Get Steppin’

I needed a new bathroom scale (contrary to what I wrote on Twitter and Facebook, I did not kill the last bathroom scale with a hammer for the crime of informing me I was overweight; in fact one of its battery contacts had corroded, rendering the electronic scale useless), so I went looking for one yesterday. This being the future, the one I found that I liked was one that connected to the Internet and could talk to my phone in order to keep track of my weight-loss progress (or, uh, otherwise); it was the Fitbit-branded Aria. Since I was getting that scale, I figured I might as well also get a Fitbit band too, in order to help me keep track of the amount I actually, you know, move. And so here it is, my Fitbit band.

And on one hand, yes, I’ve become just another one of those jerks wearing a fitness band, which is sort of the electronic version of a kale smoothie. On the other hand, I currently weigh 186 pounds, which is 26 pounds over my general ideal weight, and from experience I know I do better with fitness-related things if I gameify them in some manner, which is probably some residue from a misspent youth playing video games. So, here we are, with me owning a Fitbit band and scale. We’ll see how it works.

This is also me saying, hello, I’m actively exercising and watching my weight again. I’ll start the actual “being more careful what I stuff into my face” part more assiduously in about a week, when I get back from my last trip of the year (I mean, I’m counting calories at the moment, but I tend to worry about them less when I travel). This week will be given over to figuring out how this Fitbit thing can actually help me with my goals.

To be clear, I don’t believe the mere possession of gadgets designed to help you track fitness stuff is a magical thing that either increases one’s virtue or replaces actual fitness-oriented work. Owning a Fitbit (or any such thing) is not the same as being fit. The thing will be useful only to the extent it can help me with that aim. We’ll see if it does. I hope so, otherwise I’ve just spent money stupidly. Which has been known to happen. Hopefully not this time.

84 Comments on “Get Steppin’”

  1. If you know anyone else with a Fitbit, I recommended the Friends feature—I find the friendly competition aspect as helpful as the step counting.

  2. It’s a continuing battle. Two years ago, I made up my mind to lose 50lb over the course of the following year. I’m delighted to say I succeeded (with the help of a rowing machine in an upstairs room, and weights, and a hula-hoop, and other exercises) and I got to my right weight in January this year (I shed an additional 20lb after getting to my first target). My current project is to *maintain* my weight between 112lb and 120lb. Which I have done since January; and it’s work! Every so often my weight slides up to snuggle under the 120lb limit I’ve set; every so often I sigh, cut back on my sweet-eating, and push the weight back down to 112lb again. Realising that this would continue – that an ideal weight does not maintain itself – was probably one of the most important things I did realise after losing weight. And I don’t have your travel hazards to contend with, either! So good luck with it, I’m sure you’ll succeed :).

  3. Over the course of about a year I dropped 25 lbs with the calorie counting and fitbit activity monitoring approach. Didn’t categorically eliminate anything from my diet, just ate less of it. The (aggravating) knock-on effect is that my husband (who is generally the cook in the household) probably lost more than I did.

  4. Oh, and I don’t have a FitBit, just a very good pair of scales, but I can see how they could help.

  5. I don’t know if it’s made much change in my physical activity, but it’s certainly made me more conscious of it. And the sleep tracking is definitely interesting — especially the almost-daily “restless” or “awake” spikes around 5:00 a.m. when the cats feel that breakfast should be served.

    Don’t have the scale yet, but I’ve been thinking about adding it to the mix.

  6. I have found that I can keep my fitbit in my pocket. It does a pretty good job counting from there as well as when on my wrist. Which helps reduce the “jerk with a fitbit” visual.

    One of the nice features is being able to record intervals. Start it when you start your exercise, stop it when you surrender.

  7. My wife has one and has used it to track her sleep patterns(via motion) over a period of time. She’s not a good sleeper so it was something she wanted to know more about. Ended up she sleeps quite soundly when on vacation and not in contact with her job. Soon as she’s back on the job her nights are very sporadic. She’s the manager. I guess that’s not surprising but it does help to nail stuff like that down to be sure.

