I planted myself in Marbella on September 1. I gave myself two days of dietary indulgence and tributes. I did not think of preparing myself little by little for a period of two weeks with broths and infusions, which would be the right thing to do as I learned later. No. I made sure to go with the reserves loaded. On September 3 at four in the afternoon, after a carbohydrate-based lunch, a taxi driver dropped me off at the gates of my gold-barred jail. “Are you going to the Buchinger? More than once some inmate has asked me to take him to eat a hamburger ”.
I was nervous. The night before was a nightmare. He had read the writings of Vargas Llosa , a regular, praising the place. For weeks I had been checking the positive testimonies of dozens of patients, the documentation that was sent to me with the benefits of a luxury center, the services, the facilities. It almost felt like I was going on vacation to paradise. Except that in my particular Eden food and wine have no end and here, no Migita . I spoke to doctors and nutritionists friends before. Several covered their backs claiming ignorance. Others were very skeptical. Not one of them recommended it to me: “That is useless. Not good. It’s a shock . You will see what anxiety. When you come back you will gain double the weight ”. And I got funk.
I will admit that fasting was not entirely unfamiliar to me. Twice in my life I have carried, in my own way, that intermittent modality that some of my friends told me and that later spread to the influencer domain . I will admit that both times I went to the movies, I lost what I wanted to lose and I found myself outstanding. They proposed to tell me the details then and I refused due to the lack of rigor of such a homemade attack. This is something else.
I enter, they welcome me, they guide me through a complex that, of course, has little to envy of a five-star hotel. Beautiful gardens, swimming pool, gym, spa, dining rooms with well-dressed tables and views of nature… Until the night I was confined to my room, which could also be that of any good hotel, waiting for a negative PCR result. Dinner arrives there, a delicious plate of mushrooms stuffed with feta and a risotto. There is a kitchen. And good. Ovolactovegetarian but good and with a careful organic, eco and local product. Weren’t you going to fast? Yes. But you may not. The clinic also offers stays based on low-calorie diets. In the case of fasting, there is an adaptation day when you arrive and another three or four when you leave. You cannot go from 2,000 to 200 kilocalories at once or vice versa. It is clear to me that, in total, “Only”.
Fruit-rice, -fruit for the next 24 hours. The Holy Trinity that gives the blessing to my subsequent pilgrimage through the desert. It never tasted better. The other days will be based on infusion-broth-infusion-broth. 2 liters of water daily. Nothing more. The religious mention is not trivial. Fasting is present in her and that historical and ideological charge is studied in the already patented “Buchinger method” created by the German doctor Otto Buchinger based on his own healing experience just a century ago and which has evolved to this day in the hands of his family. Not exempt from attacks from the medical community itself, there are already renowned studies, hospitals and universities that endorse it. The central investigations are summarized in the book The Art of Fasting, by Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo, who accompanies me throughout this journey.
Losing weight is not the goal
An analytic is mandatory. According to the results, there are those who are denied fasting even if they want to do it. Everything in order, some cholesterol. Little vitamin D. Nothing out of the ordinary. First check-up with the nurse, which happens flawlessly every day. Tension, pulse, temperature, weight. I’m very heavy, but I don’t have extra kilos: won’t I come out malnourished? She and the large medical team, led by Dr. José Manuel García-Verdugo, who sees me up to three times a week, repeat a series of mantras: “You will not go hungry. You are not going to lose weight that you should not. This is not a weight loss clinic. This goes further ”.
Losing weight is not the goal, it is an effect. We intend to change the chip, improve in the long term, promote a healthy lifestyle of which this is the first step ”, Ulla Höhn, head of Nutrition and Dietetics, explains to me. Scalpelless operation. Self-healing. Gastronomy of the soul. Inner journey. They are expressions that one reads everywhere, that he hears a dedicated staff whose members have almost all gone through this experience that is based on the aforementioned studies and living it individually. What Can Fasting Cure? “Ask me rather what cannot heal!” Otto Buchinger used to say to his daughter Maria, his first successor. “Especially in chronic diseases, fasting is worth trying.” Of course, they insist on medical supervision at all times. I’m in a clinic, not aresort , although sometimes I forget.
