Let’s get the fine print out of the way. I’m not being paid by fitbit to endorse their product, I’m simply providing my experience and how I’m using the tracker to try and help my body better heal from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (MECFS). I have not discussed using the fitbit with my doctors, but I plan to at my next appointments. Okay now that that’s all out of the way, let’s get to it!
If you spend any time at all in the chronic illness areas of social media you are sure to see a myriad of ideas online to help heal your illness(es). As we all know, what helps one person certainly doesn’t necessarily help another, but still we try some of these things out because many of us are thinking, ‘what if this is the thing that makes me feel 5% better? I must at least try it out.’ And that’s how I ended up with a fitbit.
The device comes in small and large, no medium, and even though my wrist is small I got the large because I’d rather it be loose, but it fits perfectly. I did buy an aftermarket pink wristband on Amazon for like $7.00 and I love it. I was initially worried that I would struggle to figure how to use the device. At one point in my life I was a bit of a wiz at electronic devices but these days, well brain fog. Thankfully, it initially walks you through a setup, whether online or on your phone, so it’s pretty much ready to go once you walk through the steps.
If you’re wondering what it monitors and tracks (list not complete) here are some of the more handy features I’ve found helpful:
- Calendar notices on wrist device – uses my iphone calendar
- Food (daily calories consumed and burned) – requires food input on app/online
- Heart Rate – automatically through wrist (Below is an average day for me. I’m not doing anything but maybe sitting up in bed or going down to make tea or grab food to warm up. Just to explain, anytime above 98 it’s time to lie flat.)
- Monthly Cycle (females only) – requires initial input then it tracks automatically
- Sleep – automatically through wrist (The below is a better night for length of time asleep but I still woke up exhausted. Anyone have any deep sleep they don’t want?)
- Stepcounter – automatically through wrist
- Text and phone calls – Notifications on wrist
- Water – requires your input on app/online
- Weight – requires your input on app/online
- Sleep– I was shocked to find that how I feel when I wake up directly correlates to how much deep sleep I’ve had. I’ve learned that a decrease in deep sleep leaves me feeling worse than normal in morning. Some nights I have close to normal deep sleep, other nights I have none, no rhyme or reason, but it explains a portion of the way I feel when I wake up. When you have an illness with little to no answers, it’s nice to be able to see correlations.
- Water – It’s helped me to drink more water to meet my daily requirement, which was a number I selected.
- Diet – Once you put in your food consumed throughout the day it tallies up calories (most foods auto populate so this is pretty easy) burned and also breaks down carbs/fat/protein by percentage so you can see where you’re at and decide if you need more balancing.
- Rest– With the heart rate tracker I am finding that my heart rate increases when it’s time to lie flat to rest and I’m starting heed that call. I’ll let you know if it helps long term but fingers are crossed!
- Anaerobic threshold (AT)– Although I’ve not formally had a doctor tell me what my AT is, although I do intend on doing that, I’ve used an online calculator and can monitor my heart rate to stop when I reach my AT. As I understand it via online information I’ve read the goal with CFS is stay below your AT to avoid PEM, flares and just generally feeling worse. On a good day I can reach my AT simply by making tea so it doesn’t take much to get there. The goal over time is with better pacing to be able to do a bit more before reaching AT.
- Symptoms vs. heart rates– It’s become very clear to me which symptoms come with a higher heart rate. Now I’m immediately lying down flat until my heart rate returns to my normal resting heart rate and can feel some of these symptoms slip away at the same time. This can take the rest of the day, but now I know when it’s time. I also know if I wake up with a high resting heart rate I need to stay flat or I’m speeding into a flare.
- Pacing – It automatically sets daily goals for a variety of things, but as I mentioned before you can go in and customize them to meet your energy envelope. Once I’ve met my daily goal I’ve found it’s time to stop so I don’t push myself into post exertion malaise (PEM). So far, this is helping. It’s so hard not to want to do that little bit more on my better days, but this is a great device to hold me accountable on when enough is enough.
- Reminders to move– It reminds you to move once an hour. I don’t do this yet, but it does make me giggle when the little messages pop up with things like – take me for a walk to reach your steps. Have I personified the fitbit? No! Yes! Well, maybe a little. It’s nice to have company. 😉
- Settings are customizable– As I mentioned above you can set the dailys goals to your abilities. My daily step goal is much lower than a healthy person, that’s okay, I just do what I can safely without spiking my heart rate into AT. Somedays that’s possible, someday’s it’s not, and I’m hoping in time I can increase the goals.
- Calendar reminders– This is good for doctor’s appointments, medications, and any other reminder you have set in your calendar. It’ll come across your wrist device with a gentle buzz to get your attention.
- Not waterproof– Showers are one of my biggest challenges and it’s not waterproof so I cannot wear it in the shower. I suspect my heart rate soars in the shower and it’d be nice to be able to track that more efficiently.
- Expensive– It’s not cheap, but it’s an investment in my health and I’m hopeful that long range it will teach me to better pace.
- No alarm settings– Ideally, I’d like to be notified when my heart rate goes from aerobic to anaerobic, but at this point this device does not do that. As I understand it other devices do and I think in time this one will too.
In summary, I’m glad I bought it! It’s very customizable and has already helped me be more accountable to my water and food consumption. I’m still under calories every day, but now I know that I’m eating a pretty balanced diet and not eating more calories than my body is using. It’s also helped me to start to shift away from the boom and bust cycle.
‘Boom and bust’ cycles
Cycles of fluctuating activity levels and symptoms, which are a common feature of CFS/ME. Boom and bust cycles can happen when a person with CFS/ME is overactive when they are feeling better, which may lead to an increase in symptoms and a decrease in function.
I’m not expecting miracles but considering the crash/flare I just went through, any improvement is welcome!
Thank you for stopping by. I’ll keep you posted. Please let me know if you have any thoughts in the comments. And a few more of my doodles. 😁