  8. I had a fitbit. It made me neurotic to get to my 10,000 steps. I would pace in my house at night if I wasnt at my 10,000 steps.

    You might want to try a sit-stand desk. There are alot of them on the market. If you stand during the day and you make it a life style change, it will burn more calories over the long haul.

  9. I definitely found myself walking more after getting my fitbit. I keep wanting to meet that daily step goal. I dropped 15 pounds over 2 months and now I’m working harder to keep losing. The ability to compete with friends is also quite nice. I could always use more friends to compete against if you are interested!

  10. At the very least, you will have convinced yourself that fear of technology can be overcome. And if you have fun learning the device, and feeling good about being such a modern guy, those are good things too. The trial of losing weight needs some fun added to it.

  11. I bought a fitbit. Don’t really care what other people think so that was not an issue with me. People are so consumed with themselves I don’t think anyone really notices.

    I was 20 pounds overweight. What really helped me with the fitbit was using the calorie counting function. I started using that and making sure I get my 10K steps a day minimum. I lost 20 pounds in a few months by doing that. My reward for doing that is as long as I am 180 or below I don’t have to count calories. Hit 180.1 and I am counting calories again which even though its easy with the fitbit is not really that fun.

    You really do feel better when you get rid of those extra pounds…

  12. No more churros. Or much more exercise.

    I’m riding my bicycle over 100 miles a week and still weigh 30 pounds more than when I got out of the Army 30 years ago. But I drink milkshakes. And eat cookies at the AA meetings.

  13. Another person here who was skeptical about the idea of a fitness band but my god, now that I have a Fitbit charge I get obsessive if I don’t quite hit my 7000 steps a day. (And Chris Tierney, you’re right about the Friends feature. My wife is currently whopping my butt in terms of steps.)

  14. You’d be suprised (pleasantly) at the psychological effect. Ever since I started wearing a Fitbit One and without even actually *using* the food tracking feature I’ve cut back on junk food by a good 60% and candy and crisps by 90% without even thinking much about it.

    Us geeks can be weird that way, I guess, and I’m not going to argue with results.

  15. Having the Fitbit has made a tremendous difference in the amount of walking I do. Now I get really antsy if I don’t get in my 10,000 steps each day. Sometimes though I really miss being a couch potato (sigh).

  16. Not to impugn your decision to acquire a new nifty bit (ha) of technology, but did you try cleaning the contact off with a paper towel soaked in a little vinegar? Works great a lot of the time. Roughing it a bit with sandpaper can help, too, if it’s a tenacious rust.

  17. bskinn:

    It had corroded through. I figure a significant amount of water must have gotten into the battery compartment at some point. Not really repairable.

  18. If gameifying fitness helps you, you might want to check out The site is built on that concept, including quests, duels, & leveling up as well as tracking and social features.

  19. I can see the endorsement deal now!

    “Fitbit: Hopefully I haven’t spent my money stupidly. This time. ” -John Scalzi

    I have the same band and like it a lot. I do move a little more since I am conscious of it, so I think it helps.

  20. Data is good. My fitbit caused me to think more critically about my sleep patterns. Because man was I moving my arm around a lot at night while sleeping.

    This led me to think about and answer affirmative to some questions at the doctor’s office that I may have offhandedly answered no to otherwise. This led to a sleep study, that led to a diagnosis of severe sleep apnea, that led to me getting an automatic PAP machine (it adjusts pressure as needed) this week.

    My sleep pattern picture has a lot fewer light blue and red lines in it the past few nights. My fitbit may have given me additional years of life. And I’ve been more alert and smarter for the last 24 hours than I’ve been in awhile.

    Also, the fitbit counts steps and registers hear rate reasonably well when I work out. Which is cool too.

  21. Looking forward to your last trip of the year, glad you saved time for Tacoma. So Saturday means I can listen to some Scalzi in the afternoon (maybe a Fitbit update?). In the evening the Lakewood Playhouse will be doing a live radio broadcast of The Birds. Partly Sunny is in the forecast.
    Thank you for helping make this possible.

