Mom Melinda Winner, who has rheumatoid arthritis, shares the journey of her 100-pound weight loss.
After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her early 20s, Melinda Winner’s weight started on a roller-coaster ride. “As my pain intensified and traveled to different joints, I became sedentary and I ate,” Melinda says. A half cup of peanut butter gobbled right off the spoon was a daily “go-to.”
Over a two-year period, she gained 100 pounds. And while the Gulfport, MS, resident attempted to trim down, the pounds always came right back—until she hit 231 pounds. “The more I gained, the less I could move and the more pain and flares I had. The more flares I had, the more deformity I developed. I was even in a wheelchair at one point!”
Her lightbulb moment
“One day my 3-year-old wanted me to get on the floor and play cars with him,” Melinda recalls. “I couldn’t do it. At first I cried, but then I got mad. How did this happen? I may have not chosen to develop RA, but I did make all of the bad choices that led to this moment. I had to fight for my life.”
To start, Melinda decided to take baby steps. “I took my son for short walks and added a few steps daily. One by one, I cut out fatty foods and I began to get creative with my meals. In fact, I became a chef and even wrote a cookbook [A Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking with Arthritis, Tate Publishing & Enterprises, LLC].”
Sure enough, Melinda began dropping the weight. And when her doctor put her on a biologic drug that improved her mobility, Melinda was able to increase her walking mileage. By the end of a year, she was up to five miles a day—but that’s not the best of it. “I was down 100 pounds and playing catch with my kids,” she happily reports. “My life was back!”
Prepare your own meals
Melissa says making your own meals is the best way to control what you’re eating. Here’s how Melissa makes cooking easy:
• Think “spin.” “Get a cart with wheels for moving ingredients from counter to counter, a plant stand on wheels for moving pots and trash cans and lazy Susans to make grabbing things easier.”
• Organize your kitchen. “My rule for organizing my kitchen cabinets and cupboards is light on top, heavy on the bottom. So, heavy pots on bottom shelves, lighter items on high shelves.”
• Invest in a stand mixer. “One of these helps you make everything from bread to meat loaf and you never have to use your hands.”
Make exercise painless
Soreness and stiffness can stand in the way of your best exercise intentions. Here’s how Melissa is able to stick to her fitness routine.
• Do a little something every day. “I started by walking just a few steps. And I’ve found that, if I do not walk every day, the pain in my legs is horrible. The less I move, the greater the pain and stiffness!”
• Try this stretching trick. ”I do stretching exercises in a tub filled with warm, salty water. The water soothes and takes the pressure off my joints. It feels wonderful!”
• Look for warm- and cold-compress products. ”To soothe flare-ups in my hands that might prevent me from exercising, I cup each hand around a small ball I heat in the microwave or put in the freezer. It’s my ‘cure’ for pain!”
Note: Always clear any diet or exercise program with your physician before beginning.