The reasons for my weight gain are numerous and include months on prednisone, multiple surgeries (including three joint replacements, knee arthroscopy, and two spinal fusions) that kept me from being active for long periods, a stressful job that lent itself to ordered-in pizza and BBQ for the team, lots of travel and long hours that led to loads of eating out and not much healthy home cooking.
The effects of the weight are equally numerous and very dangerous. Besides the terrible toll that extra weight can have on your joints (on top of the RA damage), over the years I’ve developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and borderline/occasional/oh-my-gosh insulin resistance and pre-diabetes.
Another important thing to consider is that fat, particularly belly fat, plays a part in developing chronic, long-lasting inflammation in the body. When you are fighting RA or other inflammatory arthritis conditions, reducing fat is a huge step in the right direction in helping control inflammation.
When I left the workforce a few months ago to focus on my health, I knew that nothing would make more difference in my life than losing the weight. Unfortunately, losing the weight generally isn’t the problem. I’ve lost weight all my life. I’ve been on so many low-calorie, low-carb, no-carb, portion-controlled, points-controlled diets that you could probably build a family of four out of the pounds I’ve lost (and regained) over the years.
But then I was talking about how I’d look in the swimsuit or getting back into my size 4’s. Now I’m talking about both the quantity and the quality of my life. And even though losing weight is harder as you get older (trust me on this) and being on all the RA drugs can actually make you GAIN weight, I have no other option.
The first thing I did was talk to my doctor who was (predictably) a major supporter of this decision. We talked about the four elements of weight loss:
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