It was time to track my steps. I have been monitoring my daily jogs, my calories, my GPS location, my time at work, my son’s height and weight and many, many more quantifiable aspects of my everyday life. Much of it was tied into social media so all my friends knew this information, too. And so, with the growth of fitness and tracking technology such as Fitbit, tracking my steps was a logical next step.
I wanted the Fitbit Flex when it came out last May. It had a wristband to keep you motivated, tied into social media with amazing gamification, and was one of the top-rated pedometers on the market. But at the time, there was a 6-8 week wait and a hefty price tag for something I wasn’t even sure I’d love. Needless to say, it was a hard step to take.
About eight months later, I won a Fitbit Flex off eBay in a matter of hours, had it in a matter of days, and paid far less than the original price. (A great example of how the fast evolution of technology works in our favor.)
I’ve had the Fitbit Flex for about a week now and as most of today’s buyers, I felt 110% prepared for it due to my overly-diligent research. I thought I knew everything from specs to battery life and all the tips and tricks from the now-veterans of the device.
I was wrong.
As a Southwest 747 takes me to Chicago, I write this post and think about how I’ve enjoyed this past week. I’ve learned a ton. Here are my takeaways if you are thinking of going on this step-by-step adventure.
1. Get your steps in early
The first few nights, I was literally walking around the house trying to get the last 500-1,000 steps to meet my goal. (My husband’s eye-rolling was prevalent as I took my dining room table laps.) Besides looking crazy, I was driving myself crazy. Start your day off with a walk or jog to get a few thousand steps under your belt. Then, do little things throughout the day like walking during conference calls, using the bathroom furthest from your desk and drinking from smaller water bottles so you have to get up and refill often. These little things add up to major steps and in combination with your morning workout, you’ll reach your goal by the end of the day.
2. Get social and competitive
At first I was nervous to publically share my steps. What if I ranked dead last? At first, you will. The leaderboard uses your weekly average to rank you, so the first week will put your smiling avatar in a spot that’s not so happy. However, if you start crushing it on day one, week two will look very different and it will only go up from there. This is motivating, fun and addicting as hell.
3. Set activities
Tap your Fitbit until two lights display (usually about five taps). This initiates an activity, such as a workout. When you’re done, tap it multiple times again. This helps you track the length, timing, calories burned and distance of your activity. The Fitbit wants you to do at least 30 minutes of activities a day, so this is another great motivator.
4. Set goals to your needs
The Fitbit automatically gives you a 10,000-step goal and a 30-minute activity time. This is a great baseline, but if you surpass it — or if you can’t quite get there — adjust it to your needs. Don’t be afraid to downgrade or upgrade. This is all about YOU.
5. Know the basics to get the most out of your device
Doing your research before making a purchase is smart, but oftentimes we stop there. We don’t read the manual or learn the ins and outs ourselves. Something as simple-looking at a Fitbit Flex is more complex than I imagined. But the good news is it’s intuitive once you get to know it. Remember some basics such as:
- Download the Fitbit app and sync it to your Fitbit device right away. This enables you to see and track your progress, compete, join groups, etc. You don’t need the dongle for this.
- Tap it two times to see your progress. Five lights means you met your goal so without even looking at your app, you’ll see your progress. Once you meet your goal, this feature goes away.
- Tap it about five times to set an activity. This includes sleep. Note your Flex will recognize when you’re being active without you prompting it, so don’t worry if you forget to do this before a workout.
- Set battery notifications. The Fitbit Flex lasts about five days, so set a reminder, mark your calendar, or use the notification feature on your Fitbit Flex account to ensure every step is counted.
- There is no clock. The Flex’s display is limited to five lights. There is no clock, no calorie counter, and no fancy visuals. If you’re looking for that, consider the Fitbit Force or the Fitbit One.
At the end of the day, reaching and surpassing your goals is up to you. Let a device help you get there and with the social and competitive tie, you’ll have fun making it happen.
Do you use a device like a Fitbit Flex? Share your learnings here.