Why Fitbit is winning

My main aim for this year was to lose weight. Actually that’s not true. My main aim for this year was to be happy which involves changing my lifestyle and habits, mostly focussed around my fitness and weight.

Data helps me with this, tracking my weight loss lets me look back and see how I’ve been doing. To that end I invested in a set of Withings scales. They’ve been great and have really helped me keep focus, and given me that little spur I needed from time to time to get back on my bike, or go for a walk, anything to be a little more active. Aside from my happiness, losing weight is also something I must do as I’d really like to NOT be taking maximum dosage pills for my high blood pressure for the rest of my life. With that in mind I also invested in the Withings blood pressure cuff to let me do accurate readings at home.

Looking to accumulate all my ‘fitness’ related data I looked for ways to track my activities and, as I used it last year when I got my bike I re-installed CycleMeter to track that and looked into Fitocracy as a way to pull it all together.

It was about then I realised my system was a little flawed. CycleMeter only shares data with a single tracking service (Dailymile) which I don’t use… I remembered back to my running days (knee still gubbed so they remain in the past for now) and looked into RunKeeper. Built around an activity tracking service, it also has a GPS app for tracking runs and cycles… not as full featured as CycleMeter but all I really want is time and distance (and a map, that’s nice too).

I’ve spent a few weeks manually updating Runkeeper with the data captured by Cyclemeter (which I then need to manually pull into Fitocracy) and I’m a bit bored of it already. So it’s bye bye CycleMeter and Fitocracy, and hello Runkeeper.

It’s here I should also mention that I purchased a Fitbit a few weeks ago. It was more curiosity than anything but as a way to track, fairly accurately, who active you are throughout the day it’s been far more useful than I first thought. It also syncs with Withings (for my weigh-ins) and Runkeeper (for my activities). It’s also fair to say that it’s got the nicest interface/dashboard of any of the services I use. Withings is shockingly bad and slow to render, Runkeeper is somewhat dated already and really needs a UI designer overall.

So, Fitbit has fast become my hub, the central place where I track personal fitness data because it does what I need it to do and does a lot of that in the background with very little interaction from me.

The last piece falls into place as, thanks to the fact that Fitbit will sync data with MyFitnessPal which I’ve used in the past for logging what I eat and I have a good balance of automated data collection, all pulled together into one useful Dashboard.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point, not least because every single app or service I’ve tried has been good in some ways but bad in others. I prefer using CycleMeter but will put up with the deficiencies of Runkeeper to get the data sync’d automatically. I prefer interacting with Fitocracy than Runkeeper but it’s not quite there yet in terms of automated services (and is heavily geared towards weight pumping gym bunnies). Fitbit hits the sweet spot for me and given that I’ve dropped over two stones since January, it seems to be working!

Me on Fitbit

6 comments

  1. It is working and I’m so proud of you!!

    BUT…

    I know you hate losing, so the downside of fitbit is knowing that your girlfriend takes more steps than you per day, right?! 😉 (you need to learn how to walk like a female!)

  2. Spoke to soon. Having just done a test cycle with RunKeeper it has a major flaw. It only tracks elapsed time, not actual time. So on my cycle this morning I had a puncture (I manually paused and restarted RunKeeper for this) and stopped at the Renfrew Ferry..

    Cycling time was around 30 mins, elapsed time was 57 mins… it’s the latter that is logged!

    The hunt continues…

  3. Out of interest, I saw that Fitbit also do Withings-esque scales. Would you reckon it’s better to get the Withings and integrate, or stick with Fitbit where possible?

    No idea for cycling – unless you can find a cycle computer that works like a Fitbit dongle.

    Runkeeper has a pause function though, or does for running/walking. You can even set it to autopause (Settings, then down at the bottom of ‘Additional Settings’) which might help.

  4. Yeah I’d go with the Aria scales, they weren’t out when I got my Withings scales…

    Runkeeper has autopause yes, but I can’t see a way to get actual time (time spent moving), rather than elapsed (start to end including stops) 🙁

    Endomondo is next on my list to try!!

  5. Hey Gordon, have you tried runtastic? It’s an app available for IOS/Android and while I didn’t use it myself quite a lot of my friends use it for biking.

Comments are closed.