The setting of the Viva Mayr clinic, at Lake Altaussee in Austria, is part of its cure. The lake and its surrounding mountains are, to say the least, spectacular. The 2015 James Bond movie Spectre was filmed there, and the village appears as though time stopped 100 years ago. The men wear lederhosen and the women dirndls, and on Friday nights the high school band plays for one hour to let everyone know that the weekend is here and it’s time to enjoy life.
In the summer of 2021, I found myself at Viva Mayr Altuessee with a mission to lower my cholesterol and lose some of that Covid-related stress weight before a total knee replacement.
Rebel Wilson had first told me about Viva Mayr and her year of health that started in there; she has lost 65 pounds since her first visit and has never looked or felt better. When I asked her if it was worth it to travel so far, she gave me a resounding yes.
Before I even arrived at the property, I was set up with an orthopedic doctor, Dr. Max Schubert, who would oversee my program. Each diet is tailored for the client and their physical needs, and I sat down with CEO Dieter Resch on the final day of my two-week stay to find out what made the Viva Mayr diet so effective for me and countless others.
“Our medical approach is 100 percent individual with every treatment being prescribed by your personal physician who oversees your care with diagnostic evaluation based on your intolerances,” he told me. “You will always have a yo-yo effect on diets if you do not identify and eat a diet that takes into effect your personal intolerances.”
My intolerances turned out to be gluten and dairy, and I was prescribed a diet to lower my cholesterol. I arrived with a cholesterol count of 300 and left at 215 with a ratio of good cholesterol higher than bad. Right there my mission was accomplished, but there were many more effects that I discovered along the way; I lost six pounds and learned what foods were healthy for me and which were making me ill. (One tip I’ll take with me? Chewing food 40 times, which helps in staying aware of your digestion. “Chewing training” teaches you that you can stop eating as soon as you have had enough. The program also teaches you to stick to light meals at night.)
The gut and brain have an important connection that Western medicine often doesn’t deal with properly. Mental fitness is also a concern of the Viva Mayr cure; get rid of toxic foods and start feeling happier. It’s a lifestyle changer to think of nutritional psychiatry as therapy, but it’s real and its time has come. Currently, another side effect is a feeling of safety: guests are all vaccinated and regularly COVID tested, and I felt entirely at ease during my visit.
Another bonus at the clinic was my discovery of Dr. Barbara Sturm and her skin-care line. Usually, in-clinic spas are not up to par with the medical aspect of treatment, but not at Viva Mayr. Sturm, an orthopedic doctor by training, has cracked the code to hydration, and in 2020 she met with Dr. Schubert and hatched a plan to work together in service of making Viva Mayr’s spa products and treatment as cutting edge as possible and effective as the diet.
A final piece of advice? The scenery can be just as healing as anything else. Interval Hypoxia Hyperoxia Therapy, facials, intravenous infusions, and cryotherapy are all essential tools at Viva Mayr, but my regular walks around the late, or hours spent sitting nearby and reading, ensured that my soul was as pampered and rejuvenated as the rest of me.
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