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back to article Fitbit Flex wristband: What to wear out when wearing yourself out

Judging by how quickly Apple is dashing around the world registering the iWatch trademark, by this time next year I could well have a micro Mac strapped to my wrist. And so might many others, if the craze for wearable devices continues on its current trajectory. You might wonder what all the fuss is about and perhaps a bit of …

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Why?

I just don't see the point and don't like bands of rubber round my wrist.

Admitedly I'm not the sort of person who goes to the gym or needs to diet.

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FAIL

Re: Why?

Cool Story, Bro.

Maybe this device is not aimed at you?

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FAIL

Re: Why?

And while we're at it, what's the point of articles on cars? My eyesight is terrible so I'll never get to drive, so what's the point in cars? /endsarcasm

And on the actual device. The diet side of things I don't see the point of, I mean I see the point of it, but not as part of this product. I can record my calories in many other ways, in fact I do record my calories already so having that information isn't overly useful to me.

Likewise the lack of a heartrate monitor etc is kind've annoying too, it's one of the things I'd actually quite like to track.

The only real useful parts of this are the pedometer (lets face it that's what it is) and the sleep monitor. I actually find the idea of a sleep monitor quite interesting since I'm pretty sure my sleep quality is terrible. But I don't think I'm willing to spend £80 on one.

If they could get a heartrate monitor built into the thing I might be interested, but without it the idea seems kinda meh. I already have a load of items that do the individual jobs for a fraction of the cost, the only real benefit of this device is the sleep monitor, and the online ap. And the online app you can also get equivalents for free online.

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Facepalm

Re: Why?

So buy a pedometer.

This is a product for someone who wants to understand what they are intaking and outputting all in one simple package.

You want to check your heart rate? It's quite simple, here is your wrist, here are some fingers. Now count.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

Person voices "I don't need it, so nobody needs it" opinion.

Are you oblivious to the obesity epidemic?

I've lost 1.2 stone after getting a Fitbit. Without gauging what your calorie intake is vs your calorie output you can't really make adjustments in your diet.

But anyway, this is just a tool that helps with that, people still have to put in the effort.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

There are a million HRM watches out there and Polar also have the patent on the calorie algorithm used, so nothing else tends to be so accurate when using heart rate as the source of energy expenditure.

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Holmes

Re: Why?

I lost 1.5 stone ditching my gluten free prescription and replacing the carbs with meat and veg - lots of meat and lots of veg.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Only another 2 stone to go now.

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Re: Why?

@wowfood: I use an App on my android for on-the-spot heart-rate monitoring. It works by shining the flash through your finger and using the camera to detect blood-flow (the same way that a hospital monitor does it in fact).

Not *really* accurate, but accurate enough.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

Why do fat people always drink diet coke?

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Re: Why?

[quote]You want to check your heart rate? It's quite simple, here is your wrist, here are some fingers. Now count.[/endquote]

Yeah evidently you are another of the "I don't need it therefore no-one needs it" school of thought. You can hardly do that all day long, or even more than a few times a day.

For purposes of tracking fitness or weight loss goals, continuous heart rate monitoring is one of the most useful tools available. Next time you are in your local sports shop (ha ha) go take a look at how many heart rate monitors there are out there. There's a demand, "dude".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

"Why do fat people always drink diet coke?"

Does that mean diet coke makes you fat?

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Re: Why?

Can some enlightened person tell me what this thing does that a pedometer doesn't? Other than come with a bluetooth dongle and an app?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

> Why do fat people always drink diet coke?

To wash down a gigantic carb-fest.

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Re: Why?

For people that go running... not for over-weight nerds sitting infront of a computer 24/7.

The same way these runners look at linux or pi and go "Why?"

Or when that car customiser drivers past me in matt black car with glowing wheels and music so loud the speakers shake the car, I go "Why?"

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Re: Why?

It's slightly more sophisticated (and therefore MUCH more expensive) as it measures levels of activity rather than simply counting steps.

Oh and it comes with a gee-whizz dashboard that you can share with all your Facebook friends and the Twitterati.

What's not to like? (Apart from all of it)

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I'm guessing the software is not the point to this device.

The ability to use some of the other Apps, like myfitnespal means they can just give the basics in their own software and allow others to work out what to actually do with the device far better. Myfitnespall for example has a handy barcode scanner for entering your meals which works pretty well. The crap part about that app is not the meals but the entering of exercise, so it may work well together.

