Thursday, September 5, 2013

A BIG Round Number

100. That's a big number and it's the number of pounds I've lost since I started this Methodist Weight Loss program. In fact if we step back a little farther to my heaviest recorded weight, I'm down 120. I've been significantly overweight most of my adult life so I don't really have a reference point to look back on and say, "Man it feels good to be blah blah again!" I don't feel any different than I did six months ago, really. Isn't that odd? Anyone who saw me then and sees me know would say I'm crazy, but I don't even see myself in the mirror all that differently. I guess I was pretty delusional then (or am now).

I'm starting to notice that strangers treat me a little differently. The people who know me haven't changed, but those with whom I am only acquainted and new people I encounter have a subtly different response to me than they did before. Of course, this is to be expected. Despite how much I'd love to claim otherwise, I'm sure I look at and treat a 300 lb person I meet differently than a 200 lb one. It's a terrible bias, but being that overweight signals something is really wrong with that person. That's not true, of course. I know it first hand. Yet put my hand on a Bible and I think I'd have to admit that, at least subconsciously, the thought goes through my mind. Given this, it's completely understandable that my interactions with others now are different is small ways than they were before.

A number of years ago I signed up to play softball with a league at the company where I was working. I was pretty mediocre at the game, but there were a few times when I would do something decent like hit a double or make a good play and on a couple of those occasions, I remember thinking that there were a few more cheers than there really should have been, or if I were attempting to make a certain play and failed, a little more consolation from my peers than I would have expected. Remember that despite the intellectual realization that I was a "big" guy, I really didn't think of myself that way. It wasn't until years later that I recalled those events and realized that those were actually pity cheers and consolations. They were probably trying to be nice. Things like that I definitely won't miss.

I'm not actually skinny yet. I'm actually pretty flabby, especially around my belly. I desperately need to start an exercise and workout program to get my body a little more "human" shaped. I had no idea how little muscle I had under all that fat. Not to mention the muscle loss that's almost unavoidable when losing this much weight this fast. I can't start serious exercise until I'm past the first phase though. I'll be leaving the ultra low-calorie part of this program at the end of September and then over the next 4-6 weeks returning to a much more normal diet; still tightly monitored (by myself, of course), but with real food that I choose. It's a little scary. The easy part of the phase I'm in now is that you don't have to make any easting choices. Sure, it's difficult to eat so little and the same things every day, month after month, but pretty quickly it becomes something you just do without thinking. Going out to eat? Doesn't matter. Eat(drink) your meal beforehand or afterwards and just enjoy the company. No choices. No telling yourself at the table, "That's enough. Stop now." See? Easy! But I've come too far to screw it up now. I will make better choices than I did in the past. I refuse to go back there. I'm sure I'm underestimating how difficult it will be, but that doesn't matter.

So. 100. No celebrations planned. Thank goodness. Every time someone goes, "Wow! You look so different!" I hate it. I shouldn't I know. I should see it in a positive light, but not having seen myself as "bad" before, when people say things like that, I now know just how bad it really was and how far I had let things go. I guess it's selfish. The people who know me and say these things are just being kind and are excited for me. I should take their comments with more grace.

So, what to do with the new me, I wonder. I'm not sure how to take 'er out for a spin. There wasn't that much that I wanted to do before that I wasn't already doing. I'm still a social introvert, so hitting the dating scene hard and fast isn't going to happen. Sports? I was doing the things I like (tennis, skiing, biking) even as a fat guy. Hmmm. Maybe I'll parachute out of a plane. If I recall correctly, there was a weight limit of 250 when I looked into it a few years ago. That's not an issue anymore. Wheeee!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July - Blah...

Another month. I'd post more, but there's really just not that much happening. I eat (rather, mostly drink) the same things every day, every week, and now every month for what feels like forever, but since I'm making progress I guess I won't complain. I've now dropped almost 75 pounds. I'm about 12 pounds from a big milestone. When I reach that point I will still be overweight by anywhere from 20-35 pounds, but I will be well within the range where I can begin the transition back to normal foods. I'll need to decide whether I'm ready to begin that transition or whether I want to continue for a bit longer on the beverage diet. I'm not sure which way I'll go.

