Author Topic: Is a fitbit a good idea?  (Read 1071 times)

englishteacheralex

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Is a fitbit a good idea?
« on: May 16, 2019, 01:46:34 PM »
What do they even do?

I used to be a fairly athletic person. I ran marathons, surfed, and hiked. I'm now a working mother of two toddlers and I've gained about ten pounds over the past five years.

This weight is not going away. I don't have time for distance running anymore, and high impact exercise is no longer a great idea because of my bladder prolapse caused by pregnancy/childbirth. Now I try to fit in a 1500 yard swim workout twice a week and eliptical machine/weight lifting twice a week at my condo's gym. My eating isn't awesome but isn't atrocious.

I'd really like to lose at least some of this weight, as well as get back into shape for hiking with my kids. I'm too cheap and time-impoverished for a real gym to be a great option for me.

Motivation is an issue and I'm such a goal-oriented person (I obsessively track our finances on Mint, for example) that I thought maybe a Fitbit might help me put down the donuts in the workroom?

Any other advice for better health maintenance/self care/weight loss would be appreciated. I might be falling into the "I have a problem so maybe I'll just buy something to solve it!" trap with this fitbit idea.

Cromacster

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2019, 01:51:57 PM »
If you want it purely for tracking steps you can just use your phone (assuming you have a newish smartphone).  You can even get the fitbit app for free if you want to compete with friends who use fitbit.

Exercise is important.  Sounds like you are already doing some. 

The shitter of it all is that it really comes down to diet to lose weight.

Edit to Add:  Since you are goal oriented treat diet and exercise like financials.  You can get really nerdy tracking and weighing foods.  Tracking workouts, steps, etc.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 01:54:11 PM by Cromacster »

PoutineLover

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2019, 01:55:18 PM »
What problem is the fitbit going to solve exactly? If you can pinpoint why you want it, then maybe you can find yourself an alternative way to satisfy that need. If you have a smartphone, it can track your steps, so you could start by downloading an app or seeing what's built into your phone and seeing if that fits your needs first. If you want to track food intake, use myfitnesspal. If you decide you absolutely need a fitbit, look for a used one, I'm sure there are a bunch available on kijiji/craigslist.

dcheesi

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2019, 01:59:40 PM »
The Fitbit by itself is geared much more toward the exercise/fitness side, rather than the food intake side. It can definitely help with setting motivational goals for exercise.

While the Fitbit phone app does have a space for tracking food intake, I haven't personally used it, and AFAIK the Fitbit devices wouldn't add much to that experience(?). Instead I use a separate tracking system/app for food1, which also sucks in activity data from the Fitbit app to determine an approximate energy intake/output balance.

On that note, I should mention that most Fitbit-type devices are designed to connect to a smartphone app for full functionality. This being MMM, I didn't want to just assume you have smartphone. I've never looked into using one of these trackers without smartphone, so I'm not sure what options are available there?

( 1 The decidely spendypants Weight Watchers WW program, which I joined in solidarity with my SO. Their current program does at least have the advantage of using a points-based system that works well with a budget-oriented, obsessive-optimizer brain like mine. )


mm1970

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2019, 02:03:18 PM »
I don't have a FItbit, but do have a running watch, which is super motivating to me to see miles and pace.

But for you, sounds like you need to tweak your diet, track your eating.  So, load up my fitness pal on your phone, or something like it.  That's what's going to get you to put the donuts down.

Anyway, for me (I've got 2 kids), I hit the point where I had to cut back on carbs to lose those pounds.  I'm not low-carb by any means, but unless I'm in the middle of half marathon training, I eat carbs for breakfast and dinner, and generally no more than 3-4 servings a day.

Other things that helped me was the color coded containers from Beachbody that came with 21 day fix.  Reset my portion sizes, etc.  You don't need to actually buy them (though that's easier because they'll come with instructions).  Pretty much all the info is available online.

also, you used the magic word: toddlers.  I didn't really lose the weight until my kids were 2 and 3, and didn't get my full exercise mojo back until they were 4 & 5.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2019, 02:03:47 PM »
I have a refurbished iPhone SE. It does have a steps monitor but I don't keep my iPhone in my pocket--I don't always have a pocket--and a lot of my walking isn't recorded (I'm a teacher and am on my feet quite a bit).