Final point, anyone who is pretty active won’t need one of these once they are out of their fat stage. And anyone who is fat and using one of these to help get healthy would probably be fat again within a month of losing the pounds as fat people are generally lazy. In fact they would probably buy one of these, get board in week After all, in reality, what use is knowing how many steps you take?

Come to think of it, the whole system and all of the apps are pretty useless, how does knowing how many calories, a measurement of how much heat is given off something when you burn it, and how many steps you take actually help you?

It can give you confirmation that you are active (you know this already) and that's about it.

Until we legislate against the fat people then they will always be there, the only purpose this wrist band serves (that I can see) is to alert people to the presence of a soon to be fatty or an ex-fatty from whom you should hide your sandwiches.

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Re: I'm guessing the software is not the point to this device.

@Gordon Pryra

You do realize that not all "fatness" is about eating, right?

Maybe we should legislate against ignorant people, then dicks like you won't be able to feel so smug.

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Re: I'm guessing the software is not the point to this device.

@john 110,

I apologize, you are right, we need to include the "big boned too"

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Paris Hilton

Re: I'm guessing the software is not the point to this device.

@John 110

"You do realize that not all "fatness" is about eating, right?"

Really - what else is it about? People come in all different sizes but it is pretty clear if someone is 'big' or 'fat'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: you're an idiot....

Folks, my partner has been on steroids for a number of years, if she eats less than 900 calories a day she can [occasionally] lose weight, and this is on a very well measured, balanced diet with about 90% fresh fruit/veg/meat/fish etc and no processed anything and virtually no carbs. Btw the other 10%ish is good quality frozen stuff

Believe it or not this energy intake is enough for her to do her busy, on her feet all day job...

You know what people are all different! Funny that eh?

So for some folk [with certain hormone issues - eg thyroxine] they can eat dramatically less than you or I AND PUT ON WEIGHT...

BTW if you have any teenage or thereabouts aged female offspring, and you think that maybe they could do with eating a bit less, learn how to cook as opposed to labellng them fat eh?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm guessing the software is not the point to this device.

It has a 3 axis accelerometer and uses a time based approach, so it knows the difference between different velocities. It also uses your height to work out an average stride (or you can fine tune this value yourself) so it knows how far you travelled and how fast.

There are numerous products similar to this. Nike+, Jawbone, Fuel band etc.. The advantage of simplicity is the battery life, it can be left running 24 hours a day and around 5 days before a recharge. A GPS based unit with a heart rate strap would be more accurate but last hours, be bulky and wouldn't have the nice wireless sync over bluetooth.

It's not a professional performance training tool, it is about getting some metrics on your activity levels. The initial goals are to do 10,000 steps a day (a common recommendation from medical experts).

Yes you can use a phone, but your phone is bulky and runs down quickly. Do you really want to shower with your phone?

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Re: "big boned"

I'm not fat, I'm festively plump!

(With apologies to Eric Cartman.)

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WTF?

Re: you're an idiot....

So for some folk [with certain hormone issues - eg thyroxine] they can eat dramatically less than you or I AND PUT ON WEIGHT...

Are you saying that a problematic thyroid gland can cause you to metabolize fat from air?

Because, y'know, the dear old (calories in - calories out) equation is at least consistent with things like thermodynamics and conservation of energy. Whereas, since fat is an energy store, you appear to be saying that we can magically make more energy than we intake simply by having a glandular disorder.

That seems unlikely to me.

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Re: you're an idiot....

A quick search reveals that a symptom of Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) is weight gain but it also states that; "However, with treatment, the outlook is excellent. With treatment, symptoms usually go, and you are very unlikely to develop any complications."

http://www.patient.co.uk/health/hypothyroidism-underactive-thyroid

As @dogged points out though I don't imagine that you gain weight magically...just more that a 'normal' person.

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Re: I'm guessing the software is not the point to this device.

@Gordon Pryra

as fat people are generally lazy... Until we legislate against the fat people then they will always be there ...

Nice bit of work there. I suppose the flip-side is that all thin people are generally "energetic" (sorry, I Googled that antonym cos I was too lazy to come up with my own - must be because I am fat)

I am "fat". I also eat a lot (which requires a fair bit of effort, you would be hard pushed to call me lazy when it comes to my dietary habits). I go to the gym too, which is a bit of an odd one isn't it? Perhaps I should be legislated against for not fitting in to the stereotype you seem to be pushing there.

