My Fitbit Charge HR Update #WearableWednesday


It’s been a month since my first Fitbit post, so I thought I would let you know how things are going. Yes, it’s official, I’m in love. In fact, there are now two Fitbits in my life, one for me and one for my husband. It was just too tempting to have this workout partner that you could send funny messages to during the day and also invite to “Weekend Warrior” competitions, and yes, he loves his band, too. I mentioned the gaming aspect was cool, but the badges you can garner are really just hilarious. Today I earned the Helicopter. Here’s what it says: With 500 lifetime floors, you’ve reach the altitude of a helicopter. Heli-yes, you totally just did that! 


I decided to get more exploratory and I plugged in the dongle to check out the full size layout of my graphs and achievements. Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to read your heart rate chart spread over a larger screen. (FYI that’s just an example screen that I posted.) There’s also another fun surprise awaiting—Fitbit groups. People are actually organizing company workout groups so they can challenge each other throughout the day. Who knew? I found a local group for Philly and posted a question about good vegan smoothies. In two days I got a hit with someone talking about some chia seed concoction. Now granted I haven’t started befriending people yet there, but soon I could have a bunch of buddies to cheer and may even have a real life step frenzy on the street. People use the forums to arrange meetups and they talk about favorite trails and average number of steps for those trails.


So, what have I learned? If you use the system properly it works. I’ve almost reached my first goal for the weight I wanted to lose, which is shocking, because I haven’t been able to budge my weight in about 6 years more than 2-3 pounds. If I land my first goal, I have an additional bonus goal of 5 pounds I’d like to trim. After that it will all be maintenance. I also have learned that even though my sleep is interrupted frequently in the night, that it really isn’t that unusual. Many people have about the same number of disturbances. Also, the charts show that if I go to bed earlier, I actually do sleep more soundly and I’m able to wake earlier. That’s not going to help the problem that I do my best writing and coding in the wee hours, but hey, you have to sleep sometime, right? Finally, I’ve noticed that I have a better sense of what I’m eating and when I’m eating it. Granted I was traveling this past week and didn’t log my food during that time, but I was able to make good choices just from really thinking about healthy options and from my knowledge of serving sizes from all the logging I have been doing. In fact, when eating out, my husband and I often split main dishes and side salads now because we realize how large portions tend to be in this country. The one thing I still haven’t mastered is drinking enough water, but I’m getting closer. I noticed that adding fresh fruit and herbs to a pitcher can make it a bit more exciting and I just try to carry a bottle of water with me wherever I go.

Well, that’s it for my Fitbit rah-rah post. I can’t wait to find out what badges still await me in this crazy game of wellness. Since I’m on the topic of systems that work, did you know that we have a ton of badges for real life educational moments here at Adafruit? I know I’ve been drooling over the Arduino Badge for quite some time. Browse the badges in the shop and you will see a fun variety including faves like 3D Printing, Soldering, and Raspberry Pi. Isn’t it time you shared your skills on the back of your jacket?


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  1. Well, I expected some tips and tricks or a nice hack to make the charge hr more effective. Now, I’m a bit disappointed. 🙁 For me this post is a bit too much advertisement, and too less review. I bought my Charge HR in July, and I was excited back then. I started to workout, log my food and it helped achieve my weight loss goals. However, the first excitement died down pretty fast. Especially when I tried to export my data as XLS/CSV. I expected to be able to calculate some nice graphs, correlations, or maybe even sleep cycle fft analysis. But the data you can download for free is very poor. Mainly daily average values (HR, Steps) or bed times are available, totally not satisfactory for the technical geek I am. More data is open for premium users and I am not paying 50€/yr for MY health data that I produce!!! On their (german) export site it even states: “Your data only belongs to you”. Which is clearly a lie! Don’t get me wrong, the Charge HR is nice and well made. I like to wear it, and it helps to achieve goals. But I want a more open platform! Just think about the awesome project that would be possible if you could download non-encrypted data to your RasPi/Arduino!!

  2. Hey, Markus,

    Thanks for writing. I just wanted to make sure you understood that this wasn’t really a review, just a report on my actual birthday present I received from my in-laws. I didn’t ask for a fitness tracker and so I have nothing else to compare it to. Certainly best case scenario is open source and I would love for someone to create that. 🙂 I’m personally working on another project for Adafruit that will be a very basic heart rate monitor, but it won’t have additional features. You might want to check out Becky’s report on the Microsoft Band (on WearableWednesday Show from 7/29) as it has a feature to customize some apps. Also, you may have seen a recent Kickstarter for the OWatch that was created by an 8 year old kid. Perhaps you can help add some sensors to shift it to fitness tracking, which would be awesome. Maybe you could also hack a Pebble? Anyway, wishing you luck with your fitness goals and projects. If you do create your own band, make sure you post it in Adafruit’s forum so we can blog about it.

  3. Hi Leslie, I did not want to rant about your birthday present at all. I just wanted to vent my anger over Fitbit’s payment system. My Charge HR was a birthday present as well. Unfortunatly the Microsoft Band is not available here in Germany, as it would have been my first choice (WinPhoneUser). I did look up the OWatch, sounds promising, that kid is going places (bonus: paracord!). And i will definitely look into your heart rate monitor. It would be nice if it is compatible to something like “The Egg Light” or the “WeggUp”. That way people can track their sleep cycle. It might help fellow maker that stay up too long 😉

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