I just found what seems to be a new error where Weight Watchers Activity Log online is double counting some steps when we are using an activity monitor. At this point, I don’t know the extent of it. I know it is an issue for both my husband and me when we use our Fitbit with a heart rate monitor. Whether it is an issue with other devices is not known at this time. On the Weight Watchers message boards, I have seen some reports of double counting and errors but I’m not sure if that is for this same error or not.
This is sort of complicated, so I apologize in advance for the length of this. Here is my Activity Log from today after my husband and I went for a 58 minute walk in our neighborhood. We each wore a Fitbit Charge HR along with a heart rate monitor which syncs to Digifit (on our phones) which then syncs the calorie burn data to Fitbit.
The problem here is that the walk is being double counted. I walked 6021 steps during the walk itself. When I returned home from the walk I had a total of 6985 steps — 6021 from the walk and 964 from before the walk. But, Weight Watchers gave me 7 FitPoints for the walk based upon the walk logged as an activity within Fitbit. Basically, Digifit syncs my heart rate monitor calorie burn data to Fitbit and it is then logged as an activity within Fitbit. Fitbit then uses that calorie burn data from Digifit instead of the calorie burn data from my Fitbit Charge HR. So, Fitbit itself doesn’t double count when I use the heart rate monitor. The Digifit calorie burn info replaces the Fitbit info.
Weight Watchers, though, is giving me FitPoints for the Digifit Walk but is also counting the 6021 steps I did during the walk as part of my steps for the day and is giving me 6 FitPoints for the entire day’s steps up until that point. The result is that I’m getting roughly an extra 5 FitPoints than I should have earned. I should earn the 7 FitPoints from the walk. And, my 964 steps from earlier in the day should probably have earned 1 FitPoint. So, where it says “6985 steps from Fitbit”, it should probably have 1 as the FitPoints awarded, not 6.
And, in fact, that is how it used to be. Here is a log from a few weeks ago from my husband using a heart rate monitor while we walked:
On January 23rd, he earned 7 FitPoints for his walk with a heart rate monitor, but got 0 FitPoints for the 6680 steps he walked that day because most of his steps were during that walk. On January 22nd, he earned 5 FitPoints during a walk tracked with Digifit, and earned 1 more FitPoint from his other walking. That is how it should work. That is, the steps shown are for the whole day, but he doesn’t get FitPoints for the steps that were during the Digifit Walk where he used a heart rate monitor.
But, it isn’t working that way right now. Now, it is giving the FitPoints for steps as if the FitPoints for Digifit Walk weren’t there. This results in double counting that walk. My guess is that this is a glitch introduced with the software changes to implement the new baseline. By the way, in addition to the post I did about the new baseline, Weight Watchers has modified its Fitness Q&A to discuss the changes. So, I am thinking that this was working before the new software changes were made and it wasn’t double counting then. Weight Watchers makes the changes and now it is double counting. I did put in feedback online about this and encourage everyone else who notices this to do so as well. By giving feedback, my hope is that this glitch will be quickly corrected.
Oh, you might wonder why I bother to wear a heart rate monitor for walking. For awhile I wasn’t doing it. I mostly wear a heart rate monitor while I do weight training. My Fitbit Charge HR is great, but it doesn’t do well on heart rate monitoring while I am weight lifting. So, to get accurate FitPoints, I find I need to wear a heart rate monitor while weight lifting to get the correct calorie burn info so I can earn the correct FitPoints.
Anyway, my heart rate is usually measured reasonably accurately while I walk in my neighborhood so I wasn’t bothering with the heart rate monitor and was just wearing my Fitbit. But, I noticed my husband (who was wearing his heart rate monitor) was earning a lot more FitPoints than I was earning for the same walk. What I learned was that Weight Watchers for walking (or running, for that matter) uses the steps from the Fitbit to assign FitPoints and apparently doesn’t use the calorie burn info at all. So, it treats a 6000 step amble around the house, a 6000 step walk through my hilly neighborhood, or a 6000 step intense run the same in terms of awarding FitPoints. All of them earn the same number of FitPoints.
For example, my walk today would have only earned me 5 FitPoints had I worn my Fitbit only. We can see this by inputting the steps into Weight Watchers online:
But, I did this walk in my subdivision where there is very little flat ground. It is constantly going up and down hills. As a result, this walk is much more strenuous than you might think from the number of steps. So, had I not worn the heart rate monitor, I would have gotten only 5 FitPoints for the walk. Wearing the heart rate monitor (synced to Digifit), I get 7 FitPoints.
And, I think that is right. Here is how the walked looked within Fitbit:
I burned 308 calories during the walk. At 7 FitPoints, I earned 1 FitPoint per 44 calories burned which is consistent with what I’ve seen when using my heart rate monitor during weight lifting.
So, yes, I think that the FitPoints I earn when I wear a heart rate monitor during walking are more accurate because that is logged as an activity within Fitbit. In that situation, Weight Watchers seems to award FitPoints based upon calorie burn so intensity does play a part in the FitPoints awarded. When I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, though, Weight Watchers just syncs steps and doesn’t pay attention to the intensity of the exercise.
Given that, I want the most accurate information so I want to use the heart rate monitor so I get the FitPoints I’m entitled to. I am set to swap my FitPoints so I want it accurate. However, even if I don’t actually eat my FitPoints, I want it accurate just because I like to see accurate numbers. Right now, I am recording my actual FitPoints in a spreadsheet and am taking out the double counted FitPoints. If I eat any I won’t eat any that are double counted.
I am hoping that the double counting gets quickly corrected. In the meantime, for those affected I see a few options:
- Don’t use a heart rate monitor that syncs with Fitbit. Just use the steps from Fitbit. Manually calculate how many “extra” FitPoints you think you should have earned and then add those manually. For example, in my situation, I could go into Weight Watchers and check what a 58 minutes walk would earn at moderate intensity. The result is 6 FitPoints. If Weight Watchers gave me 5 for the steps, then I would record an extra FitPoint to account for the intensity. That still shortchanges me by 1 FitPoint though. The other option is to not sync my Digifit with Fitbit. Get my calorie burn from Digifit and then divide it by 45 calories to get the FitPoints I should have earned. That would round to 7 FitPoints and I could then manually add those 2 FitPoints. I don’t like this option, though, since I want Digifit to sync to Fitbit so I have correct data there.
- Look carefully at what Weight Watchers gives as FitPoints and keep a separate list of your “true” FitPoints, taking out any extra FitPoints awarded. For now, that is the option I am going to do. If eating FitPoints, I will go by that list instead of what I see online or on the mobile app. This is tedious, but is probably the most accurate option.
- Don’t use a heart rate monitor and just go by your steps and recognize Weight Watchers is not going to be giving you totally accurate FitPoints since it isn’t considering intensity for those steps. A lot of people do it this way. And, certainly, from a swapping food standpoint, this is the most conservative option in any event. Still, I just prefer to see it be more accurate.
Again, I suspect this error was introduced when they changed the online activity log and syncing to account for having a baseline before you can swap FitPoints. I am glad they put in the baseline, so I just hope this error gets speedily corrected.