I have a new found respect for Gwyneth Paltrow. Where I once scoffed at her graceful cellulite-free legs as the product of good genetics (just like her movie career), I now gape in awe, mouth open and drooling with hunger. By trying the Tracy Anderson Method diet plan for just 3 days, I’ve learned that Gwyneth Paltrow, or GP, earns every ounce, or lack thereof, of that body she proudly displays on this month’s Harper’s Bazaar Cover.

For the last several years, I’ve watched my cousin in law transform just as GP has. She’s gone from beautiful blond with a few extra pounds, to beautiful blond supermodel. She’s now lean and svelte like a ballet dancer, but looks sturdy and strong. No wind will blow her over, despite long thin legs and jiggle free abs. At my Hawaii wedding this summer, she proudly thanked the Tracy Anderson Method for her body’s metamorphosis. Even my husband remarked that she looked “Hot!” Annoying, YES. But also very motivating.

I just had to try it. But I also wanted to try trapeze classes and gravity free yoga. I made a mental note to revisit this Tracy Anderson business after the wedding and chugged another Mai Tai.

Almost 7-months later I arrived at the tipping point: A sneak peek at Gwyneth Paltrow’s Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot and interview for their March 2012 issue. I was reminded all over again why the Tracy Anderson Method was in my future. As usual, GP pontificates on the wonders of Anderson’s ways.

Harper’s explains, “Today, like every other weekday morning, [Gwyneth Paltrow] has spent an hour and a half with her trainer, Tracy Anderson, doing dance aerobics and a precise series of exercises that changes every 10 days. The aim, she says, is ‘that you’re muscular, but you don’t get used to anything.'”

