Gardener1817 Weight Loss Challenge Fall 2015
Jennie
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I'm taking part in the BGG Weight Loss Challenge and I think it will help me process this experience better if I keep a journal. Making it public is great because feedback is welcome.

My history: I have been a lifelong athlete and exerciser. My sports have been baseball, softball, swimming, rugby, ultimate frisbee, biking, and triathlon. I exercised for enjoyment and also to control my weight. Looking back, while I was never at my "goal" weight, I was always relatively fit.

Now: Since having my first child (10 years ago) and second one a few years later (and third by adoption) I put on about 40 pounds, and my weight has fluctuated between 200-215 consistently for 8 years. Through supreme effort I have dropped below 200, but the weight always came back. And with the weight/diet/lifestyle I have low energy, joint pain, and mood swings.

What works for me? Weightlifting and a low carb diet.
Why this is difficult for me? Cooking for 5, a very very full schedule, menopause, and just less energy and time than I had in my 30's, before kids.

My goals include:

bluetaj: Develop and stick to a consistent eating plan that optimizes health, emotional stability, and energy.
tantaj: Implement a routine workout schedule that includes 3 swim practices, 1 yoga, and 1 strength workout per week.
maroontaj: Lose 25 pounds by Nov 16 (Weight = 190#)and lose another 15 pounds by March 11 (Weight= 175#).


How will I do this?

redtrain The BGG Fall Weightloss Challenge is my accountability. I'll post my weekly weight here, and also follow/support the community discussion.
yellowtrain The challenge coincides with the Whole Life Challenge that I am doing with a team. I am doing the "Performance" diet level, which is the strictest level, allowing no dairy, grain, alcohol, sugar, or processed foods.
greentrain In conjunction with the WLC, every day I will exercise, meditate, drink 100+ ounces water, stretch, and meet the other requirements of the wellness challenge.
purpletrain For exercise, I will continue swimming 3 times per week with my master's swim team, approximately 7000 meters weekly (4.3 miles). I have been doing this for years, but I need to increase the exercise by more routinely doing an additional 2 workouts per week. The plan at this time is to make those yoga and weightlifting. My two "rest" days will include walks with the dog.
bluetrain Continue to wear my fitbit to monitor walking, but I don't anticipate making goals here as I typically average 12,000 steps per day.

I'll report in through the challenge and appreciate hearing from anyone else who is doing the challenge, has good Paleo or low carb suggestions, or just has something to add.
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1. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.61 Overall Rank:96]
Board Game: Pandemic
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Today is the last day of Week One, so I wanted to summarize here how my week has gone.

First - I decided to represent each week with one of my favorite games. This week's choice, Pandemic, represents the Sugar Withdrawal and "Low Carb Flu" symptoms that are plaguing our Whole Life Challenge team. We all felt quite euphoric for about 3 days, and then we crashed. Lots of staring into space, tiredness, some crankiness and headaches. Personally, I was craving sugar so badly one day. I didn't have any emotional urge to eat sugar and wasn't truly tempted, but my body was crying out and I simply felt unwell. I went to a convenience store, got a couple oranges, and eating those really helped.

Daily stretches have also helped work out some of the kinks in my neck and shoulders. Food preparation has been challenging in that it takes me hours to cook the food that I eat and the entirely different food my family will eat. Between this and nightly activities until 8 pm or later, the food is my biggest risk to long term sustainability. I decided to purchase several ready-made meals for the freezer from Let's Dish for the family. The food is fresh meat and vegetables and pasta, uncooked and not processed, so that's much more healthy for them than if I were to buy frozen dinners (yuck). It will really help save us time. Weight loss currently shows that I'm down 4 pounds, but I need to wait until the BGG weigh in day (Monday) to make this official.
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2. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:54]
Board Game: 7 Wonders
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Week 1 Update

Weight: 209
Pounds Lost: 6
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Score: 117/117


This week's game choice is 7 Wonders, because it illustrates that there are 7 wondrous ways I can incorporate Wellness in my life in order to do well in the Whole Life Challenge and achieve the goals I want: Weight loss, better health, more energy.