  22. @John Wow, pretty bad. I guess it is a bathroom scale, where people can stand on it while wet.

  23. Whether a FitBit is useful seems to be very individually based (no surprise there). I have friends, a married couple, who have FitBits. One partner bought a FitBit to help him with his desire to lose weight motivated by the fact that at his place of employment, one’s benefit package is directly affected by one’s potential health issues, and it costs him more to be overweight. He is an electronic gadget guy, and he has found the FitBit very helpful to keep him motivated. He has kept up with a walking program for seven or eight months now. He bought a FitBit for his partner, who probably expressed vague interest (as in “Sure, whatever”). She is not an electronic gadget gal. She spends a lot of time on Facebook and playing games on her iPhone, but she can’t keep a phone or laptop longer than a few months without breaking something, she can’t seem to learn things like how to delete photos from her phone to keep from memory overload, and the gadgets themselves do not appeal to her in an ooh-shiny-want-one way. I think she has used her FitBit twice in six or seven months. She had it with her when she and I took a trip together a few months ago, and we both did lots and lots of walking, but I don’t think she ever once remembered to use the FitBit or tried to find out how to recharge the battery so that she could use it. So for her, the FitBit isn’t motivating in the way that it is for her partner. It depends a lot on the person. I’m an electronic gadget gal and I do a lot of walking, but (1) I’m not trying to lose weight and (2) I don’t care how many steps I take. I mean, I’m curious and would like to try it just to see what it’s like, but not curious enough to invest in the technology .I don’t think it would motivate me to walk more, since I’m already plenty motivated.

    I suspect that for Scalzi, the motivation to lose weight and the gadgetiness of the FitBit, especially with the scale tie-in, will probably work well.

    About the standing desk, I’m not sure that isn’t a health fad based on limited research. So is this one, probably, but it suits me better:

  24. When we had our original Fitbit trackers (forget which one exactly- one of the belt clip type), we did far better at the weight loss thing than without. However, we did tend to lose the danged things! Both of us lost two. Just got the band types, and, so far, so good. I have set my step goal lower than that 10K for now, but am upping it a bit more as I figure out how to add steps without being obsessive about it. Of course, diet and exercise are added in there, too, but the band helps remind me that I really want to drop the excess weight. And I don’t give a crap what people think if they see it. I do like that these fancy gadget can all be linked (Fitbit, scale, diet app, etc) and I don’t have to deal with each one independently. Ah, techmology!

  25. Great another post that reinforces my delusion…i mean theory that we are doppelgängers.

    I’m investigating fitbits because while my lying scale is still unharmed, my archaic Garmin is a bit too bulky and is really only useful if it can establish a GPS signal…otherwise its only function is draining the battery.

    i’m also looking to drop some poundage. Looking forward to your post about the scale and the fitbit.

  26. Some small part of me is relieved that the delicious fattening and sugary food you eat on twitter actually goes someplace and stays there and it’s not just me who gains weight from bad eating habits. But part of me was cheering you on for living the dream, you know? So I’m a little sad. Stupid reality. At least there’s still dream-food.

  27. Fitbit is one of the few things about which I can claim I was an early adopter. I was on the pre-buy list and owned several 1st-gen Fitbits because the clippy part kept cracking and breaking. But Fitbit is an awesome company and replaced it for FREE twice, even after I was out of the warranty period.

    Their design improved with the Fitbit One and that’s what I’ve still got; haven’t switched to wristband yet. I dislike things on my wrists. But I’m seriously thinking about upgrading to Fitbit ChargeHR because shiny heart rate data.

    Enjoy the gameification!

  28. I’ve been through 5 Fitbits and only paid for one: the first one bricked within 3 weeks, and I sent it back. The second one managed to last through two accidental washings (the receiver was near the base station so it tracked all the steps: Gained 4 floors that day) before it stopped holding a charge. I thought that was pretty good, so bought another one, which stopped holding a charge before the warranty was up, got it replaced by one that bricked shortly before the warranty was up, which was replaced by one whose charging contacts stopped working after a couple of months.

