I am not getting any younger and am travelling a lot. Lately, my travel has been a dilemma for me. While I enjoy it more than ever, I worry about food and exercise – or health in general – during my trips. Furthermore, an average bloke like me has limited, if any, understanding of complexities of calorie intake or outgo, heart rate, adequate rest, etc. More than anything, this lack of understanding always, I repeat, always leaves you worried about your general well-being; even more so, during your travels.
It was in this backdrop that my wife handed me over a Fitbit Surge (She works with Fitbit). I looked at the box and asked her incredulously – “Why are you giving me a watch? I haven’t worn one in last 8 years or so.” She smiled and said nothing.
I decided to do some reading up and realised it was incidental that it had a watch. So, comparing it to an Apple Watch won’t be right since that’s more of a communication device while this actually is a health tracker. I immediately started wearing it and decided to log in my food with integrity.
When not travelling, my lifestyle is sedentary if I were to exaggerate (it actually is more like a couch-potato’s). So, the first pleasant surprise this little genie gave me was even when I am not running or walking, I am burning calories. If ever there was a ‘love at first-sight-with-a-dashboard’, it was then!
It has been over a month since I am wearing it now. In this entire duration, I had to charge it about 4-5 times for an hour or so. To be honest, I haven’t yet used its GPS function – yes, it has that too – and that may be a battery hog! What that delivers is the zig-zag map of the jog or walk you undertake in your enthusiasm. For me as a traveller, it also delivers a near-perfect understanding of places I visit (so I have read!). So, when I get around to using it, that is likely to help me not lose track of some of the lesser known spots; and aid in a subsequent hunt for them since it seamlessly syncs with Google Maps. As a travel photographer and a travel writer, that’s important for me.
Ok. Let’s move to some of the serious stuff! As I mentioned earlier, I faithfully started logging in my food on the dashboard. Voila, I suddenly discover my favourite food – pizza – is a massive calorie bomb! I must admit it has discouraged me to gorge on it as often as I used to, earlier. Sigh, someone rightly said – “Ignorance is bliss!” In those blissful days, a pizza and a diet coke used to be a balanced diet!
While logging in food, I realised there are major gaps vis-a-vis Indian foods in the available menu logs. Our staple includes shallow-fried Arbi (Taro), cooked French beans and potatoes, fried Karela (Bitter Gourd), variety of Raitas, etc. These were missing. Upon looking around, I found ‘add new item’ underneath the log. Suddenly, with the help of Google Uncle, I could add all such foods that were missing there.
Fitbit Surge also tracks steps taken and floors climbed (pretty much like all their other models). Some sensors like altimeters, gyroscopes, etc. help this device track this stuff. Even if you do not go for a walk or a jog, you realise you have walked an average of a mile a day in your house! You get additional peace of mind from the knowledge that it helped burn calories! It also has a habit of giving you medals for your achievements (!).
A few gentle swipes on its touchscreen inform me of my heartbeats per minute, miles walked, calories burnt, besides the floors climbed and step taken. I am not a doctor, but I did study some thumb rules of resting heart rates and anaerobic/aerobic heart rates after getting this device. General calm now prevails in the knowledge that all is well! Touchwood!
Another interesting thing – I now know how long I slept for, how many times I got disturbed during the night & woke up and what my resting heart rate was. This is generally the stuff that most of us are clueless about unless we are in the habit of strapping a heart rate monitor around our body every night. Again, that niggle at the back of mind on how I am doing on these important health parameters is now a thing of past. This, I would say, is a typical case of ‘being at peace as you now KNOW’!
I travelled for about 10 days during this one month of wearing Fitbit Surge. The food I consumed was different from what I normally have. But, the calorie count has conscientiously been calculated and shared by my tracker.
Let me admit, I am not looking to build a six-pack at my age (I am no Shahrukh, you know!). At the same time, I am surely looking for what Fitbit terms as Everyday Fitness (as against Active and Performance Fitness). This device has surely helped me get a handle on that.
If I were to sum up my experience with Fitbit Surge, it would be this: From the mental state of ‘concern’ of not knowing how I am doing on important health parameters, to getting a dashboard of near-perfect data of those metrics, the journey is that of PEACE. It has also consciously made me consume high-protein stuff when I realised my food did not have enough of it. The medals it gave me also made me smile – that’s an extra smile, you know! All the same, it has done precious little in dissuading me to consume alcohol – a high-calorie, zero protein diet! So, my recommendation would be – “Go for it, for peace and knowledge!”