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28 Days to Better Health: Week Four, Results & Reflections from Chiang Mai, Thailand

Last Week in Chiang Mai


I guess the saying “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” is true.  After six days of not smoking, now, with most of my appointments behind me, Addict Alice emerges.  This morning after breakfast she told me how I would never succeed at quitting smoking.  She reminded me of all the times I failed.  She said I should just give up now and go back to enjoying life.  She told me I could just have one.  I hate her.


I ripped off the patch, smoked one and that opened the spillway to ten.  Which led to feeling like a major loser.  Rinse.  Repeat.  It’s so depressing to be in a war with myself and so hard to explain.  But, I’m not giving up.


Sunday Market Chiang Mai

Sunday Market in Chiang Mai


The words of my acupuncturist were a potent salve when she told me that many big changes come in fits and starts and ceasing to smoke (or break any addiction/habit) is not a linear journey for many people.  Yes, there are those that can just go cold turkey (and God do I envy them!) but others sputter along and eventually get there provided they don’t lose hope and keep trying.  She reminds me to not dwell in shame but brush off and start again.  The patch is back on.


I see the dermatologist for the last time and he performs a laser treatment to rid my face of broken capillaries. To be honest, I’d never considered this a problem but just part of my Irishness.  I ask the receptionist and the doctor in advance whether this will be painful.  They both assure me “Just a little.”  I guess I should have been more specific and asked them if they thought two-hundred angry hornets stinging my face in slow succession would be a “little” painful.  Because that’s how it was.  Sweet Jesus, had I known before what I know now I would have lovingly accepted every broken capillary with zeal.


My daily juice stop

My daily juice stop.


One day while eating, a woman asks to join me at my shady table.  She is Beverly from Los Angeles, but originally from Israel.  Born in 1947, she tells me of her dream as a young woman to be a photographer.  She went to the only news agency in town to offer her services but was declined again and again.  Her parents wanted her to do something practical so she got a degree in Practical Mathematics which she claims had no practicality whatsoever.  She raised four boys.  She worked with her husband in an electronics store gaining skills which have become obsolete in the computer age.  And now, at age 70, she is solo traveling around the world taking the photographs that were stifled for fifty years.  Never too late to follow that dream.


A good deal of my week is spent working out the logistics of my next trip to Croatia.  I’m not a meticulous planner, and hardly research places before I go, but it’s still surprisingly time-consuming trying to figure out where I want to go and how I’ll get from Point A to Point B in unknown territory.


I’m excited to see Zagreb again and look forward to a further exploration of Croatia.  After four months apart, the day of reunification with my boyfriend is also approaching and I couldn’t be more eager to see him again in Greece.


Spirit house figures

Glittery Spirit house wax figures


This week, I hit the vegetable juices hardcore knowing that soon they will be far less available and much more expensive.  I’m surprised I haven’t turned red from all the beets.  Due to the work involved in preparing fresh juice and the expense of fresh organic produce in the United States, these juices have certainly felt like a big luxury.


I’m especially sad to say goodbye to massage therapist Orn who is a gifted healer and a delivery vehicle for sage advice.  If you ever come this way, you’ll have to see her.


After 28 Days, Has My Health Improved?  Results and Reflections


Overall, I feel better than I did a month ago.  I’m more energetic and lighter on my feet.  I attribute this to the diet which reduced sugar, bread, and dairy products.  Massage has been very therapeutic in loosening up my muscles.


Depending on the scale, I lost between 10 (4.5 kilos) and 13 pounds (5.8 kilos).  I’m pretty happy about this.


Two of my strangest symptoms, a swollen tongue and sore throat, which persisted for the past year, have resolved in my time here.  Chinese medicine suggests this may have been due to chronic dehydration.  I’ve increased my water intake tremendously so perhaps that was the medicine.


The appearance of my skin has vastly improved which I attribute to microdermabrasion, juice and lots of water.



I can’t say I was thrilled with the thyroid doctor I chose but she was the best I could find.  Surely, staying in Bangkok would have allowed access to a larger pool of doctors but the expense would also have been higher.  Had I wanted to pursue it further and pay the additional money perhaps I would have found more answers.  Ultimately, I decided I didn’t need a doctor to heal myself.  Fortunately, my issues were not severe.  If, however, I ever find myself with acute illness, I would not hesitate to return to Thailand for medical care.


Notwithstanding the thyroid doctor, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of care I received from all other practitioners.  Even when I visited doctors not frequented by tourists I felt the level of expertise and professionalism was high and certainly commiserate with the standards we expect in the United States, if not a little lighter on the frivolous stuff like a coffeemaker in the waiting room or a free toothbrush leaving the dentist.


The cost of getting lab tests was significantly cheaper than it would have been in the United States and the results came quicker.  I would have no hesitation recommending Chiang Mai as a place to get a preventative check-up and, as mentioned previously, these services are packaged for tourists to make it very efficient.  I didn’t go the packaged route because I was trying to save money but that made it a bit more challenging.  If you have the extra money, a complete and comprehensive checkup can be done with incredible efficiency at a fraction of the cost of a similar checkup in the United States.


The food and fresh juice have been fantastic.  Chiang Mai is a fabulous place to eat a healthy diet.  While I originally intended to do a 100% juice fast, I instead found eating one small vegetarian meal early in the day and juice for the rest did an adequate job of cleansing and detoxing without leaving me feeling weak or deprived.


I did not start meditating but will carry this goal over to future days.


In retrospect, if I had to do this over again, I would add the addition of some fun activities and excursions.  I wanted to focus 100% on my physical health but that left me a bit moody, idle, self-absorbed and out of balance with my mental and emotional health.  There are so many excursions leaving from Chiang Mai, as well as gyms, art classes, and tours.  If I am graced with a “next time” in Chiang Mai, adding some activities would provide better balance and less obsessive focus.  I hope someday I’ll get the opportunity to explore Thailand further beyond these old city walls.


Now, refreshed, onward to Croatia!


Photos from Chiang Mai:


  1. Dear Laura,
    I just loved reading all of your posts from Chang Mai. Fun and informative writing. I want to go there now! You really look amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your journey. lots of love, green

    • Thanks Greene. I’d recommend it. My pleasure to share it and nice to know that it was enjoyed. Love to you!

  2. We loved the video of your changing (?) face and think you look beautiful. Hope you continue to feel fitter and now look forward to your new adventures. Hi from John, too.

    • Many thanks Erika. Hi John!

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