    At that point I said the hell with Fitbit and asked for a refund instead of a replacement, with which I bought a Misfit Shine, which I wore for a year before getting tired of being accountable to a tiny electronic overlord and ditching it.

  29. Anyone can do these 4 things and make a change:

    1. Publicly commit. John has already done this with his post. I did this with my wife. Told her what I was doing and why and asked for her support. This made it “real” for me.

    2. Change something. We all know what to change, we just don’t do it. What to change depends on the person, so this step gets too much focus and too many specifics. Just try something, and then…

    3. Track and notice. Track some kind of performance metric that’s meaningful for what we’ve committed to. Maybe it’s body weight. Maybe it’s how fast we can run a mile. Maybe it’s whatever the Fitbit tracks. Then pay attention to what works or what doesn’t.

    4. Share. I went back to #1 for this and shared my experience with my wife (what I changed, what I’m tracking, what I noticed, what’s working). Over time, the things that worked were things I kept doing, and the things that didn’t work were things I stopped doing.

    By the end (5 years ago) I had lost at least 40 pounds. My lifestyle changed in a way that, unlike a “diet”, was permanent. I still eat delicious food including “bad” things like butter, bacon, ice cream, steak. I also get out and swim and mountain bike.

    All those specifics will not work for everyone and my specific changes aren’t a guideline for what other people should change. However anyone can do those 4 things above and make a change.

  30. I’ve had one for about 2.5 years, and I find it helpful–it reminds me to get off my butt. A couple of notes though:
    1. I am half Italian. Thus, when I was sitting and drinking beer with friends but hit 10,000 steps and got the blinky lights, I had to conclude that the arm-waving that is a natural part of my conversation was responsible for steps. These are now referred to among my friends as my “italian steps.”
    2. it does NOT do a good job recording cooking activities, not least because, although one is on one’s feet, one is not necessarily taking a lot of steps. I can spend a whole afternoon on my feet, cooking away, and not add many steps at all, so I end up feeling mildly annoyed that the tiredness that comes from an afternoon in the kitchen isn’t reflected on my dashboard.
    3. However, i also bake a lot of bread–and kneading bread adds a lot of steps.

    I do like it–my bands are all nearly worn out, so I have to decide whether to pay for more bands or just get the upgraded heart-rate-measuring version, or just tape the old one to my wrist.

  31. Just got off the treadmill – seriously. I obsess over my steps recorded by my phone – which is why I always keep it in my pocket. Always. But when I bought a scale six months ago I made a point of buying a spring/analog scale. I don’t want to track my weight to the micro-ounce. I want to know generally if it’s going up or down, but I I’m more comfortable knowing the range, rather than the very, very specific exact number. Same with my watch. I prefer analog because I want to know the time generally but almost never need to know the precise time to the second. “It’s around quarter ’til” is good enough for me.

  32. I am not a gadget gal and don’t even have a scale. But post-surgery and post-job change my waistline has gotten bulgy and that ain’t right. Am working on a gadget-free plan now (probably will end up doing a Nerd Fitness challenge). It’s tough when you have a sedentary job.

  33. >> I hope so, otherwise I’ve just spent money stupidly.

    I wouldn’t say stupidly… you’ve clearly thought out this purchase and how you plan to use it to make your life better. Whether that works out in practice isn’t (necessarily) an indication of stupidity in the purchase or thought process that lead to the purchase. “Ineffectively” might be closer to the mark.

  34. To each their own de(vices). I was gifted a FitBit this year and in 4.5 months, counting calories and walking, I have lost fifty pounds. I find the FB keeps me focused. I hope, one day, to hike the AT and this is my starting point. Working so far! Good luck to you!!

  35. I looked at Fitbit when it first came out, and decided that the idea seemed cool, but that I didn’t like all kinds of personal and health data seems to get sent back to the Fitbit mothership, and who knows where after that. I much prefer the sorts of monitors where all the data either stays on the device, or only gets sent to other devices I own and approve (like my laptop or phone), and nowhere else. The way, for instance, most bathroom scales work.

