For the past couple of months, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy has had a standing prescription for Prednisone. My rheumatologist told me to take this corticosteroid for three weeks (10mg x 7 days, 5mg x 7 days, 2,5mg x 7 days) should I encounter a particularly rough period with my RA.
During my last visit, he asked if I had taken any Prednisone. When I told him no, he told reminded me that there is no need to be a stoic in front of the pain, and to please not forget about implementing this this backup plan should it become necessary.
So, following in the footsteps of Barry Bonds et al., I decided to go ahead and start my steroid plan this past weekend. (Okay, I know these steroids are different from those steroids…I’m just having fun!) I figured that not being able to place any weight whatsoever on my left knee and left foot qualified as a green light. My right elbow isn’t a happy camper either at the moment, and my shoulders have decided to join the party as well.
The last time I took Prednisone was a few years ago, during which time I gained a lot of weight. (But it wasn’t the muscle gain that I had hoped for!) As anyone who has taken this medicine before knows all too well, the most common side effects include mood changes, weight gain, water retention, and the infamous “moonface”. (That’s exactly what is sound like – your face becomes so round that it looks like a full moon. Sometimes I feel like I should be sitting at McDonald’s playing the piano.)
Like most people, I am very sensitive to the notion of any weight gain. I think even slightly more so because one of my biggest priorities during the past year and a half has been my bringing my physical fitness and weight down to its ideal state. I have lost a substantial amount of weight during the past 18 months (close to 50 pounds, and almost 5 inches around the waist), and I would much more prefer not having to go back up and down again. I also don’t think my joints would be too happy having to support any extra weight.
So as my hunger levels skyrocket (once again), and as my metabolism baselines, I have come up with a some action items in hopes of minimizing any weight gain during the coming weeks. (What a change from just six weeks ago, when I could barely stomach anything due to stomach problems…) I’ve got the healthy meals and exercise under control…I just have to take care of the other 21 hours of the day!
Leave It In The Store
My absolute first life of defense when it comes to weight control takes place at the grocery store. Anything that has a lot of fat or calories does not make it into my shopping cart – and since I can’t just easily run back to the store at any given moment, chances are that if it does not come home on the first trip to the grocery store, that it’s not coming home at all. I also make sure to follow the age-old advice of not shopping while hungry. (Who hasn’t done this before, and ended up with a kitchen full of cookies, ice cream, and potato chips?)
Watch It Wiggle
As midnight runs (okay, 2am runs – I often go to sleep right before midnight) to the refrigerator become much more frequent, I figured that I might as well fill it with something healthy snacks (but not too healthy…I’m not going to be eating carrot sticks the middle of the night, after all!) So at any given moment, one shelf of my refrigerator is filled with single-serve glasses of homemade Jell-O. (It’s especially fun to do the multiple layers thing…) Whenever I get the urge to eat something either during the day or night, I go for my servings of Jell-O…guilt free.
Do The Jamba Dance
I must admit, I have never been a big fan of fruit – but throw it in a blender and add some ice, and I am more than happy! (Thanks, Jamba Juice!) Most of my fruit shakes start from a base of fresh papaya, apple juice, and ice. Into this I add mango, strawberries, bananas, raspberries, and blueberries – depending upon my mood. For my own personal power boost, I add some ground flaxseed. Making my own fruit blends at home is easy, fun, and best of all – more inexpensive than the retail option.
Luckily, one of my favorite snacks while watching television during the evenings has always been popcorn. (I think I get this from my father – it’s very rare that he ever goes a day without eating popcorn.) A couple of years ago I decided it was time to give up on commercial microwave popcorn, as I had read too many health warning related to the oils and flavorings that they use. Childhood memories of tasteless air popped popcorn didn’t seem to appetizing, either. I was happy to come across this Presto PowerPopper, which I have been using since. The results are great tasting air popped popcorn (you can add a dash of butter or oil if you like, but it’s not necessary) from my microwave. Once again, this alternative is nicer on the wallet. (My father is also a recent convert to this microwave popper, which says a lot!)
If you have your own suggestions for minimizing the weight gain that is associated with Prednisone and other rheumatoid arthritis medications, please do share!
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!