Currently I am about 25lbs over MY ideal weight. I am specific about the 'MY' because allot of doctors weight charts would tell me I am only a few pounds over. I use my mirror to access my condition, and trust me, you don't get back fat unless you are over weight! Equate my extra weight to carrying around the bag of cat food in the barn, all day, everyday.
So I am trying to trim down for a number of reasons.
1) Health: Carrying these extra pounds is not good for my heart or my joints, just for starters.
2) Looks: I want to look good!
3) Mental Health: If I look good, even if I hurt, I will feel better about myself.
There is only ONE WAY to lose weight. STOP EATING SO MUCH AND EXERCISE!
I won't go into my diet in detail, but suffice it to say I have cut out allot of the foods that I really like, substituting stuff I don't really care for. Yes, it hurts my feelings a little to choose fresh fish over that Big Mac, but it is necessary. It always amazes me when people say they don't like vegetables as their excuse for not changing their high fat diet. Really? You know it is going to be a little unpleasant at times to seriously lose weight, right?
That brings me to the BIGGY! EXERCISE! Easier said than done when you have RA. Keeping your body moving is an important part of managing any arthritis, including RA, but is important to be careful to not do further damage to the joints at the same time. It is a real balancing act. The question is HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
Many experts recommend using pain as the cut off point. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Well if I never exercised a joint because it hurt, I may as well stay in bed, because they a pretty much always hurt. Sometimes only a little, sometimes they seize up and moving them is agony. Worse than that, is that many times I can achieve quite allot of quality exercise time, only to have all my joints seize up the next day.
The conclusion I have come to is simple. Many of the meds we take for RA and other auto-immune diseases are a compromise. They endanger our health in many ways with these medications, including greater risk to our heart and other organs, as well as very unpleasant side effects. But we take them to help stop some of the damage that the disease does to our bodies.
Exercise has to come under the same heading. COMPROMISE! I may do some damage to my joints by using them when they are hurting, but the benefits far outweigh the possible (and not proven) damage to the joints. By exercising and losing weight the benefits to my general health, less stress on my joints and muscles, fitter heart capable of fighting off the damage from the meds, and over all feeling of well being far out weigh any of this possible damage.
So my line in the sand is AS LONG AS THE JOINT IS FUNCTIONING I am going to exercise it and build strength and fitness.
The down side, is that getting fit is going to hurt a bit! It is not easy or everyone would be an Olympic athlete. Like eating stuff you don't like so much, there is no easy way to do it. Your muscles that are not accustomed to it, will be stiff and sore and actually hurt like hell, until you build them up. Your joints, without the firm muscles, will also hurt a bit, even if you don't have RA. You have to work through this. It does get easier.
If I choose to use pain as an excuse not to exercise then I am accepting a life of limitations, and condoning myself to poor health and being fat for the rest of my life. No thank you. Besides, isn't that what they make pain meds for? LOL
(Please understand I am not suggesting you go out and run 5 miles the first day, but do some gentle physical exercise that your condition and level of fitness allows you to do...ie gentle stretching, yoga, swimming, or walking. In time you can build from there and run a marathon if you are able.)