This article originally appeared on VICE Germany
I adore Gwyneth Paltrow. But much like my love of blue cheese and the Macarena, it's a devotion my friends don't necessarily understand. "Gwyneth Paltrow – isn't that the one who tells people to sustain themselves on algae and sprouts and to clean their vaginas with steam?" they often ask.
Sure, Gwyneth Paltrow is one of these people with a bag full of life-improving advice. In general, I hate people who try to tell me that my lifestyle isn't good enough. I, more or less, eat like vegetarian – plus I did two sit-ups last week. I'm living my life the best I can. To me, keeping up with the newest trends in healthy eating is just as stressful and superficial as following the "crazy antics" of the Kardashians.
This time last year, agave syrup seemed to be the it-thing for my health-conscious friends; last month, I baked a cake with it and was treated as if I was trying to slip them some crack. Apparently agave syrup is no longer healthy – it causes cancer. Why does food always have to be either super healthy or it cause you cancer?
It seems as if the only person I can truly trust when it comes to life-optimisation is Gwyneth. A few days ago, I came across her cookbook It's All Good. In it, she presents healthy recipes that are, well, all good, I assume. The blurb on the back promised that this book would help me look better. Bought!
Reading the foreword, I realised that me and GP are two totally different people. Living like me just means drinking barrels of wine and taking the phrase "all you can eat" far too literally. Meanwhile, if you want to live like Gwyneth, you have to say goodbye to the following things: Coffee, alcohol, milk, eggs, sugar, shellfish, deep sea fish, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, gluten, meat and soy, a.k.a. everything that makes life worth living.
Shocked at this puritanism, my jaw dropped and I'm pretty sure I spat out a few peppers and an entire deep sea fish. Would I be able to, at least for a few days, lead a "proper" life and eat like the queen of pretentious lifestyle optimisation? I had to try it out and see.
Every day on the Paltrow diet starts off with a glass of freshly pressed green juice, which according to Gwyneth is just like coffee. Unfortunately, it consists of repulsive ingredients that I would never eat in solid form (cabbage, ginger, mint and lemon). On top of that, I had to face my fear of my juicer. It's an old, loud appliance and it's not uncommon for smoke to bellow out of the motor whilst in use. I turned it on feeling as tense as a dog on New Year's Eve.
For the sake of my forthcoming good looks, I gulped the green broth as if I were the lead in a remake of Two Girls One Cup. It didn't taste horrible and, astonishingly, maybe I even liked it.
Throughout the day I snacked on almonds that I'd soaked in water for six hours. Gwyneth says they're the "ideal snack". Obviously she's never tried chili-cheese fries. She also forgot to mention that this snack doesn't taste like anything. But, whatever, I was going to a dinner party that night.
Fun fact: Gwyneth loves dinner parties but only when they're in Europe, because she feels the conversation is more refined here. One time, she was at a dinner party in America and the person eating next to her asked her where she bought her jeans. JEANS! Ghastly.
I decided to be a good guest and bring Gwyneth's most mindful dessert: a gluten-free berry crumble with quinoa flakes. The crumble was a downright hit at the party. My friend Sarah, who's an amazing chef, complimented me for bringing such a tasty pudding. All the compliments were getting to my head. I wondered if Sarah had ever soaked almonds in water. Overall, the dinner party was a huge success and nobody tried to steer the conversation towards denim clothing.
The second day of my experiment was all about Gwyneth's legendary miso soup with shiitake mushrooms and bonito flakes. Once, in her first cookbook – My Father's Daughter– she revealed that she ate the soup for breakfast and for dinner. GWYNETH! The same soup twice in one day? Madness.
I wanted to copy Gwyneth's miso excess so I cornered an employee at the local supermarket. "Excuse me, where would I find dried bonito flakes here?" I asked while scratching my chin. She gave me a look that screamed, "Please leave the store immediately," and disappeared down one of the aisles without saying a word.
The soup tasted amazing even without bonito flakes. While eating I decided to watch YouTube interviews with Gwyneth. I felt so connected to my mentor that I noticed myself talking to the screen: "Gwyneth, I wasn't able to find bonito flakes unfortunately ..." I whispered, embarrassed. I could sense she forgave me. "I still can't believe you ate this soup twice in one day!" I giggled before realising I might have far more serious issues than I'd thought.