The Seven Wonders of Wellness I’m taking on for this challenge include:
1. Nutrition - no sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, or processed food
2. Exercise every day for 10 minutes minimum
3. Stretch every day
4. Drink 100+ ounces of water
5. Supplements - take additional supplements (vitamin D and Omega) for increased health
6. Journal every day
7. Incorporate additional healthful practices like meditation and nurturing relationships

So - how am I doing on this?


mintcamelStretching every day is GOOD for me, but MAN do I have a hard time finding time for it. But the long-term shoulder tightness and neck pain seems to be improving. And additional shoulder flexibility would be awesome for my swimming.
limecamelExercise is easy IF I have a set plan, like getting to my 3x per week swim practices or attending my yoga sculpt class. But if I don't have a plan it's really easy to let the day go by without a workout. And getting a walk in will be challenging when there's snow on the ground and it gets dark at 5 pm (in about 5 weeks).
grapecamelI'm cooking like crazy and now I shop at the fancy gourmet grocery store with all the organic produce. Our grocery bill has shot up.
goldencamelBut I feel pretty darn good. I am seeing the chronic inflammation I've had in my legs subside, and I've obviously lost some inflammation weight. It feels like this is how my body is meant to eat. Obviously these food choices are not for everyone, but I don't think there's any single right way to eat. Some people do really well on a vegetarian diet. Others do better with Vegan. Some people see huge success following a low calorie diet. For me, I think the sweet spot is a paleo or moderately low carb menu - as long as I consume adequate carbs in the form of fruits and vegetables.
lemoncamelConnecting with my WLC team of 10 is fun and I like how the challenge incorporates requirements for us to communicate with one another. I am loving the BGG community in the Autumn Weight Loss Challenge. I fully believe I would have quit days ago were it not for these awesome communities and built-in tracking and accountability. Just turn anything into a Game with Friends, and the commitment for me is 100% easier.

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3. Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:128]
Board Game: Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Week 2 Update

Weight: 209
Pounds Lost: 6
Percent lost: 2.7%
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Score: 181/182

Summary: This week I lost ZERO pounds.
But it's okay. I had a giant loss the week before (6 pounds) which I assumed was mainly water weight, and I was feeling pretty great and following my low carb, Paleo-ish diet very well, and building up a good supply of frozen meals and feeling right on target.

I did so well, in fact, on the Whole Life Challenge, that I earned 4 "Indulgence" points. Since the most you can lose on food points in one day is 5, I went ahead and blew all 5 points at an Oktoberfest party, and then gained back 4 of them from my bonus points. Down just 1 point in the challenge, as a result, and currently placed 2nd on my team of 10.

So what went well this week?
-Cooking tasty new recipes and finding better balance with the time required to cook differently for my family.
-Consistent exercise: My regular Tuesday yoga sculpt class, 3 swim practices a week with my master's team, and lots of walks. Plus stretching every single day!

What didn't go well?
Stress and lots of busyness. Our crazy schedule got the better of me with stuff every night every week, but it just felt too much this week. Sheer exhaustion. And the week reminded me of the game, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, because it was chaotic and crazy and made me feel a bit out of control. And everything felt like work. Kinda like how that game makes me feel. It starts out fun, and then it just becomes work. I'm hoping to find the fun in this challenge (and MKL) again.

And such is why I'm posting my Weekly update a full week late. Will try to do better.

And here's something I learned from my favorite health podcast, Underground Wellness, during their interview with Kevin Gianni, author of Kale and Coffee...The reason why both low carb and low fat diets seem to work, and that there are studies that support positive results for both may be because the only thing that truly does NOT work is a combination of both High Carb with High Fat, which is the standard American diet and it leads to insulin resistance and the body storing extra calories (in whatever form they come in) as fat. I thought this was helpful and a good reminder that you have to stick to your plan. I'm following a low carb plan, so I have to be careful not to overdo the sweet potatoes and fruit, AND too much fat in the form of coconut milk and bacon also limits my weight loss.

