A beginner’s guide to the FitBit – UPDATED

fitbit targetThe first rule of FitBit is: You do not talk about FitBit.

Mainly because it’s completely bloody dull to bore on about how many steps you’ve done that day.

But hey, what’s the point of having your own blog if you can’t carp on about your latest obsession? Why stick to boring yourself when you could drone on about it online to absolutely nobody who cares there too? On such foundations are many blogs born.

FitBit, if you’ve not encountered one before, is one of a new breed of fitness monitors. I was given one for my birthday and, as a true New Year health kick cliche, have been using it since January.

Like an amped up pedometer, you wear it on your wrist to track how active you’ve been. It measures number of steps, miles walked, floors climbed and calories expended. The FitBit Charge, which is the one I’ve got, even tracks your sleep.

So when you feel like you’ve had a shonky night’s sleep, you can log on to the FitBit dashboard and see that yes indeed you did have a shonky night’s sleep, which is very satisfying.

If you want to you can also tell it what you’re eating so it can judge your calorie consumption. As yet you can’t tell it what you’re wearing so it can judge your sartorial choices and say Uh uh girlfriend I don’t think so but I’m sure that is coming in a future generation.

The device sets a 10,000 step daily target (around 5 miles), and makes quite a pleasant buzz on your wrist when that target is reached.

You will never hit your target by just knocking about the house so this inevitably means getting up off your bum and moving more. fitbit charge

10 things you need to know about FitBit

  1. It’s easier than you think to operate
    I left mine in the box for the first month because it looked like it would be complicated to set up, and I need to build up to things like that. Of course, when it came to it, it wasn’t hard at all. Charge it up, download the app to your phone, set up a FitBit profile and you’re off.
  2. It’s also more addictive than crack
    I mean, I’ve never actually had crack, but I hear it’s quite moreish. As indeed is the FitBit, and it’s easy to get addicted to ramping up the steps. Witness this feature by David Sedaris for evidence.
  3. You won’t make your 10,000 daily step target without some effort
    Unless you live in a mansion, your average home worker will rack up maybe 3,000 steps per day without leaving the house. You may have to *shudders* go outside. I’ve been taking a lot of evening walks. After a whole lifetime of never needing a five mile walk after tea this is quite a shock to the system, let me tell you.
  4. Watch out for the donut walk
    It’s probably not a good idea to give your evening walk a focus by calling in at the local shop for a bag of donuts. Just sayin’.
  5. Group challenges will make you walk more
    The social element of FitBit is really nice. Connect with people and you can take part in group challenges or just compare who’s walked the furthest that week. Seeing people who actually think it’s normal to do 20,000 steps a day will brainwash you into doing it too.
  6. Don’t get into a challenge with runners or dog walkers
    Them buggers never sit down
  7. Yes, you will be stepping at midnight
    I’m not addicted. I can quit this any time.
  8. And at pretty much every time too
    Well, what use is a phone call if not an opportunity to march on the spot for 10 minutes?
  9. You’ll weep if you do some steps but don’t record them
    Your hand that’s wearing the monitor needs to be swinging for steps to register, so you might miss some steps if you’re pushing a supermarket trolley or pram, cycling or just carrying something in both hands. So you’ll soon develop the habit of only ever carrying stuff in one hand. This will mean twice as many trips which equals more steps. See how crafty it is?
  10. Other, more bargainous monitors do exist
    FitBits start at around £60. My other half is now using a Miband which is similar, though only around £14. Miband also gets an Opposable Thumbs Up from us, though it doesn’t display the number of steps on the device – you have to sync it with your phone and check your steps via the app. So it does a similar job in a more fiddly way.

Weight wise I can’t say the FitBit has helped me lose more than a couple of pounds over the 8 weeks I’ve been using it. Though I did buy a new belt in the ASOS January sale and that’s had to be tightened two notches.

To my shame, the FitBit has shown me that I’m a lot less active than I thought I was. I still do my 150 gym sessions a year challenge, but really that only adds up to three fairly active days a week. Now every day is an active day. Essentially life is one big hamster wheel with a better view.

I can quit any time.

Or can I?



I’ve been using my FitBit since January and still enjoy it. Possibly I’ve enjoyed it a bit too much because the device is now falling apart. The button has fallen off the side and the band itself is splitting and coming apart. It still works, but the lack of a button means I can’t check my steps easily, plus it’s in danger of falling off my wrist.

A quick look at the FitBit help forum shows that this is a common problem, especially the button falling off. Customer Support were very helpful. They asked for a photo of the damage, and are sending me out a new device. So bad news for durability – an expensive device like this should not be falling apart after less than six months’ wear. But good news on the CS front – hopefully the replacement FitBit will prove to be more sturdy.



The second one broke too! Once again FitBit customer service were very good and replaced it within days. I have now stopped wearing it at night in an attempt to make the device last longer. Also it now lights up when you move, and having a tiny, intermittent torch on your wrist does not aid restful sleep at all.

I am now doing 12,000 steps a day, aiming for 100,000 steps across each 7 day week. I have lost 12lb since I started using FitBit with no other dietary or activity changes. So, yay FitBit!


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