Posts Tagged FitBit
I am curious about how other people think about this sort of stuff. Do you find it interesting? Boring? Of value? Problematic? Indication of societal decline and the end of days?
Sleep seems like a problematic area for most of the people I know. I wonder if this extends as far into the general population as I think it does. From all the articles and websites dedicated to the topic, you’d think so. But then, you rarely hear from people when they’re happy; you most often hear from them when they have a complaint (if nothing else, working in video gaming has taught me that).
At any rate, I’m curious to see how many people find tracking of value.
Because a picture is worth a thousand words, and, honestly, because I am feeling too tired to do much of a write up on anything today… The sleep graphs from last night, starting with the fitbit.
And now the Zeo:
This comparison isn’t going to be precisely fair, since I’ve been using my fitbit for about 10 months, and I only used Sleep Cycle (an iPhone app) for one night. But I can definitely give some initial impressions.
I’ve already talked about how useful I find the information from my fitbit. Here’s the data from last night, and no, I’m not sure what I was doing up at 2:41; I was on Ambien and it seemed like a good idea at the time:
Here is that same night, from Sleep Cycle:
Tried a different CPAP mask last night and, according to my fitbit, slept slightly better.
Still not great. I should be around 95% sleep efficiency, ideally. And I ought to have more full sleep cycles in there; most people need a full 90 minutes to have a complete sleep cycle. It looks like I had two blocks that were long enough. I really would like to have three full cycles a night.
I am tired.
Very, very tired.
This was last night. 18 times awakened. Bah. And this isn’t even bad in comparison to the last few weeks. For this same night, my CPAP tells me I was averaging 12 hypopneas an hour. This is not good. But it’s better than the 25 I got a few days ago, which, according to the fitbit, translated into 38 times awakened during that night:
To use the fitbit for sleep tracking, you slip it into the wristband that comes with it. In this picture, which I snagged from the engadget review, you can see the band and the fitbit. Do not wear it this way. It may look pretty and snazzy like this, but the fitbit will slip right outta there. (Enough reviews complain about this problem that it’s worth noting). Do the smart thing, slip the fitbit all the way inside the band. You won’t be able to see it anymore, but it won’t slip out.
You wear the band on your non-dominant hand. I don’t know why they specify the non-dominant hand, but I’m willing to accept that there’s a reason for it.
When you’re ready to sleep, press down on the button for several seconds until the word Start pops up. Do the same thing in the morning until the word Stop pops up. If you forget, it’s okay. You can add in sleep times manually on the website, too.
So far as I’m concerned, the sleep tracking is the most useful function of the fitbit.
On its own, the fitbit cannot give you conclusive information about your sleep. It can’t tell you if you have DSPS, or Sleep Apnea, or Restless Leg Syndrome. But it can tell you if your sleep is disturbed, which could indicate any of those conditions. Or could indicate that your cat likes jumping on your stomach at 2 am with claws extended.
Each pink spike in the graph above indicates a time when I moved around while trying to sleep. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I fully woke up each time, just that my sleep was light enough, or disturbed enough, at that point that I moved. At a sleep lab they’d call that an arousal (which is nowhere near as fun as what I usually mean when I use that word). When you’re in a deeper sleep phase, you don’t move around much.
This particular graph is from last Wednesday and indicates a very good night for me. I had 17 brief arousals, and managed to get over eight hours of sleep. I also was asleep at a decent time, which is an issue for me (remember my prior post about charting sleep?).
And here’s a bad night.
You can see that I was a lot more restless that night (Sunday). I still woke up 17 times. But I stayed awake, or aroused, a lot longer. And as I said earlier, not aroused in the good way. I totalled six and half hours of sleep, although I was in bed for 13 hours. This is incredibly useful information; I wish to heck I’d had this info when I was a teenager getting nagged for sleeping in so late on weekends and being zoned out in morning classes (8am Italian was excruciating).
If I’d known how bad my sleep was, I might have been able to do something about it. Or my father (the pediatrician) might have.
You see, I have sleep apnea. Want to know what the difference between those two nights is? The good night, I used my CPAP. The bad night, because of congestion, I didn’t use my CPAP.
See what I mean about that sleep tracking being useful? On its own, the fitbit doesn’t tell me I have sleep apnea. But it does tell me when I’m having trouble sleeping. And these results are consistent enough for me to say that my CPAP definitely makes a difference.
Here you can see how much sleep I actually got this month. Not how much time I spent in bed trying to sleep, but how much sleep. This is a key distinction.
You can also see how frequently I wake up during the night. There’s a huge variation there. Some of that correlates with how long I spent in bed (if you’re only in bed for four hours, you’re going to wake up fewer times than you would in eight). But there are other potential factors as well.
This data can help me figure out if the nights I take a decongestant are, overall, better. Or worse. Or no different from other nights. Likewise with taking Ambien. Or with exercising before bed. Or having a glass of wine before bed. Or changing my diet. Or any other variable I care to examine.
Adorable, isn’t it? I have to admit, the form factor was a big part of the attraction.
In some ways, the fitbit is a really fancy pedometer. It has an accelerometer in it, much like what you’d find in a wii controller. It is particularly suited for walking, running, hiking, jogging, and sitting still. (Yes, knowing how much time you spend sitting on your butt is actually useful). It can also track your sleep to some extent; I’ll talk about that in another post.
