Real-Life Diet is a series in which GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and everyone in-between about their diets and exercise routines: what's worked, what hasn't, and where they're still improving. Keep in mind, what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.
Even for those fully immersed in the niche pseudo-celebrity fan culture that fuels the Bachelor franchise's enduring popularity, explaining the Tyler Cameron Phenomenon to the uninitiated is not an easy task. After all, Cameron, a 26-year-old contractor with a penchant for dancing shirtless through the hallways of half-completed homes, was only one of 30 contestants to appear on the most recent season of The Bachelorette, which concluded in dramatic-as-ever fashion in July. He didn't even win the competition for the titular lead's heart; instead, as he stood across from Hannah Brown, diamond ring in hand, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, millions of people watched his face crumble as she tearfully decided to bestow the season's final rose on someone else.
But by the time his runner-up status became official, Cameron had already eclipsed the sort of middling social media influencer fame typically reserved for Bachelor veterans. His athletic résumé—four years of college football at Wake Forest and Florida Atlantic University, and a brief stint with the Baltimore Ravens—afforded him easy crossover appeal. During his on-screen interactions with Brown, Cameron came across as good-natured and earnest, rather than flippant (like many contestants), thirsty (like nearly all of them), or fawning (ditto). "I want you in your highs, and I want you in your lows. I'll take whatever I can get with you," he assured her during a particularly tumultuous week of romantic intrigue. "If I've got to pick you up, I'd be happy to pick you up."
Perhaps most importantly, whenever Brown wasn't around, Cameron endeared himself to viewers by remaining wholly unbothered by the usual inter-contestant drama, reacting to each testosterone-fueled flare-up with some combination of scorn, bemusement, and boredom. His appeal, in other words, is that he behaved the way everyone imagines they'd behave if they were on the show: like a normal person.
It's only been a few months since the Bachelorette finale, and it seems as if Cameron is still figuring out what he plans to do, exactly, with his budding celebrity. (Few were surprised when he reportedly turned down an offer to be the next Bachelor lead, since the universal consensus is that the gig now is beneath him.) His following on social media rivals Brown's, and he's been spotted around town in the company of rumored paramour Gigi Hadid and her circle of very famous friends. For most members of the Bachelor extended universe, the whole point of going on TV is to try crossing over to mainstream stardom afterwards. From this perspective, Cameron—despite his apparent disinterest in putting in the effort to do so—might already be the show's most successful alumnus.
Since moving to New York, Cameron has become involved in ABC Food Tours, a food-and-fitness mentorship program for kids in New York City public schools. As part of this initiative, Cameron and a college teammate, Matt James, have put together a fledging community of runners—open to cardio enthusiasts and Tyler enthusiasts alike—who meet at Tavern on the Green for group runs through Central Park. What began as a casual hobby has morphed into a serious one: In October, Cameron plans to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon alongside a few Bachelorette pals, and then will come home for the TCS New York City Marathon the following month.
Before he embarked on his latest Central Park expedition, I spoke to Cameron about Bachelorette food hacks, pickup basketball scouting reports, and the professional wrestling career that could have been—although if he decides he wants to chase that dream one more time, at this point, I'm pretty sure he could get Vince McMahon to take a call.
GQ: During the show's early episodes, there are dozens of people milling about in the mansion, and filming drags on for hours. You've got to get hungry at some point, right? What are the food logistics like?
Tyler Cameron: The opening night and the cocktail parties are catered for us—chicken tenders, burgers, tuna. All types of side dishes. They've got great desserts, too. We'd go to town on those nights. I was crushing it.
When it's not catered, we're on our own to cook. We get a grocery list and can put whatever we want on it. And then it's just a fight for the kitchen and who gets to the stove first. We ended up cooking for each other a lot. The first morning we were there, Cam made omelets for everyone in the house.
What about one-on-one dates? Even when you're supposed to be having dinner together, to me, it sure looks like neither of you are touching the food that's actually on your plate.
Nah, you don't touch that food. It's more for show. We get to eat before the dates, usually from the same restaurant. It's still real food on the plate—you could eat it, but it's a little cold by then. I heard JPJ [fellow contestant John Paul Jones] was eating the food, though, on a one-on-one. They told him he wasn't supposed to, and he was like, "Why not? It's right in front of me." And he just went to town on cold whatever-it-was.
