Losing Weight to Manage AxSpA
Why is it that the most common advice I’m giving by doctors is to “lose weight” or “don’t gain weight,” yet there’s never any suggestions as to how to do so?
It feels more judgmental than helpful.
I can remember thinking about one doctor, “buddy your gut is bigger than mine.” As in, who are you to tell me that?
With that said, I understand why it’s important. I’m dealing with back pain, so the more unnecessary weight I’m carrying on my body, the worse I will make it for myself.
It’s frustrating to get negative criticism without advice.
In truth, I have carried extra weight on my body for years and an AxSpA diagnosis was a major motivator to change some habits and live a healthier lifestyle.
I sought some advice and reflected on aspects of my life I could alter for the better.
Consistent motivation was a challenge for me. I would do well for a few weeks then fall off the wagon and revert to bad habits. I would lose a few pounds and gain them right back.
So, I decided to try and make a few simple changes for my daily life to improve my physical health. My intent was to make small changes I could stick with long term.
Cut out junk food
Firstly, I altered my diet. Snacking is my vice. I turned cravings for ice cream and pizza into healthier alternatives. Enter frozen mangoes and blueberries. Ice cream felt like a big sacrifice, so I had to find a healthier alternative I enjoy almost as much. Now, I have a bowl of frozen blueberries and mangoes for dessert most nights.
Also, I drink a ton of water now. I was surprised how much better I started feeling when I quit having juice or soda/pop every day. My body actually craves a big glass of water now and being properly hydrated helps manage my AxSpA symptoms.
Move every day
My mantra is to move every day. I exercise to my condition. On the worst days, it’s barely a walk up the block. On the best days, I push my physical limits. No matter what, moving in any form is better than staying on the couch.
I set different days.
My days change with the season, and apparently the social health of society, but I try and alternate between harder and easier exercise. It’s amazing how effortless exercise can feel when it seems like a break, plus I avoid burning myself out.
For example, today I went on a bike ride with a hard, uphill climb. So tomorrow, I will go for a rollerblade where it’s flat and I can coast if I’m tired.
I also like to join a team or group. Exercise seems easier when it’s also a social activity.
I stretch. Then, I stretch again. Then, I stretch some more.
My friends make fun of me for my warmup routine. It takes about 10 minutes, but I have to do it before any activity. If I don’t, I’ll hurt myself. In addition to AxSpA, I’ve also separated both my shoulders, so I need to make sure my body is moving properly.
Stretching is a part of my warmup, cooldown, and even the main activity if I’m doing yoga.
Stretching beforehand ensures I don’t get hurt during the activity and stretching afterwards prevents me from being sore the next day so I can exercise again.
The changes have proved successful so far. I continue to gradually add new changes as the others work. I know this will be a life-long challenge but living with AxSpA only makes me more determined to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible.
Does reading AxSpA patient stories help you in your journey?