RA & New Year's Resolutions: Making 2013 A Happy, Healthy Year

Vanessa Collins Health Guide
  • How about making New Year's Resolutions that really matter this year? Let's set some healthy, realistic goals, and not neglect our mental health in the process.


    Losing weight is a popular resolution, and an especially tough one for those of us on RA medications. I have gained 20 pounds since starting Prednisone, and I cannot seem to get rid of the extra weight. Actually, I should call it extra, extra weight. I had extra weight before Prednisone!


    So....what to do? We need a plan. We need to chart a course of action that will lead us to that happy land of positive outcomes. Oh, how we long for that happy place this time of year.

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    I am not big on major changes. I just do not do well with turning things upside down. Truth is, we don't have to make drastic changes to achieve success. Just cutting back 117 calories a day will result in a pound of weight loss over the course of a month.


    There are 3500 calories in one pound of fat. How fat sticks to my thighs so quickly and comes off so slowly is a mystery to me. I guess all those Christmas cookies I ate might have something to do with it!


    Substituting an apple which contains approximately 100 calories, for a cookie that contains an average of 150 calories might be a good place to start. And who among us can eat just one cookie? We can eat just one apple, as long as we stay away from the caramel dip!


    Another popular resolution this time of years is smoking cessation. That is a tough one, too. I have talked to people who have had success using a combination of approaches. Nicotine patches and those “electric” cigarettes seem to be quite popular. Most malls have an “electric” cigarette kiosk now.


    Smoking Cessation requires determination and persistence. If you “fall off the wagon”, try again, and again and again.


    There is no resolution like the resolution to exercise. I have made this resolution for two years in a row, and I never make much progress in this department. I have a recumbent bike I tried to use for exercise. Every time I ride it, my hips and knees protest and cause much more pain.


    I tried water exercise. That didn't work either. After a few minutes, I was in so much pain, I had to quit. My orthopedic doc and my rheumatologist agree: No exercise other than “stretching exercises” unless and until the swelling goes down in my knees and ankles.


    Lack of exercise is a tough one for me. I used to exercise three times a week, and walk three to five miles three times a week. Unfortunately, those days are gone, at least for now.


    If you can find any type of exercise that you can do without hurting your joints, and with the blessing of your doctor, please try to pursue it. It will be good for your overall health, and is a great stress reducer.


    My resolution this year is more related to mental health than physical health. I have resolved to stop wasting my time and energy trying to explain RA to people who really are not interested. I have been wasting my time, and I finally realized it.


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    I resolve to use my energy and time trying to help and encourage those who are battling this disease. We all need some encouragement from time to time, and no one understands RA like another member of the RA community.


    If you find yourself struggling because of lack of understanding from friends and family, please reach out to someone who does understand. Sometimes we can feel so alone, and that is a bad place to be.


    Please know that you are not alone. There are people who understand. There are people who care. I care. Wishing you all a happy, healthy and blessed New Year

Published On: January 10, 2013