For some reason, I'm finding it difficult to get excited about my weight loss. In fact, I've been feeling quite "blah" lately and I have no idea why. Physically, I really don't feel very different, which is bizarre considering how much weight I've lost. How can that be? I certainly don't see myself differently. Will this come, or was I expecting too much? Sometimes I think I need to shake things up in a big way. I'm talking "moving or getting a new job" kind of shakeup, but losing weight was supposed to be a big shakeup of the same type and so far.... eh. There's no way losing the weight can be viewed as a bad thing, but moving or switching jobs certainly could, and I don't have any reason to believe that I'd get the intended impact from such a move anyway. Like I said. Blah. Maybe it's the rut of the food thing making  these other aspects of my life feel more rut-like.

So sorry; this isn't a very upbeat update, but on the positive side, as I mentioned above, I am still making good progress on the weight thing. That's something, for sure.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Two Milestones

Over the last seven days I've reached two, somewhat related, goals. One was 50 pounds (actually 55 now) lost since I've started on this new plan. As an aside, it's also 75 pounds since my heaviest ever a year or so ago. The second milestone was my weight reaching a nice round number that I am using as the green light to embarking on an adventure. I'm not quite ready to talk about specifics of this adventure yet, but I'll just say that I'm taking steps towards a dream I've had since I was a kid.

Reaching for this dream now is a little about seizing the day; recognizing that there's not an unlimited time in front of me to do things like this, as well as it being a reward to keep myself motivated on the weight loss. Losing the weight is obviously a reward in itself, but it has really helped to have this intermediate BIG reward. If I had saved this until reaching my final weight goals, I think I might have had more "man, will I ever get there?" moments. Ont hat note, these last ten pounds did feel like they were taking forever. In fact, they did take a little longer than some of the other 10 pound ranges I've lost, but that's a different post.

I'm excited. I look very different than I did three months ago and a huge number of the weight related discomforts (small chairs, airplane seats, long car rides, etc.) are either fading or mostly gone. I wouldn't quite say I'm in the home stretch yet, but I can at least see the fuzzy outline of the finish line in the distance. My next big milestone is 30 pounds away. At that point, my doctor and I will be evaluating what my true goal weight should be. It might be right there, but I suspect it will be be a little lower still. The final pounds to lose, though, will certainly be through a more normal diet and exercise program.

Speaking of which, I might be shifting of the ketosis based plan sooner rather than later anyway as my results have slowed down quite a bit over the past four weeks. If my loss rate levels off where it currently is, then I'll probably stick with the beverage based plan until that next milestone, but if it weekly losses start to get too much lower than what they are now, I'm going to have to re-evaluate the pros and cons of the program vs a more traditional system.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Boring Middle

Yikes. It's been longer than I intended since my last update, but there's really not much interesting going on. I had a pretty bad week last week, and it was a little frustrating, but I know better than to let one week get me  too down. I did increase my water intake a bit this week in an effort to make my results a little more consistent. I don't know if that's the reason, but this week has turned out pretty well. Overall the grand total now sits at 39 pounds lost.

It's odd. I guess because I had/have so much to lose, I'm not yet really had any dramatic physical changes. Some of my clothes feel a little looser, but not "that" much looser. I guess I expected at this point, nearing 40 pounds loss, that I would see and feel quite a bit of difference. I don't. Still, the mostly regular downtick on the scale is pretty motivating and I know the physical changes will come. They have to, right?

I guess things are kind of in a groove right now. I can tolerate the beverages to the point that I don't even think about them much. One things that was a little un-groovy was that I've been watching a little playoff basketball this past week. That in itself isn't so bad (especially with the Spurs crushing the injury riddled Lakers), but I almost never watch live TV and therefore never see commercials. Man there are a lot of food commercials, and MAN does some  of that stuff look good. The Whataburger commercials alone are enough to make me almost walk out of the room. I love a good Whataburger with mustard and cheese. I really shouldn't even write about it. And their fries aren't bad either. Way too many good looking food commercials on live TV.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thirty Pounds Lighter

Earlier this week I hit something of a milestone. I not only reached thirty pounds lost since starting, but I'm now lighter than I have ever been since I started paying attention to my weight, which was about five years ago. Before that I didn't even own a scale.