I have a friend who is thin. He also eats a lot (a lot more than me in fact). He does not go to the gym. I do not understand it.

Oh well. Time to start thinking about me dinner.

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Holmes

Re: you're an idiot....

Unfortunately you can get fat from eating too little for a variety of reasons.

1: Starvation response, when you do not eat enough and starve yourself the body will preserve fat stores for the really lean times and instead metabolise protien, firstly skeletal muscle and in extreme cases (anorexia) even cardiac muscle and the internal organs. Protiens are broken down to amino acids and then metabolised via the cahill cycle.

2: "low calorie foods" - Per gram sugar has less calories than fat so to make a food low calorie reduce the fat and increase the sugar. However, metabolically sugar is a nightmare as it easily digested and absorbed and provokes an insulin response which leads to storage in the muscles, once they are full the excess sugar is converted to fat. Fats require mechanical and chemical breakdown so even though they have nearly double the calories of sugar per gram they do not digest efficiently. Hence why you can eat low calorie foods and get fat.

So a low fat, lower calorie high sugar diet leads to a combination of 1 and 2, a starvation response leading to protection of fat stores so you can eat less and get fat.

This is the main reason why high protein, high fat, low carb diets work and decrease body fat levels.

Of course some regular intense exercise will help, most people in IT have sedentary jobs so maximising movement outside of the hours at the desk is essential.

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Stop

Re: you're an idiot....

I'll give you #2 but #1 has been conclusively disproved. It's pure broscience. If it were true you'd see morbidly obese famine victims.

The body actually metabolizes sugars first, protein second, complex carbs third and fat last.

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Re: you're an idiot....

[quote]So for some folk [with certain hormone issues - eg thyroxine] they can eat dramatically less than you or I AND PUT ON WEIGHT...[endquote]

Yeah, and pardon me but there were no fat people in Auschwitz. "Thyroid" or "hormone" "conditions" have been used as an excuse for decades and it's ALL BULLSHIT. If you eat more food than your body needs, you will store it as fat. So some people's metabolism is more efficient at extracting calories from food: those people just have to eat less.

"Dramatically less" in your example is clearly still not little enough. I knew someone who was a Big Bess all her life, went on a hundred fad diets and had several courses of radical treatments - nothing worked until at the age of 45 she just cut _out_ the carbs, cut _down_ on everything else, and STARTED EXERCISING. A couple of marathons later she was svelte and sexy and feeling better than she had in decades.

Sorry, you're the idiot.

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JDX
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Re: I'm guessing the software is not the point to this device.

"Really - what else is it about? People come in all different sizes but it is pretty clear if someone is 'big' or 'fat'."

There are numerous medical and genetic conditions which make people put on weight very easily, and lose it with great difficulty.

Or in simpler terms for the dumbos... you never saw a teenager who can eat a bag of doughnuts every day and not gain weight? It must be patently obvious that two people can have the same daily routine and eat the same things and one will gain weight while the other doesn't, because you see it all the time.

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JDX
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@dogged

Are you saying that a problematic thyroid gland can cause you to metabolize fat from air?

Because, y'know, the dear old (calories in - calories out) equation is at least consistent with things like thermodynamics and conservation of energy.

Oh look, you did GCSE physics and think you understand biology. And I suppose if you hang by your arms this doesn't count as exercise because you're not moving?

You never considered that if you eat 1000 calories and only require 500, your body might not use the excess but dump them, whereas his body might hold onto every calorie regardless of requirement?

Your weight gain is strictly governed by calories in - calories out, but neither of those values is what you think it is.

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JDX
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Re: you're an idiot....

If you eat more food than your body needs, you will store it as fat. So some people's metabolism is more efficient at extracting calories from food: those people just have to eat less.

Great, now tell that to the person whose correct calorific intake is 500 calories less than their brain/stomach reckons they need to avoid starvation. Tell them it's simple, they just have to be permanently hungry to avoid putting on weight.

He may be the idiot, but you're the jerk.

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Facepalm

Re: you're an idiot....

This notion of yours is not correct.

Calories in => some are burnt for immediate use + some are stored as fat

Ongoing energy use => come from stored source among them fat, glycogen etc

The proportion of this is decided by the hormonal profile among other things.

So simply by cutting intake people with a poor hormonal profile do not lose weight i.e. store less fat. Their bodies are more inclined to simply offer less energy for their activities. They would in some cases actually have no energy to exercise.

Essentially the body's logic function to decide whether to store for the future or burn for immediate use is broken.

