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The Total ME-Tox
How to Ditch Your Diet, Move Your Body & Love Your Life
By Beth Behrs
With Wendy Shanker
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Format:ebook $13.99 $17.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 2, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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Before hitting her stride as one of Hollywood’s hottest rising stars, Beth Behrs was a junk-food-loving couch potato, high-strung and stressed out. And then one day, she decided she’d had enough: she was going to take back her life. Beth began with simple steps that led to big changes-and now she wants to help readers do the same.
In The Total ME-Tox, Beth shares her journey toward wellness, along with easy-to-follow healthy recipes, shrewd shopping tips, and fun living-room fitness routines (a.k.a. “Meh Workouts”) designed to revitalize and inspire even the laziest among us. As entertaining as it is instructive, The Total ME-Tox is an achievable program for looking and feeling great about yourself.
I'm so happy and honored that you're reading this book! See, I'm a lot of things: a performer, a singer, a passionate-if-clumsy dancer, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a homeowner, a soon-to-be wife, an activist, a good-health enthusiast, and an Etsy junkie. But I have never considered myself an author.
For me, writing is similar to most other experiences in my life—challenging, terrifying, exhilarating, and requiring a $#*!load of hard work. I've had several incredible, amazing years starring on 2 Broke Girls on CBS, collaborating with some of the most talented people in the world… but it took years of blood, sweat, and tears (along with plenty of unanswered letters and phone calls) to get here. Let me bust a Hollywood (or Anywhere-wood) myth for you: Nothing happens overnight. The term "overnight sensation" should be banished from our vocabulary because it doesn't exist. (So should the words "moist" and "panties"… especially when they are used together.)
In my experience, uber-successful people have one thing in common: They work their freakin' asses off. Not just in their professional lives, but in their personal lives, too. By my definition, true success is more than making a lot of money. Or doing work you love but struggling to survive financially. It's having the respect of others and having respect for yourself. That takes passion, confidence, ingenuity, and encouragement. You need to make the most out of the time you have in your day. And you have to keep your body and mind steel-strong.
So while I may still be an author-in-training, I can definitely tell you a thing or two (or fourteen chapters' worth) about that last bit—keeping your mind, body, and spirit super strong—because I've put all kinds of intense work into earning my healthy-living stripes. I can offer you some really hard-won advice about how I went from being a motivated-yet-lazy sludge monster to being an active, healthy, energetic human being.
My journey began when I was in the middle of a full-on physical and mental crisis that required a complete detox to get to the other side. As I tried other people's plans and recommendations, I realized that in order to meet my goals, I had to clear my system on my own terms. What I needed was a ME-tox, not a detox.
Too many of us don't invest in our well-being until it's too late. We tell ourselves that we're not the priority, that we'll fix the problem later, or that our health isn't as important as our careers or relationships. But the truth is that you can't have a successful career or relationship if you're stuck in an unsuccessful body. You have to be in good health to go out and win the other challenges in your life. Realizing this was a revelation for me. In a weird way, I was lucky that my body literally broke down and rebelled against the way I was living. I had no choice but to take action. But while I knew I needed to make changes, I didn't want to compromise my happiness for the sake of my health. So I created my own path. And now, luckily, you can learn from my experience—without having to wait for your mind and body to suffer. Take control of your life TODAY.
On the pages that follow, I'll tell you about changes that I made to my diet (formerly all crap), workout routine (formerly nonexistent), and mental health (formerly a relentless state of panic and anxiety) that resulted in a much higher quality of life—and contributed to success in my career and relationships. I also feel connected to myself and my body in a way that I thought only monks, yoga teachers, and Kate Hudson were entitled to. I'd like to share that story with you because I know it's something we all aspire to. And it's a very worthy, very achievable aspiration. I'm still a work in progress (I think everyone is), but I love the idea of working together to—well, not to get all Oprah on you, but—be our best selves.
