The battle of the Prednisone belly bulge

The Battle of the Prednisone Belly Bulge

Last updated: March 2022

When I stepped on the scale at the doctor's office this afternoon and saw the numbers flash before me, I let out an automatic and horrified yelp, "OH NO!" Oh no is right. I've gained weight again--the 5 lbs I worked so hard to lose before my trip out East in mid-November and then some in addition to that. Great. But I know it didn't just mysteriously jump onto my body, although sometimes it does feel that way.

The impact of prednisone and weight gain

Yet I can blame the evil prednisone for some of it. For making me bloated and screwing with my metabolism (do I still have a metabolism?) and for making me want to devour loaves of white bread and cups of sugar.  And chocolate (but I blame that on genes inherited from my chocolate-crazy parents).

I still swear this scale is wrong; I tried to convince my doctor of this a few weeks ago but he didn't buy it. But I admit that I desperately need to lose weight. No more messing around! No more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the middle of the night--not that I do that. No more being lazy and mindlessly eating crap because I'm bored or tired or anxious or sad and need something to do with my hands (or mouth). Maybe I should take up smoking? No, no. Terrible joke.

Calorie counting helps

But seriously, I do know what I need to do in order to lose weight again: track my food and calories. In the past I've used the Spark People website to track everything I eat every day and it actually worked. The first time I used it, I was afraid this task would prove to be too daunting and annoying and make my borderline OCD worse (How many calories do I have left? Can I eat this now? Did I mark down that Ritz cracker? Don't think about the cheese in the fridge! Don't think about it! Don't think about food ever again! Ahhh!). But to my great surprise, it wasn't bad at all! Tracking my food didn't make me feel crazy, like counting points using Weight Watchers had. I only tried three days of being on Weight Watchers before I had to stop, convinced I was developing some sort of point-counting mental illness. My mother, who was also doing the program, just rolled her eyes at me.

Let's get back to my appointment today at the clinic. My doctor (therapist) tried to console me a little bit by bringing up the fact that it's not unusual to gain weight during Christmas and the holidays because of all of the extra food around and parties and things like that. Yes, yes, I know. But I also know that just because I'm invited to three Thanksgiving parties in New Jersey, that doesn't mean I need to stuff my face with pumpkin pie at each one (okay, one was apple pie).

Managing belly bulge

Prednisone + the holidays is maybe the worst combination possible. And unfortunately I've had to go back on prednisone once again because my RA flared up during my trip and hasn't totally calmed down yet. While I was out of town and walking all over the place, dragging heavy luggage around, I was ecstatic to see my clothes starting to fit better and looser again. I was beginning to resemble my old self, and not the faux-pregnant humpback steroid lady I usually look like.

Well, Prednisone Belly Humpback Lady is back, uglier and bulge-ier than ever (I know I just made up that word). I'm waiting for some stranger to ask me some day when the "blessed event" is. Just like I'm waiting for the first time someone yells at me for using a handicapped parking spot. In both cases, I fantasize about hissing, "I have rheumatoid arthritis" and then giving them the ultimate look of death.

The good thing about stopping to really look in the mirror and seeing that you have prednisone belly and weird neck hump again is that these images make you simultaneously disgusted and determined to lose the weight and the weird bulges as soon as possible. Is that neck lump still there? Yep. No bagels for me today!

Today was a bad day at the doctor but also a good day. The horror of standing on that scale only reinforced my desire to lose weight and be physically healthier in the new year.

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