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4. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:30]
Board Game: Agricola
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Week 3 Update

Weight: 208
Pounds Lost: 7 (3.26%)
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Score: 335/338 (tied for 1st with 2 others out of 10 on our team)


I chose Agricola as my game this week because I've been playing a lot of IOS Agricola on our new Ipad. I didn't fully understand the game until I started playing it this way. Certainly there were rules I didn't accurately follow. Now that the computer is holding me fully accountable, I'm understanding how tight and tense this game is. I have figured out a good routine for the first and second phases that optimizes my choices, and I've figured out how to let certain resources collect and when the best times to pull them out are. I've learned the importance of the bonus point occupations and improvements and waiting until the end to do certain "two for one" actions to maximize my turn options...

And all of this reminds me of Weight Loss. It's a giant big huge puzzle to figure out. Yes, there's a Rule Book, but it's published by the internet, tv, books, newspapers, and common discussion about what the Rules to Weight Loss are - out in the world. There are so many competing points of view, many based on seemingly competing findings of various empirical studies, most of which I don't have the background to validate or refute. And I've been obsessed with the topic of weight loss virtually my entire life, beginning with several sad years of reading my Shape Magazine from cover to cover. I remember my swim coach in the 1980's saying "No pain. no gain," and I remember ALL the fads that have come out in the last 40 years. So. Where does this leave me?

I have come to the realization that weight loss is entirely about taking a realistic and deep view of Me. Weight loss will likely elude me until I can:

-Be honest with myself that nothing will change unless I make changes
-Practice Evidence -Based changes
-Deeply examine my daily habits in practicing these changes and continuously make revisions and tweaks

Just like the many phases of Agricola I had to run through, all the trial and error to see what worked and what did not, I have had many phases of Weight Loss Attempts. At this point, I don't know the techniques, habits, and practices that will help me reach the 6th phase of Weight Loss and my goal weight. But I am hopeful that I'm nearing the completion of creating a successful formula for getting me through Phase 1. And here's what I have in mind:

- I've talked before about my diet for weight loss, that it's low carb, paleo-esque and that I'm following the Whole Life Challenge to incorporate all kinds of healthy lifestyle practices.
-That seems to be working for me thumbsup, and it gives me a less restricted view in evaluating my life and what is or is not working. Since I've removed alcohol, sugar, grain, dairy, and processed foods, I have a clearer picture of what I'm doing.

So here comes the honesty part. If I ask the question, "WHY AM I FAT?" I can identify the following potential reasons among all the things I know to be true about myself:

-I drink too much beer
-I am too stressed

-I am in menopause
-I eat too many calories
-I eat too much fat

-I retain water (but why?)
-I have hypothyroid
-I eat sugar

That's it. All those things are absolutely true. And all of those things absolutely affect my weight. So if I'm going along with my life, why would I ever expect that I could lose weight if I don't actually change any of these things? Obviously there are some things here that I can't change, which means I need to accept them. But there are some things here that I CAN change, and I bolded those to remind myself that these are the things I MUST change if I want to lose weight.

And notice here that exercise is not in the list. It's because I already do exercise, quite a bit, and have done so my entire life, and while there are many wonderful benefits of exercise and I enjoy it and find it essential, it's never been the primary catalyst for weight loss. Yes, it helps with fitness and strength, but any calories burned through exercise are likely consumed through the appetite increase created by the exercise. Again, I need to be honest about recognizing what matters in weight loss and what doesn't. Exercise is fun, and I'll keep doing it, but I'm lying to myself if I try to make Exercise the crux of my Weight Loss Strategy. Exercise is not going to generate the big win or the big points at the end of the phase, and I know this because I've tried that strategy before, the Exercise More and Eat Less strategy (which just made me feel stressed and hungry and shut down my metabolism). The strategic method for weight loss involves the bolded items. Exercise is like taking a Grain and eating it, rather than planting it and turning it into more grain and then cooking it in a stone oven to make lots of food. Agricola has all the keys to creating a strategic plan; figure out what produces the best outcomes toward reaching your goal and build your entire life plan around that.
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5. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:291]
Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Week 4 Update

Weight: 205
Pounds Lost: 10 (4.65%)
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Score: 387/390 (1st place).


