Parenting Is a High-Intensity Sport: FitBit Flex Review

by Abby on October 25, 2013

FitBit Flex wristbandsWell, damn. I’m not as fit as I thought. And I sleep a LOT. I discovered this information by tracking my daily activity levels, calories, and steps with a FitBit Flex, which is like a fancier, sleeker, higher tech pedometer you wear on your wrist.

I will admit that I was a little smug when I was offered the chance to test out the trendy device for free for a week (#bloggerperks). I work out. I eat healthy. I do yoga. I take care of 2 insanely active boys all day. I’m practically a triathlete! Only it turns out running after my kids doesn’t burn that many calories after all. How can that BE?! It sure FEELS like it does. If the FitBit could track MENTAL energy expended, that would be another story…

So it works like this: you insert a small, eraser-sized piece of hardware into a rubber wristband that you’re supposed to wear 24/7. The FitBit Flex (about $99) also comes with a charger and a USB dongle to sync it with your computer. Yes, “dongle” is a real thing; I looked it up. The wristband displays nothing except for 5 tiny lights that light up as you work toward your daily activity goals. You tap it to check your status and to switch it to sleep mode.

To set it up, you log onto the FitBit web site and enter your data. Based on my height and weight, I guess, the FitBit decided that my daily goals were 10,000 steps; 2,184 calories burned; 5 miles; and 30 “very active” minutes of high-intensity exercise. To my dismay, the only day I achieved the step and intensity goals was the first day, Monday, when I ran on the treadmill, did the Stairclimber, AND took the dog on a long walk. OK, yes, I was showing off a little for the FitBit, alright?

The next day I did a core-strengthening class, only 10 min. on the treadmill, and didn’t walk the dog. I didn’t come close to meeting my goals. That annoyed me a little. I mean, it’s not like I sat on the couch all day reading US Weekly. Oh, and my “least active” day was Friday, according to the FitBit, when I skipped the gym to volunteer at my son’s school for 2 hours. Least active, my a**! Do you know how exhausting it is to corral a classroom full of second graders?! And I even covered major ground hoofing it back and forth to the nurse’s office and cafeteria during that time. Whatever, FitBit!


I was validated slightly at the stats from the day I took the kids to the pumpkin farm, though – 95% of my 10k steps and 26 very active minutes. You better believe hiking up and down the hills for the burlap-sack slide, hay ride, petting zoo, and tractor ride burned some calories! (As did fishing one of my sons out of the water trough he fell into and chasing the other one through the corn maze.) Who needs the gym?

My sleep stats showed that I get a solid 8 hours most nights – finally, one area where I’m overachieving! The FitBit also tells you how many times you wake up (I average 2x/night) and how many restless periods you have (13x/night for me – that’d be the times a damp 4yo sneaks into my bed and karate kicks me in the ribs repeatedly).

Studies show that step counters motivate people to move more throughout the day and I’d agree with that. There’s something about being confronted with the hard facts that kicks you into gear. Personally, I’d like to strap one on to my kids and see how many steps THEY take in a day – 50k? 100k? Just watching them is exhausting. No wonder I need my 8 hours a night.

LINKS O’ THE DAY: Here’s a much more in-depth review of the FitBit Flex, and comparison to similar products, from

One of my favorite columnists, Connie Schultz, wrote about her FitBit for Parade: “Why I’m Obsessed with My Activity Tracker.”

I still like this ad from the National Peanut Board.

PIC O’ THE DAY: Check out this fun little graphic the folks at Verizon made for me based on my parenting tip. Feel free to share!

Parenting Tips for the Digital Age

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel October 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Just had to say I love Connie Schultz too! I always hope to see something of hers when I open my Parade.


Angie Mizzell October 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Man, I’d benefit from a device like that. It would force me to get more sleep and go to the gym more often than I’d do, because I’d keep trying to beat it. It would annoy me, but in a good way.


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