a little reminder couldn’t hurt

When I first started out on the 365-day mission last year, one of the first investments I made was in a BodyMedia Core armband. Why? Because it would give me a real-time view (via the ugliest wristwatch on the planet) as to my progress against my calorie burn goals. In fact, the technology in this thing is quite remarkable.

It features an accelerometer, to gauge how vigorous your activity is, along with a sensor to measure perspiration for exertion levels, as well as the standard pedometer-type functionality to track steps/distance.

In those early days, I wasn’t super familiar with the calorie burn driven from various physical activities so wearing this device took the guesswork out of it.


This bad boy certainly did the trick, but no one could accuse it of being discreet.

Between the large armband wrapped around your upper arm and the ugly-ass watch on your wrist, it’s clear you won’t be making any best-dressed lists while wearing it, but damn this puppy is effective.

It kept me on task every day. If I found myself short on steps or calories burned in the evenings, I would just jog on the spot, or do jumping jacks, during TV commercials. It was a great little reminder that I hadn’t moved enough for the day.

I wore this thing every single day for over 6+ months. Even during tank top season. I was committed, and resigned myself to the importance of function over fashion.

Eventually though, I became so familiar with the level of effort it took to get to my desired 2,500 calories per day burned that I no longer needed the visual cues. So I ditched it.

Now that I’m a working girl again, I know that I’m way more sedentary during business hours. And I know that I need to be way more conscious of how much (or little) I’m exerting myself. I decided that I could use a helpful reminder again – just to make sure I stay on track.

The idea of putting the Core armband back on my arm was about as attractive an option as wearing high waisted jeans. Not a good look for most of the population. Right Jessica Simpson?


Great idea, lousy execution. Just say no to high waisted jeans.


I’ve been hearing about everyone and their brother buying FitBits lately (New Year’s Resolution, anyone??), so I decided to investigate. I’ve only had it for 24 hours, but already I can tell it is nowhere near as accurate for calorie burn as the fashion faux-pas BodyMedia Core armband, but it is much, much more discreet:

simple_b-dis-png_h4621896b75431a4c9499334fb64c3247Okay, so it’s not the greatest match for my stack of Tiffany silver bracelets, but it’s nowhere near as offensive as its predecessor. So I’ll test it. If nothing else, it will tell me how many steps I’ve made in a day (not a bad gauge of activity level) and it will also tell me how well (or not) I slept the previous night.

I’m just excited that I have something to keep me honest now that I have demands [other than those of the exercise or entertainment variety] on my time. It’s like a little cheat sheet, a non judgmental buddy to just remind me that I need to get my ass moving. I’m good with that.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

64 thoughts on “a little reminder couldn’t hurt

  1. Will it work the same if you put it on your ankles? 😀 Stupid question, I know. Nyahahaha I only asked because I was thinking, you can use the old one and still keep it away from sight. 😀
    I’m such a dingbat. 🙂

  2. I love my fitbit 🙂

    I know it is not *that accurate* for calorie burn, but for tracking amount of activity, distance sleep etc it works fine 🙂

    I upgraded from the flex to the force which has a readout screen and tracks height climbed too which seems better too 😀

    step for step when you are walking it is pretty good (I am sad enough to watch it sometimes to see if the numbers change with the steps…and they do so that is ok)

    they are a good reminder to get up and walk about 🙂

  3. “Even during tank top season.” Now that’s commitment.

    Also, “Now that I’m a working girl again…” Be careful Nancy.. You could get a lot of unwanted attention with phrases like that!

  4. One time I actually tried on a pair of high waisted jeans — it might be one of the worst decisions I ever made since that horrific image will be forever burned into my brain. Just say no, indeed.

    I think, even though it’s not as accurate, the fitbit will do the trick of reminding you to just keep on moving and to take advantage of your down moments — it’s the 2014 version of tying a string around your finger to remember. Push-ups during a boring conference call? Don’t mind if I do.

  5. I’ve been considering a fitbit so I’ll be interested in hearing an honest review in a month or so. I’m back to hiking hills in AZ. Rockport was nearly as flat as a 2×4!

    • I’ve gotta say that I’m liking the sleep tracker component (something the armband didn’t offer). So far, the calorie count (burn) seems pretty accurate. I had to input a 1 hour class at Pure Barre manually, because those very small movements don’t register as activity. But that would have been the case with the armband too, so no difference there. So far, so good. And it’s a good price + no monthly subscription fees. The armband had a monthly fee, and you couldn’t see your full results without it. I’ll share more of my thoughts as I get more use, but for now, it’s well worth the small investment.

      • Quick question, how did you log the Pure Barre class? I have a firbit flex and noticed that it didn’t track that class and I really want to input it. Any help is greatly appreciated!