What's the protocol on one of those day-long excursions where you're off doing some elaborate date activity? What happens when it's been a couple hours on horseback trails, and you're just thinking, Man, I need a snack?
Yeah, they always had someone with granola bars or some other snack. That was important, because you would get hungry, for sure. They had someone to take care of you when you needed a little pick-me-up.
In the barbell-free zone that is the Bachelor mansion, how does a group of 30 extremely fit people cope?
It's a makeshift, do-what-you-can situation. We'd run around wherever we were. Some hotels had pools, and we'd go and swim. Some guys brought resistance bands, so there was a lot of band work. We even started picking up the sandbags they used for the cameras, and lifted those as weights.
In your post-show life, what's inspired the passion for running?
My dad got sick shortly before I went on the show, and after he got out of the hospital, I started getting everybody in my family to do these group runs. Every Thursday we'd go out, about five or six of us—I thought it was important to get moving, and I wanted my family to be healthy after seeing what my dad went through.
When I moved to New York, my buddy and I decided to try holding one of these runs in Central Park, just to see how it went. Turnout was crazy—80 or 90 people showed up. So we said, Let's do this again. A Nike Run coach who got involved challenged me to do the Chicago Marathon. And everybody I talked to told me New York City has the coolest marathon, so I was like, Alright, I'm up for the challenge.
I've had to stay away from the weights and focus more on getting lean. Your body takes a beating from all that running on the pavement, so the lighter I can get, the better. I was 250 pounds when I was playing tight end, and I'm 210 now.
What kind of goal time do you have for these marathons?
Eh, maybe under four hours would be great.
Tell me about your basketball game. You're playing in a league these days?
Yeah, I play on two men's league teams. Basketball is my favorite way to get my conditioning in. I played in high school, and one of my teams is run by a guy I grew up with in Jupiter, Florida. He's like a big brother, so it's great to have him here in the city, and to get to play with him. The other team I'm on is guys I played against during intramural basketball at Wake Forest.
What's your scouting report?
Oh, I'm a banger. I'm down in the paint, rebounding, defending. No one gets rebounds like I do. My nickname in high school was Bam-Bam, because I was just a bruiser.
You're 6'2"—so, like, an undersized banger.
Yeah. What I lack in height I make up for in aggressiveness. I usually use all of my fouls.
What's a good NBA player comparison for you?
LeBron James. I'm a point forward. I bang down low, bring the ball up court, and make the good pass, or I'm scoring.
How's your shooting?
Oh, I'm good for maybe one three a game.
What are you best at cooking?
I'm best on the grill, making a steak. I'd rather have my steak than go to an expensive steakhouse. It's all about how you cook it: medium-rare, crispy on the outside.
What do you wish you were better at cooking?
I wish I was better at baking. I love to eat sweets. I'd like to try to get my apple pie down. It's probably a good thing I'm not good at baking, actually.
Where did the idea for ABC Food Tours come from? What made you decide to center a mentorship program on restaurants?
When me and Matt [James] were in college, we ran this program called Eat with the Deacs—these kids would come into the football center and we'd have pizza for two hours. Over food, the conversation was so organic. It wasn't like the kind of thing where you meet for 30 minutes and then move on. It was just us talking with kids about whatever they wanted to talk about: what was going on at school, what was going on in their sports lives, their favorite rappers. Food just broke down barriers.
We wanted to continue using that platform with ABC Food Tours. First, we take the kids to a workout. We just took a group to a Muay Thai class—boxing, punching, using your knees. We've had NFL guys put them through drills in the park. And they're always dancing, too, so it never stops. Then we take them on tours of a couple different restaurants, and surround them with people from different career paths to show them what kinds of jobs are out there. We're going to start bringing groups into corporate offices soon, too.
Before the marathons, before ABC Food Tours, before reality TV, I heard you mention in an interview with fellow Bachelor alum Nick Viall that you applied to the WWE.
I did! I never heard back from them, though. When I saw the ad for The Bachelorette, I sent it to my friends, like, The boys will think this is funny. They told me to see what else I could apply for too, so I started looking up random stuff and saw you can apply for the WWE. I grew up watching wrestling, so I was like, Alright, send that in for sure.
You just send your name and some pictures, but they didn't pick me, so...
This interview had been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Originally Appeared on GQ