Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Did you know that, if you're overweight, for every pound lost, 4 pounds of stress is removed from the knees? Maintaining a healthy weight can make managing your arthritis easier, and there are several different things you can do to help yourself get to and stay at your target weight.
Losing weight takes more than desire. It takes commitment and a well-thought-out plan. Here's a step-by-step guide to getting started.
Step 1: Make a Commitment
Making the decision to lose weight, change your lifestyle, and become healthier is a big step to take. Start simply by making a commitment to yourself.
Writing down the reasons why you want to lose weight can also help. It might be because you have a family history of heart disease, or simply because you want to feel better. Post these reasons where they serve as a daily reminder of why you want to make this change.
Step 2: Take Stock of Where You Are
Talk to your health care provider. He or she can evaluate your height, weight, and explore other weight-related risk factors you may have. Ask for a follow-up appointment to monitor changes in your weight or any related health conditions.
Keep a "food diary" for a few days, in which you write down everything you eat. By doing this, you become more aware of what you are eating and when you are eating. This awareness can help you avoid mindless eating.
Next, examine your current lifestyle. Identify things that might pose challenges to your weight loss efforts. For example, does your work or travel schedule make it difficult to get enough physical activity? Think through things you can do to help overcome these challenges.
Finally, think about aspects of your lifestyle that can help you lose weight. For example, is there an area near your workplace where you and some coworkers can take a walk at lunchtime?
Step 3: Set Realistic Goals*
Set some short-term goals and reward your efforts along the way. If your long-term goal is to lose 40 pounds and to control your high blood pressure, some short-term eating and physical activity goals might be to start eating breakfast, taking a 15 minute walk in the evenings, or having a salad or vegetable with supper.
Focus on two or three goals at a time. Great, effective goals are —
• Forgiving (less than perfect)
For example, "Exercise More" is not a specific goal. But if you say, "I will walk 15 minutes, 3 days a week for the first week," you are setting a specific and realistic goal for the first week.
Remember, small changes every day can lead to big results in the long run.
*Be sure to check with your doctor to see if these physical activities are right for you.
Step 4: Identify Resources for Information and Support
Find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others you can talk to and rely on for support. You might have coworkers or neighbors with similar goals, and together you can share healthful recipes and plan group exercise.
Joining a weight loss group or visiting a health care professional such as a registered dietitian can help.
Step 5: Continually "Check in" with Yourself to Monitor Your Progress
Revisit the goals you set for yourself (in Step 3) and evaluate your progress regularly.
If you are consistently achieving a particular goal, add a new goal to help you continue on your pathway to success.
Reward yourself for your successes! Recognize when you're meeting your goals and be proud of your progress. Use non-food rewards, such as a bouquet of freshly picked flowers, a sports outing with friends, or a relaxing bath. Rewards help keep you motivated on the path to better health.
Adapted from CDC.gov article “Getting Started” at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/getting_started.html.
What’s on Your Plate These Days?
You probably remember the old food pyramid. It’s now been changed to a more representative graphic — a plate that shows how to proportion your fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. Maintaining a healthy weight begins with a healthy understanding of what you should be eating.
All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group.
Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut up, or mashed.
Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.
All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Most Dairy Group choices should be fat free or low fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not. Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) is also part of the Dairy Group.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Weight Loss Programs
Talk to Your Doctor. Then Pick a Program.*
Losing weight is one of the best ways to relieve the stress on your joints that can lead to arthritis pain. Depending on your age, weight, sex, and activity level, there are a multitude of weight loss programs available to you — everything from plans that closely monitor calories, to plans that focus on certain foods or food groups, to plans that offer prepared foods and meal plans. Before you choose, it’s very important to talk to your doctor about the one that may be right for you.
*Be sure to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.
5 Ways to Make Cooking Easier
Preparing a healthy, nutritious meal is important, but cooking can be daunting when your knees are aching or your fingers are stiff. Try these shortcuts to help make cooking with arthritis easier.
Prepare 2 or more chicken breasts at a time and refrigerate the leftovers to use in salads or sandwiches the next day.
Stock the Slow Cooker
Place meat or poultry, pre-sliced vegetables, spices, and liquid in a slow cooker, turn it on and hours later enjoy a hot, cooked meal. And there’s only 1 pot to wash.
Cook It Quick
Microwave frozen vegetables or leftovers quickly, without adding fats or depleting nutrients. Using a microwave oven on the countertop eliminates stretching or stooping to cook.
Use kitchen or cooking utensils with padded handles or grips.
Have a Seat
Instead of standing at your counter or stovetop, pull up a high barstool and sit down to chop, mix, or stir.
Copyright © 2012 Arthritis Foundation. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this topic, visit www.arthritistoday.org.
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