I'm at about five and a half weeks into the program. Have any of my impressions changed? Not really. The beverages and puddings are still really tedious, repetitive, and boring, but they're not terrible; well, most of then aren't. The weekly clinical sessions continue to be a little disappointing. The groups classes with the "counselor" are really good, but they only happen every three or four weeks. That's too bad as those have been the most helpful classes by far. The nutritionists on the team are great at being nutritionist (I assume), but they don't hold very good classes. The sessions aren't interesting and nearly as knowledge rich as they should be. There's a tremendous amount to learn on that topic and it's just not happening. Another bummer is that the meetings times have gotten so busy that for two weeks in a row, there has been no opportunity for me to meet with either the nutritionist or counselor individually. This ticked me off a little bit. This is an expensive program and one of the justifications for this expense is the one-on-one time. If they can't provide that service, then we're not getting what we're paying for. They need to get on the ball and schedule additional meetings times or add people to the team.

As I mentioned previously, the pace of loss isn't exactly what I had been hoping for. I can live with the current rate of about three and a half pounds a week, but that pace becomes a little harder to stomach, almost literally, when you consider that a disciplined and a well managed diet based on real food should result in about two pounds a week. Real food... my mount waters just typing those words. I don't think I've ever craved vegetables in my entire life, but if I could even have a bowl of broccoli right now I'd devour it like a lion would an antelope. Mmmm, antelope... what I wouldn't do for an antelope right now. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Week 4; Progress Slower but Still Steady

I'm well into week 4 now (almost at week 5, really). This week has been a bit of laggard. My weight has been a lot more "bouncy". I was down and then back up and then a little less down. I have a pretty neat scale that measures body fat as well as weight (and sends all the info to a web site wirelessly too!). This extra body fat information is interesting in that this number has been much more steady and linear in its decline than my actual weight. The graph on the Fitbit site that shows body fat percentage is very clean and straight. I don't know what it really means from a medical sense, but it is reassuring to see this number go down that tenth or two-tenths of a percent on a regular basis. Given the nature of the diet that I'm on and how controlled and specific it is with each day being EXACTLY the same as the previous one, I rather expected my weight loss to follow a more regular schedule as well. That doesn't seem to be the case.

I've lost about 3.4 pounds the last two weeks (each week). I know that's nothing to sneeze at, but I look at it with the other aspects of the diet in mind (the less than exciting beverages, occasional weakness, frequent hunger, social awkwardness around meal focused events) and while I'm still firmly committed, I'm having a few misgivings. Hopefully, this will pass. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Starting Week 3

I've been slow to post another entry since my last. One of the main reasons was that weight loss during the first week of a program isn't really something to crow about. Most people will lose a pretty heft chunk of weight during that first week and it definitely isn't indicative of the typical results one will experience the rest of the time on the program. Sure enough, that was the case this time as well. Even though it shouldn't have been, I found my second week a tiny bit disappointing; not so much that I'd say it out loud, but a blog isn't "out loud". Right? So looking at the overall picture, I've lost about 16 lbs. but the majority of that was in the first week. This week was only about 4.5 lbs. That's nothing to sneeze at of course, but despite knowing that the first week wasn't the start of a pattern, it's still a little rough coming off those large losses back into normalcy.

This week was also the first time that I really craved normal foods. I don't even want to write too much about it here because if I do, I'll just think about it more. It's not that I'm hungry, but the pleasure and wonderful taste of some items, even some healthy ones, is something I miss. A lot. The beverages (soups and puddings included) are getting old fast. Still... I did hit a nice milestone today and I'm think (hope) I can stick with it long enough to get me over a few humps that exist from my previous weight loss attempts. These are mental humps I'm talking about. Numbers that once I reach them I'll feel like I'm entering new territory. I think getting to and past these levels will be a good motivator.