The whole calorie counting thing is intriguing and I've done it with some success in the past. Maybe it's time for me to look into getting an app for that? Which app?

galliver

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2019, 02:22:55 PM »
I really like having one. The issue with treating fitness like finances is that you can't go and check your Calorie balance or whatever. Fitbit gave me that option. It's easy to wear every day because it's basically a watch. Easier than says caring my phone. The goals can be motivation when I'm in the mood. Mostly, it keeps me honest about how active I actually am. And how much I'm sleeping.

I like a different app for food tracking, which has more of an effect on my weight loss (and I haven't used in a while :( )

Arian

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2019, 02:30:05 PM »
I've had a fitbit for three years. I really like it, and I have been more consistent with exercise since I have had it.

You can link it up with an app called myfitnesspal, which you can use to track your food intake/calories. The fitbit will 'give' you extra calories depending on how much you have exercised that day.

Cranky

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2019, 08:01:35 PM »
Do you need to be more active? Do you like charts? Are you a little competitive?

My dh loves his Fitbit, which his work wellness program gave him for free. He and his work chums compete to see who gets the most steps and itís really motivating for him. Also, heís a rotund old guy who really needs an incentive.

Thereís a lot of ways to make that happen, though. Iím more about racking up distance in Pokťmon Go.

PacificaFog

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2019, 08:37:31 PM »
I found My Fitness Pal to be a really good motivator to put down the free snacks at work!  Knowing Iíd need to enter another 300 calories to my daily total made me think twice about a lot of food choices.  My DH and I used it pretty religiously for about 3 months last year.  I lost about 10 pounds and he lost 25.  It was super eye opening to see how many calories certain foods contained.  For me, I learned some of my big traps were food at work, business travel, and drinking wine after work.  Now if I see the scale inching up, I know exactly what I need to watch to maintain my current weight.  It was kind of a pain to track at that level of detail, but now Iím so glad we did!

remizidae

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2019, 09:33:47 PM »
Have you talked to your doctor about your medical issues? Is it really the case that you can never run again, or are there treatment options available?

Malkynn

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2019, 04:34:56 AM »
Depending on adding vigorous exercise to lose weight isn't a great plan because it doesn't address eating and you are setting yourself up to gain again if you can't sustain it for some reason.

Learn to eat in an ongoing way that can sustain your ideal weight regardless of what exercise you can or will do, and you will never have to worry about gaining.

As you age, eating a "not atrocious" diet isn't going to cut it long term.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 04:36:46 AM by Malkynn »

GuitarStv

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2019, 08:18:33 AM »
Useless junk.

You don't need a device to get and be active.  You need to go out and get some exercise.  If you like tracking performance, great!  This will help you stay motivated!  Get yourself a pencil and notebook, and write down your numbers (max weight, reps, distance run, time swimming, etc.).  No need for some electronics that will last a couple years and then be thrown onto the ever growing pile of short term temporary junk that served no real purpose when it was around but will now be in a landfill for the next millennia.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2019, 09:32:59 AM »
Exercising isn't my problem--I've loved being active since I was a child. Unfortunately, I no longer have time, energy, or the body to maintain the same workout routine that I did for most of my life. It's just not happening. And my old exercise habits allowed me to be pretty liberal with my eating, because I could afford to chow down on the donuts and treats at work without fear of gaining weight.

Things have changed. I'm 39, on the cusp of transitioning to middle aged body stuff--slower metabolism, body just not what it once was. Plus, the sleep deprivation of toddlers and work stress.

I've maintained this 145 lb (I'm 5'5") situation for a while. It's ten pounds more than what I'd like and what I was back before kids, but at least the scale isn't inching up.

The problem comes when I'm in the middle of an essay grading session and I just want some candy and coffee with creamer RIGHT NOW and screw you, middle aged body. I was just thinking a fitbit synced up to My Fitness Pal on my phone might help me say no to the junk food at those moments.

But yeah, it's probably just a silly gizmo that I'll use for two months and then it will lie sadly ignored in the junk drawer for four years.

Oh, my bladder prolapse--well, I tried to get medical help for it. I went to a pelvic floor physical therapist, and she kind of sucked. She gave me a bunch of exercises to do for it but told me I should not do any kind of running or lifting weights over my head pretty much ever again.

