The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy First Anniversary

Posted by Seeking Solace |

With the Plague, the insanity of the finding a job and the mountains of work in my PhD course, I completely missed a major milestone.

It's the one-year anniversary of reaching my weight loss goal!!!!

This time last year, I reached my goal of losing 50 pounds. It took 17 months of calorie tracking, eating less and moving more. Initially, maintenance was tricky. I was so focused on not going over or under 138 pounds. I had a hard time going from weight loss mode to maintenance mode. Having an extra 500 calories to use felt a little awkward, mostly because I didn't need to eat the additional calories. So, I began to slowly allow a little more food or I would use the full fat, higher calorie version of foods. Also, running and walking not only kept my weight down. What I realized after this first year of maintenance is that 135-138 is my weight "sweet spot". I feel my best when I am in that range. I don't want to down any lower or any higher than that.

People have asked me how I was not only able to loss the weight, but to keep it off. Some have asked me how the weight loss has impacted the RA and fibromyalgia. So, here are some things I would like to share...

How did you lose all the weight?
I used a calorie/fitness tracker called Lose It. In the past, I would try to eat healthy and exercise, but see very little change on the scale. With the calorie/fitness tracker, I could see the number of calories that I needed vs. the number that I was actually eating. Husband got me a food scale so that I could measure proper portions of food. Let me just say that pasta was a real eye-opener!

Seeing my calories and exercise all spelled out in living color was a huge wake up call. I though I was doing what I should to lose weight, but the number of calories in was way over what I needed, even with exercise.

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, I set small goals for myself throughout the weight loss period. I concentrated on 10 pounds at a time. When I reached that goal, I would reward myself with a small non-food related treat, like a book download or a bath bomb from Lush. Once I was in maintenance, my goals were fitness related.

Honestly, there was no real trick to losing the weight. No crazy fad diets. No starvation. Just understanding how much fuel my body really needs to function.

Did you give up anything?
Nope. Unlike all these diets that say "Don't eat this or don't eat that", I continued to eat what I liked, only less of it. I still ate pizza, chicken wings and dessert. And, I still had alcohol. A great example was a recent trip to Cheesecake Factory, where I had a slice of the Red Velvet Cheesecake. Instead of ingesting all 1250 calories of cheesecake goodness (yeah, you read right, 1250 calories), I cut it into fourths and had cheesecake goodness for four days. Just enough to get a little taste without going crazy.

How's the RA and the firbromyalgia?
My RA doc did a happy dance with the weight loss and maintenance. At my last appointment, she indicated that the extra 50 pounds that I was carrying was like 100 pounds of excess weight on my joints. I've maintained remission for a year. Eating and living a healthier lifestyle has helped greatly.

So, are you "cured"?
Hells, no! If exercise and diet could cure autoimmune diseases, there would be a lot less people with them. My body is still attacking itself all day, every day, Sundays included. Remission for me means that the disease is not actively interfering with daily life. It also means that I do not need a steroid boost. It doesn't mean that I don't have flares; flares happen because of cold, stress or just because it feels like it. But, the flares have been minimal in the past year with no steroids boost.

But, doesn't exercise hurt? 
Exercise sounds counterproductive when you have chronic pain, but it is really the best thing, so long as you are able to do so. Back in the summer of 2013, I could barely make it from my house to the first streetlight. Today, I have complete my first 5K and training for another.The walking and running helps strengthen the muscles around the joints. I am also very in-tune with how my body feels. If the joints are angry, I may just go for a gentile walk with Junior or forgo the workout until I feel better. For the first time since my diagnosis, I am doing things that I have not done in 15 years of batling this illness. Also, I listen to my body. If I am not feeling right, I slow down and take it easy.  And, of course everything that I do is with the consultation and blessing of my RA doc.

What's next?
Continuing maintenance. The changes that I have made a so much a part of my routine, that I not comfortable forgoing the tracking and weighing my portions. I sometimes wonder if it's a little too OCD, but I know that it is what works for me and doing it is not interfering with my life. I have started doing yoga again for the strength training and for the stress relief. I was really into practice a long time ago, so I excited to get back into it. I am also planning on running another 5K in the spring.

The only challenge that I see is how to maintain all of this when I return to full time work/part time PhD or full time PhD/part time work. Right now, I'm part time work/part time PhD, which allows me sufficient to work out and make healthy meals. I am trying to incorporate strategies that mimic how my life will be should my work and school status change. It's a work in progress.


The past year and 17 months of weight loss and maintenance has not only given the tools to not only live a healthier and happier lifestyle, it has given my life back in that I am doing things that I thought I had lost because of the RA. Getting my life back is the greatest victory.