So as unlikely as it might seem to you, it doesn't make it any bit more factual. It's pop nutritional science I'm afraid.

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FAIL

Re: you're an idiot....

I'll give you #2 but #1 has been conclusively disproved. It's pure broscience. If it were true you'd see morbidly obese famine victims.

The body actually metabolizes sugars first, protein second, complex carbs third and fat last.

=======

Point 1 is true, its why you see people with anorexia dying due to organ failure whilst still retaining stores of adipose tissue.

Famine victims are rarely fat to start with so have less of a chance of survival when food supplies are short as they have low levels of skeletal muscle so digest those quickly followed by whatever else is to hand until they die from organ failure.

The reason why obese people lose weight quickly when they starve themselves is protein and water loss as they digest skeletal muscle whilst the body protects fat stores, additionally, as a result of being obese they have higher circulating oestrogen levels which help to preserve and maintain body fat.

As for the second paragraph total bollocks of the highest order, the body doesn't have a linear pecking order for the metabolism of those 4.

At any given time circulating in your blood you have simple carbohydrates, amino acids, and free fatty acids all looking to ultimately contribute to the production of pyruvate and finally ATP.

Depending on how hard the body is being pushed will dictate the rate of usage as sugars are converted more easily than proteins and free fatty acids so under high intensity activities we rely on blood sugar as the primary provider of energy to replenish ATP.

At rest its a completely different story as the body has a low demand for energy it can use free fatty acids via Beta oxidation and the conversion of amino acids to pyruvate via the liver to meet energy needs rather than tapping into blood sugar. During high intensity exercise the release of adrenaline suppresses both beta oxidation and to a lesser extent amino acid metabolism to prioritise the easier to convert energy pathways.

Complex carbohydrates have to be broken down and digested before they get near the blood so how you have concluded that they appear in your imaginary hierarchy can only mean you have pasta for blood.

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How does it gauge effort?

I'm presuming it just measures paces or somesuch, which isn't a very accurate measure of activity. For instance walking uphill uses much more energy than walking downhill. And what about cycling (where you don't move your arms much), lifting weights, etc?

And presumably you can't take it swimming?

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Paris Hilton

Re: How does it gauge effort?

Yup, 80 quid for a glorified pedometer, and not mentioned once in a 3-page review, I had to google what the thing does... Amazing what some people will buy these days.

If it had a GPS tracker I might be slightly interested. As it is, this device will merely make avid left-hand surfers appear to be wildly fit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How does it gauge effort?

Yes it's a pedometer and one of the cheaper ones for such a device like this.

Other competing products don't do the wireless syncing (using Bluetooth 4 low power) meaning that as soon as you are in range of the sync dongle your stats are uploaded.

I'd love to see a GPS based device last 5-7 days running constantly!!

This is a wear and forget device, you just let it record and get on with life. If left to people like you it would have an Android OS, mp3 playback, GPS, 4G, be as big as a fag packet and with a battery life of about 4 hours.

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Re: How does it gauge effort?

> If it had a GPS tracker I might be slightly interested

If you have a smartphone, with GPS, there are free apps out there that will act as a GPS tracker/fitness monitor. I use one if I go out walking as it will take account of hills and give a calorie count.

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Anonymous Coward

I've been using a FitBit One for about 5-6 months. While I can't comment about quite a few aspects of the Flex, because I haven't used one.... I do share the inconvenience of the calorie aspect.

Indeed, when I started, it was a bit of a drag finding and adding all the foods I ate, and trying to avoid or pick them out from all the American ones.

That said I'm a bit of a creature of habit, and eat far too much packet food. As such once in, there aren't many I add on a daily basis, and instead it's more a case of scrolling through my list and selecting the ones I want.

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Coat

"you're halfway to RoboCop"

Before puberty all I ever wanted for Christmas was to become RoboCop.

Now I guess I'd rather keep my balls and other assorted squishy bits for a while longer, thank you.

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Stop

What a worthless toy.

'Calories' are stupid way to gauge how much energy people get from food and how much fat it may add, the digestion and metabolism are not that simple e.g. gut bacteria, food composition, environment, genetics and current metabolism can cause dramatic differences; so just getting more exercise and eating less do not guarantee fitness or weight loss.

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Re: What a worthless toy.

"...so just getting more exercise and eating less do not guarantee fitness or weight loss."

