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What I Have Learned From My Fitbit Flex

Updated on January 15, 2015
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Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Fat Man Sitting
Fat Man Sitting | Source

About Me

I am a fat man, no sense in denying it. Now I am not grossly obese, I don't need help getting to a sitting position, nothing that extreme. I am, however, larger than I should be.

Part of the issue I know, is the fact that, as a computer technician my job can be a little sedentary. I need to get up and go to my calls instead of doing them remotely, I need to get up and stretch if I've been sitting too long. These things I know, however knowing them and being motivated to change your behaviour are two different things.

This is where the Fitbit Flex comes in.... at least I hope it is.

What is the Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit Flex is a glorified pedometer, that's all it is. However, when tied with a fitbit account on their website it is considerably more than this. It gives you all the tools you need to track your calories eaten and compare that with calories burned during the day, it gives you a nice indicator for how close you are to your daily goal, and it allows you to track how well and how long you sleep.

Fitbit makes a number of such devices, the Flex is kind of a mid-range device. The Zip and the One are clip on devices that attach to your belt loop, or kept in your pocket. The One adds an altimeter to help you track number of flights of stairs climbed (this can be glitchy apparently, and sometimes counts driving up hills as climbing stairs). The Charge adds a clock functionality, as well as the altimeter, the Charge +HR, and the Surge add heart rate monitor for better calorie burn tracking and sleep monitoring.

I chose the Fitbit Flex because it is water resistant (to 10 meters) and is affordable at $99. The water resistant feature enables me to keep it on in the shower and not worry about frying the unit, don't assume this means you can wear it while swimming or in the hot tub. The high temperature of hot tubs have been known to fry the battery, and generally swimming is fine, but in surf the pressure is enough to act as 10 meters quick enough, and 10 meters is surprisingly easy to get to without thinking, best to remove it while actually swimming.

The most irritating type of alarm
The most irritating type of alarm | Source

Alarm Feature

Probably one of the most underrated features of the Flex (and any of the wrist band Fitbit models) is the silent alarm feature. This allows you to set an alarm that vibrates the Flex. It is an excellent gentle wake up, much less jarring than an alarm clock. I also use it for reminders, if I have to be certain places at certain times I set an alarm and my Flex vibrates to let me know its time.

It can be a little difficult to tell it to stop, but it works well and even has an automatic snooze feature, if you don't shut off the alarm it will go off again in 9 minutes.

Fitbit Flex Tap Guide

Probably one of the most difficult things to get used to is the Flex tap system. The Fitbit Flex has no buttons at all on it, anywhere. To replace buttons the Flex uses a system where you tap the unit with your finger a certain number of times to get it to do things. Here is what taps you need to know:

Feature
Taps
Put Fitbit in Sleep Mode/Awake Mode
Continuous Tapping Until Light Display indicates a change in mode. When the flex goes into sleep mode the right most and left most LED indicators light up. When Flex wakes up the lights light up an a sequence then the indicators show how far along in your progress you are.
Check your goal progress
Tap Twice. The lights will flash in sequence then it will show one LED light per 20% of your goal, and one flashing for showing on the way to the next 20%.
Turn Off Alarm
To turn off the alarm once it goes off continually tap it until the lights flash showing what mode the flex is in

Aria

The Fitbit Aria is a digital scale on steroids. It ties in with the Fitbit page and wirelessly transmits your weight and body fat % to your fitbit profile automatically. It works excellently with the Flex. You can set it for up to 8 different users, and if anyone else uses it it displays the weight and body fat under Guest and does not transmit the data. It works with your home wireless network, so if you don't have wireless internet at home, this device won't be nearly as useful.

My Initial Experiences

I have had the Fitbit Flex for a week now. I enjoy it quite a bit, and find the data it allows me to track quite useful. I have discovered, unfortunately, that the sleep monitor function is not as good as it seems. Once you put the Flex into sleep mode it assumes anytime you are not moving you must be asleep, now I am not sure what I expected since it is simply and acceleratorometer and has no way of knowing anything more than moving/not moving, but it would be nice to have the heart rate monitor to increase the sleep monitor's effectiveness.

I discovered I weighed a fair amount less than I feared I did, so I have less to lose before hitting my goal weight, so that's good. I also discovered that I have a bad habit of not eating enough calories during the week and too many on the weekends, working on changing these habits.

I don't walk nearly enough, I currently have my Flex set to a goal number of steps of 7,500, and I will increase this every time I hit my goal twice in a week by 500 steps. Eventually I'd like to be over 10,000 steps, but I have a ways to go. I will from time to time update this article to indicate my progress, and how the Flex is helping.


Update Jan 15 2015

So I've lost 5 pounds so far. Having the fitbit is making me more aware of the times I sit instead of walking. I am walking to my trouble calls instead of calling the client and dealing with the issues remotely which is really helping me meet my step goals. I started out setting a 7,000 step goal and promised every time I hit the goal twice a week I would up it by 500 steps, in just two short weeks I am already up to 8,500 steps per day. I'd like to be over 10K, but I've got a ways to go. I hit 12K steps one day this week, but that was a particularly hectic day. I know come spring it will be easier to get large number of steps per day, and the warmth of the past few days has helped up my steps, so I am interested to see how that affects me weekly average.

I set the sleep sensitivity to sensitive, and discovered I am essentially only getting 3-4 hours sleep a day, so I need to work on that somehow. I know part of the issue is sleep apnea and that should improve as I lose weight and once I get my deviated septum fixed.

I had initially set me weight loss setting to easy, but I found I had no trouble meeting the caloric intake required, in fact I often had WAY too many calories left at the end of the day. I have now changed the setting to a more aggressive weight loss plan, so we shall see how that fares.

Over all still very satisfied with the fitbit flex. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in obtaining a tracker.

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    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Homeplace Series, it's a good tool for reminding you to get more active. I love that feature of it... I'd like it more if the Fitbit had an option to vibrate to alert you you'd been sitting for X number of minutes, but it's still a good visual reminder.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I wear my FitBit Flex merely to remind me to get up and move around. When the weather is good, and I get out and walk, it is neat to easily see if I can get to 5,000 in a day. I've accomplished that once, in the 4-5 months I've had it. So, I have much more to experience. Thanks for a fun and useful hub! ;-)