I try to sum up the cruxof the question: we over-eat and we under-eat. And many diseases are related to it. “When we fast, the blood parameters normalize. Denatured protein structures that saturate cells and intercellular space are self-digested (autophagy) or repaired. When tissues and organs get rid of these elements, microcirculation is activated and immune defenses grow. Cells are protected and partly regenerate from stem cells, ”Dr. Wilhelmi quotes in her book. His son and his niece, Victor Wilhelmi and Katharina Rohrer-Zaiser, today in charge of the Marbella clinic (they have another, the original, in Germany), enlighten me about their own research and that of others such as Valter Longo, a professor at the University of Southern California: “He has tested fasting in mice with cancer and has found that tumors shrink.” They collaborate with him by providing data and have shown that the parameters in patients improve. “The cancer cell has lost the ability to fast,” his aunt details in her book. Preventing and curing physical and mental illnesses, derived mostly from our lifestyle, seems to be the reason for all this.
Day 3. The purge begins.
“Day of the salts”. And I thought that by this they meant taking the salt out of my diet. The “salts” are the salts of Glauber, sodium sulfate that is drunk to cleanse the intestine. They ensure that it increases well-being and eliminates the feeling of hunger. It is not necessary to detail why it is not possible to leave the room in many hours. Of the toilet, rather. In his favor, I will say that the effect on me was rapid. There are those who tell me what happens morning, afternoon and night of dogs. In the afternoon, I was sunbathing and exercising.
The fast is accompanied by a program with numerous therapies, sports, cultural and artistic activities that are considered pillars of the method. Everything helps to be with oneself, to overcome crises during the process, to relax and listen to ourselves … It is a crucial part of the experience. I am struck, within the medical environment, by the support that is given to the alternative. Mindfulness , yoga … Even reiki, another of my great discoveries here for its calming effect. “If we find that it has positive effects, why not use it?” It is your justification. My therapist, Paula, insists on the seriousness of this and other procedures and warns about sorcerers and shamans who impart it.
The first days go by. Infusion with honey in the room for breakfast. Fitness class, running by the beach, meditation. Lunch at one o’clock in the afternoon in the fasting dining room to avoid temptations in the face of dieters. Mushroom, pea and mint broth, very light gazpacho, some juice … All very clarified except for the herb dressing that they let you serve yourself. I add chives as if there were no tomorrow, because of chewing, even if I am like a rabbit. Another infusion in the afternoon after a mandatory nap with a warm compress on the liver “to help liver circulation and facilitate its excretory function,” explains Dr. García-Verdugo. A dip, some reading time before dinner at eight in the afternoon. The first days, alone. The last ones, knowing and listening to the rest of the “community”. There are older couples and even groups of friends who have been going for 15 years without fail. There is a middle-aged working mother who is organizing to leave her obligations tied and dedicate these 15 days to her. There are people my age (32), from Switzerland, France or Ireland, who are psyched about the importance of prevention even if they are great. According to Katharina, the Spaniards “continue to scare them”, although the national public is growing, almost all of them are repeaters.
V., from Madrid, visits the clinic for the second time. His first was a shot of positivity with excellent results, losing quite a few kilos and making great friends. This time it is being more uphill, it is more called to the interior, less strong. There are certain symptoms that appear in 8% -10% of those who fast, from apathy to body aches. In me, just the first and some headaches at the beginning. “There is no fasting the same as another” is another mantra that is repeated to you. The same sensations are never perceived but everything, as normal, contributes to a surprising catharsis.
At the end of dinner, there is a movie every night, a concert or a conference. They recommend going to bed early and warn that sleep can be very light. Apparently it is the most common. I came in with insomnia and slept like a log. It still lasts for me, almost a month later, thanks to some guidelines learned there.
My income continues. I had been promised that, in time, the hunger would disappear. There are those who swear and perjure me to get it. I would eat every photo I see on Instagram every night (during the day, somewhere other than your room, mobile phones are restricted). Is it physical hunger, is it anxiety, is it memory? You analyze yourself with the help that they give you. My guts are not rumbling, speaking in silver. I am so relaxed that I almost have stress from the quiet I handle. I do not feel weak, on the contrary, I do more sport than ever and I notice my delighted body burning reserves with which they guarantee that we could survive a month, the maximum stay they offer. Is it hard for me? Yes. I would have ordered Glovos everywhere. But not. In part I’m looking forward to finishing, I remember the taxi driver who would take me straight to a dream hamburger. No, I think I’m not one of those who ask to extend the stay. Many tell me they do.
