Goals · Pay It Forward · Tips

Gadget Review: Fitbit Flex

For the last ten years, my New Year’s Resolution has always revolved around getting fitter and losing weight. Not this year. You’ll see in my 2015 goals that I’m accepting my limits this year and trying to push past them.

The big reason for my weight problems, is the chemo treatment I went trough in 2002/2003 for cancer. It was intense and part of a research trial program. It also gave me a lot of medical issues that cause weight gain and put me on medication – especially steroids for 2 years – that made me balloon in weight.

I’ve tried everything: physio, a gym for people with disabilities, coming off medication, dieting, getting a Wii with all types of physical games that I can do. Everything sensible that doesn’t involve starving myself or taking more pills has been done and nothing works. In fact, for the last five years, the only time I’ve been able to lose weight is when I’ve been seriously ill. Even then, I lose around 1-2 stone and end up putting it all back on, when the illness is over.

Also, as a writer, exercise is not a priority. Those pesky plot bunnies have you chained to a seat and I have a bad habit of forgetting to eat/drink or get up. I get lost in the story and forget about everything else.

I’m trying to break that cycle.

My phone upgrade was due last month and you might wonder why this is important. Well, I don’t have a lot of money – being an author doesn’t pay much and my benefits aren’t a lot and might be stopped soon, because of this change from DLA to PIP. I did a lot of research and found out that I could get a free Fitbit Flex wearable bracelet with my phone upgrade, while still getting a decent phone, for not a lot per month. I got the Microsoft Lumia, with the free Fitbit Flex for just £15 at Carphone Warehouse. It was an incredible deal.

So far, I’ve had the Fitbit for just a few days, but already I can see the benefits.

Here’s my evaluation:

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fitbit flex 3

^ Mine is the pink one. That’s the Fitbit Flex. It comes in various colours.

PRICE: The original price, to buy it, is £79.99. I got mine from Tesco Direct at £55 (having been reimbursed the cost by Carphone Warehouse, since they didn’t have any left in stock) Still, at almost £80, it’s still a good deal for those who need that extra push to get fit or who do a lot of physical exercise.

COMFORT: Very comfortable. The bracelet is light and unobtrusive. It feels rubbery, so there’s no harsh clasps or anything that will get caught.

USE: Lots of tools and uses, out of one small bracelet. But I’ll come to that later.

EASE OF USE: Simple and easy even for someone with nerve damage in my fingers. Doing fiddly little things is nearly impossible for me, and this is great. The battery is a small little black battery, that fits into the wristband. It comes out, so that you can insert it into the charger. You also get a Dongle, which allows your computer and wristband to sync together, which updates your online dashboard.

I’ve detailed how easy it is to work with, in this table.

fitbit flex 5

DASHBOARD: So simple to use and full of information. I’m going to use some of my info, as an example.

Here’s what the website says, first:

fitbit flex 4

Now, yes, it does all of this stuff. I’ve taken to leaving my Dongle in all the time, while I’m on my computer. That way, I can just click the ‘sync’ button on my Connect app and all the right info goes straight to the website. That’s all you have to do.

You can also keep track manually, inserting the time and duration of activities, your sleep etc and you can log your food on it too. I chose the ‘easiest’ food option, so that I’m not pushing myself too fast, so that means I can still eat around 2000 calories a day. It also has a handy little tool that, when you insert your food into the box, it comes up with brand name options, to be super specific about calorie intake. Example: Warburton’s bread, Belvita biscuits, Irish sausages. All stuff I eat and it tracks.

It also has this handy little feature that allows you to set alarms. When you’ve set it and synced it with your bracelet (takes a total of two minutes) then when the time arrives, the bracelet vibrates, to alert you. It can also do this to wake you up. All you have to do is tap the little black screen (shown in the bracelet image above) twice and the alarm goes off.

When you go to sleep, you tap the screen multiple times and lights flash, to let you know it’s going into sleep mode. Then, when you wake up, you tap it multiple times, to let it know you’re awake. Really clever.

Honestly, I believed I was a really deep sleeper, though I know that I’ve always been restless and toss and turn a lot. I didn’t realise that it was as bad as the Fitbit says it is. Here’s my sleep tracker for the very first night I wore it –

fitbit flex 6

I had no idea that I woke up 19 times that night. I woke up feeling exhausted, but that’s normal. The solid blocks of being awake near 9 am are also a surprise. I remember waking at 8, to glance at the clock, then going back to sleep until I woke at 9.40 am.

There’s also another nifty little feature – it syncs with your existing fitness apps.

fitbit flex 2

I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for years, but I never fill it in. I always forget to log in all my food/exercise and such. This means that I can sync my Fitbit profile with My Fitness Pal, so that I don’t have to do everything twice. Genius.

Here’s how the smart dashboard looks:

fitbit flex 7

As you can see, there are a lot of great quick-view tools on the dashboard, for a glance-view at how you’re doing for that day. You can also set yourself step goals or calorie goals. It’s all up to you.

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The most important thing is that you use it. I know that I often get new gadgets or exercise equipment and the novelty wears off after a few weeks, so it never gets used. I don’t see the Fitbit being the same. Since it’s on your wrist and you don’t have to take it off, then you’re rarely going to forget it’s there or that you need to upload your info. It’s so easy to use that, with a click of a ‘sync’ button, you can update it daily or hourly. All you have to do is be near your computer, wearing your bracelet and ready to press that sync button.

That’s not hard. Even for me.

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