    I realize other peoples’ mileages may vary, and I don’t want this thread to get derailed into a debate about whether we should care or not about where fitness tracker data goes. But I’d be very interested in hearing if there are good Fitbit-like devices that *do* keep data away from everyone but the user. (Or if there’s a way to get Fitbit devices to do so, though it sounds like they’re not really set up for that.)

  36. Lots of Americans put on weight even when they have a very active job. Exercise is good for you, but isn’t really all that effective in mitigating the effects of bad diet.

    I suggest watching the Fat Head movie. I think the YouTube copy was taken down by the rights holders but I think it’s on Amazon Prime, NetFLix, Hulu, and they even sell one on a spinny, plastic disc at their website.

    The guy who made it, did a brief follow-up on YouTube some years later. If you watch that John, you might look at that lawn of yours a little differently, though I’m guessing not. It would make for interesting blog entries.

  37. My elder kid has one of those things and really likes it. Couple of the folks I work with do, too.

    I, on the other hand, will never, ever buy one, and if anyone is ever so misguided as to gift me one, it’ll go straight into the GoodWill pile.

    For one thing, ass BW described about the friend who didn’t find it interesting enough to use, I lack the “oooo, shiny technology, must have” gene. I don’t own a cell phone or a tablet, don’t want either one, and although I use a computer because it’s part of my job, I could live quite happily without it. I have absolutely NO interest in having an ugly plastic wristband count how many times I take a step in a given day simply for the sake of having the Latest Shiny Gadget.

    John Mark Ockerbloom nicely sums up my other big objection to those gadgets – my data isn’t anyone’s business but my own, and it’ll be a cold day in a hot place when I voluntarily wear what is essentially a tracking device to report my activities, my heart rate, my sleeping patterns and all the rest to the universe. None o’ your damned business, thank you very much.

    That said, I know they are effective for many people, and I think that’s terrific. American lifestyles have gotten steadily more sedentary and less active over the past half-century or so, and anything that effectively motivates folks to get up and walk is a great innovation. It just isn’t effective for cranky old curmudgeons like me.

    Good luck with your plan to increase activity levels, Mr. Scalzi. I hope the gadget works as intended for you.

  38. Ack, typo, I was NOT describing BW as an ass!!! Ack, wish to heck you had an edit function here, sir!

  39. I had one of the belt-clip type FitBits for about 18 months until I switched to a Microsoft Band. I like both, the MS Band just did more and was cheaper than the new FitBit band.

    What helped with both sets of equipment was linking them to a good food/exercise tracking app – I use MyFitnessPal (the free version). I find that logging my food helps keep me honest so I lose weight. It synchs the exercise calories from a lot of different devices, so you don’t have to input that part manually. MFP also had a Friends feature: my husband and I both use the app, so we can copy meals from each other’s food diaries, rather than both of us having to do the input. Not affiliated with the company; just a satisfied customer. I’m sure there are other apps that do the same thing; this is the one I have experience with. :-)

  40. I know this is sacrilege…but have you considered dropping the diet soda thing? I know, zero calories. But dousing your system in sweetness makes it very hard to avoid the high calorie stuff in other aspects of your consumption. I think you’ll find a better diet much easier if you avoid occasional blasts of off-the-scale sweet even if it isn’t in and of itself fattening. YMMV

  41. I have a mechanical scale, probably 40 or 50 years old. It tells me I’m overweight as reliably as a new scale would. ;>)

  42. I’ve also been using a FitBit since early models (I use the One, which I can keep tucked in a pocket out of the way when I have to reach into one of my lab machines).
    The Friends feature can be a lot of fun; I tend not to go for the “challenges” feature but more enjoy the “we’re all in this together” aspect.