Before we get started, I'd like to tell you where I came from. When I was twenty-one years old, I was a semi-starving actor living in LA—yet somehow still eating crappy food and waaaay too much of it!—making about $400 a week nannying and doing humiliating personal-assistant jobs here and there. Good health was my lowest priority. My rent was $800 a month, so I shared a room with Courtney, one of my best friends from UCLA theater school. We had met junior year doing a Tony Kushner play together. (I'll admit, we were also doing a shot or two of tequila backstage to pass the time during tech rehearsals… so professional.) Courtney's side of the closet-size room was always immaculate, while mine looked like something out of Grey Gardens. We didn't live in the greatest neighborhood, and when a break-in happened right next to us, I put pots and pans by our door as an alarm—so if someone busted in, I could wake up and use my phone to call 911. (And maybe bash the burglar over the head with a frying pan?) I had no real social life… just my nanny job, the occasional audition, and no gas in my 1991 Mercury Mystique, which I had purchased from an old lady for $1,000. Money was tight—Spanx tight. So I wasn't going to spend it on useless stuff like gym memberships and fresh kale. But I refused to give up on my dream of success.
I had always known I wanted to be an actor. According to my parents, I was a toddler who loved acting out "So Long, Farewell" from The Sound of Music up and down our stairs every night. By the time I was in kindergarten, I was in theater. I can't remember a time when I wasn't connected to it.
I landed my first play at the age of five—as a cat in Snow White—with one line. As I busted it out—something like, "No one will know it's the queen!" (How do I still remember that??)—I knocked over a table on the set. The audience thought I was hilarious. This was the beginning of my love for performing, and my complete inability to not be a total klutz while doing it. I've made an entire career in comedy based on facing my "truth" and embracing my flaws. My complete lack of grace turned into a natural ability to take pratfalls on a sitcom.
There were a few early signs that not just performance, but comedy performance, was what I really wanted to do. When I was in fifth grade, we had to do projects about explorers. I was assigned Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer famed for organizing the Spanish expedition that eventually circled the globe. I came to school dressed as Magellan, doing a flamboyant version of him tripping over chairs and desks, pretending to circumnavigate the classroom. I had my class ROFL-ing all over the place. My teacher told people about it, and it got on the news. Seriously, in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1996, a nine-year-old dressed as a Portuguese explorer doing bits about sixteenth-century Spain was newsworthy stuff.
My parents were educators, and my family moved a lot—Lancaster to Lynchburg to California—but I stayed in theater no matter where we were. I started going to summertime acting camp when I was in kindergarten. When I was sixteen, I landed the role of Maria in an acclaimed local production of The Sound of Music. (Those nightly "auf wiedersehens" on my family's staircase really paid off!)
When I was a high school sophomore in 2001, we moved to Marin in Northern California. When I first walked into school, I was in shock: Pretty much the whole campus was outside, which was very different from my school in Virginia. The day I arrived, there was a schoolwide anti–Iraq War protest. The students were gathered on a big hill under a clock tower, ordering drivers to "Honk for peace!" I did not see a lot of that kind of thing in Lynchburg. Marin was a total contrast: really hippie-dippie, all Birkenstocks and pajama pants.
As I struggled to fit in, I turned to the love that had always sustained me: performing. I joined a theater group where the seniors directed the underclassmen. During warm-ups, we'd go around the room and share a good thing and a bad thing that was going on in our lives. One day I mentioned that eating lunch alone was pretty thorny for me. A junior named Meghan was horrified: "Today, you're eating with us!" A circle of friends was born, along with the knowledge that acting (and being around actors) was always going to be my happy place.
It was a risky call, but I decided to pursue acting as a career. I enrolled in theater school in Los Angeles, at UCLA. I started college as a musical theater major, which meant I had to take dance class for three hours a day. I quickly discovered that I didn't have the abilities that other students did. My skinny, semi-athletic body wasn't going to bump and grind like everyone else's—to this day, I dance to my own mildly uncoordinated drumbeat. Still, I gave it my all because that's all you can ever do! Today I use those skills every time I have to trip and fall and swoon and stumble on 2 Broke Girls. (And despite my sucking at it, I do love to dance. Just the other night I was cooking dinner and had on an old Cole Porter/Ella Fitzgerald record. I was dancing by myself, making some chicken saagwala and brown rice [here]. Glad my Snapchat is gone in ten seconds!)
I had started auditioning for films and TV in college, but I wasn't getting a lot of acting jobs. It was the classic Hollywood Catch-22: If you don't have a résumé, you need jobs… but you need jobs to build a résumé. I was doing three auditions a month, and it was a really tough time. I didn't think about my health or well-being at all; it was a lot of mac and cheese and rushing around. I had a terrible job at a "high class" Mexican version of Hooters on the Sunset Strip. I quit because I didn't want to wear the referee uniforms assigned to the waitresses.
