when you want to check your progress throughout the day. For example, if your goal is 10,000 steps, the device will automatically vibrate and light up when that goal is reached. By tapping the bracelet a light will aluminate to show how much of your set goal has been reached.

The Fitbit Flex is worn on the wrist and does not have to be making constant contact with your skin. The sensitivity of the device depends on the setting you choose inside the software and the arm on which it is worn. The most sensitive setting is on the “non-dominant” arm. Since the Fitbit Flex is designed to read movement – you may prefer to set it on the less sensitive “dominant” setting instead. Any movement – such as raising your arm can read as a step.

I have been wearing the BodyMedia Link for over two years. In addition, I have been wearing the Fitbit Flex (on my non-dominant arm) for about a month. Since the two trackers monitor using different criteria, I was curious whether their accuracy is comparable. I love the cuteness of my pink bracelet, but accuracy is number one for me.


Each tracker has an app for my iPhone. There are also apps to download for Android users. Notice the screenshots that I have included in this hub (article). I only enter my food intake on the BodyMedia so I want you to compare the number of steps and the calories burned on each device.

The two screenshots were taken seconds apart. I had worn both trackers all night the night before and all morning as well. Both trackers are on the same arm. It is interesting to see how close the number of calories burned are and how different the number of steps are. I am not sure how to interpret these readings.



Which Tracker is Best?

If I could only have one tracker it would be the BodyMedia because I like the calories consumed vs the calories burned layout on the app. It is easy to see at a glance how many calories I have left for the day. The Fitbit is confusing to me and I have not been able to set up the app to give me the same information in a easy to read way.

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