I hadn’t felt well in so long. Years. The endless cycle of chronic pain and antibiotic abuse. I always felt like I was coping, barely making it; heading out in the weekend, smiling, forwarding my career, being as good a friend/daughter when i could. But inside I had been another story. When you are coping with chronic pain, you probably consider it 99.9% of the time; you're in the area however, you aren’t. Relationships become strained, you get scared to commit to plans, but yet, often you look fine on the outside.
As long when i hadn’t felt well, I was always conscious of the Mayr principle, of this Austrian-led philosophy in Europe where rockstars disappeared after hedonistic excess and people’s health problems were dissipated. It was always my backup plan to go there – and after being on antibiotics for a year having a permanently uncomfortable tummy, funny style of my mouth, exhausted and nowhere close to feeling like me – I had been offered the chance to visit Park Igls, a medi-spa on the sunny hillside in Tyrol, Austria.
I reached 11pm one evening this September, following a carb-loading-mini-sesh in Italy with Editor-in-Chief, Angelica Malin. Picked up inside a van at nighttime night from Innsbruck coach station, with crumbs of my panic snacking still on my small sweater, I was scared. What had I got myself into?
Park Igls: The Lowdown
Firstly, a bit on what Park Igls offer. The Mayr principles dreamed in the first 20th century by Franz Mayr have been modernised in recent years. These principles were in line with the idea that a proper gut is essential to some healthy body and a prevention in chronic illness and diseases. The doctors at Park Igls come up with a personalised plan which involves fasting and detox, based on exercise along with other activities. The plan is usually recommended for a minimum of per week, I could only go for five days, but I would really recommend per week. There was one man there for 3 months!
The days start with what anyone who knows vaguely about Mayr will have heard about, the bitter salts, which eliminate waste from your body (in theory give you the poops), although my system never felt them very strongly. Everyone talks about how much they are experiencing and enjoying the effects of the salts (an informal lift conversation involves a talk about your bowel motions).
Mornings are very busy at Park Igls. After bitter salts drinking along with a little bit of kvetching about the taste from it to myself, I'd head down in my dressing gown towards the kneipping area. Kneipping is a type of hydrotherapy by which areas of your body are plunged interior and exterior cold and warm water. This stimulates blood circulation, the metabolic system and strengthens the defense mechanisms. There are various types from feet kneipps to full body ones where you stand plunged naked right into a mini bath. Following that, I went down to breakfast.
Park Igls: Breakfast Time
The principle of Mayr eating may be the classic: breakfast just like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper. Having never been hungry for breakfast within my entire life, I found myself ravenous for stale-esque bread and a selection of protein, but meals can't be rushed. The big principle here's chewing: every mouthful must be chewed and chewed. Most people’s food isnt being properly broken down before it ends up in the stomach. People are on their own phones, chatting, watching tv, basically doing anything but concentrating on chewing their food. Every meal must take thirty minutes, because of this the dining area is silent in addition to the sounds of people working their way through crunchy buckwheat crackers.
Following breakfast, it was back upstairs for a liver compress – the best thing in the world – essentially a hot water and wet cloth laid over your stomach, which detoxes the liver and it is probably the most comforting thing. The lovely staff tuck you in blankets and you may nap or read acquire the best at the soaring Austrian mountain side.
Park Igls: Daily Schedule
Apart out of this, you have a schedule differing of the needs for massage, wraps and more importantly, medical appointments. My doctor was Dr Irene Brunhuber, who's probably the most brilliant and talented physician. My first appointment together with her was a lengthy overview of the way i had become there, and my health background. She methodically took all the details down, thinking hard and examining me. What I love about her approach is the combination of test-based science, but an understanding from the limitations of Western medicine and the abuse of antibiotics. Even now she is giving me support remotely three months later within my journey to healing my gut. I was placed on a programme of probiotics, supplements along with a light diet while I was there, together with extensive blood, allergy and stool tests.
Lunch is absurdly good, the chef comes from an excellent dining background, and the food, although tiny portions, wouldn't look odd in a Michelin-starred restaurant. The one big difference: nobody is drinking water using the meals. Based on the Mayr principles, having liquids around meals just dilutes your digestive juices so should be avoiding during and half an hour pre and post. Within the afternoons, I ambled into Innsbruck for any browse, continued a cable car up a mountain side but many of time sunbathed within the glorious gardens. There's a dark blue pool and big sauna and steam cabins to sweat out all the rubbish appearing out of you.
There are lots of exercise options, and that i enjoyed Nordic walking in the rolling hills, and yoga right before dinner. There's a gym, but I felt too delicate for anything major.
Days merge, every single day is identical although not. You'll feel hungry initially, since you are consuming a tiny bit of food, but it does begin to fade. Day 2 and 3 would be the worst within the Mayr Cure, as it’s called. Headaches, crying, dizziness are all part of the course, but the kind medical staff do everything to make you feel comfortable. Big shout out to Claudia from reception who had been always delightful to my plaintive whinging. But then one day you awaken and also the whites of your eyes would be the brightest they've ever been and you're feeling like you have been given 10 million jolts of one's. This is when the fun begins and you realise they are actually geniuses.
The crowd is serious, there are no Insta selfie babes here, it’s mainly older Austrian girls that I then bonded within the dining room with daily nods over our buckwheat toast. Most people have been returning for years – from seniors coming for a health once over or those seeking to kick start a much desired weight loss.
There are points of severe loneliness; time when dinner, the smallest meal during the day, includes a couple pieces of bread, soup and an egg, and if you are lucky is completed at 6.30pm. You’re hungry, alone and also the only option is revisit your quiet room. I popularized exploring the local village watching people eat hunks of bread and big goblets of beer. But after a couple days, you become institutionalised. After i left for that airport, I felt terrified about to face the real world, wouldso would I know things to eat? Where were my kneipp ladies?
Park Igls: The Verdict
How am I feeling today? I'm a bit more complicated than the average guest, I am still experiencing health problems they couldn’t quite fix, but my stomach feels so a lot better and my general body feels like it’s received an enormous MOT and repair. I've learnt tools and methods and also have slowed my eating down by 200%. I am definitely going back next year and couldn’t become more grateful to Dr Brunhuber, Dr Gartner and also the kind and capable staff.