Patient Council Spotlight: Alexandra Fraisova
Please tell us who you are, and about your experience of weight and obesity:
I am a literary scout, translator, a former dancer and a flamenco dancer, a personal trainer and a lecturer – it’s quite a lot for one person, isn´t it? I am also a patient, striving to get back to my ideal weight.
As a dancer and athlete, I was able to maintain my weight until my last major injury four years ago. Due to an GI illness (that got a bit better after a surgery a couple of years ago, thankfully) and medication, and due to a couple of weeks of walking on crutches I became bigger and bigger. It wasn’t dramatic to some, but I was still some 25 kg more than I was accustomed to. And I could not shift the weight.
Of course I started looking for a solution. I have studied nutrition and was working out a lot. I sought professional help, and worked on my psyche and thought patterns. Nothing worked. It seemed that my medication played quite a big role in my inability to lose weight. And it seems that I have developed a minor metabolic issue as well, due to my GI illness.
When I discovered it wouldn’t be easy to lose the weight, I began to study nutrition and working with the psychological aspects of managing and maintaining weight-loss and also living with weight you would rather not keep. Thanks to this, I have received an offer to be a lecturer of STOB (Stop Obesity), an excellent organisation offering help to everybody seeking to lose weight.
Before that, I was myself a member of this community and a user of its weight-loss programmes. I was quite an active member, that´s true; this is likely the reason I was asked to join the lecturer circuit. I have humbly accepted this opportunity. My work is mostly done via the internet through our community web page, where I work as an advisor and help to motivate others.
I am a good example of a middle-aged overweight woman, a typical example of our most common user. I know what members of our STOB community are going through, as I have been there, and had this experience myself. I can offer help, advice, motivation and am happy to share my experience and knowledge. I try to help others find their way.
It still isn´t easy for me to lose weight; I have to use my medication permanently and I also have to work around my metabolic challenge, but I´m not giving up. And I support the idea that being fit and a little bit fat is always better than being just thin and not able to do a pushup.
As a member of STOB community and also as a member of the EASO Patient Council, I support the idea that it´s important to educate people, to demonstrate reasonable options for weight-loss (not some crazy fancy diets but healthy eating and healthy exercising), to work with motivation and support healthy thought patterns. The psychological aspect of weight-loss is very important and is actually the specialty of STOB. We not only offer tools for developing and maintaining food and exercise logs, but we also work with thought patterns and motivation of our members. Crucially, we offer them connection to a community of people because we’ve discovered that group motivation and support is extremely valuable tool in weight-loss and weight maintenance.
I don´t only talk about it, I also walk the talk! I still work out a lot, do some weightlifting, and of course, I still dance flamenco which is a great passion of mine. In my spare time, and mind you, there isn´t much of it, I love cooking – that´s why I have to work out so much! I love Italian food (I spent some time in Venezia and fallen in love with their cuisine), as well as all Mediterranean food and culture, I must say. And if I am not cooking or dancing or power-walking or doing poweryoga, I love going to watch dance performances and shows and ballets (with a bit of nostalgia. Although I was not a classical dancer, I did modern and jazz dance). I also enjoy hiking.
You can see that I am a very busy person, but I strive to find time for relaxation and entertainment too. It all goes back to the balanced perspective and psychological aspects of the STOB programme mentioned above!
As many of you know, I live in Prague. I’ve travelled a lot in my life and can honestly say that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world – as you will all see in May when you attend the European Association for the Study of Obesity’s 22nd annual Congress.
I hope to welcome you all here. Though I can´t promise that I will cook for you, I look forward to talking with all of you at our Patients Council dinner.