I’m no stranger to detoxing by this point in the game. In fact, some folks might even call me a ‘seasoned pro’. And there’s a reason I keep coming back for the experience, and specifically to ATSUMI. Because this is where I did my first 10-day full fast, and I count it as one of the best things I ever did to get on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
When I first arrived in southern Phuket seven years ago, I was, if I’m being completely honest, a mess. Years of bad habits, worse eating, physical neglect, workaholism, and entrenched chronic conditions had turned me into a bloated shadow of my former fit and happy self. I was clearly overweight, increasingly moody and depressed, and had a nasty skin condition that made me want to avoid all mirrors and most people. It wasn’t until I saw a random documentary back in Canada about people going on ‘fitness and detox’ vacations in Thailand that I had a glimmer of hope. Maybe THIS is for me.
So, I committed to an extended stay in southern Phuket, which had a good reputation for being a safe tourist mecca as well as a place where health and fitness were priorities. It was my first time in Southeast Asia, and I was just a small-town Canadian jetting off to a strange new world — feeling ‘vulnerable’ was something I was going to have to face, so at least I could feel it on the shores of paradise.
After a month of training at a local kickboxing camp — Muay Thai is the national sport, and foreigners are welcome to come and learn the art, sweat buckets, and even lose a few pounds in the process — I was ready for the real challenge. I had never really fasted before, and committing to 10 days with no food and twice-daily colonics seemed to some like ‘jumping in the deep end’. But as soon as I set foot on the ATSUMI grounds (and I had visited several facilities before making the choice), I felt a sense of calm wash over me. It was like ‘finding an oasis’ – a lush, tranquil sanctuary amidst the touristy hustle of the surrounding area. I was greeted warmly by the staff and given the tour before checking in — I could hear birdsong, flowing water, trees swaying in the wind, and then a hand-sized butterfly flitted by my head. Good omens, I thought.
After getting settled and having my pre-fast interview with Atsumi’s detox and nutrition expert, I was walked step-by-step through the process and given a clear sense of the ‘daily routine’. It seemed a little overwhelming at first, but as soon as the first day was complete I realized that things here were surprisingly simple — a morning activity (like yoga or hiking), a group meeting with fellow fasters (a great morale booster), your first colema (‘morning coffee’ has a whole new meaning for me now!), free time for lunch (Nai Harn beach is heaven), an afternoon massage, a second colema, and early evening talks/activities to close out the day. In between you drink your fasting shakes and take your cleansing supplements and slurp down your coconuts and watch the hours (and weight) melt away…
It’s not ‘easy’, mind you. You need to stay focused and positive to see the results. There is some initial sleeplessness, dull hunger pangs that pass, and the typical lethargy that tends to set in on the second and third days. And adjusting to the initial discomfort of having a plastic tube push gallons of water into you while years of junk rush out of you is a little weird at first, too. Like I said earlier — ‘vulnerability’ is something you’re going to have to face.
But overall the whole process was much easier than I thought it would be. In fact, something magical happened, and seems to happen for most fasters, around Day 4-5 — I actually felt GREAT. Calm. Clear. Energized. Hopeful. For me, it was like turning on a light in the bathroom, and seeing the ‘real me’ in the mirror again after too many years as a stranger. I don’t think a smile left my face for the rest of the stay.
And yes – I DID lose weight. Almost 13KG of it! The staff was so supportive and congratulatory, and even the grizzled vets at the local gym looked amazed at the transformation when I dropped in to say ‘thanks and farewell’. When I returned home to Canada soon after, there honestly wasn’t a single person who failed to ask ‘What did you DO…and where can I sign up?!’
This encouragement was more than enough to keep the bad habits from returning for any length of time, and to help me keep the lessons I learned during the retreat at the forefront of my diet and lifestyle choices. It’s also why I keep coming back to Atsumi, whether it’s for a short Raw or Juice fast, or another full detox experience — it really works, it rejuvenates me on so many levels, and (as a 7-year ‘seasoned pro’) it almost feels like coming home.