Tag: discovery

A FitBit World: Better Health through Technology

Better Health through Technology

I am a recovering addict of shiny things. Little health and fitness tracking devices and pieces of technology that claim to make me more efficient, healthier, happier, and all around a better person. Well….who am I kidding? There’s no way I’m giving up my shiny things. Maybe I’m extending my wish-list instead of impulsively buying everything as it is introduced, but several little devices, mobile apps, and websites  HAVE made me better in the area of fitness and awareness of my overall health. At last count, I use approximately 24 different technologies to help me understand myself and accomplish my health, fitness, and beauty goals. I started to list these out all at once, but quickly realized it would be easier for you to take in piece by piece (and more likely that these posts will see the light of day). Today marks the start of my ongoing series: Better Health through Technology.

Gadgets #1 : Fitbit Fitness Tracking Devices

FitBit One

For starters, lets talk about my Fitbit One. Well, to be honest, this is my third Fitbit tracker, and I’ve had every generation they’ve made (addiction perhaps?). During the day, I tuck my Fitbit inside my pocket, or if my outfit does not have pockets, it hides clipped on my bra or underwear while I roam about.* I wear my Fitbit all day, EVERY DAY. I’m naked without it. Funny thing is, I rarely actually look at it during the day. But what it tells me about my habits is astonishing.

The Fitbit One device clipped onto shorts

*Note: I have lost a Fitbit Zip tracker by wearing in the manner shown in this posts’ picture. I normally wear my Fitbit with the front toward my skin so that it does not wedge itself out of the rubber carrying clip.

In one day, this little device tracks…

  • my total steps taken,
  • my total distance traveled by foot,
  • how active I am in any 5 minutes period of time through my day,
  • how many flights of stairs I climb,
  • how many calories I burn,
  • my sleep patterns (awake, restless, or actually asleep)
  • total length of sleep.

it also provides words of encouragement if I do happen to look at it, and shows (via a growing flower stalk) how far I have progressed in my daily goal (which I set through the website or app).

 

 

 

As far as tracking sleep, Fitbit Sleep Data Pie Chartthat is done by inserting the Fitbit device into an included velcro wrist wrap/strap with a mesh pocket on it, and then pressing and holding the main button for a few seconds to start the sleep clock. I’ve recently had some issues with my device falling out of the strap while I sleep, so lately I’ve just been flipping the pocket on the strap toward my wrist instead of leaving it exposed, and that seems to do the trick.  I can’t stand the sensory overload of wearing bracelets, so the Fitbit Flex is out for me, but I’ve heard great reviews from friends who have that device. It solves the whole “transition the device to sleep mode” issue. (plus the Flex is waterproof, and can be worn in a shower, FTW)

The best part of it all- my Fitbit tracks all of those steps I take to let my aging dog out 2-3 times in the middle of the night. They count!

FitBit Aria Scale

Then there is my Fitbit Aria Scale. This beautiful little white glass scale recognizes up to 8 people (and knows when your friend comes over and decides to weigh herself- it tracks her as a guest), and tracks…

  • my weight
  • my BMI
  • my Body Fat Percentage.

Both of these health and fitness tracking devices quietly sync to the Fitbit website via either my phone or my home computer through Bluetooth or Wifi. Even if I purposely don’t choose to look at the scale, their website does, and it tracks my journey for me.

Fitbit Website Dashboard

The pinnacle of the Fitbit family of products is the personalized Fitbit.com dashboard. Here is where the rubber meets the road and I meet accountability.

What did I really do yesterday, today, or this week? Did I sit at a desk for hours on end or did I walk about the building at least 5 minutes every hour?

Did my weight fluctuate drastically or did I keep on a smooth and steady pace? Where am I with my goals? How many times did I wake up to let my dog out to do her business this week, or did I actually stay up later than I wanted just to watch shows that I can easily catch up on the next day?

