Updating Goals for 2019

Reflecting on my goals for the last five years has been really helpful for me to think about the previous year and where I hope to go with my health in the New Year (2014 Goals, 2015 Goals, 2016 Goals, 2017 Goals, 2018 Goals).

A tough year with uncontrolled RA symptoms

Last year was especially tough because I had a medication failure not long after a previous failure, and most of the year I struggled with serious pain, stiffness, weakness, and fatigue. Then I went through a prolonged fight with the pharmacy benefit manager before I could start a new drug. The good news is that the new drug is working, but it was a long, hard road to get there.

Despite these struggles, I am happy with how I stuck to a regular exercise routine. It was very hard because of the frequency of flares and debilitating fatigue. But I prevailed in getting to the pool fairly often, and when I couldn’t I did exercises at home using my stepper machine (great gift from my husband last Christmas) and arm weights. Even with a tough RA year, I did pretty well with my exercise habits.

I also continued tracking my diet and maintaining healthy eating habits. It really helps to keep track when I am working on weight loss. Hoping to make more progress on weight management this year.

New adjustments to make it a successful new year for my RA management

To help with my 2019 goals, I’ve updated my previous year with new adjustments. The daily activities are top priority habits for supporting my health. The weekly habits can add onto the daily and may even become more frequent. The monthly activities are for helping me to keep the larger picture in my mind and not lose sight of my progress when I have setbacks.

Daily habits for a healthier RA year:

  • Take medications. I keep a schedule and take my medications at the same time every day to help space them out and maintain a good level of effectiveness. I have really solid habits in this arena, but a new medication has been throwing me some curveballs so I’m re-focusing on making sure I get my medications in throughout the day.
  • Eat well. I maintained a fairly good diet this year, so I feel confident that I can continue. I definitely notice when I go off my habits for even just a few days (such as cheesesteaks during Christmas holiday!) and feel better when I get on track. I recently began seeing a dietician as part of my goal to lose weight. While I was happy that she says I have good diet habits, I want to keep them up with some of the adjustments (like increasing protein intake) that she suggested.
  • Exercise. Even with an extra hard RA year, I did well with my exercise habits. I feel pretty proud for keeping up my strength despite so many flares and medication problems. This year will be about continuing this trend and trying some challenging exercise, as I can manage.
  • Keep Tracking. Keeping a log of my eating and exercise was extremely helpful in keeping on track and noting my improvements. My dietician also showed me some new tricks (like setting calorie goals and tracking protein intake), so I have some additional tools to use.
  • Rest. For me, rest never goes out of style! I’m going to continue working on the quality and quantity of rest because it makes me feel better and helps with maintaining my energy. I just got a new incline pillow, which I think is helping me to sleep better and improve my rest. I’m going to continue seeing how I do and work on it.
  • Focus on quality time. I felt I had some great quality time with loved ones last year and want to continue prioritizing it. As I continue to trim my outside commitments, this is becoming more of a focus that makes me happy and healthy.

Weekly habits:

  • Go swimming. Having an outdoor pool that I can use in my community during the summer has been terrific! During the cold months, I’ve been able to get to the indoor pool, but it takes more effort for the trip. Thankfully, I have more exercise options at home (such as my stepper machine) that have really helped in getting my exercise in and managing my RA. My goal is to keep up these helpful exercise habits!
  • Practice meditation. Unfortunately, my meditation habit this year was spotty at best. I needed to prioritize other activities (like resting) because of my RA struggles. No matter, I am doing better and so can re-focus on this practice this year.
  • Have some fun and de-stress. Fun may seem like a silly goal, but why should my goals not include it! With all the work of living with RA, it’s important to get in the fun! We are planning more fun trips and gardening and patio time, so I am looking forward to some good, plain fun times.

Monthly check-in:

  • Assess how I’m feeling. As I’ve said, 2018 was a hard year for my RA. I’m feeling hopeful because my new medication is working great. While there’s no guarantee that it will last, I am certainly going to enjoy it while I can! And also, make sure that I keep taking care of myself and not overdoing it.
  • Tweak habits as needed. Ideally, I need to check in on my goals more frequently than once a year. We all get caught up in our daily lives, but it’s important to take care of my health so that I can live the life I want to live.

How did you do with your goals, health or otherwise? What do you want to do differently in 2019 and how will you keep yourself on track?

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