The form factor and the online interface were the real selling points for me. The fitbit is sleek and subtle. It’s built like a belt clip, but because of how small it is, I can wear it on my bra. Which is mostly where I wear it.
I already knew that I was pretty sedentary, but the fitbit visually presented that information in a way that motivated me to get off my butt and move around more, which means it’s doing its job as a fitness aid.
Here we have an overview of my typical workday after using the fitbit for several months. Each colored line indicates calorie burn, which indicates activity. You can see a few spikes during the night, which indicate times I moved around a lot or got out of bed. Then, you can see some pretty consistent blue activity (blue meaning low level) as I started my day. The big orange and red spikes indicate my lunch time walk, when I was more active and therefore burning more calories. It’s a very simple, and therefore very useful, visual.
Above the graph, you can also see how many calories I burned (logged by the fitbit itself ) and how many I ate (logged manually by me). Again, very useful. I don’t actually manually log every single thing I eat on the fitbit site. The interface is a little cumbersome for me, and it requires me to remember and enter whatever I ate the next time I’m near my computer. I use LoseIt on my iPhone throughout the day and then just enter the summary of my calories into fitbit’s interface in the evening.
There’s also an activity log that records the number of steps and miles and shows you the same info as above in pie chart form. Useful, but I like the graph from above better. (Click to enlarge if you’d like to see it more clearly).
If you participate in an activity the fitbit isn’t good at logging, like weight lifting, you can add that manually and the software will provide a “standard” calorie burn for that.
I’m not sure this graph even requires any explanation. It’s just lovely. You can see where I didn’t track food intake. You can see where I ate more than I burned. You can see where I burned more than I ate. You can see my average intake and my average burn. This is awesome information. Particularly when matched up against weight fluctuations.
That huge intake spike around March 12th was when we took J’s dad out to dinner at our favorite steakhouse; primerib and a baked potato seriously add up.
There are a bunch of other graphs, all of them with useful info. These are the ones I find most helpful. I love that I can see patterns over the last month, or over the last year (once I’ve been tracking that long). I love that I can see the correlation between my exercise, my consumption, and my weight.
I love my fitbit. The information is useful, the step count is pretty accurate, and the physical object itself is unobtrusive and convenient to wear.
My endocrinologist wants me to lose 50 pounds. Yep, 50.
This presents me with a challenge to figure out how to use my OCD to facilitate weight loss, without letting it get out of control.
Before anyone tells me that I don’t need to lose any weight and I look fine (and thank you if you were going to say that) it’s not about the way I look. It’s about hormones. Insulin, to be specific.
I have PCOS, which means that I’m more at risk than average for diabetes or other insulin related problems. Weight is a big factor there. (I’ll go into more about this in a future post because I have, of course, obsessively researched it).
I do have to say, I think I’d be unhealthy (and damned unattractive) if I lost that much. I also think I wouldn’t have breasts if I lost that much. This would make me sad, as I rather like having breasts.
The first challenge is figuring out how much I want to lose, instead of obsessing on 50. My endo pulled that number from a BMI chart. My current BMI is 28.2, which puts me solidly in the overweight category, nearing obese. However, I don’t buy into BMI.
In truth, although I weigh 20 pounds more, now, than I did when I got out of college 10 years ago, I’m smaller and stronger than I was then. The same clothing is looser on me now. Which means my muscle density has increased. Which is a Good Thing (TM). However, my BMI is higher.
Personally, I’m thinking 15 pounds, although that leaves my BMI in the overweight category, at 25.8. I’m picking that as my initial goal and ignoring that little obsessive voice that keeps saying, “He said 50. He did say 50, you know. How about 50?”
The next challenge is using my OCD just enough to be helpful but not so much that I’m miserable. As we already know, I’m good at tracking things. So, I’m tracking my intake. I know that if I follow that primrose path too far, I could end up in serious eating disorder territory. I have, luckily, never been in that territory, so for now I’m going to say my obsessive tracking will probably be fine. Thanks to my lovely iPhone, I’m using LoseIt to track my food intake. More later, no doubt, on that.
I’m using my FitBit to track my exercise (this is where my Christmas money went – thanks Mom & Dad!). More on this in another post, too.
I’m also walking more. Last weekend, J and I walked to a party 3 miles away instead of driving. There and back again gave us 6 miles, and two hours of conversation.
The most challenging thing, however, is not looking at the scale. Strange, to say I want to lose weight but then say I don’t want to look at the scale, no?
Thing is, for me, looking at the scale is self-sabotage. If I see that I’ve lost a pound or two, then I feel like I can relax, which means I end up gaining. If I see I’ve gained, or that I’m staying the same, I get discouraged and don’t want to continue. If, on the other hand, I don’t look, I keep eating and exercising according to plan. And the plan is a good one.
But every morning, I feel the absolute need to weigh myself. It’s not optional. I need to. I will stand there, frozen and unhappy, staring at the scale and not stepping on it, knowing I shouldn’t do it, but unable not to. This tends to slow the morning down considerably. Finally, today, I closed my eyes, stepped on the thing, and asked J to look – but not to tell me any numbers. Just to tell me if I was doing all right.
So far, so good.