To Eat, Train, and Live Like a Celebrity, or Not?

A little over a week ago, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady released his first book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. Much has already been written and discussed about this book already, and to say that many people in the health, fitness, and wellness industries are shaking their heads would be an understatement.

Here are just a small fraction of the highlights and gems from this book:

  1. Hard and dense muscles are bad. Working out, running, and conditioning are bad because they build hard and dense muscle.
  2. “Muscle pliability” is the key to performance and preventing injury because pliable muscle can absorb stress and impact.
  3. Drinking a lot of water can prevent sunburn. No sunscreen necessary.
  4. Tom Brady does not like tomatoes.

More on this can be found in this article from the New York Times: Tom Brady’s ‘The TB12 Method’ Is Hefty but Short on Science. Some of these claims are so laughably ludicrous, that I wonder if Tom Brady is playing us like he did to the Atlanta Falcons in this year’s Super Bowl.

However, my problem is not with Tom Brady. He is certainly one of the greatest quarterbacks that the football world has ever seen, and has earned every right to do as he pleases in his own life. I’d imagine that he is hyper-focused on winning football games right now, and that every facet of his current life is meant to prepare him to do so. Whatever he is doing is working, and I bet his TB12 Method is exactly what he does on a daily basis to live a high performance life.

My problem is when people automatically assume that what works beautifully for Tom will work for them, too. He is arguably one of the most famous people on earth, with an equally famous wife, lucrative career, and elite health & fitness that has allowed him to continue playing a brutally demanding sport well into his 30s. Surely, what works for Tom Brady could also get you a piece of his pie, right?

Celebrities and athletes have a level of influence far beyond that of any other people, including politicians, when it comes to health, wellness, and lifestyle. They make a living in no small part because of their physical appearance or performance—they have to experts when it comes to these topics right?

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, it is easy to say that an elite athlete is blessed with the ability to perform so well at his/her respective sport. From the standpoint of health & fitness though, I’d beg to differ and say that while they might have certain physical traits that predispose them for athletic success, they’ve also figured it out when it comes to what works and what doesn’t work, for their unique and individual needs. They are experts–at their own health & fitness.

Some athletes have to “work harder” than their peers off the field in order to succeed on the field. But this doesn’t change the fact that they are hyper-aware of their physical fitness and what they need to do to succeed in their sport–it is their livelihood after all.

We can actually learn a lot from this situation at hand here. Instead of blindly following the ideologies in an athlete’s personal fitness bible, we need to learn to think for ourselves, and question the methods as if our own health, fitness, and fortunes depended on it. We need to see clearly and determine with clarity whether or not those methods will in fact work for us. Just because Tom Brady avoids tomatoes or weight-training, doesn’t mean we have to heed his advice.

In other words, science and scientific reasoning are our friends here. To find out how we should eat, train, and live, it is better to learn from the majority (the population of people most similar to you) rather than a single extreme case-study (Tom Brady). That’s what studies and research are for. Only after we’ve done this can we truly start individualizing our methods and begin to understand what works for us individually. This is a lifelong and continuous process, and none of us have it all figured out; some people have just made more progress on this front than we have. You still have to internalize the process and figure it out yourself; just don’t expect it to 100% work for anyone else the way it does for you…or to be able to sell a book about it.

Finally, don’t even get me started on GOOP.

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach and Metabolic Lab Manager at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.