    (I’m also happy to add more Friends, but I like to know who they are, so if you find me from this comment let me know you’ve made the request via other means. My contact info is out there in lots of places; usually you’ll find me as kproche)

  43. I think that whatever helps one lose weight is great. My wife and I just started doing 5k run/walks. Even though my wife doesn’t need to lose weight and I do, we both find them fun and addicting. So, whatever works, works.

  44. I don’t have a FitBit – but in June I started playing Ingress (augmented reality – team capture the flag – geocaching game by a now-spun-off Google team) which has led to me doing a lot more walking than I used to, and about 15 pounds dropped.
    I’m not recommending it for OGH, as it can be a serious time sink and we want him to spend time writing, not just walking around apparently aimlessly (what it looks like to non-players). But if the “count your steps” aspect of a band is a little too directly gamified, it might be more appealing. There are a couple of tiers of badge for “total distance walked while playing”, but there’s also indirect encouragement to go out and walk around (especially to/in places you haven’t been before).

  45. I have a FitBit Charge HR, and it’s pretty nifty. I like the heart rate monitor function more than the pedometer more these days, but I do find it to be a good inspirational tool to get just a bit more exercise in. I’m in a pretty active circle of folks so lots of challenges going on and smack talking so the extra bit of competition is a nice push. I do loathe the interface(s) though, some things are available on the app only, some only on the dashboard, etc. It’s a tool, and like any other tool, it’s value is as much use as you get out of it.

  46. Do you have any concerns about your personal information being out there via the software/ap? I’ve found a fitness band that I like, but am a bit squeamish about the number of steps that I take and how well I sleep floating around in the great somewhere else of the net, or worse yet being gathered up to market me.

  47. Christy:

    I don’t really care if the world knows how many steps I take, personally. I’m not going to use the thing to track my sleep. I sleep pretty well.

  48. John, if you live near a gym that has a pool, swim.

    You gain muscle tone lose weight and stretch all at the same time!

    It’s the more fit way to be healthy than even eating broccoli. Although there’s nothing wrong with broccoli.

  49. I got one to just be aware of how much I walked (answer: not much by default!) and found it a great tool to get motivated to change that. In a week (assuming I don’t break the streak) I’ll have a year of 5+ miles a day walking, every day. Somehow being able to track it easily made it easier for me to make “getting a walk in” a priority in daily life.

  50. Apparently your fitbit thinks you weigh 36 pounds.  Or is that your stepcount? Bedroom to bathroom or last 24 hours?

  51. I used to think I exercised a lot: aerobics five times a week (5 or 6 miles running, walking, or elliptical work) and weights maybe three times a week – until I got my Apple Watch on April 24th. Now I have become addicted to closing all three rings EVERY SINGLE DAY. The fancy achievement rewards, the monthly streaks, all keep me going and the longer I go the less I want to end a streak. For example, my “move streak” (at least 550 calories over rest calories) is now at 176 days. I would feel just awful if I miss a day.

    Planning to exercise is wonderful, but successfully exercising seems to depend on lifestyle change and psychological tricks (like publicly committing or being nagged by your watch or being compulsive enough to not want to fail). Some days I don’t want to do anything, and in the past I would have taken a day off, saying to myself that I have already worked hard enough. But now I’ll drag myself to my treadmill and hang in there, distracting myself with TV or a book or especially ED music whose beat is synchronized to my steps.

    Good luck, John.

  52. Well, if you plan to lose 26 pounds, I guess I should commit to losing 13 pounds.

    (“Anything Scalzi can do, I can do half as well” may not be the world’s best inspirational motto, but it seems to work surprisingly well.)

    (I really do need to lose about 13 pounds.)

  53. Don’t make it an obsession. Just start drinking plenty of water, i. e. 2 litres a day.

  54. I’m one of those that the Fitbit did not work for. (In part because of an allergy to the band). It made me a little too neurotic about getting in the steps….

