Journalism // A Hotel Story: The Original FX Mayr (SUITCASE Magazine Vol. 30)

  • Olivia Squire

I arranged a trip to The Original FX Mayr, the home of the intermittent fasting concept, to test out its classic programme for SUITCASE Magazine's Health Issue. As something of a wellness cynic, it was an eye-opening experience that genuinely changed my approach to healthy eating (and my waistline!). The final article was published in the spring 2020 issue of SUITCASE Magazine and can be read in full here:

I should probably preface what follows by saying that when it comes to the nebulous concept of “wellness”, my feelings are decidedly ambiguous. Whatever battle the wellness warriors are fighting, I’ve historically been on the other side, nonchalantly tucking into a family bag of crisps and wryly swirling a glass of pinot gris like a mischievous teenager smoking a cigarette.

However, the older I get, the less this attitude seems louche and bohemian and instead feels somewhat reckless. While I absolutely believe in body positivity and don’t want a jade egg anywhere near my privates (or a candle that smells like them, for that matter), I also want to get past 3pm without slumping into a sugar and caffeine spiral and to fit into my jeans minus the sharp inhale.

The result is that I’m constantly fighting a battle between my entrenched bad habits and my attempts to claw back some balance, with corresponding loops of weight loss and gain. Although I’d consider myself a healthy-ish person in my down time – I do high-impact cardio classes three times a week, follow a pescatarian diet and know my kimchi from my kombucha – as soon as a dinner invitation or plane ticket wafts my way, my intentions disappear faster than a negroni on a Soho House rooftop. A festive season consisting of a doughnut-filled trip to the States, back-to-back roasts and an epic New Year’s Eve feast washed down with champagne had indulged all my vices and left me bloated, with skin as mottled as a seal’s and carrying a few extra kilos under my straining belt.
Having been reassured that the crippling headaches I’ve been suffering with for two days are not signs of an impending aneurysm but in fact caffeine withdrawal, I skip off for a series of screenings. A metabolic analysis during which I breathe into a plastic tube reveals that I actually have a fairly high metabolism, but that it’s running in extreme-sugar rather than fat-burning mode, likely thanks to all that champagne. A body composition measurement, where I lie on a table with wires attached to my fingers and toes while electrical currents run through my body, shows that I contain approximately eight per cent more fat than a Lindt Lindor ball. This seems apposite given the number I annihilated over the Christmas break but is not, I learn, a healthy proportion for a human being. I have an applied kinesiology test where vials of substances such as lactose, egg and gluten are rested on my stomach and my muscle reaction is tested to identify intolerances – I’m sceptical of what seems like sorcery, but the results line up with a later blood test.

As for fasting, although going to bed hungry is hard, I don’t find it as much of a chore as I’d anticipated and start to appreciate the flavours of everything laid in front of me much more intensely. One morning I’m served a soft-boiled egg alongside my buckwheat roll and have a frankly indecent moment tonguing its velvety folds and making obscene noises – it’s a platonic egg, the egg to rule all eggs, perfect in its sheer eggyness. I even start to convince myself that the dreaded Epsom salts I down each morning taste not too dissimilar to a bitter G&T.

However, I’d been warned about “fasting crisis” – the point where your body runs out of its usual energy stores and sends out alarm signals before it begins burning fat – hitting on day three, and sure enough I wake up feeling as wobbly as if I’ve had five shots of tequila and then attempted a 10k run. I have to negotiate whether I have enough energy to walk across the room or dance to Ariana Grande while brushing my teeth and spend most of the day trying not to collapse into the nearest wall or cry.