Friday, December 13, 2013

BodyMedia Core Armband vs. Fitbit Force...

So as I already squealed about last week...I finally got my early Christmas present to myself...a Fitbit Force. I was so excited to be able to try it out and see what it's like to use another means of tracking my progress. I've been wearing my BodyMedia armband for over 2 years now (upgrading once in there somewhere) and it has become a regular part of my wardrobe.  Apart from a several month period where I thought I didn't need it anymore, I have worn it 23/7 since I got it in September of 2011.  I have a very visible dent and tan line on my left arm that I honestly expect to have for the rest of my life!

I had heard of Fitbit and I had never had the desire to wear one as I knew it wouldn't be as accurate and I thought having something on my wrist would drive me nuts.  I had originally planned to upgrade to the BodyMedia Core 2, which was "supposed" to come out summer of 2013.  However, they kept pushing the release date back and back...rumor has it...because of a company buy-out.  Here we are in December and there is still no word of when it's coming out.  I was excited about it because it was going to be waterproof.  Not just splash proof like the fitbits are, but you could actually SWIM with it.  That would be amazing!  They were also going to have these fashion bands for them so that you looked a bit "cuter" wearing one.  But mostly I was just excited for waterproof.  So as time went by I started to get impatient.  I wanted to upgrade to  Enter the announcement for the Fitbit Force.

The Force is slightly bigger than the Flex (which a lot of my friends have), but that's because it has a display screen that actually shows your progress in numbers!  The Flex uses dots to show how close you are to your main goal, but the Force can show the time, my steps, my calories, my active minutes, my distance walked, my flights climbed...AND it tracks my sleep for me.  So basically, it tracks everything that my armband does and then a little bit more.  I was pretty excited.  Add onto all of that that I can wear it on my wrist and I was hooked.  The problem, however, is that I knew before ever putting it on that it would not be as accurate as my armband.

The BodyMedia armband has sensors that actually press against your skin and make thousands of calculations a second regarding body temp, movement and a bajillion other things all scientific like.  It's VERY accurate.  99% I think.  The Force is worn around the wrist and is thus bounced around a bit and not held to the skin.  There are no skin sensors.  It is almost completely based off of your own body movements. This alone tells you it won't be nearly as accurate. The question big would the difference be.  Would it be worth it?

So for 5 days I wore both.  I wore my armband AND my Force.  I must admit I felt a bit silly and my arm felt rather decorated, but no one cared.  Here's what I found.

Armband 300 calories higher and 100 steps higher
(Workout - Zumba)

Armband 100 calories higher and 1500 steps higher
(used arc trainer, doesn't count steps as accurately)

Armband 400 calories higher and 700 steps higher
(Workout - weightlifting, Zumba and bosu boot camp)

Armband 350 cals higher and 400 steps higher
(Workout - Zumba)

fitbit 100 cals higher, 200 steps higher

(resting day, walked slowly around house for an hour while making calls)

I found it really odd that the only day the Force won out on numbers was on my rest day.  This showed me that my workouts are really not being tracked as accurately as I'd like.  For things like weight lifting, yoga and pilates where there are not steps involved in the workout...I manually add them to my activities log so that things are as accurate as possible, but the Force still falls a bit behind.

I'm still able to link it to so it tracks my food and breaks down the nutritional content for me, which is great.  I also like how it tracks my sleep.  I have to view it on my app or my computer, but it tells me how many times I woke up and how many times I was restless.  It seems a bit more accurate in that department than the armband..probably because it's further down my arm where it's moved more if I'm rolling around.

I also LOVE that it automatically syncs to my phone and my computer.  The BodyMedia armband had to be plugged into my computer for me to see ANYTHING as far as progress goes and it also had to be charged every other day or so.  The Force can hold a charge for a week.  It's so nice to not have to hop on the computer to deal with it anymore.  Most of what I need to see is right on my wrist.  As I'm typing this I can push a button on my wrist and see that I've burned 1940 cals, taken 10,359 steps and already walked almost 5 miles just today!  Having all of this so accessible definitely pushes me harder to take those extra steps or climb another flight or two of stairs.  

All in all, I much prefer the Force.  I have it in my head now that I'm basically burning about 300 more calories than it tells me I am, but other than that...the benefits far outweigh the inaccuracy.  Having information right at your fingertips can make all the difference and I love it.  I felt a bit of sadness taking off my armband (and giving it to Nathan!) but I'm excited to see how things go from here. 

