Nike+ Fuelband SE – Back to Track

In case you were wondering, I have been on a weight loss adventure for some time now.

In 2015-ish I was tired of being tired all the time. Sick of being sick. And mostly, fed up with being fat and all the bad stuff that comes along with it. It is sad that you can be the best at what you do career-wise, a kind person, bright, educated… whatever, and still your main monicker is “that chubby girl.”

Honestly, losing 80-ish pounds wasn’t hard. Obviously, there were moments when I wanted nothing more than to lay in bed and eat Big Macs, but as soon as I fell into a routine, embraced the world of fitness, and found foods and exercise plans that I actually enjoyed, everything kind of fell into place.

I attribute a lot of my success to technological advances that simplify daily activities like tracking calories and workouts. I don’t know what people did before Myfitnesspal. Not having to pen and paper and journal and research made life so easy for me. And initially, the calories in calories out process worked wonders to jump start my weight loss.

Another fun app I used to use a lot was Fitocracy. I love the gamification involved – plugging in exercise you do to earn points and “level up.” The fact that this is a highly social program, where you are encouraged to give “props” to your fellow athletes, join forums and groups, and make friends – that made it all the more fun.

Still, all that daily tracking got old at some point with me. When you get to that phase where you’re in “maintenance” mode, it just starts feeling frivolous to constantly be typing everything you eat and do into your phone. It’s like these apps give you the tools to start you on the road to success, and then once you figure out what works, you can slowly wean yourself off of them.

This year for Christmas, Aaron, lover of all gadgets and all things Nike, surprised me with a Fuelband+ SE. At first, I was kind of “meh” about it. But after using it with some regularity for the past month, I’ve actually really come to enjoy it.

Basically, this bracelet is equipped with an accelerometer, which helps to track your daily movement. This is then converted into Nike Fuel points.
On the surface, those features alone probably don’t warrant the 150$ price tag. Once I started playing with it a little, though, I’ve found it to be a really neat little tool.

First of all, I like the looks of it. It’s not really clunky at all, and although I don’t like to sleep or shower with it on, that’s just me.
Plus, the screen on it not only shows your fuel earned for the day, but calories burned, “hours won,” and the time. If anything, it makes for a sporty looking digital watch.

Every hour for a set period of time, it lights up and says “go Martha!” which means it’s time to move. This band encourages you to get 5 minutes of activity every hour in order to win it. Although my job isn’t sedentary, I think this is an excellent feature for those who sit at a desk all day.

I personally use my ultra training “rest days” to try and win as many hours as possible. For those 5 minutes, I work on mobility drills instead of just slouching around all day. On days when I actually do train, I don’t put too much weight on winning hours because I know I got my activity in.

This version of the Fuelband also allows you to track “sessions.” Since activities like yoga or weight training don’t necessarily trip the accelerometer, you can use the app to start an aid session, and when you are through, enter your perceived intensity to get the appropriate amount of points.

This is one place where I’ve kind of found dislike for the Fuelband. I find that first of all, if you’re using another training ap in conjunction (I like Nike Training club for days when I don’t feel like going to the gym), sometimes when you “start your session” – if you flip over to the other ap it just stops working. It’s no big deal, but if calculating your points as accurately as possible is of utmost concern to you, this is a huge flaw.

Another thing is the battery on your phone situation – running Bluetooth, the Fuelband session ap, a running ap, and iTunes or podcasts simultaneously is a nightmare. Generally, when I run, I don’t bother with starting a session, as the accelerometer does the trick, however, as I start cycling more, I can see this being a problem.

Another complaint with sessions, is that currently, my main activity is cross-country skiing. Since that wasn’t an activity that Nike decided to include in it’s preprogrammed sessions, I had to create my own. No big deal, except, I can’t adjust my perceived intensity at the end. This bothers me, because some days when I’m just out gliding around, I go a lot faster and it requires a lot less work than on days when I’m climbing hills. Since I climb hills slower, the accelerometer goes off less, making these more brutal sessions of less intensity in Nike Fuel. It doesn’t make a difference in my training personally, because I am going to do what I have to do regardless of how many points it warrants, but I still think that a device like this should allow for as accurate tracking as possible.

Other than that, I do enjoy the Fuelband. I think the iPhone app is pretty slick, and the kind of data it draws is fascinating and somewhat motivational. The fact that aside from having to track sessions, all you really have to do is wear it to gather all the data makes it such a simple tool.

My thoughts overall on the Fuelband SE:

I like the way it looks, and the fact it doubles as a watch
Great iPhone application
Hourly reminders to get moving, plus other fun displays when you reach your daily goals
Long-ish battery life
Gamifies fitness, making it motivational to earn your daily points and stay active

Session tracking needs some work
Battery dies at inconvenient times, need a USB port to charge
Obviously, the calories burned tracking isn’t 100% accurate, but without a heart rate monitor, that’s expected

I think the Nike+ Fuelband SE is best suited for someone who is just starting off on their weight loss journey, or someone who is trying to be less sedentary and needs a little motivational kick. However – if you’re more advanced, you can always up your goal points for the day. Also, if you are a fan of gadgets and data collecting, the Fuelband is probably something you will enjoy.

For me, I am glad I got this as a gift because as I weaned myself off of all the apps I used to use regularly, I found I was starting to do a little less. As a big fan of data, I am going to enjoy the Fuelband for what it’s worth, but still be mindful of my workload on my own terms.