Sunday 14 September 2014

Weight Update & FitBug Orb *REVIEW*

Lucy's Weight Loss Update

Since my last weight loss post I've had a really busy time. We had a manic few weeks full of celebrations for little Bert's first birthday, and a week long holiday to Cyprus with my hubby. 

I made a conscious decision before the celebrations began that I would stop calorie counting and I would enjoy a couple of week's indulgence. For me, the point of having lost so much weight is to be able to enjoy all the food I eat without guilt. The way I do this now is consciously deciding on what treats I'm going to have, and ensure they are not every day and in vast quantities. I try to eat a very balanced diet most of the time and do plenty of exercise, in order to be able to go off the rails every now and then, without causing too much damage. 

Over the two weeks of not calorie counting I ate A LOT - birthday cake, party food, cream teas, fish and chips, doughnuts, ice cream, and on holiday we ate from the buffet restaurant for breakfast and dinner, and certainly got our money's worth. I wasn't ultra stupid - I didn't make myself feel sick, or eat for the sake of eating - I ate what I wanted, but there was still a quiet nagging voice telling me not to be too greedy.

Honestly, by the time I got back from holiday I was beginning to get a bit fed up with 'treat food', and well in need of some fruit, vegetables and moderation! I felt pretty horrendous. Lesson learned - two weeks 'off' is perhaps a tad too long for me these days. I was dreading the weigh-in on the friday morning after our holiday (I weigh in every Friday morning religiously), I was pretty sure I must have put on at least a stone….but, I'd put on just 5 lbs in the two weeks off. 

Some of you might recoil in horror at putting on 2.5 lbs a week for two weeks, but I ate SO much and really enjoyed every mouthful - I was pleasantly surprised. I know that if I put my mind to it I can soon lose that 5 lbs I put on. After having lost over 5 stone, 5 lbs doesn't seem as scary! 

I felt so relaxed over Bert's birthday and throughly enjoyed all the yummy foods I indulged in. The holiday was glorious: being able to eat what I liked for a week, with no little man to amuse at meal times was such a treat - it added so much enjoyment to the experience. 

For me, food will always be emotional. I will probably always see it as a reward, a treat. I know that without yummy scrummy foods to cook, and eat, I'd have a lot less pleasure in my life. I understand this now, and embrace it instead of trying to hide it. 

Since returning from holiday I have lost 1 of the 5 lbs I put on. I now have 11 lbs to lose to get to my final target weight. 

To date I have lost 5 stone 5 lbs since September 2013. 

Hubby and I at our biggest! 

Me last week - Current weight: 11 stone 11 lbs 
Goal weight: 11 stone

I have set myself a goal to have reached that target weight by my best friend's wedding in early December. This gives me about 11 weeks to lose 11 lbs. It will mean I need to really keep my eye on the ball as much as possible between now and then - I have a lot of celebrations coming up in the next few months (cousins 30th, my birthday, a weekend away with hubby, hubby's 30th) and I need to be conscious to try and ensure whatever treats I have are reasonable, and met with lots of exercise to counteract the naughtiness. 

I dream of being in the position when I'm at my goal weight, and work hard to maintain that most of the time. Then, at times when I want a 'break' such as Christmas, my birthday, Easter etc I could take some time off from calorie counting, consciously allow myself to eat treats and probably put some weight on over that set period, then, after the week/two week period (I can't imagine a time when I'd ever need to stop calorie counting for longer than two weeks?) I would weigh in, see the damage and be prepared to lose whatever I've put on. 

Having been in a position when I had over 6 stone to lose, I can now laugh in the face of 6 lbs…having just had two weeks off and eaten the amount I have, I understand that a few weeks off isn't ever going to result in me getting as big as I was before. As long as I deal with the weight gain straight away, and get it off almost as quickly as it went on. 

A gain of 5 lbs at christmas, followed by 5 lbs at Easter, etc would soon add up if I didn't work at losing it again straight away. 

Onwards and upwards: I'm still feeling really motivated and excited about the prospect of being the slimmest I've ever been and working hard to achieve my goals. 

