02 May 2016

FitBit Phooey

I still love my FitBit, but its usefulness for new mamas is suspect.

During pregnancy there was an option in the dashboard to select "pregnant." I'm certain that it changed the "calories burned" and estimated I was burning more each day because I was growing a person (truth). But sometime during the pregnancy they removed that option entirely. I tweeted about it, and FitBit support tweeted back, directing me to a semi-helpful thread. It says that the "pregnancy" option didn't increase the calories burned estimate - was basically an option that served no purpose. I have no way of verifying that because the dashboard doesn't make it easy to scroll back to look. So whatever. Not a huge problem, especially because I'm not using it as a weight loss tool or really paying attention to the calorie burn. Just weird.

It also isn't very good at measuring sleep, and it thinks I'm sleeping as soon as I'm semi-still even if I'm tossing and turning or reading in bed. That's not unique to newborns' moms though, and that was an issue I noticed even before.

The "real" issue for new mamas is about how the tracker measures things that are not steps as steps. Specifically rocking in a rocking chair counts as steps -- and "intense" steps to boot. And patting a baby on the back -- for burping, general comfort, etc. -- is also stepping. I would have thought I'd need to have some forward momentum for that to be counted. I can almost see how the rocker could be mistaken for an elliptical machine -- there's no way for the FitBit to know that I'm sitting down while my wrist makes that gliding motion. (But it still doesn't count steps if I'm pushing a cart because my wrist is pretty still?!?!)

Basically my calorie burn still seems high, although as a nursing mom that's accurate, and my step count is WAY high -- being overestimated in the thousands I'd say. I can look at the dashboard and see the peaks in my activity are times when I was sitting on my butt holding/nursing/rocking. Another gripe - only the dashboard on the web shows this level of detail. Neither the app on my phone nor the direct software on my computer will actually show hour-by-hour info like the web dashboard will. Bad design on top of weak-ish technology?

But like I said before, data is data and as long as I only compare it to my own data from the same time period it could still be useful. I'm looking forward to being able to do more real steps. I can't believe I'm still recovering four weeks after the birth, but that's the rub in pushing out a 10.5 lb baby I suppose!

Here's a picture of some baby feet that one day will take steps of their own:


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