Flex your fitness aid
LAST year I lost nearly 35 kilograms in five months.
It wasn't really all that hard, I just capped my daily calorie intake at a stupidly low level and became a hardcore cyclist, riding four to five times a week.
Of course, I put most of it back on over the past six months as soon as work obligations meant I couldn't maintain that level of exercise.
There's nothing wrong with being large if you stay healthy, but I prefer to be of athletic build for the clothing I enjoy wearing.
So my wife and I went shopping for things to help me keep my weight down healthily and sustainably.
The Fitbit Flex was our first purchase. The Flex is an armband that tracks activity and connects to your computer or phone for keeping records over time.
Its main function is to track your activity throughout the day by Tracking calories and footsteps and giving you feedback on step/activity goals.
The band is elastomer with a stainless steel clasp and a peanut-sized gadget that slides into it for the business side of things.
It'll track: calories burned, footsteps, distance walked, sleeping patterns, time slept and active minutes.
We compared the pedometer to one issued by my wife's work and found it to be within 2% either side of its reading every day (10 days testing).
You can set a footstep goal for the day and the Fitbit will display your progress by displaying between one and five light "pips" on a strip in the band.
The calorie counter is based on your measured activity level worked out as a function of your body specifics (entered into the devices online settings), so use it as a guide, not a replacement for a dedicated power-metre.
The connectivity is one of the best features of the Flex.
The Flex comes with a USB bluetooth dongle for your PC but can natively connect (also via bluetooth) to your smartphone and the Fitbit app.
The app and its online web application are where you'll get the most out of the Fitbit, as they'll show you trends in your activity and sleep as well as let you log meals.
I'm prone to getting terrible skin irritation from wristbands, but after two weeks of wearing the Flex I'm yet to have any problems. Your milage may vary but there's no latex in the band, which strikes me as a plus.
None of this compares to the wonder that is the Flex's capability as an alarm clock.
Set the alarm and the Flex will track your sleep and wake you up at the best possible time to leave you rested.
I sleep through alarms constantly. It takes five alarms and 45 minutes to get me out of bed.
The Flex has woken me up on time every time I've used it as an alarm.