30 Days with RA: Let's Go!

Back in July 2016, I wrote an article about an idea I had to help make practicing self-care easier and more fun: 30 Days with RA! While I'm embarrassed that it's taken me so long to start the project, I am excited to finally get it up and running--even if I'm the only one doing it!

As my article explains, 30 Days with RA is a project that involves time periods of 30 days and people whose lives are touched by RA. For the time period of a month, participants will commit to change or form a habit, do an activity, or maybe even start (or restart) a hobby. Participants can then document their success/frustrations by writing (journaling, blogging) and include photos (if they want) during those 30 days. Sharing photos and stories on social media (especially Instagram and Twitter) is a great way to connect with others also doing the project by using a common hashtag: #30DaysWithRA.

We all have bad habits we’d like to break or new healthy habits we want to start.

Food and diet and weight loss are big ones and are things I personally struggle with on a regular basis. Being part of a project or challenge can help keep you on task with your goals and prevent you from, say, bingeing on an entire bag of chips in the middle of the night. Or, um, buying those Rice Krispie bars at Target when you know you shouldn't. So yes, I need some help and support in reaching my nutrition and weight loss goals.

For the month of April, my 30-day challenge is to lose at least 8 lbs in four weeks. This number is decided upon by following the slower, safer way to lose weight (according to what I've heard from some nutritionists), by losing 1-2 pounds per week. I'd like to lose a little more than that, but we'll see how it goes.

About five years ago, I was able to lose about 8 lbs per month by using the SparkPeople website (they have a phone app, too) to track all of the food I was eating every day. Tracking my food has been the only way I've been able to lose weight, even while being on prednisone, for a long time. Having a bad foot and ankle that flares up as soon as I do any extra amount of standing or walking also makes exercise really hard to do on a regular basis.

Based on my own experience, I know that in order to lose weight I need to keep track of what I'm eating.

When I'm not tracking, even if I think I'm eating less, the calories and pounds still pile on very quickly. This makes me feel depressed, angry and defeated--and like wanting to give up and scarf down an entire package of Trader Joe's maple leaf cookies. Tracking forces me to stop and realize what I'm actually putting into my mouth, how much of it I'm eating at any given time, and what the actual nutritional value is of the food.

So! April 1st and I'm ready to start tracking my food again while making healthy food and exercise choices. According to my profile on SparkPeople, for my height and weight and age, I need to eat 1200-1550 calories a day to lose weight. The maximum number of 1550 calories isn't very much, but I know I can do it.

Also while tracking my food during these 30 days, I plan and hope to stick to my clean-food vegan diet as much as possible.

I've already seen how a vegan diet helps my RA and visibly reduces inflammation when I stick with it, so I think it's important to keep going with that while being conscious about the calories I'm consuming. Eating gluten-free at the same time is another goal, but that's really difficult and I'm not going to beat myself up about it right now if I can't perfectly stick to it.

This isn't going to be easy, friends, but I desperately need to lose weight--for my physical and emotional health. Who's with me? What will you do for 30 days?

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