My game selection, At the Gates of Loyang, reflects that I'm feeling pretty awesome about the weight loss challenge because: a) I adore this game and will play it over and over, solo or multiplayer, b) The game is all about vegetables, which play a big part in my diet these days, and c) The right economic engine in Loyang is critical to success, just like in the weight loss challenge, where I've had to systematize my food and exercise options and integrate them into my daily life.

So, I've been thinking lately about long term success. The WLC and BGG Challenge both end between Nov 14-16. I plan to re-enroll in the WLC when it starts again on Jan 16, and I hope that BGG has another challenge after the holidays too. But I'm really concerned that I don't sabotage all my efforts, by binging during the holidays. So I need to establish some rules that will help me maintain the loss until the challenges start up again. Here's what I'm thinking:

1 Certain food eliminations have been very positive for me. I will continue with not eating dairy, sugar, and white flour, with the exceptions of actual holiday meals and holiday events (not all the other celebratory meals around the same time), and I plan to show restraint during those occasions.

2 I know I'll be drinking alcohol again, and this is a weak area in terms of how many calories and how much weight I could gain. So I think I need to think about ways to control this significantly, such as wine only, and only at special events/holidays. And I need to remember that TEA is KEY. I mainly just want a drink to enjoy in the evening, and slowly, I'm beginning to enjoy a nice cup of tea as an alternative to an alcoholic beverage!

3 Mixing it up: I understand that one's metabolism can settle if you keep doing the same thing over and over...so I need to diversify my exercise a bit over the holidays - probably get a lot of walks in, and try a new exercise. Also, I think I will need to think more deliberately about portion size, maybe try to eat a little less, particularly on days I don't exercise.

4 Daily stretching has really helped reduce the chronic pain in my neck. I intend to keep this up!

What's also really fun is that seeing some pounds come off and experiencing my clothes feeling looser has re-invigorated my interest in clothing. Typically I have zero interest in shopping or dressing well. But I've bought some new outfits, cleaned out my closet, and even spent this weekend happily sewing up a couple new shirts. I'm feeling inspired.

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6. Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:129]
Board Game: T.I.M.E Stories
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Week 5 Update

Weight: 204
Weekly Weight Loss = .5 pounds
Pounds Lost: 10.5 (4.9%)
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Score: 568/572 (1st place)


My game choice, T.I.M.E. Stories is a very literal choice, as it merely reflects that we played and immensely enjoyed the game this week. I wanted the game as soon as I heard about it, ordered it, and received it far more quickly than I expected. The very next day after it arrived, I pulled it out to play with my son who was home sick (the same child for whom I had mainly purchased this game, as it happened). I spent a couple hours punching and reading the rules, and then we tackled it. We did 2 "Runs" and we adore this game. So it turned a sick day into a pretty fun day!

My weight loss was only .5 pounds, and I kind of expected this because a) I haven't been exercising heavily because of work demands, and b) I had a big weight loss the week before.

So I took the advice others have given, which is to take my body measurements from the baseline at the start of the game. I took a LOT of measurements, too many to recall and report, but I will say that I have lost 2 inches from my hips and 1 inch from my belly and 1 inch from my upper arm (traditionally a very stubborn place for me!) and most surprisingly, an inch from my thigh, where I do tend to lose weight, but usually at the very end, so I wasn't expecting to see this so soon.

So I'm pretty happy with this!

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7. Board Game: Pandemic: State of Emergency [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Pandemic: State of Emergency
Jennie
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Minnesota
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Week 6 Update

Weight: 201.5
Pounds Lost: 13.5 (6.28%)
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Score: 581/585 (1st place).

Game choice this week was Pandemic: State of Emergency because the stomach virus my middle child had swept through the rest of the family on Sunday, which brought everything to a screeching halt and led to a day of misery and lying about. I have recently acquired this game, but certainly couldn't play it or any other because of the state I was in.

Anyway, my weigh-in this morning was interesting, in that I lost 3.5 pounds, most of which was likely dehydration...

