An Intro to the FX Mayr Spa
Have you heard horror stories about the legendary Original FX Mayr Health Center located on the pristine waters of Lake Worthersee in Austria? Tales of women and men running home after being starved to death? or being given daily doses of Epsom salts resulting in untimely runs to the bathroom? I’m here to tell you that these stories are only partly true after having spent nine wonderfully detox filled days here.
So, why did I decide to torment and subject myself to this notorious institution? I’ll admit it, to shed a few pounds AND cleanse my system. I hadn’t been feeling at my physical prime the last year. Unexplained weight gain (okay, maybe not so unexplained), lack of exercise, too many well oiled meals and stress at work resulted in a longing to rid my body of toxins. The brain fog, re emergence of childhood eczema on my hands and the blah feeling got bad enough that I had several blood work ups done before I took off.
The one surprising result was that I actually had low blood pressure. Huh? Things weren’t adding up. Inside I knew something was amiss and it was something that conventional medicine wasn’t going to solve. In fact, I didn’t want conventional medicine or any medicine for that matter to solve it. I wanted a new and structured approach that offered more than fluffy speeches about nutrition (I’m a pretty big advocate of organic eating anyhow) and emphasis on dumbbells and toning. We all know that stuff already. And FX Mayr delivered on that. The approach was more holistic and it proved to be a very educational experience.
The focus is simple: clean your gut. The regiment didn’t involve heavy exercise, just hiking and detox yoga. Dr. FX Mayr, the founder, believed that:
- Disease begins in the gut as a consequence of what you drink, what you eat, and how you chew your food;
- Even apparently healthy digestive systems are not completely healthy and;
- By cleansing the digestive system and returning it to health, most other complaints either abate or disappear altogether.
Facilities at FX Mayr
Before I arrived, I stopped drinking alcohol and caffeine for about ten days. Already a big step but more was to follow. The FX Mayr Health Center is not your typical luxury spa. In 2010, I spent ten days at Chiva Som in Thailand where the grounds and facilities were completely different – palm trees, a supremely luxurious spa, plush thai pavilions where you spent your nights. Here, at FX Mayr, everything you needed was supplied but in a more toned down, serene yet subdued setting despite renovations during the last few years. The massage rooms were almost hospitalish, barren and white. Just like at Chiva Som though, the massages were excellent.
The entire facility was booked when I came in late July and there was one single room available. It never felt remotely crowded in any way. The rooms at FX Mayr were smaller and cozy. Eventually my room became a sanctuary, a nurturing nook I retreated to often even during the day. Fresh mountain air and direct access to the turquoise colored lake were all part of the cure. The staff, from the Managing Director to your doctor to the servers in the restaurants, were warm and made you feel at home. They were involved in your “cure” and aware that you might need some extra coddling when the headaches and mood swings kicked in day three of detox. Visits to your personal doctor every other day with abdominal inspection and general discussion assured you that you were receiving individual attention and care.
Food at FX Mayr Health Center
So how do you rid your gut of toxins and make it healthy again? With clean, alkaline food and very little of it. Alkaline foods are foods that are not acid forming in your stomach. Some items on the acidic foods list are obvious like caffeine, alcohol, cheeses, red meat oil and spices etc but some are not so obvious. All nuts are acid producing except for almonds.
My daily regiment consisted of a half cup of sheep’s milk yogurt with a piece of stale spelt bread for breakfast, a small cup of soup with stale spelt bread for lunch and a small cup of broth or soup for dinner. Broth is served late morning if you choose. And you really have to chew what little there is of your food, each bite is meant to be chewed until it practically disintegrates in your mouth.
No water ten minutes before or thirty minutes after food allow digestive saliva and stomach juices to do their job properly. “Meals” during lunch were meant to be eaten in silence so concentration on chewing could be emphasized. Even at breakfast and dinner, the decibels never went above a certain level in the dining room. Assigned seating at your own private table every meal ensured no extra, unneeded thought would be given to where to sit.
It took adjustment the first three days, especially at night when the hunger pangs kicked in. The requirement of drinking 2-3 liters of water a day helped but it was no fix for the significant decrease in portion size. But by day four, I was getting used to it. You realize just how little food your body actually requires to function and function well.
Decrease portion sizes in general but when detoxing, the portion should be very very small with the goal of cleaning your gut. It’s not meant to be followed for more than three or four weeks every year.
More Food tips from FX Mayr
It’s easy to figure out that dinner is the smallest meal at FX Mayr. This practice should be exported home. Eat well for breakfast and lunch, keep light for dinner. It’s okay to skip dinner sometimes and give your digestive system a break. You’re not starving yourself, fasting has been a staple practice in many cultures around the world. Unsurprisingly not in America.
And keep the ingestion of food at least four hours apart. Small meals every two hours to keep your metabolism going is a load of crock. No meat, processed, fried or raw food (more on that later) is served. Nothing that is potentially allergenic either such as shellfish, peanuts, eggs, cheese, cow based dairy products, etc. And yes, I took epsom salts too to get everything out. Others opt for colonics but I passed. Epsom salts were doing a good enough job, trust me.
