Fitbit has come under fire as they face class action lawsuits from customers in the states of California, Colorado and Wisconsin.
The Fitbit, and similar devices, track your activity level by monitoring your steps, distance, heart rate and sleep patterns.
Customers allege that the device incorrectly reports their heart rate during activity.
Not good news for the millions of people who received the device this past holiday.
The Fitbit Upside:
1. Devices, such as the Fitbit, can provide motivation for someone who hasn’t been active. If you like to see actual data, seeing an overall increase in your daily activity can push you to move more and lose weight.
2. For athletes, the device can be useful in measuring the effectiveness and progress of your training.
1. Regardless of whether you’re new to exercise or a seasoned athlete, neither of you would benefit from the “benefits” of this device if they don’t accurately record your heart rate.
Based on my experience as a health coach, there are a couple of problems that come with exercise devices.
1. They are gameable. Meaning you can cheat them (and yourself). You can sit on your coach and rapidly move your arms about and the device will report those movements as steps. Yes, moving your arms around while you watch TV may be more than just sitting there, but you’re not actually achieving the benefits as recorded by your Fitbit.
2. The devices can deepen how bad you feel about yourself. Many of my clients who had a very hard time losing weight also had self-esteem and self-confidence issues. For those who would track their activity level, these issues would be deepened if they didn’t live up to their expectations.
There is a weird conversation that goes on in our heads when we’re trying to lose weight. One voice says “Go for a walk;” the other says “I’m tired.” One says “I need to get more steps.” The other says “I don’t really have time.” You decide not to go for the walk. The next day you look at your Fitbit and have the guilt and shame of not doing what you said you would.
3. They’re external motivation only. Working with clients has taught me that external motivation can be effective in getting them to exercise more and losing weight. External motivation are rewards that are outside of yourself (prizes, money, miles walked, Fitbit.) They do work, but only for a short time.
What has been most successful for my clients is motivating themselves from the inside. Those who wanted a feeling of self-confidence and self-love were more likely to start an exercise program and stick to it. Those who wanted more energy and didn’t want to feel “crappy” all day were more likely to make time for exercise and therefore lose weight.
When you’re driven from the inside, you’re much more likely to get back on track when you fall off. Whereas, when you’re driven from the outside, you’re much more likely to brush it off.
I believe exercise trackers and devices can be helpful when starting a new program as they can give you a good baseline from which to measure your progress (if the device does what it’s supposed to).
But the truth of the matter is, you know how much you’re moving. No doubt about it. You know when you’ve parked farther from the grocery store. You know when you’ve chosen to go for that walk or bike ride. You know when you’ve gone outside to play a game with your children. You know.
Learn to listen to that little voice of wisdom inside you. And trust it. It works.