I've made a couple of bad choices in my beverage selections. A few things were fine when I tried them once, but then having them a few days in a row make them almost gag-worthy. Uggg. Luckily, I started the program a little off of the weekly schedule and therefore have extra beverages available to me which allows me to spread out the not so awesome stuff over a longer time. The winners for me so far have been Chocolate, Chocolate Pudding, Lemon Pudding, and Strawberry. The worst options have been the soups (Broccoli Cheese and Cream of Chicken) and for some reason, the Vanilla Pudding, although the Vanilla Pudding may just have been because I prepared it wrong once (forgot it was pudding and prepared it like a beverage and it was way to creamy). I've tried it again since then and it wasn't so bad.

The weekly clinics and meetings continue to be good for the most part. The actual topic of last weeks meeting wasn't terribly useful at this stage of our program, but the lady leading it seemed intelligent and well versed in the field (she was a nutritionist). I don't know if they alternate each week between the behavioral lady and the nutritionist, but it's a nice change of pace having two very different ways of looking at the issues people face with weight. Both views are valid and important for just about everyone, of course.

I'me very curious as to how this third week will go. I am now well ensconced in ketosis and past the "initial heavy loss" phase. This week may be a good indicator of what to expect on a regular basis. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my dreams of carne guisada tacos and Papa Murphy's take and back thin crust pizza. Oh mercy...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 4 - My first Regular Meeting

So two things today. I went to my first weekly meeting and I played a bit of tennis. The meeting was good. The person running the behavior analysis and training in Sugar Land was completely different in personality from the lady who did my original behavioral assessment. In our one-on-one meeting she struck me as a little stern. Not mean, or terse, but well... stern is the best word I can think of. Later though, in our group meeting I got a better picture of her and I think my first impression may have been too harsh. Time will tell.

The overall experience takes about two hours. The first hour is a bunch of waiting punctuated by a stint with the nurse to weigh in talk about any medical issues, a one-on-one with the therapist, and the same with the nutritionist. I think my nurse was nervous. I don't know why, but I got a  deer-in-the-headlights feeling from her the whole time. Maybe it was her first day. Since it had been a month since the labs for my physical, she gave me a form and told me I could call the company on the form and set up an appointment to go in and have them draw some blood. Our meetings are in a medical building that's part of hospital and there no place in THAT building or the hospital to have the labs done? I'm not sure what that's about but whatever. The nutritionist and the therapist, who I've already mentioned, we're good. It was pretty much the same questions I had already answered and the same information that had already been given to me, but there was a few new things like how even breath mints or gum have a carb or two and using more than a few a day can throw me out of ketosis, which is bad because getting into ketosis and staying there is what the first stage is all about.

The second hour was the group meeting but there were only four of us; five if you count the therapist. Today the subject was all about emotional meeting. I'm not a huge fan of group meetings, as anyone who knows me will attest, but this was not too bad. It was clear that the therapist knew a heck of a lot more than your typical Weigh Watchers group leader. I didn't talk much but I'll try to contribute more next time... perhaps.

I've been on the beverages four days. The first day was a little tough, but since then, it hasn't been to bad. Other than my breath (which they warned me about). It's AWFUL. It's so bad, even I can smell it. Uggg. I've gotten better about finding good mixtures of ice and the amount of time to let the puddings sit in the fridge to cool. They told me that after a few days I really wouldn't feel too hungry, but I was pretty darn hungry today. My stomach was making all kinds of mean noises at me. Drinking some water helps when I feel this way.

I also played a little tennis with Rob. I was actually kind of nervous as this was the first meaningful activity I had tried. It was fine. We didn't play too long and I definitely took it a little easier than I normally would have. By the end, though, I was beginning to feel it and when I got home I was pretty wiped out. Considering we only played one set, that's not all that promising. Oh well, this stage won't last forever. Around six weeks, I think.