FitBug Orb *REVIEW*

For the past two months I've been trying out a wearable activity monitor called the FitBug Orb which is currently priced at £49.95. FitBug claims that this device can track your steps, distance travelled and hours slept, and will help you to lose weight, get fitter, feel healthier and happier. Big claims from a little product! 

To stay healthy we are meant to take 10,000 steps a day - when I first used a pedometer years ago (when they came free in boxes of Special K!) I was a quite lazy, overweight teenager, and I'm ashamed to say I barely managed to reach 5,000 steps a day, let alone 10,000. As I've gotten older, wiser and much more health conscious, I no longer find it as difficult to reach that step goal. 

What I was interested in finding out was how accurately had I been recording my recent activity levels using just guesstimation and the My Fitness Pal App, compared to the readings I would now get from the FitBug Orb?

In the past I have used both wearable pedometers, and GPS tracking phone Apps to help monitor my activity levels- but I found the pedometers to be wildly inaccurate, and the GPS Apps just drained the battery from my iPhone so quickly it wasn't feasible to use daily. I was interested to try out the Orb and see how it stacked up against my previous experiences with activity monitors. 

What I Needed...

A wearable activity monitor which is 

  • easy to use
  • simple to understand
  • able to track my daily steps
  • able to tell me how many minutes I've stepped actively (so that I can put that information into My Fitness Pal to work out how many calories I've burned)
  • not a drain on my iPhone's battery

The Basics

This little monitor is tiny and easy to wear - at just slightly bigger than a 10p piece, and really light, you can wear it multiple ways - either on a clip to your bra/underwear/belt, a lanyard for around your wrist, or in the watch attachment. The clip, lanyard and watch attachment all come in the box with the Orb for less than fifty pounds. I think this is a pretty reasonable price for what you get. 

The Orb doesn't have a screen for you to read your data from like most pedometers, which means it is very small and light compared to other activity monitors. Instead, it transmits the data it collects via bluetooth to an app on your bluetooth device (such as an iPhone), and it is from the App that you can track your progress. 

Set Up

When my FitBug Orb arrived I found the set up process to be very smooth. I followed the instructions in the pack, registered my Orb online using the serial number found on the bottom of the packaging, downloaded the free App to my phone, and then connected the two via bluetooth. It asks you input your stats (height, current weight, sex etc) and you're good to go. I couldn't wait to start wearing it and giving it a good road test. 

What I particularly love about the Orb is that it tells you how many of your daily steps count as aerobic (calorie burning) steps. For someone like me, whose primary calorie burning exercise source is brisk walking, this is invaluable to me - I was forever guesstimating how many minutes of brisk walking I'd done each day by looking at the time I set out, and arrived home - but this has so many flaws: I wasn't particularly allowing for any dips in pace, stopping/starting etc: all of which would effect the calories I burn. With the Orb I can now see exactly how many minutes of aerobic walking I have done each day and how many miles I have covered. I then input that information into My Fitness Pal, which is the App I use to count calories. Using the Orb has resulted in a much more reliable calculation of how many minutes each day I've spent walking fast enough (around 3 mph is my average pace) to burn calories.

wearing the Orb in the wrist/watch style accessory

I wear the Orb every day on the bra clip attachment. I'm quite hefty in the boob area, so this tiny little Orb soon gets lost if I clip it to the centre middle of my bra front. It is comfortable to wear - once it is on I forget I'm even wearing it!

Don't make the same mistake I did on the first day - I wore the Orb in the wrist/watch style accessory, and then walked along pushing Bert in the buggy. I found that pushing the buggy really messed up the reading as I guess it wasn't getting the movement it needed from my wrist to register my steps. Note to self: wear on bra clip when pushing buggy! Ever since then I've used the bra clip instead, and the readings have been much more reliable. 

If you don't push a buggy most of the time like me, then the watch attachment is brilliant - I would usually expect to pay extra for things like that, so the fact that it comes with the standard package is brilliant. When I've worn the wrist watch attachment on the rare occasions I get to walk by myself without the buggy, I've found it to be really comfortable to wear and well fitting (it has loads of different holes like a normal watch to ensure it will fit any wrist size). It doesn't have a watch face though - I made myself look really silly looking at it for the time on a few occasions - note to FitBug HQ - if you could include a working watch face, that would be great, and would save me from looking like an idiot! Cheers. 

