When it comes to psoriatic arthritis, managing your weight can have significant impacts on your overall health. As reported by the National Psoriasis Foundation, weight loss in conjunction with certain medications can together help improve your symptoms. Carrying less weight will help lessen the burden on your joints and can potentially give you more energy.
However, managing your weight with psoriatic arthritis is difficult. Your joints are achy and swollen. You’re low on energy. And your whole body is inflamed. Conditions aren’t always conducive for a two-mile jog!
Whenever I have a psoriatic arthritis flare, I find myself gaining weight from lack of activity, side effects from medications, and the inflammation all throughout my body. While we each may have different reasons we’ve gained the weight, the following seven tips are my suggestions on ways to manage weight while thriving with your psoriatic arthritis.
1) Watch your diet
I know, I know. Whenever you’re not feeling well you may consider that tub of ice cream “just what the doctor ordered.” But if you don’t watch what you eat, you may end up packing on some pounds. Be cognizant of what you’re putting in your body. Steer clear of fatty, fried, and processed foods. Try your best to reach for fresh fruits and veggies. Your body will thank you!
Tip: To get started, read The Best Smoothies for Psoriatic Arthritis or Foods To Avoid When Living With Psoriasis.
2) Identify your psoriatic arthritis triggers
Each of us will have different psoriatic arthritis triggers. Identifying these triggers reduces flares and can help decrease the amount of inflammation in your body overall. Inflammation can cause weight gain. By avoiding your specific triggers, you can reduce excess fluid.
Tip: To help you uncover your own specific triggers, start tracking these symptoms.
3) Start moving
Movement is one of the best ways to keep weight off. Do your best to include some type of movement into your routine. Whether it’s taking a short walk around your block or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, small moments like these can go a long way to managing weight. Movement is also beneficial for your joints.
Tip: Try these 10 tips for staying active with psoriatic disease.
4) Consider low-impact exercises
Many people think that you have to run a marathon to stay in shape, but there are plenty of low impact exercises that can help you. Maybe you’re not like me (someone who LOVES yoga), but you’re more like psoriatic arthritis patient Casey Nilsson who’s not a huge fan of yoga. Either way, there are many options that you can participate in.
Tip: Learn more about low-impact, customizable ways to loosen your stiff joints, or look up a water aerobics class near you.
5) Focus on your mental health
Whenever we think of weight, we automatically think of our physical health. But mental health is just as important. Focusing on ourselves and our own self-care are part of managing weight. Mentally we hold on to weight (and other things). By becoming more aware and in the moment, we can let go of these things and move freely onwards.
Tip: Don’t overthink it! Try incorporating one of these three breathing exercises into your day.
6) Talk to your doctor about your medications
Certain medications cause weight gain and water retention. Despite your very best efforts, this may prevent you from managing your weight. Talk to your doctor about your weight concerns and your current treatments.
7) Get support from others
Getting support from others is invaluable when managing your weight with psoriatic arthritis. Not only can others keep you accountable, but they can help you stay motivated and keep you company while exercising!
Psoriatic arthritis patient and blogger Cynthia Covert understands the importance of support. In an interview with HealthCentral, she said: “Being part of a fitness accountability group makes it harder to pretend that eating better or exercising regularly won't improve our chronic lives. We are less apt to talk ourselves out of a workout when we shouldn't have. Support groups force us to take ownership over our health and doesn't let us give up. The best part is that there is always someone who understands where you are at and is there to listen, encourage, and help.”
Tip: Visit Cynthia’s closed Facebook group, The Disabled Diva’s Fitness Buddies, to connect with other chronic illness warriors.
Don’t underestimate the power of support in managing your weight. And don’t forget, there are many ways you can get support. Look to your family and friends for personal support or join groups online!