After a few too many mini Magnums in the sun, Christa D'Souza heads to the Lanserhof spa to find out if she can shift those extra pounds
No one’s saying anyone is fat. But you know that feeling when you get back from the summer holidays and find that, um, the cleaning lady has shrunk all your clothes in the wash? Okay. I had that. One and a half bottles of rose and three almond mini Magnums after dinner every single night for three weeks will do it; I don’t know why I always think it somehow won’t.
Off, then, I have packed myself to the brand-newish Lanserhof spa on Lake Tegernsee for a mean Teutonic detox.
Overlooking the Bavarian alps and Lake Tegern beyond, with the sound of cow bells always faintly clinking in the background, it looks, when you arrive via its sweeping driveway, and enter its vast, silent wooden paneled interiors (deliberately devoid of any art work on the walls) like a very, very expensive sanitorium. Each of the sparkling white, hi-tech hotel suites (40, in all) have the latest model of Toto lavatory. It’s that kind of place.
A proper hardcore medical spa (rather like the Mayo in the US) it provides all sorts of advanced diagnostics such as Colour Doppler Sonography, Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound, sleep laboratories (monitored by cable connection from your own hotel bed) etc. Why, they even do colonoscopies here (a camera which you swallow rather than put up your bum, apparently, which I for one, am very much in favour of). There is intravenous oxygen therapy, acupuncture, colonics (of course, we’re in Germany here!), and, so my friend Tom tells me, an incredible shamanic doctor who can unlock the deepest of neuroses and memories (like, maybe you were a wolf in a past life, or something).
Weight loss, though, is the major reason, I’m sure, why everybody comes here. Dr Elke Benedetto-Reisch, a super-strict blonde in a gleaming white coat, puts me on the 2.1 programme which is based on the FX Mayr system and involves around 600 cals a day (soup only for supper) and chewing a minimum, Lord, of 30 times per mouthful. I’m one of the lucky ones. Quite a few people here are on ‘0’ (which is tea and a spoonful of honey for each ‘meal’ and that’s all. One such girl, from Dubai, who wants to lose 28 kilos, is here for TWO MONTHS.)
I’m not going to lie. The first three days are hell. No caffeine (hence dreadful headaches), no sugar, no alcohol, no wheat, no gluten, no dairy, no fruit makes Christa a very unhappy, very sluggish girl indeed. They are mitigated though, by the superb, above gold standard treatments. The Deep Tissue and Cupping from Robert is unparrelled, really, as are the detoxifying Mummy Wraps from Navin (who is coincidentally, from Egypt).
By the 4th day, not only can I actually see the difference but I’m actually enjoying my little routine. Taking those wretched Epsom Salts every morning; inspecting my poo; spending a whole hour over breakfast (which involves a sheep’s cheese yoghurt, a miniature ice cream scoop of sheep’s cheese spread, a dish of cumin to sprinkle on, and three tiny pieces of stale buckwheat toast; doing a bit of Nordic Walking after lunch; turning my light out at 9pm and waking up at 6pm. And NOT, weirdly, getting panicky with hunger.
So, cut to the chase? I lost 4.4 lbs (2 kilos) and 8 centimetres. Dr Benedetto Reisch is frightfully pleased with me but says for best results, one should really be here for 10 days minimum.
I’m home now and everything, thank God, fits again. Is it expensive here? Eye wateringly. Am I back on the red wine and caffeine? Of course. Do I have the niggling feeling I could have done it myself cheaper? Naturally. But you know what? It’s like looking at a Rothko and thinking a child could paint it. They couldn’t. And you couldn’t. That it comes naturally, now, to eat less and slower is a gift, frankly, that all the money in the world can’t buy. So thank you, Lanserhof. Whenever I taste cumin I will think of you.