      • You’re right, Jess, they don’t have that specific class in their list of available exercises to log. I didn’t stress myself out too much on this. I think I either picked Ballet practice or some form of strength/toning exercise in their list. Sorry I can’t remember exactly – it was back in February. I just picked something that sounded close enough and then put in the exact time of the exercise and an estimate of calories burned based on research I’d done online. Hope this helps.

  6. I have to agree with PN above. Several of my Rotary friends wear FitBits, and I never notice them. (Instead, they all wag them in my face and proclaim the glory of their FitBit.) The point is to keep you moving. This may be all you need. If it isn’t, you can always go back to the Core armband. People are pretty understanding of such things these days. I can’t imagine anyone would be put off by your wearing it at work.

    • I knew I joined the right place when I saw that everyone from work was wearing a fitbit. It turns out that my company gave them as gifts to all the staff and key alliance partners, etc. Kismet! I like that I work for a place that thinks to do stuff like that (versus a box of chocolate or a basket).

      It definitely motivated me to go for a 90 minute walk last night (after a midday fitness class) because my total steps were so low at 6pm. It’s getting the job done.

  7. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it. I’d like a heart-rate monitor for just my wrist, but as you pointed out, they’re not that accurate. I had one with an around-the-chest attachment, and it worked well, but I didn’t like wearing it, so I stopped once I could easily estimate my calorie expenditure with a particular workout. But I may have to look into the one with the upper arm sensor. That’s better than wearing one around my lower chest!

    • Actually, the BodyMedia armband didn’t do heart rate monitoring. I found that odd, given how advanced some of the other measurements were. I wore the FitBit all day yesterday, and I’ve gotta say it was pretty dang accurate, so maybe I was quick to judge. It also gives a sleep tracker graphic which shows how soundly you slept (or restless you were) during sleep hours. That’s pretty cool, and also not a feature offered by the BodyMedia unit.
      So far, so good. And Costco is selling it right now for $89 (cheapest price I’ve seen so far).

      • The armband uses a combination of accelerometer for speed/vigor and a sensor that measures body head/perspiration (and leveraging your body stats: height, weight, age, gender). I’m sure there’s more to it, but it was surprisingly accurate. eg. If I input my height/weight/age/gender on a treadmill, my calories burned on the device were generally in the range of what the treadmill would display (although the device was usually a bit higher). The FitBit seems to be gauging well too, but not great for activities like weight training – or the Pure Barre class I attended yesterday. Those movements are too small to register activity, so you need to track those through manual inputs to the interface (laptop or phone).

      • I read a bunch of online reviews comparing the FitBit to the Nike Fuel and the Jawbone UP – and the FitBit comes out on top for most reviews. At this price point it’s a low cost trial – and so far I’m finding value. Let me know what you decide on!

  8. I’ve been meaning to pick up a fitbit too and my sister in law loves hers. She doesn’t notice the wristband at all but I’m thinking about the clip on style that comes with an optional sleep band so you can still track at night. Yeah, I don’t want to look at the plastic next to my silver bracelets. 😉 I’ll take a look at Costco!

  9. You should just go the whole hog and wear it on a dog collar around your neck 🙂 It won’t work but damn you’ll look the bidness! Do they come in leopard print or just black??

  10. hahahahaha I totally agree about the high waisted jeans. Very few people are pulling them off.

    I loved this line: “my stack of Tiffany silver bracelets” Oooo la la! 😉

    I agree, the new one is much more discreet. How do they test the reliability of these things anyway? I’ve often heard people say their pedometres don’t seem accurate. I suppose you can google such things!

  11. I have a Fitbit Zip and I love it. I just thought I’d mention that they take a beating too. I’ve forgotten my FitBit on my workout clothes a couple of times and it’s gone through a full washing machine cycle (most recent episode was yesterday). Mine seems to be indestructible.

    • That is a massive testimonial! (And I forgot to mention that the BodyMedia armband was not allowed in the shower). I love that the FitBit flex is allowed in the shower (and I suppose I could even swim with it – given you’ve run yours through the washing machine and it still works!). I think it’s great that it’s rugged enough to be able to withstand a bit of a beating.

  12. Pingback: short on time, long on stories | my year[s] of sweat!

  13. Hey, I just saw a blurb that they were recalling Fitbits because some users were experiencing rashes.
    Thought you should know…

    (And if yours is working well, maybe have a jeweler or tailor mount it on a leather strap?)

    • I heard something about the rashes too. Maybe it’s a rubber sensitivity thing?
      So far mine’s working out just fine. Not sure you can retrofit them into other bracelets because the device pops in and out of a hole in the back. Interesting idea though. I’ll see if a jewellery making friend has any thoughts. Thanks for the idea!

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