One of the better Yuletide traditions is the venerable holiday Advent Calendar, in which each day of December leading up to Christmas is marked off on a special calendar by opening its corresponding door to find a small gift, toy or chocolate squirreled away inside.
This year, we here at Cult of Mac decided we wanted to give our readers their very own Apple-themed advent calendar, filled with the year’s best apps, gadgets, stories and other curios. So each day in December, we’re going to lovingly peel back the door on the Cult of Mac 2012 Advent Calendar to reveal another delicious morsel, something really special that came out this year that we think every one of you should enjoy.
We’re running a little behind, so playing catch up today by posting our first and second day picks along with our choice for December 3rd.
Our Day 1 choice? FitBit, an awesome iOS accessory that can help you get healthier and more fit in no time.
Of all the gadgets I’ve used this year, the FitBit is the one that literally changed my life. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the FitBit (including our esteemed Deputy Editor, John Brownlee), it’s a little dongle which clips onto your belt or bra strap and counts your step and your altitude, priced around $100. But it’s a whole lot more than that.
At 92KG and 6’2″, I needed to lose a bit of weight. And as a nerd, there was only one way to do that – with stats and gadgets. So back on Saturday, June 2nd, I bought myself a FitBit, downloaded the iOS app and the OS X drivers, and started counting my steps.
The Fitbit combines its accelerometer and altimeter data with some computer voodoo to work out your calorie burn, your sleep quality and a whole bunch of other neat stuff. You can track this on the iPhone (the previous version required a Mac to sync with your account, but the new one has Bluetooth 4 for direct-to-iPhone contact), and a readout on the FitBit itself lets you see calories burned, steps stepped, floors climbed and more.
This was neat, but the FitBit also hooks into other services, with APIs that let you track exercise and calories burned with other apps, and send them to FitBit.
Thus I also bought a new kitchen scale and started measuring everything I ate. Everything. I even took the scale away on trips and a vacation.
While the FitBit encouraged me to exercise more, the calorie counting really made me watch what I ate. (That extra slice of cheese is 50 calories? But it’s so, so, so, SO thin!) And the FitBit’s running total of calories in Vs. out made it easy to stay on target.
The weight came steadily off, until – in September – I lost the FitBit. But now the habits were ingrained. I had also given up drinking, which yanked at least 1,000 calories from my daily intake.
Now, in December, I’m around 72 kilos, or around 160 pounds in your Earth pounds. The FitBit is long gone, but the combination of regular exercise (usually a brisk 30km bike ride before breakfast) and smaller meals is ingrained. The only downside? All of my old clothes are too big for me now.
Want to see more of our 2012 Advent Calendar goodies? Check out our complete 2012 Advent Calendar archive for more of our picks!