Living with the Fitbit Flex: One Month In
With my job being a work-at-home kind of thing, it’s definitely hard to be active throughout the day. I’m always on the computer or on my mobile devices, doing what I have to do. And when I’m done with that, I end up being just a bit tired, and just wanting to kick back. However, I’ve come to realize that this is one of the reasons why I never seemed to lose any weight, as well as my poor dieting habits.
Just a month ago, I finally managed to find the Fitbit Flex in stock at my local Best Buy (it was the last one!), and decided to pick it up. I wanted to work on a more formal review of the product, but then Fitbit decided to drop the Force on everyone, which is basically what the Flex should have been to begin with. Rather than be angry about it (granted, I was for a bit when I saw that the Force was already available to order), I decided to tell you all about my personal experience with the Fitbit Flex during the month I’ve had it (since September 5, 2013), and how it has actually affected me.
The Flex Wristband and Tracker
For those who are unaware, the Flex is a rubberized wrist band that will house a Fitbit tracker and it will remain secure through the use of a small clasp that you push through the snug holes that are on the large or small (each Flex comes with two sizes of wristbands) band.
While I’ve gone several years without anything on my wrist (I used to be a heavy watch wearer years ago), I have been open to the concept of wearing a wristband yet again. I’ve actually owned the original Jawbone UP when it was first introduced, and then a Nike FuelBand. In the end, though, these products simply did not cut it for me and I eventually stopped using them (the FuelBand broke on me as well, and I just never got it fixed).
It wasn’t anything wrong with the wristbands themselves, as I rather liked the UP’s design (it was simple) and the FuelBand (the secure snapping clasp), but the apps and the lack of things that it tracked that pushed me away. For example, I didn’t really like how the UP would “track” food with emotions, and the FuelBand basically was a fancy watch pedometer that didn’t track food or sleep.
The Flex, while it is not perfect in design itself, has become something I’ve grown attached to having on my wrist. It is a little thicker on the part where it holds the tracker, but that’s to be expected. The rubber material that the band is made out of does not irritate my skin, even if it is on fairly snugly. The only thing I didn’t really like was the fact that the clasp can sometimes be hard to secure, especially when you first get the Flex. I often found myself trying to push the clasp into the holes, but it requires accuracy and precision. It does get a bit easier over time, though, as I’ve noticed that it seems to have “loosened” up a bit.
I was a bit surprised to see that the Flex was basically a rubber band that had a space to fit a tracker in it, as I originally thought that it was a singular piece, like the UP or FuelBand. Since the tracker is something you will need to take out every now and then to charge up, this means that water or liquids can get in band itself, and even though the product claims to be water-resistant, I never took a chance with it by wearing it in the shower.
The tracker itself is a little piece that features small LED lights on a strip. You can view your progress throughout the day by tapping on the display a few times, at which it will show you how close you are to your goal. Blinking lights indicate that’s your current progress, but if you’re done, all of the lights will be solid.
In order to initiate the Flex’s sleep tracking, you will need to rapidly tap on the display for 1–2 seconds, at which point two dots will appear on both ends of the display to indicate Sleep Mode. To wake up your Flex, repeat the process. I found this to be a bit annoying in the beginning, as it took me quite a lot of tries to put to Sleep. However, I found that it switches over best when you have the Flex on securely and snugly, so that it doesn’t wiggle around.
The silent alarms are an amazing feature that actually do help you wake up. You can program multiple alarms for your Flex, and when the time comes, they will vibrate on your wrist. This is a much gentler way of waking up every morning without dealing with a blaring alarm clock. This feature originated with the UP, and I’m surprised I managed to go without it during my time with the FuelBand. It’s really one of my favorite ways of getting up every day, and it works.
Overall, the design of the Flex can be a bit annoying at first, but once you get used to it, the Flex just becomes a part of you. You’ll feel naked without it, and I always make sure that I have it on me.
The Flex as a Constant Motivational Source
Even though plenty of people were saying that Fitbit was Sherlocked by Apple because of the iPhone 5s M7 chip, I don’t agree with it. My iPhone is a constant source of entertainment, and it won’t be there, “nagging” me to go out and be active. Yes, it can track your movement without being a battery drain now, but it’s just not the same. With the Flex, it’s always on my wrist, and because of this, it’s always reminding me (a voluntary reminder) that I can always be more active.
Whenever I am wearing one of these fitness trackers on my wrist, I have a tendency to keep tapping on it to check my progress throughout the day. And not only that, but every time I eat or drink something now, I count the calories with MyFitnessPal, which syncs back to the Fitbit app. This means that throughout the day, as I’m inputting my calories and consumed water, I’m also opening the Fitbit app quite often, and I will always be seeing how many steps I’ve taken today, how long I’ve been active, and how many calories I’ve burned by breathing and moving around.
If I do not meet my step and calorie goals for the day, I end up feeling guilty just by taking a look at my wrist. A few taps and the indicator will remain near the bottom, telling me that I have not moved around much today. I’ve felt that since I’ve had the Flex, my desire to take walks and not just sit in my chair has risen significantly, and now I just get annoyed whenever I do not have a chance to put my feet to use.
It’s just always there, always a constant reminder, that I have set out to improve my own life, and this thing is the catalyst that started it. My iPhone is always in front of me as well, but I honestly don’t see it as a device that actively encourages me to go out and move around. The single purpose Flex is there, always giving me the push I need (just like my iPad with Editorial).
Short Lived But Well Worth It
Again, I’m fairly annoyed that the Force just came out five months after the Flex. However, I am glad that I got my Flex, as it has pushed me towards a more healthy lifestyle. It may have been a pricey little motivator (as it cost me $100+), but my health is always a good investment, right?
The design of the Flex itself is not the best, but it’s definitely bearable, and just becomes a part of you once you get used to it. But the constant motivation that you get just from seeing the Flex in front of you made this well worth a buy to me. Not only do I get to see how active I am throughout the day, but I can easily keep track of calories, water, sleep, and how long I move around. All of these factors come into play as I make adjustments to my lifestyle in order to improve it in the long haul.
I’ll be ordering the Fitbit Force fairly soon, so stay tuned to see what I think of it.
If you are also a Fitbit user, feel free to add me.