But, as they always say, the night is darkest before the dawn. I got a job working at the Geffen Playhouse, an amazing not-for-profit theater near UCLA. The Geffen was originally a Masonic lodge built in 1929. It has a very warm, country-house kind of vibe, in contrast to many of the sterile, modern theaters you see today. I started as an usher and then moved up to concierge, running the front desk and doing a little personal-assistant work here and there. Finally, I started bartending, a cool gig to get at the Geffen. I was hardly Tom Cruise in Cocktail, but I did make a mean gin and tonic.
Working at the Geffen was also a decent way for me to score auditions. For example, Alicia Silverstone needed an understudy in a new play they were doing there. So the casting agents called me and said I had an audition the next day. I was floored. The next morning I was on my way from the Palisades to Brentwood when, for whatever reason, traffic stopped dead—like rigor mortis dead. I watched the minutes tick by, knowing I was going to miss my slot. You have to understand: I'm never late. I'm early. (Being on time, if not early, is my professional law.) To this day I'm the earliest person on the set of 2 Broke Girls. But that day, I ran into the Geffen sobbing because I knew I was so late. The director had left already.
A woman who was there must have taken pity on me—or maybe she could tell I had some talent under my smeared mascara—and said, "Oh, we are casting American Pie and you have to come by!" I blub-blubbered an acceptance to her invitation, trying to put on a brave front. On the way home I cried so much that I hit my car against a pillar in the parking garage, racking up like $10,000 of damage. It was one of those days—one of those months, years. (I couldn't afford to get the damage fixed until I landed 2 Broke Girls three and a half years later.)
Wait, I was starting to say that something good happened. Oh yeah—I got the job! American Pie! Okay, so it wasn't the original American Pie, starring Jason Biggs with his you-know-what in a baked good and my now-good-friend Jennifer Coolidge in her legendary performance as "Stifler's mom." This was more like the seventh production in the series: American Pie Presents: The Book of Love. Straight to DVD. But it gave me the opportunity to work in Vancouver for three months with a bunch of twenty-one-year-olds and make a movie. It was the first time I had money, and we stayed in a five-star hotel. I played a virgin named Heidi, and I was the only girl who kept her clothes on in the whole movie. The people I met on that shoot are still some of my best friends.
After the shoot I was consumed with getting more auditions. I went back to working at the Geffen and had a lot of fun. I loved my coworkers, including Adam, who was in my year at UCLA. (Side note: Adam is now a hand model. Seriously. He has hand shots and everything. He wore gloves bartending and got way more manicures than I ever did.) I met some amazing people who came through the Geffen, including the legendary Joan Rivers. She was doing a one-woman show, and I was thrilled to be chosen to run lines with her. She was like a grandma to me, and so generous. When Joan was getting a manicure, she'd offer to get me one, too (Adam was quite jealous). And she let me pick out pieces from her QVC jewelry line. I helped her go over her material every day, and she made me eggs. She remains one of my comedy heroes.
Besides working at the Geffen, I did a bunch of odd personal-assistant jobs, like scheduling and dog-walking and occasionally lugging giant jugs of Tide out of Costco and spilling them all over the parking lot. I also still nannied. I was burning the candle at both ends—which was hard because I could barely afford to buy candles. At night, the Geffen gang would get together and let off steam with the help of many, many bottles of wine. I woke up with a lot of hangovers back in those days. Plus, I couldn't seem to book acting jobs for the life of me.
One day Adam and I heard NBC was going to cast new interns on The Office. We decided to take power into our own hands, writing an Office parody and filming it at the Geffen. We played two very adversarial and not-too-bright friends who make a video audition to become interns at the Dunder Mifflin paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In the seven-minute video, Adam and I alternately had each other's backs and were at each other's throats. He was clearly in love with me, and I was clearly hitting on the camera man (me purring, "I don't think I've ever seen eyes that chocolate brown!").
To our shock and delight, the video went viral and made it to the front page of the website Funny or Die! In the Internet comedy world, that's like getting your freakin' face on the cover of Time magazine. My agent was then able to send the tape out to casting directors. (While I'm going to offer you a lot of wellness advice in the pages that follow, let that be a career lesson to you: Don't wait for someone else to create success for you. Do it yourself!)
