Trail a Blaze

Sometimes the truth hurts. Especially when it’s lit up in lights and staring you in the face! Enter… my new Fitbit Blaze.

If you’re not familiar with a Fitbit (where have you been for the last 5 years?) it is one of the best fitness trackers on the market. And it doubles as a watch! I’m not big on gadgets, or apps or fiddly devices that are needy and over-share, but the Fitbit Blaze has won its way into my 42 beats-per-minute heart.

It’s honest to a fault, it tells you when you haven’t moved and should, and if you haven’t climbed enough stairs, drunk enough water or haven’t hit your daily quota of calories burned – it stares those insufficient numbers at you without budging, until you do.

But like all good friends (who call it as it is) when you do achieve your daily goals, it’s right there, celebrating with you. Lights a-blazing, dancing, and cheering – you can almost hear the marching band.

The 7-Day Challenge

I signed up to get the new Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card, and part of the offer is a free Fitbit Blaze. A cool marketing ploy to help you get both your fitness and financial goals in check. This is an amazing offer (including the 0% interest rate for 24 months on balance transfers, plus other perks) so I signed on before you could say ‘Get Down and give me 20’!

My Fitbit Blaze arrived and the next day I committed to do a 7-day challenge.

I was up against other health bloggers, so the bar was set high and I knew I had to do some serious steps. The challenge was a simple ‘He or She Who does the Most Steps in 7 Days Wins’.

As a side note, you can set all sorts of challenges – most active minutes, most calories burned, most consistent sleep patterns, most weight lost or even most nutritious diet (although you have to go to your personal web page on the Fitbit site and input the food you’ve eaten and it will spit out the nutritional data.) So much can be measured, but for the sake of simplicity and ease of this challenge, Step count was the challenge.

What I had in my little bag of tricks was my 12-year-old daughter who would constantly ask me ‘How Many Steps Mum?’ If my answer wasn’t to her liking, she’d encourage me to do more. She even suggested we do jogs together as she was curious how many steps you clock up on a run, how many calories you could burn and the effect different activities had on your heart beat.

She received a fast-tracked education on the physiology of exercise. As an exercise physiologist, it was a great pleasure to explain all this to her. By the end of the 7 days, she was across resting heart beat vs active, maximal and sub-maximal heart beats. As well as why it’s important to get enough rest, and why we should move every hour.

The startling thing for both of us to learn was how easy it was for two or three hours to pass without getting up and moving. I love the little reminder to do 250+ steps every hour, and each time you achieve you get a red dot. If you miss the hour, the dot stays grey – and becomes a little bit soul destroying. It’s a real joy when all the dots are red at the end of the day, BOOM!

And even though 10,000 steps per day isn’t a lot, on the days I didn’t run I really had to make a conscious effort to get up off my chair, move away from my desk and walk. And that’s exactly where the Fitbit can be so valuable. It gives it to you in black and white. The numbers don’t lie – but they certainly motivate.

Did I win the step challenge, no! But I did have fun with it, picked up some good habits, and enjoyed a wonderful teaching and learning experience with my daughter, promoting the value of movement.

What I liked

The Fitbit Blaze gives you a bunch of useful data.

There are no confusing apps to struggle with. Sure, you won’t be turning off your house lights with your watch or navigating your way through country roads. However, you will use it to see how far you walk your dog, how many flights of stairs you climb, how well you sleep, your heart beat at all times and how many calories you burn. Also, presumably, you will use it to tell time.

It also has all the usual watch features – alarm, timer and stopwatch. It’s not considered a smart watch, however you can have your messages and other notifications come through the Fitbit. That says too needy to me… and when I’m away from my phone or computer – I choose to be so.

There’s only a few “apps” to play with on the Blaze. For more, you download the Fitbit App to your phone where you have a complete dashboard and more useful data to keep you informed about your status. Even your friends, if you sign up to do a challenge with them!

To access the apps on your watch, you simply touch and slide the face of the watch to move between the apps, which are:

Today: This gives you steps, heartbeat, kilometres, calories, and floors climbed at that point in time during the day.

Exercise: This let’s you time and track your workouts, including run, bike, weights, treadmill, elliptical and a generic workout.

And my favourite app…

FitStar: This guides you through a series of workouts designed to get you off your ass. It’s like having a PT on your wrist. So, if you’re not motivated to train your abs, try the preprogrammed 10 Minute Abs workout. It’s a goodie.

The Blaze becomes more useful when you work out on a regular basis. When I started an outdoor run, the Blaze synced with my phone to track and saved my route. As you run, you can see the total distance, steps taken, current and average pace, and calories burned.

If you’ve forgotten to formally track a workout, the Blaze has you covered. The tracker can automatically recognise various activities and add them to your workout history. By default, it’ll only add an activity when you keep it up for 15 minutes or more, but you can adjust that in the settings for when you do shorter workouts.

While the Blaze didn’t recognise my bike rides (my exercise of choice), it did track my active minutes based on elevated heart rate. Also, the one time I did a 11km run, it was smart enough not to terminate the workout when I took a short walking break.

I also liked the fact it tracked my sleep patterns, even identifying when I was restless through the night. Sleep is so valuable to your health, and the ability to track your patterns can help you put habits in place to improve your shut-eye.

Lastly, even though I’ve really only scratched the surface, I do like the personal badges you get in your inbox when you’ve hit certain milestones. Not only do they make you smile, they also give you a little fun fact. Who knew that at 112 kilometres, you’ve matched the distance the emperor penguins make every year to get to their breeding grounds?

3 habits I’ve started:

  1. I get up and move EVERY hour
  2. I measure my water intake – especially on the colder days
  3. I include stairs (at least 10 flights) – Every day
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GET YOUR FITBIT BLAZE WHILE OFFER IS AVAILABLE

Citi is offering customers a complimentary Fitbit Blaze when they sign up to the Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card

The Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card comes with a $199 Annual Fee then $249 and 0% for 12 months on Balance Transfers

The Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card has fantastic benefits, such as the Citi Dining Program, where members can receive a free bottle of award winning wine every time they dine at one of hundreds of partner restaurants in the Citi Dining Program and receive points when they spend.

Sign up for a Citi Platinum Credit Card and receive your complimentary Fitbit blaze

I know it’s just a device, but it does makes me accountable, it provides useful information which ultimately motivates me, and of course it makes me smile every time it sends out a cheer on my behalf.

COMING SOON: 

I’ll be doing a Fitbit challenge with some awesome prizes next month. So get you Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card and enjoy all sorts of unexpected rewards!

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