The Blog comparing FitBit One to Bodymedia Fit

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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.
BodyMedia Pros:
Credits me with more calories burned (really, that's it, that is the only pro)
BodyMedia Cons:
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.
FitBit Cons
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!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo QUANSC2
    Thanks for taking the time to compare the two devices. I do disagree with some of your findings. For example, my data automatically syncs to my phone. Maybe it is different for an android, which is what I am using. I think I got the right device for me. I think I would lose it often if I have the smaller device. Very interesting reading. Thanks!
    2413 days ago
  • JO28352
    Great information. Thanks for sharing!!!
    2536 days ago
    Thank you for the information. I was thinking about buying the Bodymedia but this article has me thinking that Fitbit would be a better fit for me. I did own a Bodybug years ago and loved it. But it doesn't work with Spark so I was thinking the Bodymedia would be about the same. I saw the comment above that the Fitbit now has a waterproof version and I do swim nearly everyday so that is a plus also. The fact that the fitbit is free, the information is automatically in sync and you can see it immediately is a big factor. Thank you for the information. emoticon
    2565 days ago
    Love My FitBit !!!!
    Had it since January this year and I love to check my progress for steps and stairs...Challenges me and keeps me motivated and ALL for FREE !!!!
    Thx for a Great Blog
    2628 days ago
    hello I have the small fitbit and it wont sync with my computer lap top so very unhappy
    I was thinking of bodymedia but then that arm band would be annoying what about the band that fit bit is offering now wear it 24-7 can get it wet and is a thin bracelet. it is 99.00 I believe so maybe this is for me. I am 149 want 139 for so many years I am running out of time. email or psarkmail me back
    I am stupidgf for a reason used to be jazzercisegenie but long story
    2629 days ago
    Thank you so much. I have had the FitBit in mind for some months now and keep seeing the BodyMedia thing....having to pay more for the app makes my decison much easier.
    2670 days ago
    Ran across this blog. Thankful to have seen this as I am considering buying a personal fitness device eventually. Also, I think I read somewhere that FitBit was coming out with a wristband version? Thanks for being so thorough with it! emoticon
    2671 days ago
  • DRB13_1
    you did a wonderful job with this blog. I laughed thinking of you starting all your devices at once emoticon I'm using the FitBit and even though it DOES give too much credit in the fitness tracker, striving to get my 10K steps a day is a real challenge, and when it tells me I'm almost there, I WILL get up and move more to reach that goal in a day.
    Thanks for sharing such a great blog. emoticon emoticon
    2705 days ago
    Thanks for the feed back on both devices
    2705 days ago
    emoticon post. thank you for the info
    2707 days ago
    Awesome post! I'm so glad you took the time to compares and share your thoughts. I've been eagerly waiting!
    2709 days ago
    Really helpful blog. Thanks! I would have ordered a bodymedia device if I could haVE GOT it in England. Now I know I'm far better off with my fitbit. inaccuracies and all!
    2710 days ago
    Thank you so much for this blog!!! You did an outstanding job rating and sharing. The FitBit seems to be a great device, and I might even buy it for my birthday in July. Let's see how you like it. I agree, there should be an adjustment for the plain walking around. I am on my feet all day at work and not a little bit, I cruise, but it still wouldn't be considered exercise because that's my 8 hour work day and what I am looking to do is get those extra exercise minutes in that I need to kick my body into a higher gear.

    P.S." I ellipticaled"? BAHAHAHAH, you are indeed priceless!!!
    2710 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/13/2013 6:19:42 AM
    Very nice job and very informative. I don't have either but I always thought if I did get one I would like the Body Media better, but not if I have to pay for the data and I can't see anything on the device. I think the Fitbit sounds great.
    2710 days ago
    I love my Fitbit!!!!!!
    2710 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13319341
    Thank you so much for this post!!!
    2710 days ago
    I've had my FitBit for several months and I like how easy it is to use. Thanks for sharing your information because I wondered if I had made the right decision in buying it. Now I know I did.
    2710 days ago
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share information with those of us who haven't taken the "personal fitness device" plunge! I'm thinking I won't need to waste time checking out a lot of options that ultimately won't work for me.....

    2710 days ago
  • POPSY190
    This is a link to an article that explains the calorie in, energy out formula doesn't work over time. It gives the maths involved.
    I have a fitbit which suits me fine - it's not too demanding of my time or technological expertise!
    Thanks for this useful review. emoticon
    2711 days ago
    Great information. I'm not at the point where I want one of these devises, but when I get there, I'll remember this. Thanks!
    2711 days ago
    Thanks for this blog. I have a Fitbit and love it, even though I am aware that it isn't accurate in all its details. It's nice to hear from someone who has done a direct comparison that the Fitbit "wins." If nothing else, it encourages me to keep moving and that's the most important thing to me.
    2711 days ago
    Thank you for this comparison. I've used an Omron Walking Style Pedometer for years very happily so haven't looked closely at the FitBit. I do see a lot of conversation about it, though.

    The information you've provided above makes me think I need to actually look at the FitBit. . .it seems to incorporate everything I like about my Omron and has some very interesting additional features.

    May be an item I need to add to my Wifey/BDay/XMas gift list.

    2711 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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