Thursday, May 19, 2016

Yes, I love my FitBit!

After being asked numerous times by family members, friends, and strangers on the bus, I've decided to blog about my experience with my FitBit fitness tracker.  This post will benefit those who are thinking about buying one as a gift or for themselves.  If you already have a FitBit, I'm sure you'll relate to many of blurbs in the next 1,000-ish words.

In the Fall of 2013, I have never heard for a FitBit or JawBone fitness bracelet.  The Garmin Vivo was not born in addition to all of the other fitness trackers that are out there.  During this time period, I was a Junior in college and also worked part-time at Publix, a grocery store.  During my first few months of working in the grocery store, I realized that I was doing a lot of walking and ended up purchasing a cheap $5 pedometer from Walmart to see how many steps I did per day.  For my birthday, my mom surprised me with the FitBit Flex, which was the newest and most high-tech fitness bracelet during that time period.  Like I said, I had no idea what the FitBit Flex was, but I quickly figured it out and got a understanding of how many steps and miles I did during my shift at the grocery store.
FitBit Flex

I wore my FitBit Flex religiously for the following month to see my progress.  However, I soon began to forget to wear it or charge it which begins my year in limbo...

I don't know why I didn't wear my FitBit Flex for almost a year.  I did a lot of walking, and every time I went hiking I thought to myself "I wish I was wearing my FitBit so I can see my progress." I eventually got better at wearing my bracelet.  While studying abroad in Berlin, Germany, I wore my FitBit for the first week and was surprised that I racked up 70 miles during that time period.  But like I said, I somehow forgot to charge and wear it, so the following 4 weeks in Berlin were not recorded.
For the next year and a half, I would wear my FitBit part time.  I kicked myself for not wearing it and tried my best to set alarms to wear it.

Fast forward to January 1, 2016.  I told myself I was going to wear my FitBit and make no excuses.  I set my charger in the bathroom and would charge it when I take a shower.  I also told myself to charge it at night when I get the low battery alert.  Believe it or not, I've been wearing my FitBit every day in the year 2016.  I only have one day where my steps did not record.  There have only been a few instances where my battery died, but I still had my bracelet, and it still recorded some steps.  I have a nice tan line, and even bought some extra bands to keep it entertaining.

So, do I love my FitBit?  If you would have asked me last year, I would say "yes, but I forget to wear it."  If you ask me today, my reply would be "YES! I wear it everyday!"

Now, FitBit has come out with many models over the past few years.  They have the Charge which records your flights in elevation, the Charge HR which also records your heartrate, the Surge that also does GPS.  They also have the Blaze which looks like a watch and the Alta, which is a slimmer bracelet.  The flex is very basic and simple and tends to be the cheapest on their market.  The flex counts your steps, calories, active minutes, and sleep.  You can also manually input your water intake, track your food, and add exercise if you participate in yoga for 30 minutes. With the Flex, you can also buy different bands since you can take out the FitBit computer from one band to another unlike the Charge.

Lastly, you can participate in FitBit challenges with your friends that also have FitBits.  There are four different challenges: Goal Day, Daily Showdown, Workweek Hustle, and Weekend Warrior.  The Goal Day is where you compete with friends to see if they can meet their daily goal.  The Daily Showdown is who has the most amount of steps in a day.  The workweek hustle and weekend warrior are challenges to see who can rack up the most steps during that time period.  It is nice to see progress of others and see how you're doing when compared to them.  It is a nice and friendly competition to get each other active.  Also, if you take steps without your fitbit on, it's like those steps don't count for anything!

In addition, FitBit gives you badges during your "FitBit Lifetime."  These badges represent how many miles you have done with your fitbit, or the most steps and/or flights you've done in a day.  It is nice to see these badges, and you can set mini-goals for yourself!

Since I did some rambling, here are some FAQs:


Does your fitbit make you healthier?
Long story, short: yes.  When I'm wearing my fitbit, I constantly think of ways to get more steps in for that day.  Sometimes, that means parking away from a store, walking down more aisles, or taking an extended walk with the pup.  The fitbit makes me walk more.  When you're in these fitbit challenges with your friends, the app will remind you to take a walk so you can get in the lead for that challenge.

Where do you get your FitBit Flex bands?
I used the original band for over two years until it tore. You can buy official fitbit brand bands on Amazon, Best Buy, or Walmart.  I recently bought a 3-pack of off-brand bands from Amazon for $10.  These bands are a floral design, so I can mix it up when I want to wear something different.

When do you charge your FitBit?
I take my FitBit off when I shower, so that is when I charge it the most.  The FitBit is waterproof, but I'd rather not shower with it.  If I have done a lot of activity during the day and have a low battery warning, I'll charge it during the night so it is fully charged.

