This vivacious woman with shining eyes emanates energy and a love of life. Anna’s professional track record is impressive: an ex-figure skater and international prize winner, she worked in the USA and now lives in Moscow pursuing her career as a professional singer, actress and TV presenter. Anna lives a full and vibrant life and does not seem to be slowing down. Swiss Health happened to meet Anna during a short vacation at the Leukerbad Clinic in the sunny Swiss Alps. Our Chief Editor, Maria-Anna Lammly, talked to Anna in between her medical procedures and therapy baths.
Anna, what do you see as a source of vitality? Some people go to the mountains, some prefer the sea…
– For me it’s water, without doubt. I am a Pisces and I love swimming. That’s why I like the LeukerbadClinic so much – it is an exciting, beautiful place with mountains, a lot of fresh air, and thermal waters. You swim outside in a hot pool and you feel your cheeks are freezing but your body is warm, it feels so good. The mountains here are so tranquil, you can hide as if in your mother’s womb and feel that no problems can touch you. You feel you trust the world, and it is very important, because then the world embraces you as a mother embraces her child, and gives you everything you need.
Naturally, humans depend a lot on their social environment in their everyday lives. Today’s metropolitan cities are associated with a fast pace of living, traffic jams, late bedtimes, early wake-ups; all this affects our nervous system, our well-being, and our thinking patterns. The way we think shapes our lives and destiny. This is a cyclical chain. Therefore, my recharging at Leukerbad is very important.
– As far as I know, you care a lot about rehabilitation and give it a lot of time. What kind of program at Leukerbad Clinic did you select for yourself?
– Of course, I prefer a healthy lifestyle, given my professional career in sports. I take care of my diet, do sports and go through regular check-ups and detox programs at theLeukerbad Clinic. I was offered a special diet, including food that fits my body, I had great procedures: massages and dropping procedures to add microelements. Living in big cities does have an impact on our lives. I enjoyed a special massage to relax my muscles. I came to Switzerland very tired after filming. I badly needed a break, and now I’m getting back to work after a good rest, full of energy and ready for new film projects and concerts.
– That means you try to avoid chronic fatigue and burnout.
– If you burn yourself out and then you finally relax, your body will react with various disorders. We all need regular rest and enough sleep, especially women, to look well and stay young for a longer time. And one must always remember fitness and health-promoting procedures. I sleep at least 8–9 hours a day and have workouts, beauty procedures, and massages included in my daily schedule.
I like the way Europeans – in particular, the Swiss – treat their health. They have a whole culture in place for recreation and health promotion. When my doctor learnt that my shooting day sometimes lasted 14 to 17 hours, he was astonished: «Why do you need to work so hard?» But it is a part of me and a part of my job. The Swiss take good care of their bodies and have regular check-ups, at least for key issues such as blood analysis, cardiogram, ultrasound, and cancer-specific markers. Blood analysis is usually detailed enough to allow for the detections of the first signs of any disease. If needed, a more detailed check-up can be made. We have to take care of our health, because it is priceless.
– I hope you have undergone you medical tests fast enough to be able to enjoy the thermal baths.
– Yes. I was told there were no warning signs and that everything is OK. The culture of Swiss medical servicesis not aimed at making patients spend unnecessary money or, more importantly,time. They do 3–4 initial key tests, and perform a more detailed check-up only if something serious or some problem has been identified.
– Why do you need detox programs? Is it reasonable to take them while you are still young?
– We live much shorter lives than we are destined to have, mostly because of the toxins that fill our bodies and make us grow old and destroy our organs. So it is very important to flush your body clean of toxins. Here I take dropping procedures to remove heavy metals from my liver. The liver plays a very important role in cleaning our bodies and also needs to be cleansed and rehabilitated. I believe detox programs are most relevant to people living in big cities.
It is advisable to go through an «intoxication program» once a year – have fun with friends, drink good wine and recover from your diet. After that you need to go to the sea and go through a detox procedure, once a year. I am young, but I work and travel a lot, and I need to take such measures in order to look and feel young, and to be in good shape.
– You are an «advanced user» of health promotion services. Have you learnt anything new here?
– This time it was a chrono diet. This is a good system: you eat some rich food in the morning, such as butter or eggs. I also had a cocktail of quail eggs with ginger, lemon juice and olive oil, and soups, fish or meat with some topping for lunch. I always had some fresh detox juices, like baobab juice. But I have a different approach to dieting. I prefer separate nutrition. When I mentioned to the doctor that it was difficult for me to take proteins and carbs together, my diet was immediately changed to include the food that I preferred, while still being tasty and nutritious. I hardly consumed any desserts, although I like the idea of having a dessert at five o’clock. This is the time when your body generates serotonin and you need to eat something sweet to avoid depressions or sleeping disorders. For example, my menu included a banana with black chocolate or warm apple sauce with cinnamon – it was tasty and I was not hungry for dinner. I will make note of this recipe. You may skip your dinner, but breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea are strongly recommended. When you go to sleep feeling slightly hungry, you lose extra weight.