Speaking of Rob. It's odd. I am really tremendously good friends with Rob and Kirstin and the kids. They really are family to me, just like my parents and my sisters, but our relationship has never been very touchy-feely. I never know how much about these kinds of personal things to talk about with them. I don't know. I spend almost all day every Saturday with them  and I don't want them to feel weird on constrained about what they can do with me around. I've tried to tell them that, but I'm not sure I'm getting through. We'll see

Monday, March 11, 2013

Behavioral Analysis

Behavioral Analysis; that what they called the session I had today with the therapist. I'm not complaining though. It was quite a nice step in right direction compared to the Startup Orientation I attended last week. I spoke with Kate for about an hour. We talked about all the things you might expect: why I was doing this, what my goals are, what emotions were associate with my eating, and then just some general conversation that I'm sure was more than that from her perspective. I don't know if it's because she was actually a professional therapist or what, but the whole thing was very comfortable and she not only had lots of good questions, but provided lots of detailed information about the program that I had been missing. This kind of experience is what I was hoping for and expecting from this hospital administered and quite expensive program, so I was glad to finally have it.

I started on the beverages yesterday. It's a really simple program. I space four of the beverages out over the course of the day and drown myself in water. Lots and lots of water. Soooo much water. The beverages are nothing special but they're not terrible either. I bought a magic bullet to make mixing them a little easier and more thorough. I'm experimenting with blending ice in and how much water to use in the pudding based packets. Living alone and working from home does make me somewhat of a hermit but id definitely makes sticking to this program a lot easier. There are few temptations and no explanations to co-workers or the like.

There is one unexpected problem. This came up during the Startup Orientation but I forgot to mention it in my last post. The very low carbohydrate and calorie diet that I'm on means that they ask me to actually avoid any kind of strenuous exercise. This makes total sense, of course, but it still threw me for a loop. I love to play tennis and over the past three months with my FitBit, I had really gotten in the groove with walking. They said that since I'm mostly playing double that I could try to play tennis and just see how it works, but to be careful and listen to what my body might be telling me about fatigue. These weren't encouraging words.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Start Up Orientation!

I'm backdating a few posts in order to keep a better timeline.

So "today" (not really, but let's pretend) I went to the Start Up Orientation for the weight loss program I've decided to participate in. It was a little dissapointing. I don't know what I was expecting but the first informational meeting was packed with so few real details that I kind of expected this to be the "next step" but no, we just jumped right in with weighing in, ordering and receiving the beverage mixes, and a very brief discussion about what to expect. I left feeling like maybe I had missed a meeting somewhere in-between, but I guess not.

The program has three stages. The first is about losing weight fast, but to do this safely you need pretty frequent monitoring. This starts with a complete physical and some lab work (more on that later) and during the program, especially the first stage, you spend time with a nutritionist and a therapist (at my location the lady happens to be a psychologist) every week, and a doctor every four weeks. You also have new lab work done every four weeks. So. yeah, pretty closely monitored.

The beverages don't strike me as too exciting. but we'll see. I guess it's not about excitement. Even though I will be going to the Sugar Land Methodist facility, I have an appointment with the Katy therapist next Monday.

As I mentioned above, I had to get a physical before starting the program. My doctor is just absolutely painful to get in to see, and frankly I haven't been terribly thrilled with some of my visits. I called his office to set up the physical. They said they could see me in April. Keep in mind, it was the middle of February when I called. APRIL. So I found a new doctor. I did a little searching on Angie's List and a few other reviewing sites. The information was thin, but there were some good things said about the doctor's at Sugar Lake Family Practice and especially about a Dr. Pozzi. I called to see if he was accepting new patients (he was) and set an appointment for that same week. He was nice and the Physical went fine. My cholesterol was a little high but he wanted to hold off on any medication or other treatment until we saw how the weight loss program was working. All in all, the experience was uneventful and I have a better feeling moving forward with Dr. Pozzi than I did with my previous doctor. We'll see.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Weight Loss Program

While generally not something I'm too public about, it occurs to me that documenting my weight loss progress might be both therapeutic for myself and maybe even useful to someone else.

I'm significantly overweight. Maybe when this is farther along or I've reached certain goals I'll be more specific with the numbers, but let's just say, for now, that this won't be a short journey. I've tried doing it by myself, Weight Watchers, and Nutrisystem and I've had some success each time, but for one reason or another, I eventually made less and less progress and one attempt would just merge into the next. I know it will come off as arrogant, but failing like this at something that is important to me is not a feeling I'm used to. In my life, I've been pretty successful at setting my mind to do something and then doing it. Not succeeding here has had a more far reaching effect than just on my weight or health. The idea that I could want to do something quite badly, have the resources to achieve it and then fail to do so puts the failure squarely on my own shoulders and that  frustration subtly seeps into other areas of my life where I had never before lacked confidence.

