Sunday, January 24, 2016

My fitness tracker selection process

My friend Bilal did an excellent post on fitness trackers on this same blog here. After getting diagnosed with diabetes, and reading a bit and realizing exercise is such a big part of the treatment (which really is a lifestyle change) I decided to check them out and see if they could help me.

My phone, like other phones, already included a pedometer. My initial thought is that this worked pretty good since I didn't do much meaningful walking without the phone - so I wanted to figure out what did the dedicated fitness trackers do. I also did not want to spend too much on something that could perfectly well get crushed or become inoperable because I forgot to take it off when going into the shower.

Now, talking fashion - I'm not a trendy guy. I also live in a place where I''m walking a lot of the time, and I did not want something that could bring attention to me. So, the objective became to find something with a lot of sensors that would appeal to my needs, wasn't too expensive, and wouldn't bring too much attention to me. Easy to operate would be nice as well, and had to sync with my phone.

My search ultimately brought me to the Fitbit Charge HR. The below is an affiliate link of mine where I could get a cut if you buy it using that link

So why the Fitbit Charge HR? This is the link with manufacturer info, but these are the features that brought my attention:

1 Good reviews everywhere - many said it had the same sensors as the Fitbit Surge ($100 more)
2 Tracks steps and floors (my phone only does steps)
3 Tracks heartbeat! Now this is info I never had, and considering I'm diabetic, sounds good to know
4 Tracks sleep! Working in IT, there's crazy schedules and I know proper sleep reflects proper health
5 Free app (I'll talk more about this). I was able to download the app, poke around with it, and see how the interface works. Seemed easy to use and it allows adding friends
6 Lots of privacy settings in the app to enable or disable friends or the public from seeing information
7 Reviews mentioned good battery life
8 Automatic - I didn't have to tell it I was going to sleep or start exercising, it would pick it up on its own as long as I wore it
9 Water resistant - don't swim with it but a slight splash won't ruin it.
10 Small screen (this was a big plus for me - didn't want anyone to think i had an expensive smartwatch). I got it in black and at first glance just looks like a thick rubber band
11 Three available size bands. Glad since my wrists are really small.

The Fitbit arrived soon (after (I bought it when they cost $150) and within days I realized this was awesome and one of the best decisions I've made in my life. Having the device all the time was working better than the phone, since you don't go to the gym with the phone in your pocket, you put it in a hole somewhere. Also, the app also includes a weight tracker, calorie/food tracker, and water tracker, which I immediately started using.

Here I noticed an important thing - my engineer mindset suddenly had a lot of data that it did not have before. Remember I had decided to take my condition as a problem I could do something intelligent about? Here was something I could immediately use to build and perfect my strategy. With this and my sugar measurements I could get to work.

My following post will get a bit deeper into how I've used this information to help me lead my lifestyle change. If you have a fitbit and wish to add me as a friend please don't hesitate to contact me through twitter!

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