Gwyneth Paltrow is a mystery. A riddle inside an enigma. Just how does the 43-year-old actress defy all laws of time and gravity without breaking an oxygen-infused sweat?
Gwynnie's blog Goop may be best known for macrobiotic musings, impossible month-long juice cleanses and jumpers that cost as much as your rent - but it is designed to bestow upon us mere mortals the key to her (seemingly exclusive) fountain of youth.
With that in mind, I decided to give Goop-ing a go. To channel my inner Gwyneth, to live my best life. But only for a week (I do have a worst life to live, too).
This is what happened...
I envisioned emerging from my post-Christmas cocoon a long, lean butterfly, powered by green juice and with an abundance of energy from a chia seed high. But my attempts at the 'GP Morning Smoothie' (Gwyneth drinks one every morning) were thwarted by the fact I didn’t have any 'Moon Juice Dust'.
I instantly felt deflated. How would I ever be Gwyneth if I couldn't even find her ingredients?
Not being able to source the products she speaks about was a recurring theme during the week. I could barely get hold of anything. 'Ashwagandha', no idea. 'Ho shou wu', what the...? 'Kabocha squash', sold out on Ocado.
I did, however, manage to sign up to her personal trainer and BFF Tracy Anderson's live-streamed workout classes and entered into what would become my own personal (but muscle defining) hell over the next seven days.
Seriously, my whole body burned, but now I have muscle definition in places I never thought possible.
When faced with temptation, I constantly found myself repeating a new mantra: What Would Gwyneth Do? (WWGD). It began to seep into my consciousness, slowly encroaching on every small decision.
The dangers of excessively restrictive diets are starting to be documented, with some people hoping to class orthorexia (an obsession with healthy food) as an eating disorder.
On the other hand, it almost felt like I was re-learning to eat (a concept that's being championed right now) - understanding what's fueling my body, rather than just satiating hunger - and I was actually enjoying the nutritious food.
In fairness to Paltrow, Goop's recipes are nice, delicious even. After all that clean eating, the mint chocolate chip ice cream-inspired smoothie made me want to cry real tears. Maybe I could do this after all?
Having felt sufficiently detoxed, I went for the big guns: the juice cleanse.
Under the recommendations of Goop, I opt for a one-day cleanse from celeb favourite Imbibery - they use raw, organic juice with no high pressure pasteurisation (HPP), as apparently this kills off some of the nutrients.
I'd tried juice cleanses in the past, but this was one of my favourites - there was even a little bottle of lemon juice to add to my hot water in the morning (Gwyneth swears by it).
What better way to absolve all my December sins than to simply lie back and absorb a sea of cold-pressed nutrients delivered straight to my door?
But there's this weird thing with cleanses - though you're constantly sucking at the teat of Mother Nature, it's hard to feel satisfied. Plus, there's the muscle aches and tiredness to contend with.
Then, the cashew milk arrives before bedtime like a creamy white angel and answers all your prayers and you wake up feeling amazing. Worth it IMO.
Taking Goop's advice, and because we're in the middle of winter, I carry on my cleanse by souping.
A 'soup cleanse', that is. It's basically like a juice cleanse, except with freshly made vegan soups, and it felt amazing after a day of drinking chilled liquids.
Benefits of souping include - it's way more filling than juice (thanks to all that fibre), it’s low on the glycemic scale (as it's all veg-based), and did I mention it's warm?
To help me shed even more toxins, I headed to an infrared sauna. For those unfamiliar, infrared saunas heat up the body, rather than the air - pretty much the equivalent of having a fever, the body's natural way of stimulating the immune system.
Apparently, sweat is one of the major elimination channels for toxins and Goop is no stranger to it - Gwyneth apparently has one in her home and uses it every day.
I headed over to Pür Wellness Spa in Notting Hill to try it out and sweat more in half an hour than I have in my entire life combined, probably.
Infrared saunas can burn between 400-600 calories in one 30 minute session, along with helping shed excess water weight, and I noticed a big difference in my muscle tone the morning after.
To revive me after my sauna, I went for a vitamin IV drip at Nosh Detox's Marylebone infusion clinic (they also make home visits for extra comfort and privacy, but I am not actually Gwyneth so...).
Paltrow famously skipped the Met Gala to have a vitamin IV, so I figured it must be pretty good.
I went for their 'Fitamin Infusion' - a cocktail of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help support and strengthen the immune system, along with a rehydrating saline solution.
Straight after, I feel relaxed and sleepy (I'm told this is due to a previous magnesium deficiency) and not really the star-powered Super Mario I'd dreamed of. But then, I arose the next day like a vitamin-infused Christ, waking up before my alarm and feeling more alert every day for the rest of the week.
The final day arrived and I couldn't quite believe I'd made it through successfully. A pizza did manage to slip itself into my week of Goop-ness somewhere, but it was gluten-free and vegan (WWGD).
To celebrate, I relaxed in an Epsom salt bath (for the best value for money, bulk buy from EpsomSalts.co.uk) to ease my post-Tracy Anderson Method muscles.
I also treated myself to a glass of (organic) red wine and a cigarette. GP famously admitted she indulges in a glass of vino, but only in the evenings, along with a once-a-week cigarette on a Saturday. Apparently they keep her "vibrant".
After spending a week in her shoes, I think I'm starting to really get Gwyneth. Not only do I feel and look a whole lot better (vibrant, even), the experience really has overhauled my views on healthy living. I'm actually choosing to eat nutritious food, and I've found a type of exercise I find fun rather than just a chore.
When she said: "It's what makes life, finding the balance between cigarettes and tofu" - at first I lambasted her, but now... I have to agree, she's kind of right.