It can be beyond frustrating when you want to get in shape and lose weight and your RA gets in the way. There are ways around that, although you can probably expect that it will take you longer than a person who doesn't have a chronic illness. The silver lining is that when you lose weight slowly, avoiding the quickfix diets, you have a better chance of the weight loss being permanent. The quick fixes, starvation diets, etc., tend to lead to quick weight loss, followed by gaining more weight than you lost and so on.
They say that the secret to losing weight is to eat less and move more. You might consider seeing a dietitian (your family doctor should be able to find one) to talk about healthy eating and portion size. As a society, North America has become more and more convinced that a proper meal is much larger than what people ate 30-40 years ago. Getting information from a reputable source about what a healthy, balanced diet looks like it will help you adjust your eating habits, develop a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food, thereby creating long-term and lasting change. One of the things that a dietitian will tell you is to eat 5-6 smaller meals a day, instead of 2-3 larger males. Someone once explained to me that not eating regularly means that your body becomes convinced its in an environment with few resources and therefore holds onto all the calories you give it. However, eating every 3-4 hours makes your body believe that there will always be more food, so it processes what you need and lets go of whatever calories it doesn't need. Neat, eh?
The second factor in weight loss, moving more, it is a challenge when you have chronic pain. Being in water makes it easier on your joints and you can try finding a pool at a community center or a gym (if you can afford the membership) and walk in water - as an added benefit, water offers resistance, which means it burns more calories than when you walk in air. Exercising in general while you're in the water will also be easier on your joints and swimming is an excellent way to get in shape (if you don't know how, find a class that teaches other adults in the same situation). Your doctor will be able to refer you to a physiotherapist who can teach you the kind of exercises that will be good for your body, while helping you avoid what will make your affected joints hurt. And lastly, for motivation and support, finding a group of other people who are losing weight can be very helpful - you can go to formal programs like Weight Watchers or more importantly, get a bunch of friends together to cheer each other on and you can connect to people and information about weight loss on Internet sites, such as HealthCentral's MyDietExercise.com.