So now I'm trying to get back on track. I am going with a program managed by the Methodist Hospital System here in Houston. I wanted to try something that was a "real" medically supervised program. Some of the programs I've come across give me a real used car salesman feeling when I investigate them. My hope was that this program, being associated with a real and respected hospital system, was less likely to be shady or its benefits oversold. While to some degree this has held true, I have to admit that there's has still been a little of that "What aren't you telling me?" feeling at times, but I'm pushing forward anyway. And the inefficiency!! I swear, I've filled out five different forms asking for the EXACT same information each time. Maddening!

The program is expensive; I mean, seriously expensive, compared to alternatives, but you do get weekly consultations with real nutritionists and medical personnel to monitor your status and provide training on the necessary behavioral changes required to make the losses achieved permanent. The only other weekly accountability program I've tried was Weight Watchers and while I liked the accountability, I hated every other aspect of those meetings. I'm sure every group is different, but in my case sitting around with fifteen women aged 45-70 talking about the results of the latest dancing based reality show nearly drove me to violence.

In any case, I am travelling the next two weeks and so will have my Startup Orientation meeting on the Tuesday after I come back. I'll probably start the program in earnest the following Friday. I'll report back as things move along. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fitbit One vs Nike Fuelband

I kept putting off posting this comparison because I kept changing my mind about the pros and cons of each. That statement alone should be an indication of just how differently people might relate to each of the products. That said, I've finally settled on just one of the devices and that's the Fitbit.

Form Factor

Obviously, the Fuelband is worn on the wrist and the Fitbit is typically clipped somewhere on the torso (bra, waistband, or my personal favorite, clipped to the top of my pocket). If you are bothered by having the tracker "out there" as it were, than this alone my be the deciding factor. Frankly, I ended up preferring the Fuelband's wrist placement. I tend to change clothes a couple of times a day. I work from home and when I'm at my desk, I figure I might as well be as comfortable as I can, so I'm usually in athletic shorts or the like, but when I leave the house, try to be a little more civilized and put on something a bit nicer. When I get home, I often change right back. So with the Fuelband, this was a non-thinker. It just hangs out there on my wrist all day long. The Fitbit had to be constantly transferred back and forth, making it much easier to forget. Still, once you've formed the habit of putting it on every time you put on pants of any kind, it's not too bad.


How you feel about each devices syncing will depend a lot on your choice of phones. If you have an iPhone, then you're set either way. Both the Fitbit and the Fuelband will sync wirelessly with the phone pretty regularly and it will almost always be up to date. If you're an Android person, as I am, then the situation isn't nearly as nice. With the Fuelband, you're just plain out of luck. There is no Andoid app. Not only that, but the only way to sync the band with the server is via a physical connection using their USB dongle. 

The Fitbit has an Android app. It's not as nice as the iPhone one, but it's close. Unfortunately, the Android ecosystem hadn't settled on the low power Bluetooth standard until very recently so at the moment, there's no wireless syncing with Android phones. New Android phones like the Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note II, and Nexus 4 will be supported for wireless syncing sometime in the next few months, according to Fitbit. I'm counting the days. In the meantime, the alternative syncing method is still pretty slick. The Fitbit comes with Two USB dongles. One is a tiny little Bluetooth nub that handles syncing. You just need to be within about 20 feet of a computer that is turned on with the nub installed (and the software driver too, of course) and your data will be synced. I have the nub plugged into my work machine and I stay synced pretty much all day. The second USB dongle is for charging. You can plug this into a USB port on your computer or a wall plug adapter. Both devices have remarkable battery life and will goes many days at a time between charges. 

As you can see, the convenience of syncing will vary widely from person to person, but for me and any other non-iPhone user, the Fit bit is a clear winner.


