I <3 Charts: a data nerd tries Fitbit

I’ve already talked here about my compulsion to be efficient in games, usually by creating elaborate charts about totally useless things. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that I can also be a litte strange about “min-maxing” in real life, too.

Why just play on the computer when I can play on the computer and watch a movie at the same time? Why walk through the house twice to accomplish chores when I can plan the most efficient single route? I frequently will eat the same food item 5 days in a row because I want to track the optimal cooking time. Basically I’m a colossal nerd, and like most nerds I love data.

I use Raptr to track my games, and Last.fm to track my music, and so on.. but once I step away from the computer, how can I track what I’m doing? Huh? HUH?! And that is how I ended up buying a Fitbit this past weekend.

Fitbit has been producing personal metric trackers since 2008, and mine in particular is a Fitbit One. It will track how many steps I make in a day, how many flights of stairs I walk up, and my sleeping habits. I can also manually add in data like food or complicated exercise. The result is that I can collect a great deal of information about my day, which I find fascinating. (It’s easy to wear, too — I just clip it on in the morning and forget about it.)

fitbitdatas I <3 Charts: a data nerd tries Fitbit

How often do I wake up in my sleep? How many steps is it from home to work in the morning? Oh, the datas. My nerdy self is really enjoying getting an informed perspective on my daily routine.

Of course the touted benefit of the Fitbit is not just quantifying information from your life, despite my love of charts, but encouraging you to reach certain milestones. There are achievements, like with everything else that was created in the last five years, and I have to admit that since I got the dang thing I find myself stepping in place and taking the stairs more because I know it’s being “counted”. Yes, it counted before in the general scheme of being healthy, but now it’s for real. Stepping in place when I’m waiting in line somewhere suddenly became quantifiably OPTIMAL.

I’m sure the novelty of the Fitbit will wear off eventually after a few months of collecting data, but if you’re a numbers geek who likes gadgets and is interested in learning more about how your body works, I’d recommend checking it out.

Author: Jessica Cook

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