I told my OB-Gyn this and he said that wasn't very helpful. He offered to refer me to a different pelvic floor physical therapist, but here's the deal: I have a feeling if I would actually do all those exercises a million times/day, which is what the recommendation is, I would probably be able to help the problem a bit and maybe be able to run again. Also, the Ob-Gyn offered to fit me with a pessary. But honestly I don't have time/attention span for dealing with this problem. And distance running takes forever anyway, and I can swim for free at the community pool, which is approved, and swimming was my primary sport growing up, anyway. It's better for my knees. Lifting weights over my head isn't really that necessary; I can lift weights in many other ways that the physical therapist approved. So...I've kind of just accepted the ban on running in the interest of expediency, put a pin in the rehab effort for the pelvic floor until the kids are a little older and I have the bandwidth for it, and...that's the status of that particular problem.

Thanks for asking.

And thanks everyone, for the advice on this gadget that I kind of want but that is probably unnecessary.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2019, 09:44:23 AM »
Metabolism speed is not age related, it's related to the amount of lean muscle vs fat you keep on your frame and your activity level.  You don't need to accept is as a part of getting older if you don't want to.  But it requires a regular investment of time and effort.

Sleep deprivation is commonly linked to excessive eating.  Being tired will actually make you hungrier, and thus more likely to overeat.  Being stressed often leads people to unhealthy patterns of overeating.  The sleep deprivation should reduce as the toddlers get older, but is there anything you can do about the work stress?

If the problem is that you're binge eating junk food, that's a pretty easy one to fix.  Don't keep junk food in your house.  Do keep healthier snacks (fruits and veggies that can be eaten out of hand).  When you get hungry you just won't have bad choices available to you.  This saves on willpower.

Be concerned with your physical performance at the sports or activities you're currently doing, and keep improving them.

sideHustler

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2019, 09:54:54 AM »
A fitbit is just a tool. What you really need is a plan and strategy.

Your body will lose weight if it burns more calories than it consumes. So you have 3 options...

1. Eat fewer calories than your body burns
2. Use physical activity to burn more calories than you consume
3. Do both

A fitbit would honestly be just as helpful as a Pokemon Go account. Both gets you out and walking. Only one of them lets you catch Pokemon.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2019, 10:33:18 AM »
Useless junk.

You don't need a device to get and be active.  You need to go out and get some exercise.  If you like tracking performance, great!  This will help you stay motivated!  Get yourself a pencil and notebook, and write down your numbers (max weight, reps, distance run, time swimming, etc.).  No need for some electronics that will last a couple years and then be thrown onto the ever growing pile of short term temporary junk that served no real purpose when it was around but will now be in a landfill for the next millennia.

OP @englishteacheralex , I would listen to this above post.

Like you, I had pretty much already made up my mind about wanting a Fitbit, thinking it would motivate me to do more because of its data. I similarly came to the forum for some reassurance that it was a smart purchase -- https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/fitbit-recommendations/msg2147429/

My weight when I bought my Fitbit (last September): 188.2

My weight today: 190.6.

Now, I did get as low as 182, which is pretty good for me, but I put the weight back on these past couple months due to (a) moving my law office and (b) having a kid in March. Home cooking and time to exercise dramatically decreased -- or put more bluntly, health wasn't a priority while other things were going on.

Health simply has to be a priority, and it doesn't matter what product you have. The Fitbit is NOT going to make you more active. YOU have to WANT to be more active and DO IT.

With all of this said, some pros and cons:

Pros

-The app is the best health and wellness app out there, including calorie counting.

-The app adjusts your calorie intake goals based on your physical activity, which is very useful.

-The Fitbit Alta only needs charged about once per week, so it's not a nuisance.

-The sleep data is interesting, although I'm not sure how useful it is.

Cons

-The Fitbit almost makes me obsess over step count instead of actual exercise. I've seriously run errands for the sake of getting steps, which is absolutely ridiculous.

-I'm not sure how accurate the heart rate is

-The straps on mine have broken twice. Customer service was great, but it was annoying

-Overall, it simply hasn't made me healthier

***

This last point is the biggest. We live in a consumerist world where we are taught that some sort of product is the answer to our problem. Here on MMM, we know how stupid most financial products are; we know super fancy cars won't make us happier; we know we don't need every kitchen gizmo out there. Yet when it comes to health, we somehow think that justifies the purchase.