When the producers who were developing a new CBS comedy called 2 Broke Girls saw the tape, they asked me to come in for an audition. The show was about two young women living together in Brooklyn, working at a diner. One of them, Max, was broke and always had been; the other, Caroline (the part I was after), was a trust-funder whose family had lost everything after her dad ended up in jail. The script was hilarious, and there were a lot of similarities between me and Caroline—mostly a sense of wounded-yet-rosy optimism. Caroline had a pink can of pepper spray and I did, too. The part was amazing—just too good to be true.
I was the first person to read for Caroline. It was 10 a.m. on a Thursday morning. I wore the same thing I wore to every audition: jeans I'd nipped from the set of American Pie, a super-flowy fancy-pants white blouse that my mom bought me for Christmas, and Frye cowboy boots. They were the only non-tomboy clothes that I had. I thought the audition went well, and I was pretty sure I would get a callback. I felt weirdly calm, like, It's all going to be okay. I've never again had that feeling after an audition. That was it: This is going to be okay. And a little: No, it can't be, they're going to go with a big name. But not too much of that! (The casting director, Julie, later told me that she went home that night and showed her family the reel, telling them, "I think I found the girl!") Sometimes you know when something works.
Then came a bunch of callbacks, where I read for the part over and over, getting a better take on Caroline each time. The process was intimidating, but I'd already met the incredible showrunner Michael Patrick King (I was in awe of his renowned talent on Sex and the City, one of my favorite shows ever) and cocreator Whitney Cummings, whom I loved on Chelsea Lately, Comedy Central roasts, and her own sitcom, Whitney. I kept telling myself, If all else fails, at least I got to meet these creative people!
When I got to the level where I was auditioning for the network, Michael Patrick King told me, "Beth, you need to get a pair of heels." (It was the first time—and not the last—that he took me under his wing.) I didn't have any heels. My shoe wardrobe consisted of a couple of pairs of California surf sandals, and when it got cold, I would wear my cowboy boots with skirts and jeans. If you watch the show (and I hope you do!), you know that Caroline is in pajamas and heels. Not wussy little kitten heels, but five- or six-inchers that make you stomp like a Victoria's Secret angel on the runway. I didn't own a thing that looked Upper East Side, let alone screamed it (i.e., Lululemon yoga pants, Burberry puffer coat, Givenchy boots, giant Birkin bag, and Tom Ford shades, natch), so I went to Nordstrom and bought a pair of simple black Steve Madden suede heels for about $200. I thought they were very high-end at the time—then again, I knew more about acting than fashion. But I stomped around confidently in my new shoes, hoping the next time I appeared in front of the network execs they'd give me the onceover and say, "There she is! There's our Caroline."
Those heels must have done the trick. After six auditions—six times trying to make stoic people laugh at lines they'd heard a thousand times, six times waiting for hours, sitting in a room chatting politely with girls who you know are your direct competition—CBS asked me to read with Kat Dennings. Kat had starred in movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist; she was already cast as Max. She was shooting a movie, but she flew to LA for an hour to do the audition with me. That was the moment everybody—even the two of us—thought, "Oh, hell yes! Let's do this!"
Kat was amazing. It's not often that you read with somebody and have this incredible chemistry. Honestly, I don't know if I will ever have that again with anyone. Now, years later, it's beyond acting chemistry. Beyond being good friends. Beyond being sisters, even. At that moment, after the final audition, I remember Kat looking at me in the elevator and saying, "Call me if it's not you because if it's not, I'm pulling out." An hour later they told me I got it. It was the best day of my life (so far). I will never forget it.
And now, we have so many seasons under our belt that we're in syndication. Crazy! We have a ridiculously good time shooting this show. I love the feeling of jumping off the plank with a joke, especially when we get a monologue ten minutes before we have to say it in front of a live audience… it's a ton of fear and adrenaline. When the joke lands and it does well, it's the greatest high in the world, like you just shot up with heroin or something. (Not that I know. The craziest drug I've ever done is a $1 bottle of Champagne.)
I truly have the world's most amazing job. But it's not all easy-peasy. Shoot days are long, and when you're doing as much physical comedy as I am, it's an endurance contest. I quickly realized that I had to stay in shape, as on any given shoot day I might get thrown into a dryer and end up with bruises all up and down my back. That's not even a hypothetical; a stuntwoman, who was a roller derby girl in real life, threw me in an industrial dryer when we did a scene in a clothing factory. I got battle wounds. (Luckily, I also have amazing stunt coordinators.)
