A Burgundy-Colored Slice of Control

Richard's Fitbit“In a way, self-tracking helps me feel like I’m in control, especially during particularly stressful times.” Super Generic Girl

Currently I use the Fitbit to track my activity during the day. I just did a 15 minute walk on my treadmill, after lunch, and logged about 1,800 steps towards my daily goal of 8,000. Like Super Generic Girl (whose blog I discovered after she left a comment on one of my previous Writer’s Log entries), I feel that a pedometer like Fitbit gives me some measure of control over my body. I know I have to exercise every day in order to stay healthy and Fitbit lets me measure that. For now, 8,000 steps per day is my daily goal. Reaching the 8,000 steps by the end of the day feels like a mini accomplishment – indeed, the Fitbit app even congratulates me with a pop-up message on my iPhone if I do reach that target.

Pictured here is my latest Fitbit device, which arrived earlier this week. It’s a Fitbit One, the next version of the Fitbit Ultra. Like the Ultra, I clip the One onto my trousers. Encased in its burgundy silicone shell, the One looks hip and more importantly feels snug. So far I’m just using the Fitbit One to track how many steps I take a day, but the device also allows me to track my sleep hours. That’s probably the biggest difference with the Ultra, which didn’t have the sleep tracking option.

There are a variety of these personal tracking devices on the market now, such as the Nike Fuel band and the UP bracelet. The latter just had a new version come out too. I haven’t tried the others, but I like the Fitbit because it has a very good online dashboard. Also when I attended the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco in October, I noticed that Fitbit was well on its way to becoming a “platform” – in that I saw a bunch of other health 2.0 products using Fitbit data. I didn’t see the same level of data interchange from Nike, UP or similar health tracking products. I haven’t researched that, mind you. I’m just saying that Fitbit seemed to be getting traction as a data source for other health products. I took that as a good sign for Fitbit users, because it means there will potentially be more apps to connect your Fitbit data to. If that happens, it will make me feel even more in control – because I’ll be able to do more with my Fitbit data.

Of course, there’s a big difference between feeling in control and actuallybeing in control. I haven’t lost any weight yet, since I re-started my Fitbit activity. So clearly my body isn’t as much under my control as I’d like it to be. However personalised health, the topic of my upcoming book, is a many pronged thing. Tracking your daily activity is just one part of becoming more in control of your daily health. I’ll talk about other aspects of personalised health in upcoming Writer’s Log posts.

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