There's no contest here. The Fitbit website is infinitely more useful and comprehensive. I guess I'll discuss the interoperability factor here. Fitbit has an open API that is used by many other sites and tracking tools for cross communication, including one of my new favorite sites 

Technical Functionality

The Fitbit comes out ahead here as well, and in several ways. The Fitbit does sleep tracking with the included wristband and it has an altimeter for tracking flights of stairs climbed. The Fuelband does neither of these things. not only that, but as a step counter, the Fitbit was much more accurate than the Fuelband. The latter consistently under counted my steps. I checked this on several of my walks. I would looks at the step count for both devices and then take 200 steps and check again. The Fitbit was always within 2 or 3 steps of being right while the Fuelband was consistently under by 15-20 steps. This may vary greatly from person to person. Perhaps my particular movement style did not lend itself well to the Fuelbands tracking algorithms. Overall the Fitbit track more data and seems to do so more accurately than the Fuelband.

The "On the Go, How am I Doing, Motivation Factor"

This is where the Fuelband screams ahead of the Fitbit, and to such a degree that this particular advantage alone is almost enough to overcome all of the other areas where the Fitbit has the lead put together. Nike is laser focused on their activity currency called "Fuel". Sure their device measures steps, and calculates calories burned (inaccurately, unfortunately) based on your physical measurements like height and weight, but it's Fuel that is the most prominently displayed. With calories, a heaver person will burn more with each activity, but Fuel independent from such calculations. Two people who make the same movements playing basketball, for instance, should conceivably generate the same amount of Fuel, regardless of their different sizes. 

So Fuel is the focus and the display on the wristband brilliantly displays your progress towards your fuel goal, and I mean "brilliant" in both the metaphoric and literal sense. When you press the button on your Fuelband, the first and main item displayed is a number representing your Fuel total for the day and underneath that is a multicolored bar that shows you in an instant how close your are to your goal. They got so many little details right here. For instance, the bar that represents your progress is topped by a single lit pixel representing your goal so that you can very easily see the unlit space between the top of the bar and the  goal dot. It's a tiny usability detail that makes a huge difference. 

This brightly colored Fuel count and bar is incredibly motivating throughout the day. When I'm done with my work day and I hit that button to see where I'm at, I am incredibly motivated to get out there and hit my goal. This single aspect, the focus on and activity currency like Fuel and the fantastic representation of it on the device, almost singlehandedly persuaded my to stick witht he Fuelband over the Fitbit.

The rotten thing here is that there's no reason why the Fitbit couldn't be just as effective as the Fuelband in this area. The problem is that the Fitbit folks seem to be having a really tough time thinking about their device as something other than a fancy pedometer. They are insanely "step" focused. For instance, the only way you can compare yourself to your friends is steps. That's it. Period. Nothing else. It's ridiculous. Fitbit has an "Active Score" metric on the website and I think, but I'm not sure (this uncertainty shows just how little focus they put on it) that this active score is represented by a flower on the device, but the usability and motivation factor is nowhere near as good as the Fuelband. The active score number isn't even available on the device itself. Booooo, Fitbit. Booooo! The device's display is actually pretty high resolution, albeit monochrome, when compared to the Fuelband so there's no excuse for a better representation of the active score or a more focus being put on it via the web site and mobile apps. Nike wins this round and in a big, big way.


As I mentioned above, I did finally settle on the FitBit as my everyday, all day tracker but I did so with major reservations regarding it's actual tracking metric. FitBit desperately needs to modify the device software so that it shows the activity score in as clear and concise a manner as the Fuelband does. If they do so, then I can finally declare Fitbit a no compromise winner. 

As a side note, I just receive a notice from FitBit regarding their new tracker coming out in February or March. It appears to be a complement to the FitBit one as opposed to a replacement. It's a wrist worn device, but if the details I've received are correct, it looks once again that FitBit may missed the mark. This device doesn't have the full LED display of the One. It appears to have just five tiny lights that show your progress towards your goal. They dont' even mention which goal is used. Given their past missteps, I'll assume it's steps. This seems like a step back from the One. That said, if syncing works with Android (it already does with iPhone) then an on device display may indeed perhaps be redundant. They do say that Android syncing (with newer phones supporting low power Bluetooth, of course) is expected at launch. That's good news as it also likely means that we'll finally see this same functionality for the One as well.