If I journaled my food intake, I could see how much I consumed and if there are any trends I need to work on. I can track my intake of water, enter my heart rate, blood pressure or glucose levels, and even see trends in things I’ve set up to track, like “Did I take my meds at the right time(if at all) this week?”

The Fitbit dashboard shows graphical representations of weight, activity, steps, sleep, calories burned, distance, and calories in versus out.

 

Fitbit even offers a premium membership ($50 for a year) that offers a digital trainer, benchmarking, more in-depth reporting, advanced heart rate tracking, and unlimited glucose and custom tracking. I personally have not decided to use the premium membership. I haven’t ruled it out, I just don’t feel like I need that data right now, since some of it I get from other sources (which will be covered in later posts in this series).

Fitbit Friends

Finally, there is a social and competitive component to the Fitbit universe, should you choose to opt into it. You can add friends to your dashboard and compete against the for the most steps taken. Results are shown in a Leaderboard every week. I’m not a super competitive person, but it is nice to see that when I’m having a less than optimal week, someone I know is also doing the same. (Sorry Fitbit friends!)

Fitbit provides groups you can join (or create) to track certain sections of your social sphere. A great example might be to create a group for an office, and involve employees in the group by introducing some healthy competition. At the time of writing, there are 9,476 public groups in the Fitbit universe, with more added every day. There is a group that is bound to fit you.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Fitbit line of products have become invaluable to me over the past few years, creating automatic accountability and awareness of my habits and lifestyle. In another post, I plan to talk about how the data collected by these devices works with other tools I use to create a holistic and strategic healthy living approach. Until then, remember to keep your devices well charged and let your eyes look up once in a while! Happy gadgeting!

Defining Beauty

As mentioned in the introductory post, I started the Health | Fitness | Beauty Quest as a purposeful look at what each of those things mean to me. It has since grown to include some near and dear friends. It is now a collaborative search each of us are doing. We share our own thoughts on what each of those aspects means and by sharing we are each learning and growing.

Creating Album Art

I am recording some quick audio posts on this topic as well as updates on my fitness training. The podcaster in me couldn’t stand to have audio posts without having album art to represent “the show.” So, yesterday I came up with a logo using a public domain background image and some clipart. You may have seen me share it on Facebook as well as the originating audio post.

I showed it to my graphic designer husband who offered some helpful suggestions to make the image pop. He suggested adding a second layer to the background, adding a bevel to the icons and moving the text up and away from icons. I thought it looked better, but wanted to get the opinion of my fellow contributors.

HFBQ Side by Side ComparisonI shared it with the ladies and received a question from Susan regarding the third image of a skinny shapely body as the representative image for beauty. In my mind, skinny does not equal beauty so I could see the reason for the question. After all, the point of this quest is to figure what it means for each of us. And I do think that health, fitness and beauty mean different things to us at different stages in our lives.

Back To The Drawing Board

As I mentioned earlier, I pulled these images from a clipart collection.  So, I began looking for an alternative image to stand for beauty. I looked at butterflies, flowers, women’s faces and nothing fit. It wasn’t until I came upon a clipart collections of people that I found what I was looking for. It was titled “Jumps” and in this collection I found a vibrant joy-filled woman who is jumping in the air.

The AHA! Moment

HFBQuest Album Art V5To me she represented the feeling of beauty. And that was the moment that I began to understand more about what true beauty represents to me. I could look fabulous on the outside but feel crumby on the inside and I will not have a sense that I am beautiful. However, If I feel fantastic on the inside physically, spiritually and emotionally then my own unique beauty will shine through.

Now that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t need to wash my face or fix my hair, but inner beauty is like a light shining inside that gives us that special glow and makes us want to jump for joy.

I want to thank Susan for questioning me and making me spend more time to dig deeper to find the right image. In doing so, she helped me begin to understand more about a beauty that is far beyond a small waistline. May your own journey to health, fitness and beauty be equally enlightening.