So I'm currently at the over 6% goal, but the real test will be to see what happens at next week's weigh-in.

Also interesting, the day before I got sick was Halloween, and I decided to take a Free Day and not follow my regular diet, so I could participate in the Halloween Party and festivities with my family. I had wine, potatoes, dairy, and sugar. I'm curious whether my (not voluntary) fast the next day will have negated all these extra calories and unhealthy choices. We'll see. It was definitely a fun Halloween, and a miserable day after. What a weekend!

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8. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:14]
Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Week 7 Update

Weight: 200.5
Pounds Lost: 14.5 (6.74%)
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Score: 670/676 (1st place on my team, #376 out of 12,751 in the world competition).

This past weekend was my wedding anniversary (12 years!) Instead of the usual "go out to dinner" kind of celebration, we celebrated as a whole family. Our family of 5 (and the dog) took a look hike. We went out to brunch. We played lots of games. My 8 year old and I finished T.I.M.E. Stories - which we adored. My husband, who will play games but is not so passionate about them, played Castles of Burgundy with me. My 4 year old and I finally learned her Chicken Cha Cha Cha game. And I drank wine. And after a couple glasses of wine, my resistance was obliterated, and I answered the siren call of the Halloween Candy and had several mini candy bars. So it was a nice weekend, doing what mattered, being together, being healthy, enjoying a few treats.

There's only one week left of the Whole Life Challenge and the Boardgame Geek Weight Loss challenge, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. For me it provided changes that have been so elusive for so long. I always knew WHAT I needed to do to lose weight but always felt like it was beyond my capacity to apply those changes. For me it was a matter of deciding to take the effort to change the way I eat. It requires meal planning and shopping at different grocery stores. I have to cook almost everything I eat. I have to eat way more salad than I'm used to. I have to break the mental connection that certain foods mean "comfort." I wasn't willing to do any of that, until the challenges came along. And now I have 7 weeks of practice with these new habits, and they don't feel as intimidating. I feel great, and I'm thrilled with the changes, and I'm planning to keep eating this way.

There have been so many positive physical outcomes:

thumbsup I've lost 14.5 pounds.
thumbsup I went in for my annual physical, and my total cholesterol dropped 62 points, and is in the normal range for the first time in 6 years.
thumbsup I've lost 2 inches in my hips
thumbsup My chronic neck pain from disc issues is greatly diminished, due to daily stretching
thumbsup Overall inflammation, puffiness, edema is greatly improved
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9. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:24]
Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game
Jennie
United States
Minnesota
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Week 8 Update

Weight: 199.5
Pounds Lost: 15.5 (7.21%)
WLC (Whole Life Challenge) Final Score: 718/727 (Finished first place on my team).

I chose Mage Knight this week because the game just makes me happy. And it took a lot of effort to learn it, especially to learn it well enough to retain the rules between plays.

And that is how I think about this challenge. It took a lot of effort, especially for long term habit retention, but it just makes me happy.

I am very satisfied with the results of participating in the Whole Life Challenge and the BGG Weightloss Challenge over 8 weeks. And I want to keep going and continue losing weight. So here's my plan:

heart Some teammates and I on the WLC challenge will do a shared google spreadsheet so we can continue daily tracking our points earned for diet, fitness, water consumption, and stretching.
heart I plan to continue the WLC challenge in the following ways:
-Drink 100 ounces of water a day
-Stretch every day
-Exercise every day
-Follow the "Lifestyle" food plan, which is one level less strict than the "Performance Plan I followed these past few months. I still can't have dairy, alcohol, sugar, processed food and most grain, but with the Lifestyle food plan I can add in: Bacon cured with sugar (nitrate free), corn, buckwheat, oatmeal, brown and wild rice, and unsweetened yogurt.

heartI'm definitely planning to rejoin the BGG Weightloss Challenge on Dec. 21 and the next WLC on Jan 16.

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Jennie
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Minnesota
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I started a new Geeklist for the next challenge, "Gardener1817 Weight Loss Challenge Winter 2016"
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