  55. Welcome to the club of exercise data nuts (“ooh graphs” “ooh statistics” “shiny goals!”)

    Haven’t tried FitBit myself yet, my current electronic overload is an app called Pact that financially penalises or rewards you depending on whether you meet your goals (exercise, food tracking, vegetable intake). It’s buggy as hell and I send in sweary issue reports at least once a week but I persevere because by golly does it work! (The health accountability, not the issue reports.) And I second MyFitnessPal as the go to if one wishes to track calories. It’s taught me just how bad I am at estimating snacks.

    Good luck with the steppin’!

  56. Congratulations on the new Band and scale. I haven’t tried a FitBit yet, though I am considering it. Sooz, I love your idea of not tracking calories until you get to a specific weight. Once I get these last stubborn 15 lbs off, I think I will implement that. I’ve been able to lose over 100 pounds during the last 3 years by making exercise part of my transportation routine (as opposed to going to the gym for the purpose of exercise), taking walks with friends while on breaks at work, and tracking exercise and calories with MyFitnessPal. I learned so much from entering food into MFP (e.g. for me, peanut butter is evil). I also have been using an app called Moves, that lives on my smart phone in my pocket to track steps and cycling minutes.

    I would also like to second what maxutility says. I found that having one half packet of splenda in the morning in my tea made it significantly more difficult to lose any weight. It was much more difficult to control the mid afternoon sweets craving I tend to suffer from and even if I did control that, my weight did not seem to have the same relationship to my exercise and calorie consumed numbers that I’d come to consider normal. My experiment lasted for about 2 weeks. As soon as I stopped with the splenda, my weight behavior went back to my normal patterns, and I was able to start losing weight again.

    Good luck on reaching your goals. Since my weight loss has been both dramatic and sustained, people ask me for advice. My answer is, “Find what works for you. If some idea doesn’t work for you, try something else.”

  57. Welcome to the club. Now go get the QardioArm to track your BP. I am on track to get off my BP meds. I playing the same game and now I am walking 3.5 miles every few days, I have lost 10+ pounds and my BP is down too.

  58. I’m with many of the other commenters here that find the sleep tracker to be the most interesting function on the Fitbit. I was *floored* to see how much worse I slept when I didn’t lock the cat out of the bedroom. I knew the little bugger would paw me in the face to make me roll over occasionally, but I had no idea he was doing it every half hour ALL NIGHT LONG.

    I also like the vibrating alarm, which doesn’t wake my wife like my ancient alarm clock does.

  59. I’ve heard good things about the fitbit and had them forcefully recommended to me. On the principle that ‘what you don’t monitor you can’t manage’, then I suspect that you will find a way to use it to increase your activity level and more importantly notice when it slumps so you can do something. The presence of the number on your wrist might also nag you to make improvements, it happens whenever there is a visible monitor for all sorts of things.

    I don’t use one, because I have enough sources of anxiety, thank you. What I monitor is whether or not I get out of my bed and go for a run, and what the scales say every day. Best of luck with it.

  60. I agree with the previous comment about swimming. It will not impact your joints and gets you close to a weight less environment. You can swim at any age, you can not say the same thing as basketball.
    I would also recommend a men’s health Magazine work out that uses your body weight or one piece of equipment such as a medicine ball. Check you library for back issues to find what works for you.
    You could have a bad habit punishment work out. Everytime you do a behavior you want to change do 25 push ups and 25 sit ups as negative reinforcement.

  61. Normally, I just lurk but…I notice from your blog that you are travelling a lot! My doc tells me that many people have trouble not gaining weight with frequent travel schedules. It will be interesting to see if travel makes a difference for you. For myself, I have noticed that travel=sleep disruption=gain, especially short trips. The least obesity-inducing quick work trip for me is: fly out in the morning, afternoon meeting, stay over, fly back in the morning. Other than that, I don’t know anything that really makes a difference…if I drink a lot of water and eat veggies and fish, I feel better, but doesn’t make much difference in the usual post-trip uptick in the scale.
    Good luck!

  62. What you eat has more effect on your weight than exercise. I’ve been going low carb for the last two months without exercising that much more and it’s amazing how easily I’ve been losing weight. I think part of it is that along with cutting out things like bread and rice I’m also just cutting back on sugary snacks and junk food. And also being conscious about really only eating when I’m hungry. At first I felt a little sluggish not eating as many carbs as I’m used to but one’s body gets used to it pretty quickly.

