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May 31, 2007updated 01 Feb 2016 10:45am

Regime Change Required

By Spear's

Daisy Prince gets bikini-ready at the Mayr Clinic. Herbal tea and stale bread, anyone?

Daisy Prince gets bikini-ready at the Mayr Clinic. Herbal tea and stale bread, anyone?

Ah, the wonderful English summer is finally here. There is no place on earth that is so transformed by sunny weather than London. The city’s social life migrates outdoors with rounds of garden parties, racing days, regattas and those delicious, long, summer nights. Despite these pastoral pleasures, every woman feels a growing sense of foreboding as summer approaches.

She can’t help hearing the inner voice that was no more than a tiny squeak in February but has grown with every sip of rosé and every bite of chocolate to become a screaming drill sergeant in her head. It yells, ‘You are going to have to be in a bikini in less than a month – put that bloody biscuit down.’

I hear this voice just like everyone else and but usually I simply ignore it and take another bite of dessert, however, as I’m getting married this year I thought I ought to pay a little more attention to it than normal.

The truth is that there is nothing quite like the knowledge that a whole church filled with people will be starring at your bottom as you walk down the aisle to make you go to the gym.

So this year, unlike most years, I took action. I got three personal trainers from Kx Gym – Carlos Andrade, Ryan Hamilton and Pete Geracimo – to help me achieve my bikini-ready body. Carlos Andrade, in particular, is an ex-boxer so tough that big, muscled men would see me working out with him and say with respect, ‘Wow, you are really tough enough to train with Carlos?’

I got up every morning at 7am to get to the gym, I changed my eating habits, I cut down on drinking and going out in general and then I took the most drastic step of all – I signed up for a week at the FX Mayr Clinic in Austria.

The Mayr Clinic is just like that clinic that James Bond was sent to in Never Say Never Again – I kept expecting Blofeld to come at me from around the corner. This fantasy is helped along by the fact the decoration and carpeting clearly haven’t been changed since the early 1970s. It is actually a medical centre which was started by Dr FX Mayr 30 years ago.

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People have come from all over the world for his famous ‘cure’. Dr. Mayr’s belief is that all our problems stem from our gut and if we can fix our digestion that should go a long way to solving our other problems, both physical and psychological. I think he has a point and many of the other patients were at the clinic for health reasons, but that is not why I went there. I went to lose weight and I did.

This is not a diet for the faint-hearted and, although you can get treatments at the Mayr, it is not a traditional spa. My daily dietary allowance consisted of goat’s milk yoghurt and spelt bread in the morning, goat’s milk yoghurt and rice cakes for lunch, and in the evening, a cup of tea – that’s it. Spelt bread is a weird-tasting stale roll that teaches you to chew your food at least 50 times before you swallow it.

Eventually, I upgraded to having a few mushed-up bits of cheese (called ‘spreads’) to go with my roll and finally a tiny bit of lot less than what I am used to eating. The other thing is that you need to take Epsom salts every morning to help, er, cleanse your system. One of the more hilarious things about the Mayr Clinic is that even though we would – as they put it – ‘cancel’ our dinner in favour of a cup of tea, we were still required to dress in a smart casual way.

Their belief being that, even though you weren’t actually eating dinner, there was still a sense of occasion that needed to be preserved. This diet did not react wonderfully with everyone, and one poor female investment banker was sick about eighteen times on her second day at the clinic. Her doctor told her unequivocally to continue the diet. This is not a regime for wimps.

Anyone who has ever heard of the Mayr will certainly confirm the above, but what is slightly incongruous with the 1970s dècor is how many chic people attend the clinic. Sarah, Duchess of York, stayed at the Mayr for three weeks a few years ago and it is perhaps because of her celebrity, or maybe the fact that the Clinic is on the beautiful Lake Wöthersee (also known as the ‘Austrian Riviera’), that it attracts so many high-flying types. They do rather wonderfully allow clients to bring their dogs – which must attract many a stylish customer.

The expression ‘it’s all in the mix’ could certainly be applied to the Mayr. Among the clients were a Russian oligarch’s daughter who couldn’t handle the strict diet and demanded to leave after the first day, the daughters of a rich English earl, German high-flying business men, and an Indian Princess who passed out her business cards to everyone she spoke with. Additional guests included the editor of a British glossy magazine and the head of a media empire.

Everyone was in bathrobes most of the time and ‘eating’ tea for dinner – it was really quite odd. It was a bit like school with all the rules and regulations, and everyone regressed accordingly. I heard a story about a well-known portly MP who, having cracked, was caught in the local patisserie stuffing his face with Linzer Torte. He was expelled from the clinic.

For the first few days the newcomers rarely spoke and kept to themselves. Then slowly, as people got over the first detox wave and had a little more energy, they started to make friends. Like school, everyone divided into groups, usually because of where you sat at meals, and discussed each other. It wasn’t particularly malicious but with so much time on our hands and so little food in our stomachs we desperately needed some distractions.

Even weirder were the sex scandals that emerged. Now, I know that people have some bizarre ideas about what turns them on, but the Mayr Clinic is one of the least sexy places in the world, unless you are turned on by hospital corridors and the smell of Hayflower liver packs.

However, one patient who was about 70 asked a young married investment banker to go to a classical concert with him, and when she refused he stormed off in a huff. He was formally warned that if he did it again he’d be asked to leave. Another man, who was there with his wife, got a bit overexcited and propositioned one of the pretty masseuses. I don’t think that the Mayr normally has such a licentious group, so please don’t let that be the thing that stops you from going.

Actually, the scandals absolutely made the trip as there is only so much talking one can do about how disgusting spelt bread is without going completely insane. The strangest aspect of the Mayr is that is actually works. By day four, everyone’s eyes were brighter, their skin so much clearer and they had regained a considerable amount of energy.

They had also all visibly lost weight and, from the reports we were hearing back, were meant to keep losing weight down the road. So despite the fact that the diet is hard to keep to, I would certainly recommend the Mayr. After all, I lost six pounds and for that it’s worth eating a little stale bread.

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