As Caroline, I've been flung into a dumpster; walked on a ledge in hail and rain while wearing seven-inch heels; rock climbed in stilettoes; got rope burn doing a striptease (don't ask); slipped on pearls; been wedged in a window while a Rottweiler licked baby food off my face; had my hair caught in a Murphy bed; and been tossed into a giant present by an elf while working at Santa Land. Poor hair and makeup department, God love 'em; I'm quite the cleanup on aisle two. But I had to bring my physical game up to my theatrical game—not just to survive each week of shooting, but to manage my body as it spiraled out of control. I quickly felt exhausted, burnt out, and depressed. I was in pain all the time. My skin started to turn dry, crusty, and scaly. My period stopped and my panic attacks—which had started freshman year of college after a horrible flight to New York required an emergency landing—kicked up a notch. It got harder and harder to do what came naturally to me.
I bet you're going: "Yup, same here." You don't have to work on a TV show to feel the same way I felt. Maybe you're exhausted by your office job and feeling like only intravenous caramel cappuccinos will keep you going. Maybe the emotional roller coaster of working and mom-ing at the same time leaves you feeling—possibly more frequently than you'd like to admit—like leaving your kid in a parking lot (aw, you'll come back and get him soon, I'm sure!). Maybe your menstrual cycle is less cyclical and more Cirque du Soleil. Maybe your friends have convinced you to try some crazy diet—the Only Fish with Scales Diet, the All-Kiwi Diet, the Eat like a T-Rex Diet—and you are debating whether to throttle an innocent passerby snacking on a yogurt raisin.
You're not alone. And you can change it. After all, I did. It wasn't fast, and it wasn't easy… but I figured out how to ME-tox! I did it my own way, a lasting way.
I don't claim to have all the answers. But because I always wish I knew then what I know now, I want to help you avoid some of the missteps I made and give you the kick in the ass you need to help you get on top of your game. Sharing ideas and experiences helps us all to learn, grow, and evolve into the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be. I know for me it's important to feel like I'm not alone when I'm trying to make changes in my life, especially physical ones. That feeling of support—even when it's from people I don't know well—is what has gotten me through the toughest times and the biggest challenges in my life.
So this book is for all the fabulous people on Instagram and Twitter (yes, I see you!) who write me asking which recipes I use or what my favorite yoga poses are (and even, "When the F are you ever going to take off those pearls as Caroline Channing?" Answer: Never!). But you also ask me for advice on those days when you hate your body, how to make it to rent day with nothing in your pocket, and how to have hard conversations with people you care about. I hope I can provide some helpful answers in these pages—because I've been in every one of those situations more times than I'd like to admit. No secrets and no shame here! I'm hoping that if you hear what I went through and feel what I felt, then maybe you'll realize that there's a perfect place for you in this world and that there's a way to get there—without giving up on things that make you happy, like a sweet treat or a Stella. You can bring movement into your life without spending hours on a treadmill. You can find peace of mind without twisting yourself into a pretzel and wearing a robe.
I've had the phenomenal good fortune of crossing paths with people who have not only shown me ways to find power in feeling healthy and strong inside and out but who have inspired me to try harder, aim higher, and dream bigger than I ever thought I could. They have shown me how to believe in myself, and in turn have given me the opportunity to see the beauty, talent, and unique spirit in everyone I meet.
It won't happen overnight—no overnight sensations, remember?—but little by little, bit by bit, smoothie by smoothie (I love smoothies), you can achieve your own image of success. And enjoy the process of getting it! You're going to do a ME-tox, not a detox. Well, a YOU-tox. You know what I mean! In the following pages, you'll find tips on physical and mental health, on spiritual centeredness, on beauty and self-confidence—from a person who used to live on doughnuts and pizza and thrive on stress. I believe following these tips and strategies will make you feel good and help lead you to the most joy possible. And that's what each and every one of us deserves.
DITCH YOUR DIET
The only thing that ever temporarily busted me out of my white-bread, junk-food hole was, of course, boys. If I met a guy who was a foodie, I would try to impress him by eating Brussels sprouts. (Note to self: There are plenty of other things that will impress boys a lot more than eating Brussels sprouts. Like eating Brussels sprouts… naked. Or having a brain and saving the world, Amal Clooney–style.) But otherwise, my diet was pretty much all processed, all the time.
- On Sale
- May 2, 2017
- Page Count
- 224 pages
- Hachette Books