What nonsense. Of course exercising more increases your fitness and will help weight loss. Calories may not be perfect enough for you but it's not a bad start, and apps such as myfitnesspal do take into account the breakdown of carbs, vitamins etc if you want to go that deep in to it.

If you are looking to loss weight and get fit, keeping a log of exercise and calories is a good way to focus your mind and is pretty simple to do.

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Re: What a worthless toy.

Totally agree, I've used myfitnesspal since February. It was a great help understaning calorie intake vs calorie expenditure. I lost 10Kg in 10 weeks by monitoring input & output and reducing net calorie intake to 1200KCal per day on average (2000 eaten, 800 burnt). i'm certainly more aware now of what i'm eating and understand where the pitfall are e.g. eating one jammy dodger in the office = 5 minutes on the tradmill in the gym.

Not sure if the fitmit hits the mark though, nor does the Nike FuelBand, neither has heart-rate monitoring.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a worthless toy.

That's odd, because I've gone from 13.7 stone to 12.2 since February. Also stopped having heartburn, bad backs and other problems.

Wouldn't have done it without the FitBit.

The website is where the value is, it has various programmes that let you set a goal and it tells you how long it will take and what sort of deficit you need to achieve it. It's easy to criticise something you haven't used.

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Re: What a worthless toy.

DIY version:

Get yellow Lance Armstrong wristband (should be lots available)

Write "put down that pastie you fat bastard' on it with marker pen

Profit

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Re: What a worthless toy.

First of all your comment may sound humorous but it's really offensive. Being rude doesn't mean being smart.

I'll tell you exactly where fitbit is useful: I quit smoking 2 years ago and put on about 20kg (that's 44lbs for you, yanks).

I am working for the last 6 months with a team of people (my gp, a dietician and a physio) to get back to normal.

In the process I had to log all my foods for a month which was pretty easy using myfitnesspal. FitBit helps you keep on top of your goals. It also helps me make corrections in my regime early enough. Otherwise I would only notice any deviations on the scales by which time it would be too late.

And anyway what is wrong with a subtle motivational help when you are working hard to get to where you need to be?

(in those 6 months I've lost 15 of the 20 kilos so it does work so long as you are determined to use it properly)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a worthless toy.

Lets face it though, how much of that weight have you lost because of diet which is aided by the FREE myfitnesspal website. And how much of that weight has been lost because you have a wristband keeping track of what you're doing anyway.

Losing weight is 90% diet. If you have a general weekly plan you can map though out fairly easy using a number of BMR calculators online, such as the one on MyFitnessPal, which gives you the base calories you need for your height and weight, you can then work out how many cals you need via a simple calculation based on how much you exercise per week. Or you can find a calc to do that for you.

http://www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_calculator.htm

Congratulations, i've just given you all the benefits of a fitbit minus the £80 cost.

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Re: What a worthless toy.

When you are done congratulating yourself mr AC perhaps you may care to hear that the value of the thing is in the monitoring of activity and the opportunity to adjust very quickly to actual circumstances (think unplanned business dinner or some such).

The value is in the joining of actual calorie intake to activity done.

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Re: What a worthless toy.

Put the pasty down you fat bastard is excellent advice. The pasty contains wheat which makes many people tired and lazy. It contains fat and two types of carbs but not many vegetables.

It would be better to eat a kebab but with no chips and don't eat the bread. That way you get protein and fresh veg but no carbs.

I am astonished that it took a team of people to get you into shape. I have this image of the F1 team monitoring your stats on screens and communicating with you via an implant in your eyeball.

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Re: What a worthless toy. @Wayland

Well, if your target is sustainable lifestyle change as opposed to ultrafast, ultrahard dieting which will be reversed with a vengeance down the line then yes, it does take coordinated and long-term effort.

And no they're not on my case all the time. But they do coordinate with each other and devise programs depending on actual progress etc.

P.S. While the cut down on the junk is good advice I still think calling someone a fat bastard is offensive no matter how much good humour you want to dress it with.

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Anonymous Coward

Those saying it should have GPS. Try doing that in the gym, under tree cover, shopping malls etc. This is a device for the general public for every day use, not just for people who are "training".

Also, it's not fun waiting up to 4 minutes before you do any exercise while your GPS device gets a lock on. Phones have A-GPS where they use other data to get a lock on. Having mobile telephony and GPS on such a device will make it big, bulky, have crap battery life and start to cost around £150+.

This is a small convenient device which will last a working week before it needs a recharge. Try doing that with your phone or GPS unit.

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