    More importantly, I feel like I should be able to maintain doing this in the long term because I’m not starving myself or counting calories but just replacing high glycemic foods that could raise my blood glucose and lead to fat storage and replacing those with more proteins, fats, and veggies. This naturally leads to eating fewer calories because I feel full sooner and longer but I don’t feel like I’m forcing my body to do something unnatural.

  63. To be clear, I’m not discounting the positive effects of exercise especially if one has many pounds they want to shed. But for me personally I hate exercise and only want to do enough to stay healthy and I’m only a little bit overweight so I figured focusing on the diet side of the equation would work better for my needs.

  64. The Aria is awesome. You’ll love it, whether or not the fitbit works for you. Enjoy the new toys.

  65. I saw an article in one of the Darke County papers talking about the Tecumseh Trail (bikes and hiking/ jogging), running 11 miles from Bradford to Greenville. Have you ever tried it? It looks lovely. Biking on a trail at this time of year is wonderful.

  66. Have you tried picking out a three mile radius. Selecting spots within that radius and walking to them. At which point you take sunset pictures from novel locations.

  67. @Dusty Wallace: Years back, I remember chatting with an actor (I think from the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER cast, given that most of the group was from that show) who’d dropped 170lb for her career and the role. All I could say was “Good God – you lost an entire ME!”

    (And I now weigh 20lb less than that, and am still healthy and fit. Good luck to you.)

  68. I lurve my FitBit. I’ve had it since January, although I had to ratchet my step count DOWN to a measly 8000, because I kept over-walking when it was at 10K. (I still hit 10K most days but I’m not catching making myself walk myself into an injury like I did the second week I had my FitBit. My competitive side amped me up.)

    I was about 186 when I got mine. I’m at 175 now.

    I also really like the interface. As a graphic designer it appeals to me.

  69. I have a Fitbug, which is a knock-off that I got at the Radio Shack going-out-of-business 80%off sale. It’s a disk about the size of a stack of 2-3 quarters, and has a watchband and clip to carry it in. It’s not very bright, does some sleep tracking but you have to tell it when you want it to be in sleep mode as opposed to step-counter mode. I guess I get some useful information from it, but it hasn’t been all that motivating. The display on the bug is just one LED that blinks green or yellow to tell you what mode it’s in, and a cellphone app that’s the main user interface.

    Friend of mine has a Fitbit that sometimes ties into Twitter. She’s a theater tech / conference organizer, so if she’s walking 15 miles in a day I know she’s working a gig, and if she’s walking 1/2 mile a day I know she’s not.

  70. I loved my Fitbit. I loved my first one, which fell off silently off my wrist as I walked downtown, never to be seen or heard from again. I loved my second one, that mysteriously stopped being able to charge one day, so it silently died a slow death as its existing charge dripped away. I loved my third one, and my fourth, which lost its ability to report its status. Now I have no Fitbit, because after four in two years, it became too expensive. I’m thinking of trying an iWatch, in the hope that it will actually work. We’ll see. Apple hasn’t been living up to its usual high standards later.

    Good luck with your Fitbit. I hope you love yours as much as I loved (all of) mine, but be careful of the band, as it does snap off fairly easily.

  71. Hmmm … no one seems to have mentioned the privacy issues.

    Doesn’t FitBit REQUIRE you to sign up for an account? Then, when you sync your FitBit, it sends the data to FitBit. The FitBit server then processes it and sends back the information in human readable form. At least that was what they were doing about 2 years ago when I looked at them.

    This same processing could be done locally, without involving any outside communication (via FitBit software for Windows, Mac, and Linux). Then, IF and ONLY IF, you wished to use the “social” competition features, you could be given complete control over what information is sent to the FitBit server and how that information is used. This model means you would not need to sign up for YASA (Yet Another Stupid Account) unless you wished to use the “social” features.

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