I think the Fitbit is certainly fun and providers interesting data, and the app is great; but honestly, I'm ready to stop wearing it.

zygote

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2019, 11:06:20 AM »
I wanted to chime in and say the fitbit isn't worth it, though it sounds like you're already leaning against it. I have one, and it hasn't really made me exercise/walk more. I mostly use it to keep track of my heart rate because it gets too high very easily without me noticing until it's too late and I feel like garbage. I like having the other data, too, but I wouldn't have paid for it myself (it was a gift).

As for food tracking apps, I really like Cronometer. It keeps track of your whole nutrition profile along with your calories.

I'm glad you took the first steps towards finding a pelvic floor therapist. I'm sorry that the one you saw wasn't helpful. I wish you the best of luck in reaching your health goals, and also in seeing what you can do for your prolapse when you have the bandwidth again. Even if you're not wanting to run every day, you deserve to not have to worry about it.

Cromacster

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2019, 02:41:07 PM »
A fitbit is just a tool. What you really need is a plan and strategy.

Your body will lose weight if it burns more calories than it consumes. So you have 3 options...

1. Eat fewer calories than your body burns
2. Use physical activity to burn more calories than you consume
3. Do both

A fitbit would honestly be just as helpful as a Pokemon Go account. Both gets you out and walking. Only one of them lets you catch Pokemon.

I think theres a Harry Potter one now too, if being a magician is more your thing.

Cranky

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2019, 02:49:06 PM »
Also, let me urge you to incorporate those pelvic floor exercises into your day, even if itís just a few minutes while youíre in the shower. Thatís a problem thatís only going to get worse over time, alas.

Donít let perfection be the enemy of at least a little better. Get a little more exercise, eat a little less junk, do 5 minutes of those exercises every day.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2019, 02:56:17 PM »
Sorry, I have to say that I love my FitBit, have been wearing one almost non-stop for probably two years, and am confident that it has helped me lose 16 pounds and be more active. Helps me remember to take more walks, take the long way through my workplace, etc.

The other thing that worked for me was definitely counting calories. I used MyFitnessPal. Only thing that has ever actually worked for me to lose weight. But it is hard to stop--I am still working on how to maintain my goal weight without continuing to count calories constantly.

Just a FitBit-loving contrarian. My mom bought my most recent one as a birthday present last year. (An Alta.)

englishteacheralex

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2019, 03:17:03 PM »
I appreciate that, LBF. I just thought it might be kinda fun and give me some motivation to avoid the junk food. Already since having written this thread I've managed to turn down a bag of chips from the free pile in the workroom. I installed My Fitness Pal on my phone and I don't want to "pay" for the chips.

Exercise is really not a struggle for me. I exercise almost every day. I just thought it would be fun to seamlessly get the "credit" for the exercise in the app.

Re: healthy choices...I know enough not to have junk food at home--we don't have it in the house, and we cook almost all our food, so no fast food (in general) either. But the free yummy snacks at work are constant. Constant. And work is my Achilles heel, because stress eating.

How can I make work less stressful? Man, that's a great question. Thing is, I like my job. A lot. And I get 12 weeks off per year. It's just the grind of the toddlers and the job that wrecks my sleep, usually escalating in horribleness by the end of the quarter before we go on break. The past two weeks have been brutal. As soon as the school year ends (next week) I'll be back to normal sleep, if things go as usual.

Not There Yet

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #22 on: May 17, 2019, 03:18:03 PM »
I won one in a raffle.  I'm glad I didn't actually pay for it, because I found it to be useless.  It was extremely inaccurate - for example, I drove 500 miles one day and my only exercise was pumping gas.  The stupid thing reported that I had climbed 182 flights of stairs!  Buy a cheap pedometer and a notebook to log your food and water intake.  It will be less frustrating.

DoNorth

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Re: Is a fitbit a good idea?
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2019, 09:27:09 AM »
had a fitbit, then later got an iWatch with some giftcards from family.  I've lost about 15 pounds since I got it AND starting to bike to work and walking a LOT more/eating better.  part of that walking motivation is step tracking and other fitness metrics.  For me, they motivate me to beat my biking times to work, to get my heart rate higher for longer, to walk longer/faster.  The earlier models had some problems with accuracy, but mine are very accurate (checked off a few different sources).  Sometimes, knowing that your about 1000 steps short of 10000, 15000 or 20000 at the end of the night is enough to motivate you to put down the remote and go for a walk instead, so I'm definitely a fan.