EASO Patient Council: January 2015

EASO Patient Council: January 2015

Spotlight on Sólveig Sigurðardóttir

Please tell us who you are:

My name is Sólveig Sigurðardóttir

I am married with two children, age 11 and 16. We have a dog and two cats, and I am 46 years old. I was diagnosed with MS a few years ago; this condition left me very fatigued and unable to work. Today I am working part-time as a consultant, promoting clean eating and a happier lifestyle. I also help people move out of the vicious circle of bad eating habits. I also hold conferences about healthy eating and the effect it has on both body and soul.

Please tell us about your county and where you live:

I am from Iceland and live in the Capitol, Reykjavik, but I was born in Hafnarfjordur, an old fishing village. It was wonderful to spend my childhood by the sea.

Please share some of your favourite things (activities, hobbies, interests):

I am very interested in clean eating; I live and breathe a healthy lifestyle. Today I can say that my passion is all about working out and eating right. I work out five days a week and am very active. Everything that has to do with healthy living is my favourite thing!

I attend lectures and workshops about a healthy diet. Everything about healthy eating for the whole family fascinates me. I also love to travel and see new places, and even studied travel and tourism a few years ago in Cyprus.

What has your experience of obesity been like?

I have been overweight ever since I can remember. Even as a child I was heavy, then as I entered my teen years I became very overweight. Over the years I tried all kinds of dieting, and even almost starved myself to death with the intention of achieving a slimmer body.

Today I look upon these methods as cruelty. To control excess weight, we have to start by being comfortable with our own bodies and treat ourselves well. Being kind to ourselves means we will stop using food for comfort or as a prize. We actually have to start looking at our relationship with food from a new perspective.

I was in an automobile accident at the age of 10 and my back was badly broken. It took me a long time to recover from the accident and I experienced difficulty moving for a long time afterwards. As a result, I packed on the pounds. During this time I couldn’t participate in sports, and I loved my food. I found comfort in eating.

In my teens I started trying all sorts of extreme diets, often with “positive” results when I stepped on the scales, but both my body and spirit were starving. I was always pretty quick to gain all the weight back when I started eating aggressively again…

A few years ago I had had my fill of obesity, and today I am 52 kilos lighter than my heaviest weight. My spirits have lifted so much by losing all this excess weight and just enjoying life! Today I enjoy practicing sports very much.

Additionally, a few years ago I was taking many strong prescription drugs for MS, and also for fatigue. I also took a lot of over the counter pain killers and couldn’t sleep without the help of sleeping pills. I had heartburn constantly and was chewing tablets all day long as a result.

Today I am drug free and use clean eating and exercise as my cure. By changing my lifestyle I have started living again!

Please share your reflections on the ECO2014 and hopes for the ECO2015

I was very pleased with our meeting and the conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was very interesting to listen to and meet other people in the same situation as I was. Good people are striving together towards a better and lighter lifestyle for us all. Obesity is a terrible disease that is literally dangerous to our health and happiness. If we don´t all work together to help others, it will be devastating for society. It is good to know that most countries in Europe are indeed working on prevention programs and there seems to be an awakening towards living a healthier lifestyle.

I am very optimistic about ongoing teamwork between us all in the coming years.

How do you currently advocate for patients and hope to advocate for patients in the future?

Today I am a spokesperson for clean eating and a healthier lifestyle, I work to help people find this path. I give lectures and counsel people about ways to go about changing their eating habits and lifestyles and I will continue to do so! I also have a Facebook site with a huge following and I blog about good eating and a healthy lifestyle. I write for a health-site online and am also a blogger for major news media in relation to healthy lifestyles. I can see myself working at this in the future and am looking forward to keeping up the good work that we at Heilsuborg in Reykjavik are doing.

Heilsuborg was my starting point, the vehicle that sent me in the right direction. I committed myself for a year in the beginning and I have achieved astounding results. Today I work with one of the doctor/owners there at Helsuborg (Healthcenter). Heilsuborg has a variety of solutions for people who are seriously overweight, and also offers solutions for those who need help with other problems.

Today I believe we need programmes for families battling obesity, in order to guide them out of the vicious cycle and into the virtuous circle. It is hugely rewarding to see people change their methods and diets and observe the transition to eating good, clean food. People working toward the clean eating approach try to eat as little as possible of fast food and food that has been processed. Preferably we will cook our own food from scratch. We all need to find our own rhythm in a workout or exercise and to feel how rewarding it is to let the body work a little!

I do believe that people want good things for themselves and their families, and really want to feel better. I feel that people are awakening to life, sitting up and taking note of their eating habits.

Here in Iceland we are all awakening to life and we are fortunate to have the option of choosing healthy restaurants as there are many to choose from. On a sad note, food is expensive here in Iceland, particularly if you choose to buy health foods.

So, we keep on striving.

Sending my best wishes to you all.