Compelled to learn more, I found a stunning picture of Courtney Cox trotting down the beach dripping with salt water.  Anderson is also responsible for the Cougar Town star’s amazing body that looks better at 47 than I do at 31.
I found pages and pages of information about Tracy Anderson and her celebrity clients, but finally entered her colorful and exciting website – the beacon of everything  Anderson. The site was properly tailored to charm me into putting another $100 on my credit card. Tracy’s glowing body was adorned by a fresh spray tan, her sultry eyes framed by smoky make-up, making her the piped piper of hotness and I her eager, but chubby (when measured against GP at least), little lemming ready to jump from the cliff of mediocrity.
Between GP’s testimonials and Anderson’s sunny, but sexy smile, I was sold.  After taking the site’s body type quiz  (I’m hipcentric) I was ready to purchase the Metamorphosis plan. The plan  includes several DVDs, a tape measure to track your progress, a customized diet plan, and access to Tracy’s Metamorphosis Members Only community. My personal Metamorphosis package couldn’t arrive soon enough.
The Metamorphosis Plan
Tracy says that “Perfection is possible.” Tracy also says that achieving said perfection “won’t be easy.” In order to obtain a body like GP’s (can I get the paycheck too?),you must do Tracy’s 30-minute cardio DVD followed by her toning DVD (several are included for each stage in the plan) 6 days per week. You also MUST strictly follow her diet plan. If you don’t, she cautions, she can’t guarantee results.
The Diet
I was amazed to find that Anderson had laid out several months of meal options along with easy to follow recipes. All of this was neatly displayed in a cute little pamphlet, complete with plenty of inspiring shots of  Anderson looking skinny and fabulous.
I can do this, I remember thinking to myself. Almost all of the meals are dairy free and any that require “protein” allow for tofu or beans as a replacement for chicken or beef. This would accommodate my vegetarianism and dairy allergy quite nicely, I mused to my best friend, who’d soon be suffering alongside me.
Having received a food processor as a wedding gift, I told said best friend to stop by so that we could prepare week 1’s food together. Week 1’s diet would consist of some delicious sounding items like “gazapacho” and “chocolate pudding.”  I was a little discouraged by the diminishing portions in Week 2, but I would soldier on one week at a time.
What followed, after an interesting trip to my local farmer’s market, was almost 4 hours in my kitchen. Four hours is more time than I’ve ever spent in any kitchen EVER.
There we skinned a pound of carrots and parsnips  for puree. There we chopped tofu and celery for the one actual non-baby food substance allowed – the protein soup. There I fell in love with my Cuisinart, amazed how it could combine chocolate, coconut, and date bits in seconds, creating with the slick song of its blades, a luxurious and creamy treat.
But it wasn’t all shock and awe at the capabilities of kitchen appliances and organic vegetables. This was a two person job. Despite 5 apples, 1 pound of carrots, 1/2 a pound of parsnips, several cartons of blue berries, a block of tofu, 5 sweet potatoes, 2 ears of corn, a bushel of celery, a head of broccoli, garlic, onions, and a vine of tomatoes, we only had enough food for a few days.  If it was just me, this cornucopia of produce would have fed me for a week, but would have taken a solid day to prepare. 8 hours of rinsing, peeling, boiling, and dancing to the whir of the food processor. Without a day to spare, I was happy to share the bounty, and the labor, with my diet partner.
Little had we known that we’d basically be consuming multi-colored mush for the next 72 hours. My fridge was stuffed with interlocking Tupperware, a fortress of pureed vegetable and fruit. Nutrient dense? Sure Tracy Anderson. I was hungry just looking at it.
The next day wasn’t SO bad. For breakfast I had sweet potato and white corn mash. It tasted like canned pumpkin, but without the pie. I had followed Tracy’s directions to the letter, opting out on the extra cinnamon and dash of olive oil that would have made it taste SO much better. But I survived breakfast, reminding myself that this was healthy stuff, a day’s worth of  Vitamin A and C in one serving.
By my commute home, however, I was starving. Smells from the taco truck down the street from work blew into my car window tempting me to turn around and risk food poisoning over hunger. Halfway home, inching down the 405 at 5-miles an hour, I reached into my brown paper bag of empty Tupperware, desperate for ANYTHING. There had to be a morsel left in one of those stained  plastic squares. I was tempted to lick the pudding off the sides of its container when I remembered Tracy’s words: “Perfection is possible.” I could do this.
The DVDs
That evening, after slurping some gazpacho as my pre-dinner workout snack, I was ready to shimmy alongside Tracy in 30-minutes of dance cardio, followed by the “Transform 1” DVD.
When compared to other workout DVDs I have, I was impressed with the quality of Tracy’s dance DVD. Though the routine was set to current and move inducing techno, Tracy had the wherewithal to make muting her music, but leaving her voice, an option. If I was to do this for the next 90-days I’d need to mix-up it up a bit.
I enjoyed and still enjoy the dance cardio disc, especially because Tracy doesn’t make you learn a routine. Because I just can’t. I’ve attempted gym “hip-hop” classes on several occasions, each time hoping that this time would be the lucky one. That I’d finally get it, my two left feet transformed into really cool vintage reeboks. Instead I’ve tripped in frustration, more times than I can count, because attempting to catch on to some over caffeinated gym rat’s music video madness is a waste of my work out.
With “Dance” as Tracy calls it your only goal is to keep moving, as the bouncing blond ball, Tracy Anderson, ping pongs across your flat screen. If you mess up, you pause the DVD and try to learn it on your time. If you mess up, you can just keep on moving if you want to. That’s what Tracy says at least, but I tend to use the lost moments as water breaks.
30 minutes of the running man, jumping jacks, and the invisible jump rope on one leg IS challenging. I work out regularly, but still  had to stop to catch my breath several times the first round. While it wasn’t as harrowing as I expected the day of the diet, I was a rabid beast afterwards. And I still had 30 minutes of strength training to go. Stomach growl.
On to arm exercises with light weights, sit ups combined with leg lifts, and some grueling thigh/hip exercises. I would definitely keep rocking these DVDs long after I’d replaced the baby food with a giant burrito.
The Diet + The DVDS = Nightmares!
That night, after day one of the diet and exercise regime, I dreamed of food. I dreamed of Naan bread. I dreamed of pizza. I dreamed of a piping hot, wet burrito, dripping in spicy salsa verde.  I dreamed of crispy kettle potato chips. I woke up hungrier than I’d ever felt in my life.
While I made it through another two days, I teetered between loopy and ravenous. Each moment with my blueberry applesauce was savored. The veggie protein soup was like a decadent stew of the Queen’s ingredients. I made it my dinner each night and fantasized about it at work as if it were some forbidden lover.
So just how many calories had I consumed? I used Livestrong’s Daily Plate to calculate and arrived at under 700 calories. I also counted the food for week 2 to see if that would be more bearable, but wasn’t surprised when the 2 hard-boiled eggs, ThinkThin bar, and 1/2 cup of black beans with a handful of spinach, your allotment of food for ONE day, came to 661 measly calories.
During day 2 of eating pureed vegetable pulp, I posted “hungry,” or some variation thereof, as my Facebook status. One friend, curious about the diet, did some research of her own. She stumbled upon a UK article titled, Tracy Anderson Plan Gave Me Black Outs. While the woman who wrote the article proudly posted a picture of herself having obtained her “Gwyneth Paltrow” body she cautioned against the drawbacks of the Tracy Anderson Method. According to a dietician she interviewed, this diet was advocating anorexia and brought with it the possibility of calcium and other deficiencies.
While Tracy doesn’t mention supplements as part of the plan, one might consider a chewable calcium tablet combined with a B-Complex pill if they’re serious about undertaking Metamorphosis. As always, it’s wise to do your homework and work with a health care professional if you can.
My Metamorphosis
I’ve tried to hate Gwyneth Paltrow. I’ve tried to turn away as she dazzles onscreen or struts across a white sandy beach, string bikini hanging off her runway model frame while her rock star husband composes Coldplay’s next hit in a cabana nearby.
I now realize that she deserves some respect. I’m now convinced that despite GP’s famous parents (Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner), despite a vocal coach and team of professionals to make her Grammy ready, despite a household staff to prep and puree the Tracy Anderson diet, GP probably went to bed hungry last night. She wouldn’t have gotten as far as she has on nepotism alone, nor would her body look as good as it does at almost 40. It takes WORK to be and look THAT good. It takes desire, discipline, and determination to ignore the hunger pains as you’re doing your millionth leg lift. “No free lunch” should be replaced with “no lunch at all,” if looking like GP, Courtney Cox, or Tracy Anderson is your goal. Tracy’s right, “Perfection IS possible,” but eating giant burritos and buttery pieces of Naan bread won’t get you there.

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