I am halfway through the Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis Abcentric program and it has forced me to define what I think “healthy” means. I really admire Tracy a lot, and have successfully completed and reviewed six of her previous videos. I’ve also written about the Tracy Anderson Method in my “I Brake for Moms” column. But I am concerned about what would happen to a woman who got ahold of Metamorphosis who was already prone to an eating disorder. (Note: you can find copies of the Dynamic Eating Plan online, but I’ve chosen not to share them because of copyright issues.)
Tracy makes big promises about how your body will change during her 90 day program, but only if you commit to her eating plan and do 30 minutes of dance aerobics combined with 30 minutes of muscular structure work six days a week.
To give you an idea of what her eating plan looks like, I cooked up week one for you:
Basically, it’s baby food and green juice. I’m not a nutritionist, but I did type every last ingredient into the computer and determined that the diet is less than 1,000 calories a day and contains barely any protein. The puréed foods plan alternates every other week, but the off weeks aren’t very different in caloric or nutritional content.
Now, I’ve made homemade baby food before. I’ve fed it to my actual babies. But at the same time, I also breastfed them with high protein, high fat, organic, Jennifer Bardsley milk.
If you’re a teen girl reading this, I want you to know that your bones are developing and if you rob them of essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and protein, there will be serious consequences. My grandmother was malnourished during the Great Depression and she spent the last decade of her life with a hunchback from osteoporosis. Believe me, it was horrible.
Okay, forget the diet. What about the exercise? I honestly do love TAM, and have been doing it six days a week for the past eight months. Metamorphosis was a nice change of pace from Perfect Design, because it was only one hour a day instead of one and a half.
But here’s the problem. All of that dance cardio was really hard on my 30+ year old body. I’m not overweight, I have a BMI of 19.8. Still, every time I bounced I felt pain in my Achilles tendon. It got so bad that my calf hurt when I was sitting in a chair, or completely still.
I took a week off from TAM when my family went to Walt Disney World and the pain went away even though we were walking twelve miles a day. When we returned from vacation, I decided that instead of doing the high impact dance cardio every day, I would alternate it with Zumba, which is lower impact.
I felt really guilty, because Tracy’s whole shtick is that you’re not supposed to do anything else but TAM. But what does it mean to be “healthy”? To starve yourself? To be in pain?
Diet–scratch. Dance cardio–scratch. At least I was doing the muscular structure workout six days a week. But it was tough, especially for me. You see, in the Abcentric routines Tracy has you spend about twenty minutes in some sort of plank position, with a lot of your weight on your wrist.
I don’t want to gross you out, but last year I broke my wrist ice skating and here are some pictures. I have a permanent scar, as well as two titanium screws and a plate in my left wrist. Notice how when my wrist was in a cast, my arms became two different sizes!
Gulp. So now I’m on week five of the muscular structure videos and they are becoming harder and harder. I can complete about 85% of the thirty minutes. At that point, my wrist just can’t do it any more.
So why bother? For one thing, I’m not a quitter. For another, I’m really amazed by how far my wrist has come. If you had asked me last April if I ever thought I could do plank again, I would have told you no way. I could barely hold a coffee mug.
Have I lost weight? No. Have I lost inches? No. But so what!
I started this post by saying that TAM has forced me to define what I think “healthy” means, and here it is:
I need to move. I need to eat real food. I need to give myself permission to make good choices for my own body and not get swayed by what other people say I should do. It’s okay to have desserts. I don’t need to be perfect. Above all, health is about treating my body with kindness and respect.
I hope those are truths you can embrace for yourself too.