And to see if my arm gets its normal shape back ;-)

DISCLAIMER:  All information in this post is purely my own honest personal opinion.  I was not contacted by BodyMedia or Fitbit about this review.

UPDATE: (4/3/14)  The Fitbit Force, from what I understand has been taken off the market due to a small % of people having skin irritation.  I chose to keep mine, rather than return it.  It's never irritated my skin (and I do NOT wear it in the shower or pool) and I still absolutely LOVE it.  I'm just sorry other people can't buy it now!  Hopefully it will be fixed and back on the market soon :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

From weight loss path to career path...

Wow, I am a ball of nervous energy right now.  My life feels like it has finally begun and I'm 34 years old!!  After a chat with my mom, who along with my dad are the two most supportive and loving parents anyone could ask for (And I was not bribed into saying that haha) we got me signed up for a Zumba certification class in January.  And then today...I started on the road to having an AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certification in Group Fitness.  This is really happening.  It's not just a dream anymore. I'm actually going to do it!!

2 1/2 years ago, I was 330+ lbs.  330!!  And I was there for a very very long time.  If someone had told me that one day I'd be preparing myself to teach fitness classes and to help other people lose weight, I would have laughed in their face...a lot.  2 1/2 years ago, I fought exercise like my life depended on it.  I could come up with a million and one excuses why it could wait until "tomorrow".  "Eating healthy" wasn't even on my radar.  Now as I sit here writing this, I've done 4 workouts in the past 24 hours.  Some of my gym friends tell me I'm crazy, but I take it as a compliment!

I still have 50 lbs to lose, but I decided I don't want to wait.  I used to be terrified of taking a fitness class. I didn't want to be the fat jiggly girl flapping around the room while everyone laughed.  I told myself that when I hit 250 lbs, I would get up the guts to take a class.  So I waited...and waited....and I watched the scale go up and down up and down, always staying clear of the 250 mark.  And then a friend told me, "Stop waiting and just do it...or you'll never get there."  And they were right.  Subconsciously, I was avoiding hitting 250 because I was so unbelievably terrified of doing it.  So I did it.  I "sucked it up, buttercup" and took my very first zumba class.  Growing up in a musical family, with a mother who herself taught aerobics classes, I felt like I picked it up fairly quickly and I immediately fell in love.  One zumba gold class became 3 a week.  3 a week then became 3 and a regular zumba class on the weekend.  Then I added yoga.  Then I added an occasional step class...and bosu boot camp...and 6am water aerobics!!  See?  Crazy.  And now that wonderful zumba teacher who took me in for my very first now my personal trainer who I see 5 days a week whether in her own home or for a weight lifting session at the gym or for a fitness class.  Taking that one class...meeting this one person...has changed my entire life.  I know if I wait to get certified until I'm at my goal weight, I will never get there.  The time is NOW!

So now for the first time in my life, I am preparing for an actual career.  Not just a job that helped pay the bills, but a real career that I will LOVE and be beyond passionate about doing.  And it scares the crap out of me.

There's not much to do in preparation for the zumba certification.  The workshop and testing is a 9 hour affair and hopefully I walk away certified to teach it.  The real preparation will come in choosing and preparing music, making up my own choreography (and memorizing it!) and then finally finding a place to actually teach.  Talk about overwhelming.

But the really tough part in all this will be the AFAA stuff.  In order to teach at the gym I attend (and most likely most other gyms), I need to have a certification to teach group fitness.  This is a lot more involved.  Today I started a pre-requisite course for newbies  that will help prepare me for the real test.  Then once I'm sent all my study materials, I will spend the next 1-3 months studying everything from anatomy and injury prevention to teaching methods and strength training....and on top of all that I'll have to become CPR/AED certified.  Before the test, I'll attend a workshop where I put everything I've studied into practice.  If I haven't learned to get over any shyness by then, I'm sure that will do the trick!  Then when I'm ready, I take (what I think is) a 2 day written and then a practical exam.  I've been told that learning all the science behind it is rather involved and overwhelming, but after being out of school for more than a decade, I have to say I'm excited to get studying again!

I realize that this won't actually become an official career until I get a job and am actually doing what I'm studying to do, but the fact that I'm even on the road to doing so just brings me to very happy tears.  I can't thank my family and my friends enough for their help in getting me here.  I feel very lucky and so so blessed to have that kind of unconditional love and support in my life.  Without it, I know I'd still be that same person I was 2 1/2 years ago both on the inside and the outside.  And life is so much better the way it is now!