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How the Other Half Live: Fat farms

June 18th 2013 / Christa D'Souza


Christa D'Souza heads to Grayshott Spa, where old fashioned decor meets modern weight loss regimes

Fat farms. I know you aren’t supposed to call them that anymore, but I mean all this stuff about weight loss being a by-product, come ON. Let’s just admit that the main reason that most of us go away to these places is not for anything else.

Here I am then at Grayshott, trying to drop a few pounds before hitting the beach in my bikini. The antithesis to all those fancy-shmancy celebrity detox spas you have to fly 10 hours to get to, Grayshott Spa is set 45 minutes off the A3, and is exactly the kind of place where Bubbles De Vere from Little Britain would fit in.

What do I mean by that? Well, the music piped into the dining room is The James Last orchestra doing show tunes and I am almost a toddler compared to the rest of the clientele. There is no chance in hell, in other words, I would ever bump into anyone I know here. But that is my idea of HEAVEN. Because if I’m going to spend the next four days not eating very much and not being able to drink coffee or alcohol, believe me I don’t want to have to look at anyone, let alone interact with them socially.

Grayshott is the place all the Rank starlets used to go to in the 50s, and bless its mock Tudor Gables, it does not seem to have changed much since. In stark contrast to its shite internet reception, Sky-free TV and dribble-like shower pressure, however, the Grayshott “regime”, the programme they offer in addition to its goode olde selfe, is very modern and yields spectacular results.

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The last time I was on it (no, I’m not fat at all, but I do fall off the wagon occasionally, okay?), a man in our group lost 15lbs in a week. Which is strange given that when on it, you don’t have to do any exercise and you very much get to eat.

Following the 5:2 diet protocol, there are two semi-fasting days where you only have one meal, which is lunch (with “Bone” broth served in your room for supper) but on the other days? Well, let me give you a sample. Truffled scrambled eggs with mushrooms for breakfast; salmon fillet with savoury crème brulee for lunch; roast marinated breast of pheasant; coriander encrusted chicken drumsticks and so on... Oh, you certainly won’t go hungry with the ramekins of mixed nuts and olives at every meal; four different types of delicious salad dressings, soups thickened with butterbeans and proper, normal person portions. Why does it work? HOW does it work?

Well it works because of its nutritional consultant/psychotherapist Stephanie Moore, who oversees every single bit of food you put in your mouth. Really it’s a wonder some hifalutin spa on the continent or on the West Coast hasn’t already poached her. You’ve heard it all before: low carb, high protein, coconut instead of vegetable oil, no gluten, yeast or wheat, but somehow the enthusiasm with which this extraordinary lady presents it all makes it feel like a revelation. If it makes a difference, and it does to me, she herself is in the most fantastic shape.

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Treatment-wise there’s some top-notch Shiatsu and Watsu (ask for John) and some superb, London-quality deep tissue massage (ask for either Paul or Sue). For all you Mayr Clinic lovers, they do not administer colonics here, but what they do do instead, is a combination of abdominal massage and castor oil poultice-ing, which in my honest opinion works just as well if not better.

Look. You aren’t going to find swimwear by Heidi Klein or Eres in the little boutique, and supper can get a bit shouty with all the hearing-impaired couples yelling at each other to pass the salt. Because lots of people actually come here for a holiday (imagine!), you’ll have to deal with the fact there is always alcohol and pudding and coffee around. But I don’t care, it’s my dirty little secret. Well, it was until I told you.

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