gpselfieI realize it’s been weeks since I’ve written a proper post over here. I’ve been in a post-spring break haze, fumbling around, still trying to get back into the swing of things. It’s getting warmer, the sun is out longer, and I’ve been doing yoga every day, so in other words, there have been so many other things luring me away from the screen. It’s definitely not a bad thing I suppose. I have so much to tell you all, and share with you about what life has looked like around here lately, but I thought I’d start back with a bang, and tell you all about the day I met Gwyneth Paltrow.

Chandra alerted me that GP would be signing books at the Goop pop up shop in Brentwood, and at first I really hesitated. In all honesty, I was afraid of meeting her, and coming off as some celebrity groupie. So when I decided to go, I spent a little bit of time the night before practicing what I was going to say. I do realize that statement in and of itself makes me sound like a celebrity groupie, but I felt it was important to strike the right balance between showing my appreciation for her and the cookbook, and not showing sheer adoration. As I’ve said before, Gwyneth didn’t change my life, I did, but she inspired a big part of the change.

Truth be told, I was also afraid she would come across as dismissive or sort of blase when I told her about how she’s inspired me this past year. If this turned out the be the case, I know I would have felt disappointment that I had championed for her and the book so much in the past year.

But I put my nerves aside, practiced some selfies with Art standing in for GP, and headed on out on Saturday morning to stand in line at the Brentwood Country Mart. When I arrived at 8:45 a.m., I was the 5th person in line, and the first 5 of us stood there for about 20-30 minutes chatting it up, before anyone else even arrived. About 15 minutes before she was set to start signing books, a couple of gals from the Goop store came on out and started going over a few things with us. They opened our book jackets to the right page for her to sign, and they instructed us that there would be no photos with her. If someone wanted to take a photo of us getting our book signed by her, that was fine, but there would be no posed photos, no swinging behind the back of the desk to pose for a selfie with her. It was a total “boo!” moment, and so myself and the gal behind me started to devise a plan of how I was going to snap a photo with her. She was so sweet and ensured me that she would somehow make sure I got a posed-ish picture with her. One look at her IG and I could tell I was in good hands. She obviously had an excellent eye and good camera skills. As we got prepared to go inside, I handed my phone to her and was ready to go.

The doors to the store promptly opened at 10am, and inside GP enthusiastically cheered, “Let’s get this started!”

The first 5 of us in line were let in, and they closed the doors behind us. The problem was, the sweet photog behind me was 6th in line, and was trapped outside with my phone! I panicked a little, but after the first 2-3 copies were signed, they opened the doors and let in the next 2 in line, so my photographer was safely in line behind me, ready to sneak in the perfect shot of us.gp2

As I stepped up to have my book signed, I told her I needed just a minute of her time. She chuckled and told me to take my time, and at that point she noticed my cookbook, flagged with at least 40 neon post-its, and said she could tell I’ve been using her book it a lot. I don’t remember exactly word for word what I said, but it went something like this:

“Your book has inspired me to completely change the way I eat and cook for my family. I love it so much that I started an Instagram account named Gwyneth Made Me Do It, and I now get to inspire thousands of others and share how to eat well too. I also have a column on a parenting website where I share how to eat and cook this way with a family, and make it manageable. So thank you so much.”gp12 gp7gp2a

You guys, she sincerely seemed touched and excited to hear the brief synopsis of my journey. She laughed when I told her the name of the account and said something like “Oh my gosh, no way!?!” When I paused, she turned to her assistant Holly and said to me, “We have to do something together! This is so great! We’ll find you!” She then started to sign my book and as she was signing I told her I loved her recent Goop article where she reacts to the 9-5 comment controversy, and she looked up and shook her head at how crazy that whole thing turned out to be.gp15 gp14 gp16

As she finished signing and handed my book back to me, she said again to Holly, make sure to find her, Gwyneth Made Me Do It, right? Her genuine kindness and enthusiasm made me feel at ease and I was so caught up in how nice she was, I ignored the previous rules of no photos and asked her if she would take a selfie with me. My new photography friend who was busily snapping away, handed me my phone, she leaned in, and the rest is history. I’m actually not even much that into selfies, as you can see on my IG account I post a one every few days or so, but my friends and followers on GMMDI joked about how amazing it would be to get a selfie with her. Probably because she has such a reputation of being pretentious or snobby? I don’t know, but for some reason I too became a little obsessed with getting this selfie with her, and I have to say, I think we nailed it.gpsigned

After that, I’m not really sure what I said or did, but I grabbed my copy and walked out the door, not even really stopping to shop the store or anything.

I milled around for a bit sort of in a haze, both laughing at myself for having the balls to pose for a selfie with Gwyneth, and laughing at myself for making such a big deal out of it all.

At any rate, it was a very full circle moment for me, and was a great way to cap off what has been a very big year of growth for me.