They add a few supplements to my fasting plan. A skimmed yogurt every morning that I lick every last drop. A carrot juice in the afternoon that I request to change because it will be great but I have a hard time swallowing it. It is substituted by quark or kefir. Not hungry. A few drops of vitamin D, a few magnesium capsules. The vigilance is constant. The daily enemas, like the initial salts, continue to help keep you inside like a whistle and avoid, supposedly, that physical hunger. Enemas? What? Yes. They don’t put that in the brochure. Every day the nurse plugs you in a hose of warm water and well, it’s not pleasant. So yeah, before you ask me, if only for this process, you go to the bathroom despite not eating anything. Go if it goes. The intestine, like the jets of gold.
It’s already my eighth day and it’s time to hike up the mountain. My energy, far from being low, is increasing. I jog with the former editor of a well-known foreign newspaper, who is also a newcomer, and who is feeling happy. With a Mexican who has made the great investment of crossing the pond just for this and is about to leave with all expectations exceeded and a problem solved. He tells me how the fast has ended, how he is enjoying those last days in which they prepare you, already with solids, for the return to the routine. I envy her, that day will not be long in coming.
And arrives. One day ahead of schedule, in my case. As soon as the next day. They decide to get ahead of me to avoid losing too much weight. An apple sauce lands in my room that tastes like glory to me, for which I salivate until my glands are dry and that, it was clear, I find it difficult to finish. Before long, a whole apple, a bright red delicacy. At night, already in the non-fasting dining room, with a tablecloth, cutlery and everything that I missed so much for its resemblance to a decent restaurant, a potato and vegetable cream along with a handwritten message of congratulations and a manual full of recipes and tips to face the return at home. Maintaining habits, within the possibilities of each one, is a message very reinforced by the team of nutritionists which also supervises you daily and gives the possibility of online consultations once you are no longer there for any questions that may arise.
Was my hunger so terrible? Am I enjoying this retraining as much as I thought? Maybe it wasn’t too bad. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. This feeling and this new diet lasts three more days. Oh, I’m not going to want to go anyway. So it was. On September 17, at noon, a car was waiting for me to take me out of that bubble of serenity and return me to the jaws of Madrid. I did it with force, wanting to eat, never better said, this new and complicated course, with the batteries charged as I had never had them. The balance of my retirement is as follows: I went from 71.6 to 67.2 kilos and I have lost a size. Apparently, if you go with more weight than your share, you will eliminate more. That’s how smart and logical the body is. They gave me one last book analysis. What little he had outside of the standards, he returned to his channel. Insomnia, except for one night, forgotten. Exercise routine, recovered and maintained afterwards. I have returned to the feasts, yes, neither my work nor my will would allow me to separate them. I compensate more than before. “You can have one fruit day a week and / or a couple of intermittent fasting, eating dinner at 7 in the afternoon and not having breakfast until 10 the next day,” the doctor recommended. It’s been three weeks since I left the Buchinger. The price, 7,000 euros (depending on the program and room category, it can go from 3,000). Today I weigh 68 kilos. having dinner at 7 in the afternoon and not having breakfast until 10 the next day ”, the doctor recommended. It’s been three weeks since I left the Buchinger. The price, 7,000 euros (depending on the program and room category, it can go from 3,000). Today I weigh 68 kilos. having dinner at 7 in the afternoon and not having breakfast until 10 the next day ”, the doctor recommended. It’s been three weeks since I left the Buchinger. The price, 7,000 euros (depending on the program and room category, it can go from 3,000). Today I weigh 68 kilos.
“We have approximate data that indicate that two-thirds of patients are maintained, some even continue to lose weight, and a third are gaining,” Katharina told me. I’ll see what happens to me. At the moment, I really enjoy when people exclaim “what have you done to yourself, you look fantastic!” I hope it repeats for a long time. Or until my next fast.