Health Tech

24 hours with Fitbit!


I’m fat. There I said it. I’ve never really had a self-image problem, but then I wasn’t always as lardy as my portly 19st frame is now. I used to run 5k a day. I used to eat Sushi, I was svelte’er than well, a very svelte thing. But alas, a family, less time, more responsibilities [insert more excuses here] means my priorities have shifted somewhat – so it’s time to get back on whatever it is someone get’s on, when they want to lose weight.

Those that know me, know I’m really into health telemetry. A few years ago back in London, I was diagnosed with hyper-tension (#NHSWoes on Twitter) and whilst I did some sterling work (even if I do say so myself) to bring my weight down and subsequent blood pressure, middle age health anxiety has made me want to start being super fit & healthy again, for myself & my family. I love my life, and I mean, if I’m dead, who exactly is going to churn out these amazing blog posts of mine?

fitbitSo I marched into John Lewis last week & got myself a fit bit wireless tracker. This little gizmo is appended to your wrist and tracks everything from sleep patterns, movement, steps, motion, and links into a My Fitness Pal diet app, along with RunTastic (which tracks physical activity) and gives me an at-a-glance dashboard of how my body is doing. Tie that in with blood pressure monitoring and a couple of large TVs to display it all on, and it’s starting to look a bit like the set from House at home!

So I’ve spent 48 hours with fit bit, and my comments are;

The kit itself is quite cute & well made, nice haptic feedback for things such as silent alarms and mode switching which I really like, and makes a device like this very discreet. In use, its as simple as a bag of chips, wirelessly syncing with my smartphone and laptop, (using the supplied) charging cable. The ‘bit’ in fit bit is quite small, and as far as I’m concerned, could be embedded into anything. A dermal implant would be nice!

FitBit-Flex-300x300I chose this device over the jawbone(an almost identical product) purely on the addition of LED feedback & the strap being a little more subtle and nicer-looking.

So overall, bar the skin irritation product recall snafu, its an excellent little product!

Linked to everything. The software works well (although no option to download your data in the basic subscription, but they present an API in case you want to do it yourself), and integration into third party apps is a snap. At the time of writing this, I learnt you can upgrade your subscription and get access to your data as XML or CSV, which is fairly useful.

Fat fingers. A couple of pats with your forefinger turns it into sleep analysis mode, tracking your sleep, by (from what I understand) assessing motion, to calculate restfulness. Not completely accurate, but over a period of time, you get a mean average idea of how you’re doing. My fitbit stats are starting to be uploaded to here and you can see an example of how the fab dashboard looks below.


It all works very well, and the gamification of hitting goals such as 10,000 steps unlocks a badge etc gives a surprising amount of motivation. I think social networking has helped health in generally though – I mean, how many of us go exercising, purely to track it with a smart phone app and then to smugly post it up on Facebook. Hey if it works, it works.

So at the minute I feel like a McLaren F1 car, with cables and wireless dongles & shit coming out of me, but I’ve set myself the goal of in six months time, I’ll start to not hate looking at myself in a photograph.



Wish me luck

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