Bad Ideas

03.30.14

We Were Gwyneth’s GOOP Guinea Pigs

Starvation, snake venom, “oil pulling”—no wonder Chris Martin didn’t want to live with this woman.

When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced to the world on Tuesday that they were “consciously uncoupling,” we couldn’t help but wonder if Paltrow's notoriously strict lifestyle was to blame.

In 2008, Paltrow founded her lifestyle website and brand GOOP, encouraging readers and fans to “invest in what’s real” and “nourish the inner aspect.” With a slew of overly-healthy recipes, pricey beauty treatments, and tough workouts, Paltrow quickly became recognized as the girl we love to hate with an “I’m better than you” attitude.

On Thursday, The Sun reported that Paltrow's obsession with her diet and Kabbalah caused a rift in her marriage to the Coldplay songbird. "Chris felt he was starting to lose the woman he fell in love with," a source told the British tabloid. It’s hard not to believe it when you’re discussing a woman who has said things like, “I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup” or “I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.”

The Daily Beast decided to take GOOP’s lifestyle to the test to determine whether or not we would become so unbearable that were we married, we too would end up “uncoupled.”

We embarked on a Paltrow-style journey that included the following, from the incredibly strange lifestyle routines Paltrow has adopted:

1. FeelFood’s Three-Day ‘Winter Reboot’ Detox

2. Snake Venom Face Cream

3. “Oil Pulling”

4. The Tracy Anderson Method

***

Erin: I had never been on any variety of diet—albeit a cleanse—before Wednesday, so I was skeptical of Paltrow’s recommendation for a “winter reboot” in preparation for spring. Olivia and I opted for the GOOP-approved FeelFood three-day ‘Winter Reboot.’

Olivia: For three days, Erin and I were to consume nothing but two green juices, bee pollen, something called “veggie puree,” a broth of some sort made out of mushrooms, and tea with cayenne pepper and cinnamon.

At first, we were optimistic.

Erin: “This won’t be that bad,” I said as I sipped my first green juice on day one. The first day proved to be the most difficult when I came to the realization that I wouldn’t be eating anything of substance until Saturday. As day two came to a close, I caved. Since I don't like mushrooms, the broth was immediately out of question for me. I attempted the “veggie puree” for dinner the first evening, and although it smelled like a delicious squash soup, the taste was, as Olivia perfectly described to me, “how you would imagine water in a can of chickpeas to taste.” The Bee Pollen juice looked appetizing and resembled a juice I routinely enjoy that consists of pineapple, apple, and lime. Lies. Instead, it tasted like thick water that made my eyes tear, enough to have a co-worker ask if I had been drinking and for my boyfriend to question why I was crying. To choke it down, I diluted it with regular cups of water. Still, not a good move.

Olivia: When the green juice is the best part of your diet, it’s a bad sign. After determining that the bee pollen and mushroom broth were inedible, the “detox” quickly went downhill. Practically starving would not be so bad if you could also smoke and drink coffee while doing so. But that’s not how Gwyneth rolls. This “winter reboot” bans coffee, and Gwyneth only permits herself one cigarette per week, as she told Harper’s Bazaar last April, “my one light American Spirit that I smoke once a week, on a Saturday night.”

Erin: After only 48 hours, I experienced dizzying headaches and was having difficulty, as GOOP advises, “transform[ing] into [a] better version of [myself].” Instead of participating in the Tracy Anderson Method (more about that later), I decided I would pull a Gwyneth and work out for two hours a day. Day one I found myself at the gym, and after an hour of yoga, I couldn't even lie in savasana for fear of passing out. When I got home that night, exhausted, I tried GOOP's latest craze, “oil pulling,” which requires swishing coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. It's 'supposed' to whiten your teeth and pull the toxins out of your body. Gwen recommends a tablespoon, but that seemed like an awful lot, especially after I read about how gross it can taste (and feel). As someone who hates mouthwash, this was sure to be an interesting endeavor.

I popped a teaspoon of coconut oil (purchased at Trader Joe's) into my mouth and took very deep breaths through my nose. The texture was awkward and as I pulled it back and forth between my teeth, I just began to feel more and more nauseous. I lasted about five minutes and then, BAM, the coconut oil ended up in my garbage.