Which model would you recommend?
I am happy with my Flex; however, for between $15-$30, you can get the next model up that also tracks your flights.  If you don't do a lot of elevation change in your activity, you will be fine with the flex.  But if you do a lot of uphill hiking, invest in the next model (Charge or Alta).  Also, if you want to see how your progress without syncing it all day, get the Charge or Alta.  The flex only shows dots of your progress.  If I were to buy one for myself, I would pick one of those two.  The charge is wider and the Alta is skinnier, but newer.

What do you think of the challenges?
I absolutely love the FitBit Challenges. I try to be in one during the week and one during the weekend.  I like seeing how I'm doing against my friends.  I also am competitive so I try my best to do more activity so I can beat them!

Do you fully use the FitBit app?
No, I don't.  I don't track my water as much as a should, and I don't track my food at all.  If you really want to track your food, you can sync your FitBit app with the myfitnesspal app.  By syncing your steps and tracking your food, you can see how many calories your putting in and burning out. You can also track your weight.  You can even buy the FitBit scale that syncs to your app.

What's the most steps you've done in a day?
April 5th 2016.  I was in Prague.  I did 36,189 steps or 14.86 miles!

I have a fitbit, but I don't wear it.  What should I do?
Wear it!  You'll never know how much you walk unless you track your progress.  Get in a routine where you have a certain time to charge your bracelet without missing out on steps.  Make it a habit to put it on after you brush your teeth or eat breakfast.  It's easy to forget about it, but after seeing all the potential lifetime miles I could of had makes me sad :(

Monday, May 2, 2016

Part 6: Final Stop: Budapest

Since we already spent a week in Budapest, I booked a later bus that left Bratislava at noon instead of earlier in the morning.  We ate breakfast, packed our bags, and walked over to the bus depot.  The bus was almost 20 minutes late since it was coming from Prague, and they were still doing construction there.  We got on the bus, and I watched almost 10 episodes of The Big Bang Theory.  We arrived in Budapest around 3pm.  We got off the bus and went to the Metro station to buy some food.  I honestly have no idea what I bought-- it was some sort of sandwich.  We sat at an open green area until we decided to finally head to the Airbnb.

Stairs to Airbnb
We went back to the Metro and bought a 24 hour pass, since we weren't sure what we wanted to do.  We caught the train and rode it to the end of the line.  We then went to the adjacent bus station to catch the local bus that took us near the Airbnb.  This airbnb was almost an hour from the downtown center via public transit.  It was in a very suburban area, and really close to the airport which was something that I wanted for our early morning flight.

We finally arrived to the Airbnb, and our host was super friendly.  We were in an extended part of the house -- it must of been an old loft, but renovated for guests.  We had to climb the stairs, which was almost like climbing a ladder, to the loft.  The loft had a bathroom with a shower, mini fridge, kitchen, tv, and dvd collection.  It was a very unique set up.
Park we had dinner at

After we were settled, we walked to a Burger place that was about a 25 minute walk away.  Of course, it was closed when we got there, and it was only 5pm at night on a Friday.  We went to a bakery next door that had hot dogs and pizza.  We took our food to a park that we passed on the way to the burger place.  We enjoyed the quiet park and ate our dinner.  It began to sprinkle, so we went back to the Airbnb.  We relaxed for the rest of the evening since we were going to leave a 5:30 am to head to the airport.

We met our host at 5:30am to get a ride to the bus stop.  It was something that she wanted to do-- I think it was on her way to work.  Anyways, she drove us to the bus stop and we catch the bus that took us to the airport.  We got to the airport around 6am, but had to wait in line at the check in counter since the self-automated machines for British Airways weren't working.  After we were checked in and went through security, we used the rest of our HUF to get Burger King for breakfast. We caught our flight and made it to London safely.

Since we were riding with American Airlines on the way back, we had to go through the security checkpoint, where we were asked what we did, why we were in Europe, where we work in the States, etc.  It was a little odd, and by far the strictest security we came across.  We were approved, and we caught out flight to Chicago!

The flight back to the States was really nice.  We were in the back of the plane, so we had a lot of leg room.  The movie selection was alright, but we had to wait for the movie to start, and we couldn't pause the movie.  We eventually made it to Chicago, where the security checkpoint was once again really long.  Luckily, our line moved pretty fast, and we made our connection to Phoenix.

I tried my best to not sleep on the way to Phoenix, but I did.  After our 3 hour flight, we caught the Arizona Shuttle that drove us 2.5 hours up the mountain to Flagstaff.

Kodak was very excited to see us, and we quickly fell asleep.  Getting back to Arizona Time wasn't that bad.