Later that night I met up with some friends at a bar.
- "Did you know that Gwyneth only smokes one cigarette a day?" I asked them.
I didn't even wait for an answer. It's just one of many Paltrow truth bombs that I dropped that night. I could tell that my mates were silently weighing the pros and cons of being friends with me. "She also doesn't stick to her diet all the time, so my exception is totally fine!" I said way too loud as I sipped on my beer.
After our third round (ooops), one of my friends suggested we did yoga together this week. This was obviously a thinly veiled attempt to shut me up. I ecstatically agreed, of course. Let's do yoga together and not talk about jeans. Gwyneth would love this shit.
Maybe it was the beer but I woke up feeling weak and just about ready to end my diet. I obviously didn't have as much willpower as Gwyneth – who on her birthday in 2012 skipped cake and instead nibbled at a "birthday fruit platter" with her friends Sofia Coppola and Cameron Diaz.
But then I remembered the time Gwyneth was hiking in Arizona and thought she heard the rocks whispering the mantra, "You have the answer, you are the teacher!" I stayed really quiet and hoped that my walls will whisper something to me. Unfortunately, I only heard my older neighbour coughing and then spitting something out.
I decided to work out to a fitness DVD called Metamorphosis. It was made by Tracy Anderson – Gwyneth's trainer and the mastermind behind "Tracy Anderson Method." I decided to try the "Cardio Workout" where Tracy says absolutely nothing, only hectically dances to porn music for 30 minutes. After a half hour, I wasn't just sweaty, I was about to drop. I laid myself down on the floor and reminisced about the days where I could ingest all the gluten I wanted.
By this point, my muscles were sore but I was just about able to crawl out of bed to make it to the organic market. I was hoping to find the makings of Gwyneth classic "Baked Beans with Molasses". But I accidentally came across something else: dried bonito flakes! They exist! You can also find all manner of other Gwyneth goodies there. Brown rice syrup, gluten-free toast and almond flour. For a moment, I was entirely sure that a bag of spelt pasta was whispering "You have the answer, you are the teacher!"
I got home and made the beans. They taste alright but they looked like they'd already done a round through someone's digestive tract. Not for Instagram.
A few hours later I met up with my friends to do yoga, as we decided when we were drunk. The beginning of my trial session was pretty harmless, except for the fact that as a person who isn't flexible, it was difficult for me to do anything but scream like Michael Jackson when pulling some of the poses. And if you think it's a good idea to eat a kilo of beans before an hour of yoga, think again.
I definitely liked yoga more than Tracy Anderson's pinger dance spectacle, but my favourite position is still "shavasana," where you have to lay on the floor with your legs spread as if you'd eaten a bad curry.
When Gwyneth Paltrow dropped Chris Martin in March 2014, she described it as a "conscious uncoupling" on her lifestyle platform goop.com . I guess Gwyneth is a better person than I am. Whenever I've been dumped, I just told my mates that the person in question had died in a boating accident.
At any rate, on the fifth day of Paltrow-palooza I decided to consciously uncouple from Gwyneth. I cold-pressed a green juice for the last time, snacked on soggy almonds and invited a few friends over for dinner where I'd be preparing Gwyneth's vegetarian dumplings.
Dinners at Chez Buchinger are usually a huge debacle. Friends usually don't even bother to hide it when searching JustEat for "something decent" to scoff. But, there was a lot at play this evening and I was about nervous as someone wearing a toupee during a tornado. While prepping my meal, I couldn't do anything else but reflect on the past days. Obviously Gwyneth Paltrow is in many ways an eccentric person that's easy to make fun of – especially when she talks to rocks in Arizona or attacks her vagina with a steamer. But she seems to know how to lead a good life.
All of the recipes I tried from her book were delicious. I hardly felt hungry at all and I even got a Facebook message from an older man calling me a "fresh boy xD" – which I assume meant that I'd gotten cuter. The dumplings didn't disappoint either and my friends could hardly believe that this delicious dish came from my very own kitchen – the home of burnt Christmas cookies and a horror juicer. Maybe all the annoying things people say about nutrition aren't as wrong as I'd always thought.
As my little experiment came to a brilliant end, I felt like Gwyneth was sitting right next to me with a proud smile on her face, darting me a look and joking, "You better not ask about my jeans."