Hate traditional, over-the-top diets and strict workout plans? Then great—you're ready to get started!
Photo: Getty / Steve Mack
Raise your hand if you've watched celebrities shrink (seemingly overnight) due to a diet or detox they swear by. So, you decide to follow suit: chug their bitter juices, eat air, and contort your body into uncomfortable "toxin-releasing" positions. But for what? Usually to give up, wallow in defeat, and binge your sorrows away (until another crazy fad diet piques your interest, that is).
Well, Beth Behrs of Two Broke Girls is here to change all that. Her new book, The Total Me-Tox: How to Ditch Your Diet, Move Your Body & Love Your Life, is not a "do as I say and you'll become magically thin like the stars" guide. In fact, the actress is doing the opposite. She was inspired to create the "me-tox" after developing a self-described "grayscale, Game of Thrones–style rash" all over her body. After six months of biopsies and doctor visits, Behrs finally realized her issue wasn't psoriasis or an autoimmune issue—her body was rebelling against her diet of junk food and booze. But rather than make herself miserable and give it all up cold turkey, she discovered ways to gently cut back on the crap while taking care of and listening to her body.
"Everybody's different. Some people love to run and it's therapy for them, and some people can't stand it. And I just feel like there's so much in our society where you're judging yourself based on what you think you need to do," Behrs explains. "I'm very driven and I always have been, but when do you prioritize self-care? It's so important because even to attain success, you must take time to slow down and get to know yourself first."
Now, that's a mantra we can get behind. Read on because we went straight to Behrs for more of her best advice on finding the right "me-tox" for you.
Find the good your body craves.
Behrs says she grew up with crazy anxiety and panic attacks. "Meditation has changed so many aspects of my health that when I don't do it, I feel awful," she says, "So I make the time for it." Once you find something healthy your body loves, stick with it. Not sure what your go-to activity or food is? Give it time. "You really need to commit for a certain amount of time and see how it makes your body feel. Hopefully you notice enough of a difference that you'll stick with it, and if not, then keep trying other things until you find what's right for you." Behrs recommends exercises where you're learning a certain skill like martial arts or tennis because instead of focusing on working off fat, you're getting stronger and you're learning a skill. "You're forgetting in the process that you're trying to get rid of a body part you don't like and coming from a place of joy—not judgment."
It's Okay to Be a Little Selfish
Behrs wants women to rethink the word "selfish." It's easy to think of taking time for ourselves, away from our friends, family, career, and other responsibilities as something negative—but it's actually essential for your me-tox. "We want to give, give, give all the time, but you can't serve from an empty vessel. Don't allow taking time for yourself to make you feel guilty or anxious," she says. "Know that it's necessary to serve yourself better as a mother, or to your community, or at your job. When you're coming from a place of finding what feels good, becoming stronger is empowering."
No more FOMO!
How many times have you prayed to the social life gods that your plans get canceled? Why are we so afraid of missing a night out when we know it's not what we feel like doing? Are you really missing out if you're just looking at your phone, waiting for a chance to make your escape? Well, saying no, while essential and even life-changing, gets easier with practice. "I actually feel that the better you know yourself, the more you want to hang out with yourself, and enjoy that time to do whatever makes you happy," Behrs says. Another solution is to remember that not every outing has to be an all-night rager. Behrs and her girlfriends often commit to a month of self-care so they can take yoga, meditate, or just veg out on the couch together. "But the deeper the relationship to yourself is, through meditation and taking care of your body, the easier it becomes to say, 'I'm not going to go out this week because I need a good night's sleep.'" Don't forget—there's always next week when you're feeling more up for it!
Lean on your support system when you need to.
"I'm not perfect. There are still mornings when I wake up and I'm like, 'Ugh, my cellulite,'" Behrs admits. Her secret weapon to combat self-sabotage is to lean on the girlfriends who have doubled as her support system since high school or college. "They're just my rocks, and we encourage each other. They're really into wellness and their bodies in a healthy way, not from a 'I have to be a certain weight' kind of way," she says. But, if you're not lucky enough to live in the same city as your closest friends, seek out a like-minded community at places like yoga studios or tennis centers—someplace where you can meet others who are also prioritizing exercise and self-care.
Visualize what you want and make it happen.
They say the mind is a powerful thing. If you can "see" your dreams and goals, you can manifest them into reality. Dubious? Give creating a vision board a try. "My girlfriends and I get together and make them once a year. I have one hanging up in my bathroom that my fiancé laughs at it because it currently has goats on it—but I do have a dream of having a farm," laughs Behrs. Being reminded of your goals, whether while you're brushing your teeth or before you fall asleep, can change how you feel about your goals—taking them from impossible to within reach. "I do believe in the law of attraction. U.S. soccer player Carli Lloyd talks all about how she manifested and visualized for months all the goals she scored at the World Cup. She knew she was going to score all those goals, and then did it."
Don't go cold turkey.
If sugar is a constant thing in your life, don't cut it out all at once or you're setting yourself up for failure. "Try one day a week and notice the difference in your body, and work your way up," suggests Behrs. "When you let go of perception, performance, and judgment, you realize that there's no time frame. There's no rule book saying you have to cut out sugar overnight (unless you have some sort of dietary disease or restriction)." Once you really start to feel—and physically notice—the benefits, it becomes much easier. "It may sound simple to cut something out cold turkey and say, 'Oh, I'm just going to do it for a month.' But then when that month's up and you still want chocolate chip cookies? It's much more doable to start small."
Consider animal therapy.
For those who have dogs or cats, have you ever noticed that when you're stressed out, they just seem to know you need a cuddle? There's a reason for that. Animals respond to your authenticity, something Behrs has learned firsthand by working with horses. "They've really helped me slow down and taught me what it means to be grounded and present at the moment," says Behrs. "Horses will completely ignore you if you're scared and trying to pretend you're not. If you're honest about your fear, they'll walk toward you." A simple way to practice—especially if you don't have access to horses—is to leave your phone home when you take your dog around for a walk. "Animals live in the present. Use your walks to discover what that means," she says.