On the morning of my twentieth birthday, I eagerly unwrapped a gift from my parents to discover a brand new Fitbit Flex. As someone who would only run if a bear was chasing me, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle a wearable exercise monitor. I had heard about people becoming obsessed with the numbers on their bracelet, so I was understandably worried.

I’ve been using my Fitbit for almost two months now, and I’ll admit it – I’m only human, and sometimes I care more about the number of steps I take or calories I burn than I should. That said, the other 90% of the time my Fitbit has been surprisingly useful. From monitoring sleep to counting kilometres, the information that the bracelet provides has changed the way I understand my body and personal health.

Sleep

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Photo courtesy of Fitbit

The “Sleep” function tracks the length of time for which you’re asleep and how many times you’re restless or awake during that time. Although it can be a painful reminder of how little sleep you got after a night out, this function can also help judge the factors that affect how restless your night is.

For me, I noticed a significant rise in restlessness if I had coffee after 2 pm. By making sure to get my caffeine fix before then, I’ve been able to make the most of every minute of deep, deep sleep.

Community

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Photo courtesy of Fitbit

The “Friends” function is arguably the most fun. It allows you to connect with other Fitbit users, complete group challenges and send messages of encouragement.

Taunts from my sister – who, unfortunately, is not actually Khloe Kardashian – always make me laugh, especially when she has fewer steps than I do. On the flip side, getting smiley face cheers from my little cousin (who is often 20,000 steps ahead of everyone else) motivates me to hit my own step goals.

Exercise

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Photo courtesy of Fitbit

Possibly the most well-known feature of the Fitbit is being able to track how many steps you’ve taken. Although this function is pretty straight-forward, even knowing how many steps I’ve taken has taught me something about personal fitness.

In order to get 10,000 steps per day, I would sometimes find myself walking circles around the kitchen table before bed. Then, one Saturday night, I hit 10,000 steps after only an hour and a half of dancing. Being able to see how many steps an activity provides has enabled me to find exercises like dancing that are both fun and productive, rather than just one or the other, so it’s more than just circling a table at night.

Food

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Photo courtesy of Fitbit

The basic function of the “Food” category is to help you achieve balance by tracking how many calories you’ve consumed throughout the day as well as how many you’ve burned.

Being able to track calories is key in understanding how much fuel your body needs to run properly. Having a concrete, visible log of calories is a great way to make sure that you’re neither starving yourself nor binging. Instead, you can keep your body at a happy medium where you don’t feel burnt out or sluggish.

Despite the occasional obsessive episodes, the positive effects of using a Fitbit far outweigh the negatives. For that reason, you can expect to see the matte black bracelet on my wrist for a long time to come.