– It is probably no good to mix weight loss and detox diets as they have different purposes…
– Sure. This clinic has hunger therapy programs, where patients eat separately and their diet includes vegetable soups, tea, and water. They do not go to a public restaurant so as to avoid being seduced with food’s appearance and aroma. Everything is really wellorganised. I have practiced hunger therapies myself and know how hard it is when you are surrounded with so much temptation.
– Do you believe it is realistic to stick to a healthy diet amid the frantic pace of modern life? Moreover, you have to take meals at set hours…
– If you want to look well and feel well, you will find a way to take care of your diet. Sure, you have to forget about fast food. This is a real challenge in Europe and the US, in particular for young people. I prefer to eat nothing at all or to take a piece of chocolate and tea, or some fruit. You have to have a healthy breakfast and dinner and take your lunch with you, like a piece of fish or chicken with vegetables, and drink a lot of water.
The clinic often prescribes gluten-free bread. Our ancestors were eating bread and had no problems with that. Nowadays, food products are strongly processed and my doctor told me that gluten (in essence, vegetable gelatin) has become a damaging element. It causes allergies in some people. As many products include gluten, we have to forget about bread, grains and even yoghurts… Switzerland offers many gluten-free products, so it is easy to keep to such a diet here.
– Did you manage to get thermal water treatment, or, more pertinently, to enjoy it?
– It is interesting that the local thermal springs are older than me. It takes 40 years for the water to reach the surface in the form of such unique springs from deep down in the mountains, and the temperature is 50 degrees! The water is cooled to make it comfortable for bathing. The composition is rich – a lot of calcium —so the water is good for your joints, and as it is hot, the minerals and useful agents penetrate your body faster. It took less time for me to recover here, I had enough sleep, bathed in the hot springs, followed medical procedures and breathed the fresh Alpine air!
– Some people sleep well in the mountains… Some say you have to adapt to silence.
– I didn’t sleep so well during my first night here. The reason is that we live in a valley and this place is about 1,400 meters above sea level, so it took me some time to adapt. Then I started feeling sleepy and did not resist the wishes of my body. We are constantly listening to someone else, like bad news or the opinions of others, and rarely listen to ourselves. I even missed some exiting procedures, but I knew it was more important for me to get enough sleep. The doctors also told me that this was one effect of the detox programs, when the body releases toxins: it is work that is invisible to us. The body tends to resist any stress in the mountains. I remember our team was taken to the mountains for training before the sporting season, and we had to do hard workouts, to run and jump. It is really hard at the beginning, but eventually the body adapts and strengthens the immune system. When you come back down from the mountains, you feel much stronger and resilient, and your heart beats more vigorously. I had no training this time, but a more active program is also available here, if needed. It is good to combine skiing and thermal springs. It is a great pleasure to dive into a hot spring after skiing, it relaxes all your muscles. Generally, there is a lot to do here, even without the check-ups. They have well-established rehabilitation programs for recovery after traumas, and there are many patients here who have had surgical operations. Being an ex-athlete, I know a lot about this. The clinic has experts for the treatment of joints or injuries.
You should come here to improve your health. I really enjoyed just hanging out in a thermal pool, floating, just looking at the sun, the mountains, letting all my thoughts drift away, thinking about life…
– Do you do any sports now, after the end of your sports career? What would you recommend to our readers?
– I cannot imagine my life without sport, but I know what my body really needs and I have a set of workouts for each day. It is important to customize your load to include your individual needs and to do your exercises in the correct way.
I learnt something new in the Leukerbad Clinic. The doctor told me I had strong feet, a strong back, and strong hands, but my small of the back was weak. He showed me some exercises for my morning workout. By the way, a workout should become the same morning ritual as a cup of coffee. Take at least ten minutes to twist your head and stretch you main joints – shoulders, elbows, knees, ankles, and neck – and bend them in different directions. It’s no good when you just jump out of bed and start working. Forget about such an approach after you turn 30. And take a walk for at least half an hour every day. You can hardly find a way to walk in a big city, so I have a bikewalk at home and walk at least 5–7 kilometers a week. And if you come to Switzerland, go walking in the mountains – no matter how the weather is, you will enjoy every minute of it! And breathe and gain strength.
Some people say that a healthy lifestyle is too boring and it is good only for seniors… I was the youngest patient in the clinic and I felt comfortable there. This is a place where you recover. It is impossible to stay stressed all the time. You need to breathe out once in a while, to take a deep breath.