Spoiler: We (happily) failed at it. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Even though I hate diets, there is always something appealing to me about a challenge. So, when the idea to try and do a week of Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen’s highly buzzed-about meal plan came up in a meeting, I—in a moment of poor judgement—said yes.
I should have known better. The diet was basically the opposite of what I regularly eat. There would be no bread. No cheese. No sugar, potatoes, or mushrooms. There would be a lot of quinoa, kale, salmon (you know, all the things that are truly healthy). There was supposed to be no coffee, but I wouldn’t agree to the challenge without that one compromise. I needed coffee. And more importantly, my husband needed coffee.
Yes, I enlisted my husband to do the diet with me. After all, there’s nothing worse than being on a diet while the person next to you is scarfing down a burrito. Plus, my husband is a huge, HUGE Tom Brady fan. He truly believes that Tom Brady didn't’t have anything to do with those deflated balls. He has anxiety dreams where Tom Brady is disappointed in him. He even looks past Tom Brady’s tight friendship with Donald Trump. I knew he’d be game—he’s pretty much up for anything that brings him closer to Tom Terrific.
(Photograph: Caitlin Abber)
So we agreed to do this. Together. It would set us straight after a holiday season comprised of too much champagne and takeout, and we would feel great and look great for an upcoming vacation. With earnest enthusiasm, I quickly began researching recipes and writing up a meal plan that we would start the next day.
Breakfast: Coffee, Water with Lemon, Almond Milk and Berry Smoothies
Lunch: Veggie Sushi with Brown Rice
Dinner: Salmon Filets and Sauteed Kale
*prep quinoa bowls for next day’s lunch
(Photograph: Caitlin Abber)
The first day wasn’t that hard. We felt good and accomplished and, even though my salmon looked disgusting, we ate it with gusto. I prepped the quinoa bowls for lunch the following day and we went to bed that night feeling like half a million bucks.
Breakfast: Coffee, Water with Lemon, Smoothies
Lunch: Quinoa & Kale Bowls
Snacks: Avocado Slices
Dinner: Baked Tofu with Veggies
The next morning we both “forgot” to bring the quinoa bowls to work. Okay, full disclosure: I actually worked from home that day and kept opening and closing the refrigerator hoping something new would appear. Nothing did. The quinoa covered in sautéed kale kept looking at me. Sriracha has a lot of sugar in it, so I knew slathering it on top would kind of be cheating. My stomach growled. I looked at the clock. It hadn’t even been 36 hours since the diet began.
When my husband got home I was in a state of complete fugue. “I’m exhausted,” he said, as he mindlessly poured himself a glass of wine. “Can we bail on this diet and order burgers?”
(Photograph: Caitlin Abber)
And so that’s what we did. And we were so happy about it.
Here’s why I think we failed so soon and so hard:
We Don’t Have a Personal Chef
I’m a good cook. I can make delicious pastas, soups, hearty meals for friends—but when it comes to healthy cooking, I am still learning how to sub this or add flavor to that to turn bland quinoa into something tasty and nutritious—and not a bastard version of a creamy risotto. The hubs has high cholesterol, so I should learn, but for now, I’m not talented enough to keep us alive on kale and beans.
We Don’t Have a Ton of Money
The personal chef is one thing, but we can’t even afford all of the food necessary to make this diet possible. I know that consuming loads of cheap, high-calorie food is a death sentence, but there has to be a better alternative than spending hundreds of dollars on chia seeds and coconut oil. Sure, broke people can eat healthy, too, but this diet is not for broke people.
We Don’t Want to Spend Our Time Prepping Food We Don’t Want to Eat
I know, I know, I should make healthy food I do want to eat. I should prep my lunches. I should make big batches of things. And sometimes I do that. Actually, just last Sunday I made a giant pot of this lemon rosemary lentil soup and it was the tits. But most weeknights? Nah, no thanks. I am happy to sautée some frozen veggies and mix in some protein but I’m probably not going to want to eat it for lunch the next day. I live for variety and I despise routine. That’s probably why I always fail at diets—or never go on them—in the first place.
These might just sound like excuses to not at least try, but I don’t know why I even need to try in the first place. In a recent article for the Guardian, the great Lindy West discussed the issue with Oprah’s Weight Watchers campaign and the Brady-Bündchen diet, writing, “… even if you can afford a personal chef and/or have the time, money, and fortitude to follow that meal plan to the letter (it apparently requires three food dehydrators), it still will not magically transform you into Gisele Bündchen like some sort of Himalayan-salted, spirulina-laced witch’s brew. You are not her. You are you, which is enough.”
And Lindy is right. I am just me. I knew we were going to fail the Tom & Gisele diet. I knew I was going to let myself off the hook early and order those burgers within the first couple days. But I also knew I wasn’t going to feel bad about that. The fact of the matter is, my husband and I aren’t supposed to look like Gisele and Tom Brady—thankfully, it’s neither of our jobs to be super fit—so we don’t have to live like them either. Instead of feeling sad about failing at this diet, I actually feel really lucky that I can order nachos and not feel guilty about it. In that regard (and perhaps only in that regard), I am infinitely more #blessed than Gisele (woah, that’s a mindfuck).
Holding celebrities up to be the bastions of health or happiness and trying to emulate them is a recipe for disappointment. We want to be happy, and we want to be healthy, but we need to do it in a way that makes sense for us—not them. And for me, sometimes that means having my cheese and eating it…often.
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