Raw Food is Not Always Good
Evening discussions with the doctors provided insights on how to behave post cure and what eating habits to practice after we left the health center. They discussed food pairings explaining what not to mix in your stomach, for example fish with dairy or meat with fish (say no to surf and turf even if all carb free) in one sitting, and discussed the importance of not eating raw foods in the evening. Don’t eat salad for dinner! Raw foods, even lettuce and dried fruits, propel your stomach into overactive digestion. Save salads and raw veggies for lunch we were told and not in high quantity.
Each doctor reminisced about patients who had complained their diet was super healthy, always eating fruits and salads throughout the day but then felt extremely bloated and had trouble with weight loss. It’s too much exertion on your digestive system they said, you need only a small handful of fruits as a portion.
A lot of info on the web exists about food pairings and many believe poor food pairings (as well as processed food) are the root cause of why Americans are so overweight versus people in other countries whose diet is also rich in fat. Fat and protein is not always bad, its what you pair with it that matters. Some of this stuff I knew but some of it was very new and quite informative.
Daily Routine at FX Mayr
Aside from the food, there is a a lot going on behind the scenes. Each guest or patient is given a detailed and comprehensive schedule for the week including exactly when and how much epsom salts and vitamins to take. Sometimes you’re so busy that you forget how hungry you really are. Detox yoga on the lake starts as early as 7:30am and evening hikes end as late as 6:30pm. In between, you’re visiting your doctor, scheduled for a massage, getting a blood test, having foot reflexology, a detox mud wrap, sweating out toxins at the sauna, heating and freezing your legs at the Kneipp treatment room etc etc. My days were packed.
The People at FX Mayr Health Center
My absolute favorite were the evening hikes. Daylight is well past 9pm in Austria. Our hikes were filled with plenty of sunshine and crisp evening air. We cooled off in the hills and bonded over the harrowing detox experience. Judith, our guide, was wonderful. The hikes also gave everyone a chance to really connect.
I met some amazing people: a German lady who worked for the IMF and needed some time to herself; a prominent oil and gas attorney from Oslo who, when overheard I was traveling there next, invited me to dinner at her home and than sat with me for two hours one evening going over my Norway itinerary; a Russian financial consultant living in London who needed to shed a few pounds, a British lady who owned a yoga school, the retired couple from New York City that spent their time traveling the world and a South African powerhouse marketing professional who shared with me her travel stories and longing to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda which in return I gave some travel tips for.
Keep in mind that very few of the guests at FX Mayr are seriously overweight, many were fit. Healthy people know this is a preventative and maintenance strategy. Every evening we gathered outside the lobby with our water bottles and let Judith lead us on one of several routes either through hills or farm land which eventually led to breathtaking views of the lake.
Services at FX Mayr
In addition to the standard cure regiment with alkaline food, doctors visits, and massage, there are a number of other services on offer. Some include an osteopath, fat freezing, blood oxygenation, fat burning infusions, beauty services and private workout sessions at extra cost. Its quite extensive. I opted for the private workout sessions and the applied kinesiology, not to be confused with kinesiology, tests. At 450 euro, I don’t think the three private workout sessions at 30 minutes a piece were worth it but Marina, the instructor, was great and thats no reflection on her.
Many consider applied kinesiology to be pseudo science, but others believe it can be used to diagnose and treat nervous system problems, nutritional deficiencies or excesses, imbalances in the body’s “energy pathways” and many other health concerns.
My applied kinesiology test revealed that I was allergic to histamine which was a big bummer but explained a lot of my issues. Histamine is present in anything aged or cured – like red wine, aged cheeses, cured meats such as prosciutto and salami, chocolate, olives. I mean its pretty much the worst food news I could have received. But I knew deep down inside that the results were consistent with why I felt crappy over the last year.
Several trips to Italy during the last 24 months and a little birdy that kept me company on my histamine excesses resulted in a very high histamine intake. My body was rebelling. B6 complex vitamins and a DAO enzyme to help with high histamine meals in the future was partially the answer. But best to try and avoid histamine when possible.
Interestingly enough, a very expensive food intolerance blood test didn’t reveal these results. Food intolerances are important. Everyone’s body is different and finding these things out are paramount to being healthy.
Exercise at FX Mayr
There is not huge emphasis on exercise at FX Mayr, rather specified movements to aid with digestion. This cure is about clean food or lack thereof. It’s almost as if weight loss is a pleasant side effect or byproduct with gut cleansing being the real goal. Gym facilities are minimal but adequate. Exercise is viewed as being more for enjoyment and mental health vs physical health and weight loss. As they say, you can’t exercise away a bad diet.
Results and Conclusion
So what were the results? I lost 7 lbs (a bit more than 3 kilos) in 9 days. According to others at the health center, it was “a medium weight loss”. Some lose 5 lbs, some lose 15. It depends on what your starting point is. The eczema completely cleared up and my hair was thicker and shinier.
Do I think the weight loss is sustainable? Potentially. I, unfortunately, headed to Norway right after the cure and had an abundance of shellfish, alcohol and other things. Many of the guests at FX Mayr are repeat patrons and revealed to me they manage to keep the weight off by following some of the rules even with increased portion sizes.
Since then, I’ve managed to maintain a zero caffeine intake and eat meat only once a week. This is purely by choice. I’ve started noticing the benefits already.
So, do you need to go to a world renowned health center to get healthy? No. It is easily done at home. Would I go back? Absolutely. Try something new and make one of your holidays health oriented where the focus is clean food, clean air and lots of sleep.
This was self funded and an unsolicited review.
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