„Ayurveda break to Asia? Corona has grounded me and led me to fasting in the Buchinger Wilhelmi at Lake Constance. The best thing could have happened to me.” Kai Böcking
Since the Coronavirus the wide world of travel has stood still for the most part. Also, or especially for frequent travelers like me, who spend their largest time of the year in planes, big cities or exotic locations around the globe. That’s enough for now. Nothing like Korea, Africa or California – and therefore not the fulfillment of the bleisure promise: “After the business meeting comes the cool leisure part of your journey.
On my anti stress bucket list for a long time was a new stay in a chic Ayurveda resort in Asia – one week of caressing body and soul in the sun, with lots of sports and a healthy diet. But Corona has pulverized all my travel plans. Today I say: That’s good. Without Corona, I probably wouldn’t have ended up at the Buchinger Wilhelmi Klinik on Lake Constance. The fasting therapy was a stroke of luck in many ways.
The original for the internal inventory
The range of fasting cures in Germany is large – from simple to glamorous, from affordable to prices that are the equivalent of at least 1,000 euros per lost kilo. I lost almost seven at Buchinger Wilhelmi – kilos! So, the approach was clear to me: Is a fasting cure something for stressed-out frequent travellers like me? Will I only meet opulent, possibly sick and elderly people there?
The Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic on Lake Constance is THE institution when it comes to the fasting programme of the same name. It was Dr. Otto Buchinger, the clinic’s founder, who made fasting socially acceptable 100 years ago. Here, Buchinger therapeutic fasting means, with its view of Lake Constance, abstaining from solid food for ten, 14, 21 or 28 days, including days of relief and rebuilding. A lot of tea, fruit juices and a vegetable soup in the evening make the seriousness of the situation clear, accordingly unseasoned: Far from any luxury foods, it is not about food!
“Therapeutic fasting is like an inner inventory or, in the language of motor sports, a pit stop,” says smart managing director Leonard Wilhelmi during my welcome (photo). This man, in his early 30s, took over the business from his father a year ago. His brother runs the “Clínica Buchinger Wilhelmi” in Marbella, Spain, which has been in existence since the 1970s.
In Überlingen, the clinic was also allowed to receive guests during the lockdown because it is a fasting clinic with integrative medical care. The location above the small town of Überlingen on Lake Constance is a real highlight. The first clinic building for fasting was erected here in the 1950s, the finest charm of the post-war years. In the meantime, several modern buildings are spread over the huge grounds – all with a view of the lake. And to my delight, when I visited in May, a warm 25-metre pool entices me to go swimming. Thanks to Covid-19, a maximum of two people are allowed to let off steam together – I am often one of them.
Fasting business as usual
The fasting therapy clinic is open, yet perhaps only ten of the 160 beds are occupied. “Normally, we would be fully booked at this time. 70% of our guests come to us from all over the world. They are missing now,” says Leonard Wilhelmi, who starts his annual fasting cure on the same day as I do.
There are different types of rooms for those who are fasting. From a narrow single room to a large suite. My room could be in any five-star hotel in Germany. Double bed, glazed shower, light-coloured wood and a terrace with sunbathing possibility and an unspoilt view of Lake Constance. So, call room service, order fish and a bottle of Chablis and join on the terrace – let’s forget all about it quickly!
Instead, we first go to the internist, one of the doctors from the long list of nutritionists, therapists and psychologists in the house. They first weigh and measure the guests, take blood samples (including a corona test) and instruct them in the rules of therapeutic fasting a la Dr. Otto Buchinger – the hard bone of the Imperial Navy. And of course there are some restrictions in terms of hygiene because of Corona. But otherwise – fasting business as usual.
Food, life, soul follows
After the first day of settling in, it’s time for the preserves, i.e. a gastric and intestinal evacuation – physical winter sales – everything has to come out! And then eight days of shutting down. Food, life, soul.
Yes, I do this voluntarily here, but after my first visit to the doctor I somehow feel the need for treatment. In bed in the evening I realize for the first time that I will experience a real mental and physical challenge here. Mobile phones and laptops remain off, except for a fixed hour a day. During this hour I work in my room or on the terrace with interference-free WLAN and can be reached by my business partners. I had communicated this before.
I will spare you the physical excesses of my first day of fasting. Only thus far: The inventory starts from the inside and shows amazingly fast effects. Ten days of my life I now give to myself. This includes weighing myself every morning (already 600 grams less again), measuring my blood pressure and looking at my schedule to see which massages, Pilates and yoga classes as sports are offered. Then twice a day for an hour in the pool, in the evening on the treadmill before the daily soup ration makes me think of the old Buchinger.
What do you do the whole day besides sports and massages like Lomi Lomi, Shiatzu etc.? Do you take advantage of the opportunity for reflection and lectures?
I watch a few cooking demonstrations, but honestly do nothing else. I just read the newspaper, which is delivered with the fresh ginger tea every morning on request, read books … and above all think about my own life.
After about three days, I start to do what my co-faster Leonard Wilhelmi had predicted: the inner inventory of the last months. Looking at shelves, throwing out useless, painful and useless stuff for life and making room for new stuff.
Pit stop, new tyres, fill up and life goes on. Awesome!
My silent time
After day 2 I have already stopped counting my remaining days and meals until the end of my 300 calories per day fast. I just feel too good. I walk with another guest (a manager from the travel industry) on a still water through Überlingen, chat with a nice lady from Iran, who extended her stay for a few months because of Corona, and meet someone from my hometown. What unites them all: They come again and again to the Buchinger fast, every year.
And then it was over, my quiet time. The first bite into an apple. Wow! Spices in a Quinoa vegetarian dumpling. The pants are back on, not under the waist.
Yes, you lose a lot of kilos during the fasting cure at the Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic on Lake Constance, but I want to try to live more consciously in the future. I have sorted my things out in these ten days and am now ready to see the world with my own eyes again. I will travel again.
Kai Böcking …
will almost certainly also be among those who will return to the clinic for Buchinger fasting on Lake Constance in the coming years. The original! Thank Corona, at least in this case!
At a glance
Getting there: The Buchinger Wilhelmi Bodensee Clinic is located in Überlingen, on the north-western shore of Lake Constance. From Munich, it takes two to three hours by car, from Zurich just under an hour and a half.
The Fasting Therapy Clinic: The Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic has six houses – from the Villa Fichtenau in late classicist style to the Villa Belgrano, which was renovated in 2016 and won architecture awards. Almost all of the 150 or so rooms offer a view of Lake Constance and, with good WLAN, also allow you to work. The heart of the house is the park, newly laid out in 2015, with eight themed gardens, a Kneipp facility and a heated outdoor pool. There is also a gymnastics hall, a fitness room with a view of the lake, a multifunctional sports field, a training kitchen and several lecture rooms. Eight doctors from different disciplines work in the recognized teaching clinic of the German Academy of Nutritional Medicine, and over 250 different treatments are offered.
Address: Buchinger Wilhelmi Lake Constance, Wilhelm-Beck-Straße 20, D-88662 Überlingen, Germany, +49 75518070, email@example.com
Fotos: © Böcking, Buchinger Wilhelmi Lake Constance