Along with the App, and device itself you also get what's called a KiK digital coach - which after a week, looks at your progress, and starts to set you daily step targets to help encourage you to move more. You will then receive a weekly email with inspiration and advice tailored to you from your digital "coach" (not an actual person, just the software being all clever and using your data to come up with attainable goals) - which I found to be quite motivating. 

The App

The App screen shows you your day like this:

Total steps - Have you met your goal? - Aerobic steps - Distance travelled - Calories burned
A screen shot of the App before I've started stepping!

You transmit data from the Orb to your App either by pressing the button on your Orb once to transmit the current data, or by having it set on beacon mode, where it regularly updates your App with data throughout your day. 

You can also select the 'History' tab, which will give you an overview of your week - I found this to be a really helpful function - it enabled me to see which days I hadn't walked very much, which days I'd greatly exceeded my targets and I could use the history to try to see some patterns in my exercise. 

The colour coded key is a quick an easy way to see if you are meeting, exceeding, or not quite making your goals. From the App you can also see what your goals are, read your sleep data, and change your settings. 

On my best day I made 29,174 steps of which 26,018 were aerobic. On that day I walked 9 miles in total and could input 4 hours 02 minutes of moderate pace walking into My Fitness Pal which amassed to burning 984 calories. Phew! That was a tiring day. 

Sleep mode

One of the other functions of the Orb is a sleep monitor, and I must say I was dubious about this part of its functionality, and in all honesty, I still am. 

You can press a button before you go to sleep at night, which puts your Orb into 'sleep mode' where it apparently tracks the quality of your sleep, how much you wake up and for how long, and how long in total you sleep for. 

Don't ask me how it is supposed to be able to do all this! I have no idea! Perhaps the people over at FitBug can explain the science behind it?

Honestly, I found the Orb a bit uncomfortable to wear at night, and the whole process a little bit of a faff. I would forget to turn it onto sleep mode, or forget to turn it back to normal mode in the morning, and then my readings would be off. It says that the Orb will put itself back into normal mode after taking 50 consecutive steps, but quite often I found it would stay in sleep mode until i either a) remembered to switch it back or b) started aerobic steps. 

This was one of the best and most accurate sleep readings I managed because I put it into sleep mode when I could barely keep my eyes open any more at 1:16am, and remembered to switch it back to normal mode as soon as I woke up at 6:51am. I must have slept pretty soundly that night as my quality of sleep was 98%, not bad! 

The sleep function's issues weren't too much of an issue for me, as I'm not particularly interested in this part of the Orb's functionality. Putting it into sleep mode when I get into bed didn't seem accurate to me as it quite often takes me a while to get off to sleep, I couldn't work out if the Orb would think you were asleep from the moment you turned on sleep mode, or if it can magically work out when you drift off from your movements?

I figured that I could forget about using the sleep function as I know pretty accurately by looking at the clock how long I've slept for. I usually remember if I wake up in the night, so equally, knowing the quality of my sleep isn't really difficult for me either. 


On the whole I found the Orb to do what it says on the tin, so to speak. It ticked every box on the 'What I Needed…' list.

It seems to accurately track your steps, and give you a fair idea of how many minutes each day you've spent doing aerobic exercise. For me, that is really the only information I am interested in. It means I can input with confidence my calories burned using My Fitness Pal, and get better results in terms of weight loss because of that. 

It is easy to set up, doesn't drain your iPhone battery, and I found the multiple ways to wear it very useful. The KiK coach is a helpful addition to keep you motivated, and if you have a better memory than me you will probably find the sleep tracker a useful addition to its function as well. 

I would genuinely recommend the Orb to friends, in fact, I already recommend it to my sister, and she has bought her own and has been using it for the past month! Compared to other activity monitors on the market it is a much more reasonable price - I think you definitely get plenty for your money! 

Disclaimer: I was sent a FitBug Orb for the purpose of this review - all words, opinions and images are my own.