Spa Review: Losing Weight, One Chew at a Time, at Viva Mayr in Austria
Remember what your mother always used to say? “Chew your food!” Turns out she was right.
If you’re trying to lose weight, this simple rule of chewing your food 40 times before you swallow not only works, but has some significant science behind it and a luxury resort built up around it.
It sounds too good to be true. And yet, when I spent a week at the picturesque Viva Mayr med-spa clinic in Maria Wörth, Austria, I left several pounds lighter and also with an appreciation for Viva’s core principle: improve digestion and improve your life.
Mayr devotees believe that disease starts in the gut, with ailments ranging from eczema to certain cancers caused by a backlog of toxins. Digest better, the theory goes, and you’ll reduce intestinal inflammation and make your body more alkaline; not only will you lose weight, but you’ll experience a bevy of other benefits, including healthier organs, brighter skin, and reduced disease such as obesity and diabetes.
While the Mayr Cure has been popular in Austria since its inception by Dr. Franz Mayr at the turn of last century, Viva Mayr’s myriad five-star pleasures make it the most enjoyable place to detox through the initial shock. Viva’s guests come from all walks of life—during my stay, guests included European CEOs, an oil billionaire from Qatar and his wife and several London businessmen, but also 20something gal-pals from Hong Kong, a couple from New York and many unassuming individuals.
Located on the banks of Lake Wörthersee, a verdant corner of northern Austria recalling The Sound of Music with its weeping willows and jagged Alpine mountain views, Viva Mayr is Zen and pristine: half medical clinic, half luxury spa. Viva boasts numerous doctors, a full spa, a beauty salon, a gourmet restaurant, and private docks for sunning and swimming while immersing yourself in the cure.
It’s the kind of place where guests wander around in robes and slippers. Bikes are available for riding to the next town, and weekly hikes in nearby Italy and Slovenia are led by the staff. Viva’s spa is particularly expansive, featuring numerous steam rooms, saunas, color and heat therapy rooms and a gorgeous indoor pool overlooking the lake—but unlike the nearby pampering palace Schlosshotel Velden, the daily treatments guests receive at Viva all have one goal in mind: to stimulate digestion.
Weight-conscious people are used to gimmicky diets: grapefruit, cayenne pepper, kale smoothies—and at first glance, the Mayr Cure certainly qualifies. Before visiting the clinic, I pored through material online, my eyes widening with each click. “We’re expected to chew how many times? That’s all for dinner? You drink what every morning?!” Visiting Viva in person, however, was revolutionary.
Under the watchful care of Dr. Nadia Aichbichler, my food intolerances were tested; my abdomen was massaged to stimulate digestion; daily Epsom salts were ingested to promote—ahem—cleansing; and my lifestyle habits were discussed to find long-term, sustainable solutions. As a beauty and travel-writer, wine plays a significant role in both my social and work life, so I was relieved to discover that, after the initial weeklong Mayr detox, wine is allowed. Phew!
Back home a month later, when I’d lost and easily kept off 15 pounds thanks to the simple diet modifications I learned at Viva, I forever joined its legion of devotees. With the benefit of hindsight, I can genuinely say that my week at the Viva clinic changed my life. Get The Viva Mayr Diet by Dr. Harald Stossier and Helena Frith Powell and mimic your own Viva experience at home with these steps: