First Impressions - Fitbit Surge

I received the Fitbit Surge on my Birthday and have been using for 1 week now, so wanted to share my first impressions.  I feel I am a Fitbit "expert user" as I owned the original Fitbit (still in my drawer) from December 2009 and have owned and used every version since except for the Zip and the New Fitbit Charge & ChargeHR.  My favorites have been the Fitbit One and the Fitbit Force (my most recent version prior to the Surge).  So basically 5 full years of wearing a Fitbit nonstop.

Past blog posts:

 

Form and Style - The Surge is basically a double wide Force or Charge without the band clasp issue.  It is a watch band type clasp which has been needed for a while.  Unfortunately the new Charge  still has the clasp mechinism that does not hold, but the ChargeHR 'does' due to the heart rate monitor.  For that reason alone (the watch style clasp) you will want the ChargeHR over the Charge.  Trust me. 

 

The band on the Surge may not be replaceable and is of a material that does not feel it will last long.  There are two screws at each end at the base, but I do not know if it allows a change.  The Surge fits at an angle on your wrist for easy viewing and is comfortable enough to wear all the time, even to bed.  The Surge instructions did recommend moving to the other wrist at night when you sleep as well as keeping it loose in normal wearing, but tightening when excercising for better heart rate readings.  It has 3 buttons, one on the left which is the main "return" button and two on the left for navigation and selecting inputs based upon the screen.

 

And true to form with Fitbit, another new proprietory charge cable.  Ugg.

The Surge does show the time and date all of the time and you can turn on/off/auto the backlighting.  But using this as a watch does not seem to work as every time I look at it to see what time, I see the number of floors I have walked instead.  It will also get notifications from your phone so you know when you get a phone call or text message.  However, the amount of data it shows regarding text messages is minimal.  The buzz on the Surge just sends me to my phone.

As with my Fitbit Force, I can browse quickly through steps, miles, cals, floors, with the additional heart bpm.  Other new additions are specific activities: Run, Exercise, Alarms, and Settings.

  • Within Run, it has Free Run (GPS,Heartrate), Treadmill run (Heartrate), and Lap Run (GPS,Heartrate)
  • Within Exercise, it has Hike (GPS,Heartrate), Weights (Heartrate), Workout (Heartrate), Elliptical (Heartrate), Spinning (Heartrate), and Yoga (Heartrate)
  • Within Alarms, you can view all of your alarms you have set and turn them off and on.
  • Within Settings, you can turn notifications off and on, Set backlight options (on/off/auto), shutdown your fitbit, view regulatory info, view version, and set heartrate options (on/off/auto)

Where is Treadmill?  Maybe use Elliptical instead.  Where is cycling with GPS & Heartrate? I guess you can use Run or Hike and change to Cycling on the Website?  Well, maybe, maybe not as the Edit function for a recorded activity on the website is very limited.


Last thoughts.  If indeed the Charge and ChargeHR are just updated Force, I would probably go with the ChargeHR over the Surge.  The GPS does not seem reliable or that useful(heck, I have a phone with GPS, a Garmin with GPS also, do I need another?) and the "watch" capabilities suck.  I would just rather wear a watch for the time and a Fitbit for the tracking.  Plus, you save a lot of money.

Update 12/16/2014 - Still does not work as a watch. Hardly ever see the time when I look.  Just steps or stairs.  Also stopped syncing via App on Mac or iOS today.  Put in an issue with Fitbit.  Will not use Bluetooth to connect to iPhone for music either.  Thinking Bluetooth may have died...

Update 12/27/2014 - Still having syncing issues.  Can not get it to sync via Mac.  Dongle installed and working but does not see the Surge.  Have tried on multiple dongles and have tried to reset as a new Fitbit.  Still can't see.  Issue with iOS on my iPhone 6 Plus continues as well.  Have to reboot phone to get it to recognize the Surge.  Had none of these problems with Force.  Very unsatisfied.  Fitbit support is next to useless this time.  They have always been very attentive in the past.  This is really making me want an Apple Watch.  Goodbye to Fitbit forever?

Fitbit Flex - Almost Ready for Primetime

I have been a Fitbit user since December 2009.  I owned the original Fitbit, then the Fitbit Ultra, then Fitbit One, and now the Fitbit Flex.

 

Now that I have been using the Flex for about a month, I thought it would be a good time for a full review. 

I have loved them all and Fitbit has continually upgraded and bettered the product with each release.  My hope is the Flex is no exception.  It is finally the "wear and forget" Fitbit.  No longer do I forget to put it on, lose it in the yard, run it through the washing machine, etc….  You put it on your wrist and you are done.  Wear it while working out, sleeping, showering, ….always.

But with this advance, there are a few concessions.  Starting and stopping the sleeping mode is frustrating.  Not counting stairs (and Fitbit not giving you a way to add manually) is disappointing especially since the last Fitbit (One) did this so well.  The lack of status detail other than lighted dots on the  Fitbit itself is quite an adjustment down from the One.

Finally is the frustrating quirks similar to those I had with the original Fitbit.  For example, waking up in the morning and trying to stop the sleeping mode only to have the Flex not reacting to anything you do.  Having to plug it into a computer to  get it to light up and be useful again, and loosing all of the sleep data from that night. Makes me want to return to the Fitbit One.  But I am trying to hold out and continue with the Flex.

I get the feeling that the Flex is a start over, and not a continuance of the previous models.  Thus it has the version 1 issues.  Buyer beware regarding the Flex.  Let me introduce you to the Fitbit One.

