Hello! I've worn them both and made my observations and have come to some conclusions. But, I'm already getting ahead of the story...
So, I want to lose weight, right? And I know the whole calories in versus calories out formula and how you've got to burn more than you eat. Seems easy enough! But I found I only had good numbers for one half of the equation. I faithfully tracked all the calories IN, but how to accurately track the calories out? If I am to lose weight, I need both numbers.
I had a heart rate monitor and it was happy to tell me how many calories I burned but would only do so when I was sweaty. So I still had no idea what my total 24 hour calories out number was. I want to know how many calories I can eat on days when I just sit on my butt, ok? And I want to know how big of a calorie deficit I can create on days where I really rock it.
I kept seeing and hearing things about FitBit, Jawbone, Nike +, etc but didn't realize how advanced these little gadgets had become. They are suped-up pedometers. After researching them all, seriously, it took me days, I decided it came down to two devices: The FitBit One and the Bodymedia Fit. They both would allow me to keep entering my food in Spark (where I have my favorites and groupings already all defined) and would sync both food and exercise between themselves and Spark. Seems easy enough!
The FitBit One was $99 and I got it at Best Buy here in town. The BodyMedia is $149 but I got the Spark discount and it ended up being about $135. So, that's the first difference. The second difference is size:
The first thing you have to do for both of them is to download their app to your computer or your phone. I did both. BodyMedia wants your credit card FIRST THING! That's because their tracking app is not free. BIG MINUS! FitBit is happy to just let you do your thing. You enter your profile info into both including weight and goals, etc. I told both of them I was starting at 150 and wanted to reach 142 and that I wanted to lose 1 pounds a week (which matches up to the 5% Challenge). The FitBit interface is much, much more friendly, so points for them on that.
For testing them I figured that comparing their calorie burned numbers with my HRM was the way to go. My HRM knows my age and my weight and is using how fast my heart is working to calculate the burn, seems right to me. So I geared myself up, putting the HRM strap around my chest and it's bulky receiver around my wrist, the BodyMedia device strapped with velcro around my left upper arm and the FitBit clipped to my waistband or sports bra. I also had my cell phone for music. I must have looked like quite the kook trying to get them all started at the same time. And I was off! I ran, I walked, I ran and walked. I ellipticaled, I did strength training, I did DVDs. You can't use them swimming, but that's okay as that's never going to be my sport. I recorded the calorie burns for each activity and surprise! They were different in the read outs. I really wasn't that surprised.
I crunched the numbers and the HRM was usually the highest, the BodyMedia was second highest and FitBit was lowest. Boo!
On average, the HRM was 27.5% higher than the FitBit and the BodyMedia was 14% higher than the FitBit. Which to believe? I believe the HRM since it uses my heart rate. But, I can't use it as a daily monitor so I needed to chose between the new devices which one I wanted to use every day so like any reader of Dear Abby, I made a pros and cons list.
Credits me with more calories burned (really, that's it, that is the only pro)
It is uncomfortable! I don't care how they say I must not be wearing it right, I kept loosening the velcro and it still felt like wearing a medical device. My armsie ached.
They are greedy. Give me the tracking software for free!
The tracker isn't very user friendly or cute or anything remarkable. I did not look forward to using it.
When you put it on it takes a few minutes to start tracking, should I wait for you?
You have to "push" your nutrition from Spark by hitting a button, FitBit pulls it in automatically
You cannot silence the chimes and they never tell you in any of the literature what the different chimes even mean! So no wearing it at work, at church, at the opera, etc etc
It does not have a display. The only way you can see your numbers is to log on to their site or app (the NOT FREE one) so no on the fly checking how you're doing.
It does not automatically update either the iPhone App or the web app, you have to push the button on the device to tell it to send its data. Dumb.
It kept losing the connection between the device and my iPhone
No online community, at least not related to the web app or that I could find. So no where to ask questions, get feedback, etc.
Returning it has been a hassle. You have to have a "Return Authorization Form" emailed to you.
FitBit One Pros:
It has a display! And it's cute. There's a flower that grows when you are active and you can see at a glance your daily numbers.
It automatically syncs with both the iPhone app and the web app. You log on and there're your numbers.
It "pulls" in the Spark nutrition info automatically and quickly too.
Big online community to help with issues and questions and give support
The Spark team is active and there's a guy on there who answers tech questions
Both the web based app and the iPhone app work really well and are fun to use. And you can earn badges.
They send you a weekly report so you can see your activity levels, your calorie deficit, etc for the week at a glance.
The device is tiny! And it works whether you've got it clipped to your waistband, in your pocket or clipped to your bra. I forget it's there.
The device is tiny! I am so afraid I'm going to lose it. Although, the clip is pretty deep.
It credits me with fewer calories burned than either the HRM or the BodyMedia
It does not give proper credit for ST but then neither did the BodyMedia
It gives TOO MUCH credit for work out minutes in Spark. The FitBit counts both your "fairly active" and "very active" time as exercise. Please. Walking around is NOT exercise minutes to me. I wish there was an adjustment we could make to that.
If you want to adjust your exercise ("activity") session to correct the minutes or calories burned, you have to wait till the next day or it will re-sync to the device and wipe out the changes. Also, the process for this is wonky. I decided to just take the numbers FitBit gives me.
So, I am keeping the FitBit and returning BodyMedia. I can wear FitBit 24/7 (except in the shower, that's when I charge it!) and I think that although it thinks I burn fewer calories, its ease of use and good interface win hands down. I've used it for two complete weeks and I've learned that I need a FitBit calorie deficit of over 3600 to lose a pound. (I knew it! I knew the numbers where wonky for me! (see my other zillion blogs) And these are FitBit numbers, which I don't think give me quite the calorie burn I deserve either.) I find that I am super aware of how much I've been active everyday and motivated to move more. I also strive to get that calorie deficit number as high as I can. It does do what I wanted, gives me valuable feedback on the everyday numbers that lead to success.
This is the weekly feedback email. I am a little confused as to why the Calorie Deficti says -151 when clearly, it's over 3600. I'll ask about it in the forum.
UPDATE Sept 3, 2013: People are still commenting on this blog so thought I'd give a little update. I STILL love my FitBit and am in fact on my second one because I lost the first one. They are small and that's good, but it also makes it a bit easy to loose. I had been clipping it on my pocket edge, either on my shorts or jeans and if no pocket, on my waist band. I now clip it on my bra between my girls and it's the perfect place. It still logs things correctly, giving me the same credit for number of steps as when I had it on my pocket and it is invisible with most outfits and fits quite well in the natural valley there. I wear it everyday and still look at my weekly report each week. I do not go onto the website/dashboard anymore as I find I can rely on the FitBit readout for my numbers during the day. My husband got one and promptly lost it. He then bought the new wristband one they make and he doesn't like it nearly as well as the FitBit One, mainly because it has no read out on it and because he keeps looking it expecting to see the time. Even switching it to his other wrist didn't help, he thinks it should be a watch. Overall, we both love FitBit One and it's helped us track and stay on course and motivates me to move, still, everyday. Best $99 (x2) I've spent!