Olivia: The second day of the detox succeeded in breaking my spirit. Solid food, smoking, caffeine—life’s pleasures—no longer felt familiar enough to me for me to miss them. Until I saw Erin drinking a glass of white wine at the office happy hour. I followed suit. But instead of taking my edge off, all the wine did was exacerbate my starvation-induced headache. Being Gwyneth is the least fun I’ve ever had.

Erin: I was groggy and tired. When I returned home after what seemed like never-ending days at work, I wasn’t interested in interacting with anyone, let alone participating in any variety of activity. I just wanted to sleep. And I did, before 10 PM, all three nights—side note: I planned to take Magnesium pills à la Gwyneth, but thanks to near starvation, I didn’t even need them. I was out like a rock. Paltrow has said, “Some days I feel like everyone in my world has plugged themselves into my kidneys. I’m so tired.” Maybe I should have taken this to heart.

Olivia: At home, I found myself staring at a jar of snake venom skin product. The owner of the spa where Gwyneth reportedly gets venomized says she uses this stuff instead of Botox. “If someone gets bitten by a snake and gets paralyzed, it has a similar effect, but more gentle effect on the skin.” Sounds promising!

Earlier in the day, when Erin and I asked employees at Henri Bendel how much snake venom was in the product, and how the snake venom was obtained, we were told they had no idea. But “it’s safe,” we were assured.

My fear of being killed by the snake venom subsided when I remembered that Gwyneth, who is 41, last year boasted that a friend told her she not only didn’t look bad for 40, but she didn’t look bad for a 22-year-old stripper. I would like to look like a 22-year-old stripper for years to come, I thought. I opened the jar of snake venom.

Once on my face, my skin began to tingle and my eyes started to water, or maybe I was crying because I was so hungry. I don’t remember. But the next morning when I woke up, my skin looked really good! It looked brighter and felt softer than usual. Being Gwyneth isn’t all bad.

Erin: The most difficult part of Paltrow’s spring cleanse (and ultimately, her lifestyle as a whole, should I ever want to torture myself by maintaining it) is how self-centered—OK, selfish—it is. It’s not that it’s bad to care about one’s health and beauty, but it’s the idea of how it affects your surroundings (in Paltrow’s case her husband and children, Apple and Moses; in mine, my roommates and my significant other) that proves to be the most problematic. Had I not had Olivia to text at 10PM on Wednesday night while my boyfriend was eating a pizza, I would have felt very, very alone in the world.

Olivia: The Tracy Anderson Method is a dance cardio workout “committed to helping people transform their bodies and their lives.” Paltrow has called Tracy Anderson “a pint-sized miracle” and “the exercise genius of all time.”

Since Erin and I were denied the privilege of attending classes at the Tracy Anderson studio in New York, I opted for a workout DVD. Tracy begins by saying that she wants to focus on “small muscles” and “pull the muscles” to “see the lines that I’m trying to create.” I have no idea what any of that means, but who am I to question a “pint-sized miracle”?

Tracy instructs you while you are doing squats with your arms in the air “nothing should ever be dead. Everything should be really alive.” I try not to be dead while I copy Tracy’s moves. Tracy then takes out a chair, which she instructs you dance on.

That was when I turned off the DVD.

At the end of day two of the “reboot,” I went rogue and made coffee. My headache magically disappeared, and I suddenly had so much energy that I had the urge to try Tracy’s awkward chair dance for a second time.

Erin: When Paltrow was feeling down in her relationship, she told Chelsea Handler, “Whatever you’re feeling, do the opposite. Go at him with love and you give him a blowjob.” Instead, I went against Paltrow’s love-saving advice and indulged in a nice bowl of pasta and glass of wine with my significant other. Immediately, I felt much better, about myself, relationship, and my life. Maybe carbs could have saved Gwen’s marriage?

Olivia: I got a text from Erin at 8:48PM: a picture of wine, olive oil and bread. “Sorry Gwen,” it read. I was relieved. The following day in the office, we decided we were totally over it. I drank coffee all day long. It tasted like freedom.

***

In a 2012 interview, Paltrow told Harper’s Bazaar, “I want to maintain my marriage and my family, so I have to be here when [Martin] comes home. You have to be a wife.” But who wants to come home to snake venom and a bowl of steamed kale? Not us here at The Daily Beast, and as we can imagine, not Martin.