Losing Weight for the Sake of Her Family

Mom Melinda Winner, who has rheumatoid arthritis, shares the journey of her 100-pound weight loss.

Beth Shapouri
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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!”

April 2013