I lost 20 pounds on the Board Game Diet


Spencer poses with Viticulture, the game that helped him lose 20 pounds.

Viticulture helped me lose 20 pounds!

“Board Game Diet? Nonsense,” you exclaim! Well, it worked for me and I’m going to tell you how.

But first, a bit of background on my weight. In college (2007-2011) I was consistently over 200 pounds. And to be honest, I didn’t care about my weight then. But then I met a beautiful woman whom I asked to marry, and figured it would be good to lose some pounds for the wedding. I accomplished my goal in time for the wedding in June of 2011, but since then I have done the very definition of yo-yoing.

Every time we had a kid, my weight would go up. Then I’d realize how unhealthy I was eating and living, so I’d take action. In six years I’ve probably dropped and gained significantly at least five times to the point to where I was having a hard time motivating myself to try again to lose weight.

After having our second daughter Jane, I found myself back up to 200 pounds this March. Stress eating because she didn’t sleep well really contributed to this. I also didn’t have the energy to do any exercising, so that didn’t help either.

As I pondered what I could do this time around to find motivation, I recalled an episode from The Dice Tower I had heard a few months back.  A listener had written in and described what he did to lose weight.

He told himself “no more new games” until he reached his weight goal. Seemed simple enough and I thought it might work. I decided to give it a try and take it one step further. Below I’ll take you through what I did and the results I’ve seen.

NOTE: I am not a health professional. This is not medical advice nor a guarantee that you will lose weight if you do what I did. This is what worked for me and may be worth a try for you if you find yourself needing to lose a few pounds.

1. Set a goal 

Make it reasonable. If you set a goal of 70 pounds, do you REALLY think you can make it to that goal before breaking down and buying a game? If you can, great! I know I wouldn’t have the will power to last that long.

I set a goal of 20 pounds. I knew I could do it because I had done it before. This was reasonable for me. For you it may be 10 pounds, or 5 pounds. You know yourself best, so do what makes sense.

2. Name your reward

For me, just saying “no new board games” wasn’t enough. I needed something even more tangible to work towards. I thought about the game I wanted MOST. After playing Viticulture: Essential Edition on Tabletopia, I KNEW that’s what I wanted most.

Having something tangible made it easier to work towards my goal. I wanted Viticulture badly, not just “board games.”

3. Revisit elementary school math

So how did I actually lose the weight? It amounts to basic math really. I didn’t cut out certain foods. I didn’t focus on eating certain foods. It came down to this basic formula:

Calories Consumed < Calories Burned

I made sure that each day I was burning more calories than I consumed. I use MyFitnessPal to do that. It’s a free app that logs your food you eat and the exercises you complete.

You input how much you currently weigh, what your goal is, and then it tells you how many calories you are allowed each day in order to reach your goal. It’s essentially a budget of calories. Don’t go into debt!

What I really like about it is you can just scan the bar-code of the food you eat and the nutrition facts are already in the system. A good majority of popular restaurants also have their nutrition facts in the system, so you can easily look up what you are eating and log it in the app.

I ended most days with a little surplus of calories remaining, and that’s been the biggest contributing factor to my weight loss.

4. Don’t think of it as a diet

So I know I call this the Board Game Diet, but it’s really not a “diet.” If you get into that mentality, it becomes more about what you can’t eat. As I mentioned above, I didn’t cut out fast food. I didn’t cut out pizza, or cheeseburgers, or french fries.

I simply ate within moderation in order to meet my calorie goal for each day. Instead of my usual three or four pieces of pizza, I ate one or two. Instead of a double cheeseburger, I had a single patty.

If I knew I was going to have dinner with a high calorie count, I’d work out extra hard that day to burn more calories to give me more in my “budget” for dinner.

Eat what you want, but with moderation.

Also, If you go over your calorie limit, don’t sweat it. That’s the great thing about days. There’s a new one every morning for you to try again!

5. Use your reward to your advantage

Picture your reward. How bad do you want it? Every time I saw Viticulture in the store I was that much more motivated to reach my goal. Every time I saw someone mention it on social media, my drive kicked in.

Instead of thinking, “I can’t have my reward until I reach my goal,” think, “I get to have my reward when I reach my goal!”

6. Don’t give in

This plan ONLY works if you don’t cheat. Don’t buy that game before you reach your goal. DON’T DO IT! Even if you are within half of a pound, DON’T DO IT!

I had so many opportunities to give in and buy Viticulture. Lara will tell you. But I wanted to lose the pounds. It was important to me to be at a healthy weight not only for myself, but also for my family. I want to have the energy to be able to wrestle with my daughters on the floor, or pick them up and swing them around the room.

If you need it, find someone to help hold you accountable. A friend or a family member will be glad to help. Find me on MyFitnessPal! I’ll cheer you on! (My user name is SWill8853.)


And that’s it! I followed these 6 tips and between March 2017 and July 2017, I lost 20 pounds! When

Spencer's weight loss on the Board Game Diet

Spencer’s weight loss on the Board Game Diet.

I finally ordered Viticulture and opened it, it was so rewarding to me. It made my hard work and efforts over the last several months feel even more real, other than, you know, weighing 20 pounds less.

And I’m sticking with it too! I continue to lose weight because 180, for me, is not where I’d like to be. I’d like to lose another 15 pounds, so I’m starting the cycle again!

This time, I think my reward will be Terraforming Mars! So, no new game purchases until I lose 15 pounds, but I am also working toward that specific game.

I hope you found something useful here. If you have any questions about what specific workouts I did or anything else I mentioned or failed to mention, please let me know. I’d be happy to chat!

Just remember, every person is different. Success to you is different than your neighbor.

Email Spencer and/or Lara at marriedwithbg@gmail.com.

3 thoughts on “I lost 20 pounds on the Board Game Diet

  1. Wade

    Great article Spencer! Proud of you for doing that and sharing. You forgot to mention the helpful and original messages of encouragement that I’m sure you received on this journey! 😂 seriously though, great job!

  2. Murat

    Ha ha, I was looking for a list of your Top Games and I stumbled upon your article. I was so curious after reading the title. Thank you for the tricks and congratulations on your perseverance. You have to take extra care for now on as you have become a media personality.

  3. Dick

    This Idea is awesome!
    I really want to lose a lot of weight. Approximately 90 pounds. That is a very high hill too climb.
    So I am using this ‘diet’ but with stretch goals. After every 10 pounds I can buy something from my wishlist.
    The budget for that game increases after every 10 pounds.
    Some goals are timed. 40 pounds before the summer. 65 pounds before Essen Spiel and 90 before Christmas.


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