Setup and Daily Usage
Speaking of progress charts, the BodyMedia web interface is one of the best we've seen in a fitness monitoring application. After installing the BodyMedia program, simply plug in your device, log in if prompted, and then your browser opens displaying the data stored on your armband.
The dashboard provides a quick summary of a given day's calorie expenditures, total calories consumed that you've tracked that day with the food tracker. We also see the amount of time deemed as "physical activity" which is determined by a certain metabolic rate, as well as steps taken, amount of sleep, as well as your current weight, and how it relates to your starting weight which you setup for your goals. When the wristband isn't worn, averages of hourly expenditures are used as a general placeholder, as you can see on the left and right when I wasn't wearing the armband. We see spikes where at noon and 1PM when I ran an errand on my bike, and overall it's remarkably accurate. We tracked the times of even basic activity (walking up stairs or doing dishes) and you can see a noticeable spike with even the least strenuous activity.
A notification tab displays your latest notifications which shows you personal bests, reminders, and other notifications. There is also another tab which details all of your personal bests, which is fun as it gives you something to continue trying to push when meeting your goals.
Another great features is the food tracking portion of their website. It contains a huge database of various foods, preparations, and serving settings so entering what you've eaten doesn't involve a multitude of internet searches and manual entry. Have a food you frequently eat, add it to the "Frequent Foods" category. A family recipe? Add that to "My Foods" and you'll have it handy in the future as well. This plays well with the Nutrition Assessment functionality as well which helps show you your eating trends and improve you calorie intake habits.
Based upon your food consumption logs, BodyMedia will perform a nutrition assessment which provides information on how to improve your diet and hone in on what it takes to achieve your goals.
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A couple other nice inclusions are a calorie calculator for a wide range of activities to give you an estimate of how many calories you burned given your height, age, and weight. Also, you may set a number of reminders during the day, which is a nice feature to have.
When you first setup your CORE armband, you input some basic information about you, like your height, weight, age, and other details such as weight and waist size as they are pertinent to you. You then create program goals, and it will help you pace yourself to meet them in the time frame and weight or waist-size you'd like to reach. The interface is very nice, but one thing we don't like about it is that the only way to access your data is to plug in the armband to your computer. It would be very nice to look at your progress without having to have the armband plugged in. The data sync also requires that you install a program onto your computer to sync the data to BodyMedia's servers.
Currently, the CORE armband retails for a rather hefty $180, which may not be too much for anyone serious about achieving their weight-loss goals. However, ontop of that is a $7/month subscription which adds to the long-term cost and also adds to number of other recurring bills you may already struggle to keep track of. BodyMedia says the subscription goes towards providing continued expansion of features for the Armband, as opposed to releasing entirely new products every-so-often. The trade being that the small fee prevents you from having to buy a new product to stay up-to-date. Perhaps it's thought that if you pay $180 for a device, you're going to be reluctant not to pay a monthly subscription which would render the device useless. Although BodyMedia may have a potentially beneficial model, adding recurring costs to an already expensive device is a bit deterring.
Because the CORE Armband is about the same size as the current iPod Nano, the experience of wearing it on your bicep is similar to wearing an MP3 player in the same manner. The sensor bumps on the bottom of the device press on the skin somewhat, but it's not sharp, and you stop noticing it's there after a short time. The armband closure is easily adjustable and well-constructed. We confident that the monitoring unit can handle the most rigorous workouts without falling out of the armband clip, and the polycarbonate/ABS shell should hold up to an unlucky collision with another person or object. Stay away from the pool though. The CORE Armband may be water resistant, but it isn't waterproof by any means.
If you've driven a modern car that reports your average MPG on the dash, you may have noticed yourself striving to keep that number at a maximum for the duration of your trip. The CORE Armband has the same effect. After you wear it for several days with the knowledge that your physical activity is being tracked, you might find yourself walking a bit more briskly and taking stairs two at a time. The urge to push yourself harder becomes even stronger if you opt for the optional clip-on display that allows you to track your progress in real time. A bluetooth model is also available, and can sync to your smartphone to provide even more information on the go. The human fear of failure is a powerful motivator, and the CORE Armband leverages that fear to help you meet your goals. Ontop of that, the continued awareness of your metabolic rate and calorie intake, and the subtle reminder that the armband gives should really help stay ontop of your goals mentally, which will help you continue to push yourself physically to keep making progress.