Overall, I had a great time abroad.  I cannot wait to go back!  Just need to save my money :)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Part 5: Bratislava, Slovakia

Blue Church near AirBnB
After a great two days in Prague, we caught our bus to Bratislava, Slovakia, which is a small town that borders Austria and Hungary.  When we arrived at the Bus Station in Bratislava (around 1pm), Brandon and I walked to a nearby park to relax for about 30 minutes until it was time to check into our Airbnb.  The park was very nice-- the weather was great, the trees were blooming, and locals were sitting on benches reading books or chatting with a neighbor.  We eventually left and made our way to the Blue Church where the Airbnb was near.  We found the flat and went inside the building.  We missed what flat number it was, so we had to ring the door again.  We finally made it to the flat where we were greeted by Radka, a friend of the Airbnb host.  The host that we were staying with was ill, so we were going to have the flat with ourselves.  Unfortunately, this meant that we wouldn't have a personal tour with the host-- something the host originally suggested since she's a historian.  Brandon and I set our stuff down, and Radka told us that she was still cleaning and doing laundry from the previous guest.  We asked her where a good place to eat would be, and she suggested a new, hip cafe that was only a few blocks away.  Radka also gave us suggestions like where to get the best ice cream and where the secret staircase for the castle was located.  We told her thanks and went on our way to the cafe.

Secret Stair Case
The cafe, U Kubistu, was nice and cozy.  We were running out of Euros, so we only had a set amount that we could spend.  The cafe had complimentary water, which is something you do not see a whole lot in Europe.  I ordered the chicken breast with sage (or it might have been basil) and apples.  Brandon ordered the Boar dish.  The food was delicious and healthy, though a little on the pricey end.  Brandon's boar was sooooo good.  It was tender and juicy.  We had our meal, paid, then went back to the Airbnb where we found a homemade guide book that the host created.  The book (more like folder) had suggestions on where to go and best places to eat like a local.  I found a free walking tour for the next day since our personal tour was cancelled.  Since the weather was so nice, and we had plenty of daylight left, Brandon and I went to the Danube and walked on the boardwalk.

The Castle from below
The weather was perfect.  The walk was very nice, and we saw the three different bridges.  We had the directions on where to find the hidden staircase, but was unsure since there was a lot of construction. Brandon saw a staircase in the distance on the other side of the street, so we walked across and went up the steps.  Then, the stairs turned into steel, which was what we were looking for!  We climbed up the steps, and boy were there a lot of them.  At the top, it put us out right by the castle.  We had to go down the hill, and then we were there!  We took a lot of photos and walked around.  The views from the castle were awesome.  You can see the other side of the city that sits across the river, and to the right, you can see wind turbines, which I think were in Austria.  Of course, we found the oldest geocache in the country at the castle.  After we were done walking around, we went down the hill towards the old town.

We walked all around the old town looking for a cheap place to eat.  We stopped at this pizza place, but of course, the people in front of us ordered all of the pizza that we wanted.  So we walked out and explored the old town some more.  We eventually came across this street food bistro where the line was out the door.  We decided to eat there since we were both hungry, but not starving.  We one a cone of fries and a meat in a cone.  The food was really, really good.  After we filled out bellies, we went to the Lidl to pick up some snacks.  The Lidl was small, and I picked up some granola/fruit bars.  Brandon picked up some cookies and a loaf of raisin bread.

We finally went back to the Airbnb and relaxed.  We watched some tv and fell asleep.

Day Two of Bratislava

Bryndzové Halušky
We went to the old town again to meet people for the free English tour of Bratislava.  There were about 25 people who participated in the tour.  They were from all over the world: London, Australia, Germany, and some others that were from the States.  The tour was nice since we walked all over the old town and new town looking at the statues and learning history about them.  Most of the stuff that we saw, we already saw the night before.  After the 2 hour walking tour, Brandon, myself, and two guys from Germany went to this small restaurant called Verne to get some Bryndzove Halusky.  This is the national dish of Slovakia which is common to eat at bars; this dish is sheep cheese with bacon and soft noodles.  I thought it was good for 5 euros, but Brandon said he couldn't eat the whole plate of it.  After we ate our lunch, we walked on over to get dessert at Koun, which was suppose to be one of the best ice cream places in Europe.  I got 1 scoop of marzipan and 1 scoop of panna cotta. The ice cream was good, but I think it was over hyped.  The ice cream in Prague was a lot better.  After we ate our ice cream, we split ways with the German guys.  We went back to the flat and got what we needed for our geocaching event, which was held at the park that we went to the day before.

The geocaching event was nice.  We had a good turn out-- about 15 local geocachers attended.  We chatted about the States and Bratislava, and geocaching.  After about 45 minutes, we went back to the flat to relax for a little bit.

We decided to walk more around downtown to see if there was anything that we missed.  When we were finished, we went to Le Senk Craft Beer Cafe.  We weren't very hungry, so we ordered a small plate of wings and fries.  I got a hefeweizen beer, and Brandon ended up getting 2 or 3 IPAs.  This was the best beer that we had for the whole trip.  The cafe was really neat -- something you would see in Flagstaff.  After we were done, we went back to the Airbnb to get some rest before heading back to Budapest to catch our flight.

Overall, I enjoyed Bratislava.  I'm not sure if I would visit the city again because it is so small.  If I go back to Slovakia,  I would like to go to a smaller town.