My Weight Loss Experience

Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote a blog post.  Such is life in the world of Twitter, Foursquare, etc…

I have many weight and diet stories I could share, but will focus on the last 13-14 months since in that time I have lost 30 lbs, gained 20 lbs, and as of last week, lost 11.5 lbs.
This journey started at the end of December 2009 when I finally received my fitbit.  I was weighing in around 245, the largest I have ever been and was going to get serious about loosing weight.  So started immediately on my diet by doing what I know best: Eat better and less, exercise more.  I will call this the “starve and sweat” diet.   I tracked everything I ate and every bit of exercise using the fitbit website/application

fitbit

Over the next 4-5 months, I limited myself to under 1500 calories while burning over 3000 calories.  My exercise routine went from just weights 3-4 mornings a week, to adding about 15 miles of running and 10 miles of biking a week.  During this time I lost 30 lbs. and maintained that weight loss by running and biking more until mid September 2010.  That was when I injured my Achilles tendon and running/biking became impossible.
After a couple of weeks, the Achilles was not getting any better so I finally went to the doctor and said I must get back to running ASAP.  I started rehab near the end of October

 

Another day, another week, same old therapy.  on Twitpic

and by the beginning of December was back to running - except 20 lbs heavier than I was in September.  So back to the “starve and sweat” diet.  and through the beginning of February 2011 I have lost 11 of the 20 lbs.  Then I came across and read the book by Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It” (was an Audible.com pick on the podcast Windows Weekly).  To summarize, he suggests that getting fat has nothing to do with calories in/calories out, but what you eat.  Today’s obesity epidemic is due to the large quantities of easily digestible and cheap carbohydrates.  He uses the science of fat cells as the basis that our fat, just like our height, is determined by genes and hormones.  For the fat cell this is insulin.  Calories, Fat and other supposed causes of excess fat have no interaction with our fat, but insulin production and sugars have direct impact.  Thus refined and easily digestible carbohydrates that turn to sugar causes triglycerides in our fat cells to get to large so that they just store fat.  Mr. Taubes shows how science proves this and that you can eat all you like and still get lean as long as you are not eating these carbohydrates.  This has been known for over 100 years scientifically but in the 1960’s obesity turned to a physiological issue that we are just lazy and eat to much.  There is so much good stuff in this book that will make you think, agree, question, etc… that I could spend 100 blog posts explaining.  My success at recent weight loss according to this book is due to my “starve” part of my diet since I am limiting these bad carbs/sugar.  Of course, no one believes me when I explain this, so I will let you read the book yourself, but will provide my experience of trying this change in food consumption on me.

So what am I doing?  Well I have changed from a calorie limited intake to a carbohydrate & sugar limited intake.  Less concerned with calorie intake or the amount of food.  Will continue the “sweat” portion of my diet. 

Before starting the carb and sugar free diet, I was averaging 1.4 lbs loss per week.

Week 1 results: Removed any potatoes, pasta, rice, high-carb cereals, and most “sugars”. Maintained lower calorie intake.  Lost 4 lbs. (wow!)

Week 2 results: Changed to eating a lot of Chicken, beef, eggs, cheese, salads & nuts.  Increased total overall calorie intake, so no more “starve” in diet. Lost 3/4 of a lb..

I will update here as I go.  Preliminary thoughts are to combine my “starve & sweat” with “no carbs/sugar & sweat” to loose the weight fast, then switch to “no carbs/sugar & sweat” to maintain.  But before doing that, I will see if I can loose the weight with the “no carbs/sugar & sweat” with the higher calorie intake.

For the “sweat” part, you can follow my progress at either fitbit.com for steps and calories burned; at dailymile.com for my running.

Diet and Fitbit

It is once again the time to lose some weight.  I do it the normal way, eat less and excercise more.  No voodoo involved.  What is different this time is the week I started, my Fitbit arrived (I ordered it 3-4 mos ago).

 

What can I say, but I LOVE this thing.  It is not perfect and I will discuss that later, but I am happy to have it and it adds a lot to dieting and excercise for a gadget lover like me.

 

When it arrived, my first thought was "it's not black and silver like the website showed!" but is black and an ugly greenish/blue color.  Supposedly this is due to cheaper manufacturing and to be the same color as the led/lcd/oled??? screen.  And of the screen, looking at the device you would have no idea it has one, but it does!  It comes with a base station that doubles as a charger and wireless receiver for the data, as well as a belt clip.

 

So what does it do?  While you wear it, it tracks you steps, calories burned, sleeping habits and other activity.

 

 

Because it is wireless, it feeds that information through its base station to an internet site which provides you with the data and graphs of your activities.  At the website you can also add your weight, what you eat and any additional activities you may do without the Fitbit.  By adding your daily food and water, it tracks your intake vs. your burn and provides goals and analysis of how you are doing.  It also compares your data with others using the Fitbit.

 

 

The difficulties with using Fitbit is the adding of what you eat to the website.  I know this is the only way, but it is frustrating especially with home made meals that do not come with the combined nutritional information.  Many grocery store dinners and restaurants are already in the database and once you create a meal on the website, you can save it as a favorite.

 

The only technical issue seems to be that it stops syncing with the base station about once a week for me.  I have to unplug and re-plug the base station to get the sync to work again.

 

So far I have gotten 3 people at work to order their own Fitbit because I believe in this product.  So I highly recommend.  And once you get yours, add me as a friend so we can see who is more active!