Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tech Time::: Fitbit One -- Part 4

A great way to make the Fitbit device go farther and work better for you is to link it to your My Fitness Pal account, which you can do through your My Fitness Pal settings, in the app section.  There are plenty of options in the apps section, but I am focusing on the Fitbit Tracker app.  Once you select that option, you will log in your credentials and the sites will communicate, and instantly the two are connected.  You can revoke access at anytime, should you wish to do so.  As long as you sync your Fitbit with your computer dongle or your Fitbit app via Bluetooth on your smartphone, your data will stay current and the two apps will stay up to date.

So I'll start with the app.  In the beginning I used it a lot more, but I find that I personally rarely use the Fitbit app outside of keeping on top of syncing and sleep tracking data, or the rare need to turn off the silent alarm on a weekday/add one for weekend.  You can input all of the same food and weight information via Fitbit's dashboard, though it's a more pared down version of the dashboard. 

For those new to the Fitbit and it's app and dashboard "ecosystem" (their word, not mine), wanting to delve into the app side of this, once you download the app from your respective app store, Apple or Android, you'll log in as you would have online.  As I mentioned in previous parts, you will need Bluetooth turned on for syncing to work.  I don't leave Bluetooth running in the background, so I turn that on before I start the app, and then let it do it's thing to update, shown below. The icon on the homescreen is quite elegant, I might add. 

Photos: By me, of my phone.

It's a nicely designed app, but the dealbreaker for me to be a more regular user of this app for tracking, and why I ended up sticking with the My Fitness Pal app for tracking my intakes and weights, was that not all of the foods and recipes I use are available in the database.  Since the meals are proprietary, that's a big deal, and having to enter those myself as I go, not high on my priority list. The syncing between the apps and programs is absolutely phenomenal and I am so glad for that link.  I would love to see my sleep data on My Fitness Pal, though, which does not transfer over. Maybe in the future. 

So once you're in the app, and all synced, your stats will show on the main Fitbit app screen, correlated in the app as teal, and corresponding on the bottom with the Fitbit tab.  The next tab is Activity, showing steps, and any other activity you may log (for example Zumba if you participate in that, or biking, and I know my family just laughed out loud at that suggestion since I am banned from bikes.)  The middle tab is your Weight log, and that's synced in from My Fitness Pal.  The next tab is Friends which I didn't take a screenshot of because I didn't want to invade their privacy.  

Next we come to the More tab. This is where you would log food, water intake, check your sleep and add silent alarms.  The sleep is a pared down version of the online details, but you can see in this instance which is last night, I had a lot of sleep, and a few restless periods. Keep in mind that this is showing the "normal tracker" data, not sensitive, check Part 3 for last night's data in the sensitive tracker. Not so glowing...  

The next tab is your silent alarms. You can set new ones, or turn them on and off from here.  I use this feature a lot in the app, if I have an appointment later than my normal work start time, I sleep in a little later. Rather, I lay in bed having to go to the bathroom longer, but refusing to get up.  On the weekends I set a "backup" alarm of 10am just so I can drag my butt out of bed and not totally bork my day. 

As I mentioned, Fitbit is designed as an ecosystem. Here's their little video on that:::

There's more than just the tracker, there's a scale that will also sync to your dashboard, and while you're not expected to use it all, it's designed to work best together, so obviously they'd love for you to. So using the dashboard, the app, the scale and the device, you're supposed to be more in tune with what you're doing, and in turn motivate yourself to do more.  That works for other people better I think, I am not someone who gets motivation that way, despite needing to see what I am actually doing.  I think I chalk that up to having so much going on in a day and week, that any deviation from my outlined schedule will absolutely throw my whole workload off.  I can't even presently schedule any more activity than the walking around that I do in my day.

Skipping past that onto the syncing with other apps and platforms, when I set the Fitbit up with My Fitness Pal, I went in to authorize that by logging into MFP account, clicking the Apps tab, and selecting "Fitbit Tracker". I logged into my Fitbit account through that portal, and it literally took about 2 seconds to connect.   When I am inside my Fitbit settings, this is what I see regarding apps:::

If I choose to stop using one of the two, I can simply revoke access. That will cut off the link between them. I have not done that, so I don't know if you undo any records you had between the two, and you just end up missing stuff, but I hope not. 

When I go into My Fitness Pal, say at the end of the day, on my exercise tab, it would show this "Fitbit Calorie Adjustment" of the calories I "earned" from my activity of the day:::

Overall, I am pretty pleased with this little device and I think it's worth every penny of the $99.95 I spent on it, since it does exactly what I wanted it to do: log my steps and calories burned and sync with MyFitnessPal.  I do wish the sleep recording was better and more detailed and accurate, but I hope with time and newer devices that will get better.  It does log it, as it states, just not as well as I had hoped.  I don't know if paying for Premium membership on Fitbit gives you better insight into that, but I am not really willing to find that out, to be honest. The free setup I have now is more than sufficient, since I initially purchased this item to use as a pedometer, it just happens to do more than that.   I really like the size of the device, I think it and it's siblings in the family are very beautifully designed, and I think the dashboard and app are equally gorgeous.  I look forward to seeing how this app, the device ecosystem and the recording devices grow and evolve with time.

If you pick one up, or have a Fitbit device of your own, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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