Gaining weight is a common concern for a lot of people, but with RA, there are a few other factors at play. Symptoms such as joint pain, joint damage, and fatigue may affect your ability and motivation to exercise, as well as your relationship with food. On top of these symptoms, if you’re on a steroid therapy, this can cause you to gain weight as well.
Being overweight or underweight can actually worsen RA symptoms, in addition to affecting your health overall. But we prefer to think in terms of actions and benefits. Whether or not you’re concerned with the number on the scale, weight management strategies like eating well and exercising can help you maintain muscle mass and mobility and even manage stress more effectively!
There are so many things you can do – but where to start?
The Hydration Equation
Drinking plenty of water can help with weight management by making you feel full, so you eat less. Bonus points if you’re drinking water instead of caloric options such as alcoholic beverages, soda, and juice! Tips to stay hydrated here.
I like to move it, move it.
When you’re dealing with joint pain, exercise might be the last thing on your list but we’re here to tell you that getting moving can really help! Seriously, check out Linda’s story: Getting Unstuck Through Exercise.
In addition to helping you manage your weight, low impact exercises can help you strengthen the muscles that support your joints, build endurance, and even get your energy up. You probably don’t want to go for a long run and risk damaging your joints further, but try swimming, biking, and other low impact options.
You are What you Eat
Eating right is a huge component but beware of fad diets. Before trying anything crazy restrictive or expensive, try a basic anti-inflammatory diet (we rounded up some breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas to help you out). You can also consult your doctor for recommendations, or your Health Advisor can schedule a consultation with our RDN (nutritionist and dietician) on staff to figure out the right meal plan for your needs and preferences. Yes, we said preferences. It’s all about finding healthy options that taste good to you!
Talk to your Doctor
We mentioned steroids before. If you’re on one (e.g. prednisone), talk to your doctor about your options. It’s okay to share your weight loss goals – this will give your doctor some context, and he/she may even have some additional recommendations or resources to help you get there!
Take it one day at a time.
The key to weight loss success is setting realistic goals and taking steps to achieve them. If you don’t yet have your own personal Health Advisor, click here to get one. They’ll be your coach, assistant, and accountability partner on this journey to better health.