If I had met Gwyenth in the first couple of months of eating this way, I don’t that I would have been so genuinely excited to meet her. Let’s not forget that this all began in a very tongue in cheek vain. But it turned out that the joke was on me.

In many ways I’ve moved beyond her cookbook It’s All Good. I go back to it often and have staples I still cook every week it seems, but I have many others I now reference on the regular too. But the thing is, her book was the catalyst for change, and got me looking at and thinking about food in a whole new way. It’s been empowering and liberating to finally have the confidence and know-how of what I need to eat to feel my best, and how to feed and teach my children how to take care of themselves.

If I did have the chance to work with Gwyneth in some capacity, I would ask for her help in raising awareness of the devastating food deserts which exist in our country, and strategize on how we could bring more healthy food options to rural, urban and low-income communities. There still exists a huge disconnect in the health food community, and while many of us like to argue about the toxicity of grains and legumes, or ponder the negative effects of consuming too much kale, there’s millions of people in our country who don’t even have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Millions who would love the opportunity to feed their family a head of broccoli instead of McDonald’s. I would also ask for help in food education for young people, so that we can empower them with the knowledge and skills in how to nourish themselves properly, so we can put a dent in the rise of childhood obesity, and help tackle the ongoing epidemic of eating disorders in young people. Or we could always just cook a meal together.  That would work too.

We’ve lost our way when it comes to food in America. I’m forever thankful that in the last year I’ve been able to find my way back to the basics, with help from of a certain blonde celebrity with killer legs. Thanks Gwyneth.

  • Well you know I love this! I am so happy you had such a great experience, as I did — and that the book was such a catalyst for you on your new journey. Cheers to gP! xx

  • Oh gosh- I am also feeling so burdened about the food deserts. I live in a rural community. The only grocery store in our town is so expensive and has the worst produce section. Every time I’m there I wonder how people can afford to feed their families at that place. Not to mention the inability for many to even get to the store. It’s frustrating.

  • SOO SOO awesome! I’m bummed…I totally wanted to go with you, but already had plans. Such a cool thing that you got to meet the one person who has inspired you so much the last year or so!

  • Amanda

    Loved this write up- glad you got a chance to meet her. I am jealous! I absolutely agree with you 100% with the issue on food deserts…I also think nutrition in schools is a huge issue too.

  • Kelly

    I love it Andrea! I was smiling the whole article 🙂 I don’t know why but this just makes me so happy teehee 🙂

  • I love it! And just how awesome would that be??

  • Lauren B.

    SO PROUD OF YOU!!! We need another event at the store!

  • that’s awesome! love her facial expressions and I’m so happy y’all were finally able to connect! You’ve come full circle! That would be wicked cool if y’all are able to collaborate in the future!

  • Erin R.

    So awesome you got to meet her, what a great year it has been for you! Very fun story to read!

  • Jill

    This is so exciting! I really hope she does find you and that the two of you work on something together! So, so cool!

  • So happy you got to meet her!!! I hope you are able to collaborate!

  • Danielle

    Sooo awesome!!

  • Really, really cool!

  • Loved reading about this! So cool to have this come full-circle. Looking forward to hearing about your collaboration together 🙂

  • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • this truly is SO awesome. Kind of makes me feel like if I EVER had the chance to meet Rachel Zoe…exactly how I would feel. Although it is a different journey…she is like my fashion obsession…I just LOVE her…and all her fabulousness…
    I think it is AWESOME she was so genuine…can’t wait to hear if she reaches out…I think she will!!!
    Great shots!
    C

  • The thought just hit me today as I was purchasing my compost from a farm in the middle of what WAS a food desert…there’s someone here (Will Allen, have you heard of him?) who has made huge advances in urban farming and sustainable food production in the inner city here in Milwaukee. In preparation for your collaboration with GP 🙂 check out his book, if you haven’t – The Good Food Revolution. Its all about a grassroots movement that has changed the lives of thousands.

  • Great post with super great pictures. I’m so happy that meeting GP went so well!

  • Love this story! I’m delighted to hear you had such a good experience with GP. I truly hope you are able to work with her in the future. Your journey of lifestyle change is an encouragement to me and this feels like a fun reward along the way.

  • Julie

    I love this post! A friend told me about your IG when I found “It’s All Good.” Yours is the only non-friend/family member IG account I’ve kept following because you are so honest, down-to-earth, practical and inspiring. I am so happy for you that you met GP and she instantly realized how great you are! Thanks for sharing your journey with us!!!

  • Andrea I follow you on IG (leannamaksymiuk) I was so excited for you on the day this happened, but the photos that were captured for you make it even better! Her expressions really tell you how awesome she thinks this whole thing is! So happy for you!

  • Kirstin

    An interesting NYT article on food deserts: tinyurl.com/7eboyhg

  • Liz

    Holly isn’t her assistant- Holly is the GOOP social media person. just FYI