Our move to the West Coast was incredibly stressful for me, and came after a year and a half of bumps in the road. No part of me felt like it was the wrong decision to move to Oregon, despite never having visited, but I was not in a strong place to handle the transition. I quit my job a whole month before we departed partially to have the free time to say an adequate farewell to the East Coast, but mostly because I was eager to leave such a stressful position.
My depression worsened during that month. While my lows are never as low as they were when I was younger, a thick layer of negativity settled on everything around me. It was difficult to deny my irritability, nearly constant and irrational, towards everyone close to me. Sometimes when you’re low enough, even the happiness of others makes you resentful. Predictably I wasn’t taking care of myself. I hadn’t for a while, but that month really was a plunge.
Enter That Thing I Did, Francis’s video blog. Let me tell you, having rock bottom self-worth does not prepare you to see yourself from every angle, with a fish eye lens, unshowered. I don’t know if my weight gain was gradual, sudden, or some combination, but it apparent and it was devastating.
When we arrived in bicycle-friendly Eugene, I felt the frustration and embarrassment of feeling winded after riding just a few blocks with Francis. Those feelings made me so hostile. I remember finding 100 reasons to be shitty to Francis during our first day as we pedaled around exploring our new home.
Looming over me was my appointment as Maid of Honor in my friend’s approaching wedding. In one short month I would be photographed from countless angles. Worse, it was the wedding of a friend from High School, so our mutual acquaintances who would see the photos were people I associate with the most insecure time in my life.
Honestly, thank God for that wedding. I don’t think anything less would have motivated me to make such an extreme change.
The next day I started Cassey Ho’s bikini contest meal plan and the Blogilates Beginner’s Calendar. I had minimal faith in my self-discipline, but from the beginning I never missed a day and only had two (intended) cheat meals. I can’t tell you how many pounds of steamed broccoli I ate or how many pounds I lost but I was really amazed by how much my body changed in a month. I had muscle definition I’ve never had and felt a lot less frustrated by my endorance while we peddled around town. Most importantly, I really worked for it so I felt like it was earned!
All of this is an endorsement for a healthy lifestyle, but I drank the Blogilates Kool-Aid so now I’m going to tell you why it was the best program for me (and probably everyone.)
1. It’s free. All of the videos are well-organized and accessible on YouTube. Cassey keeps content fresh and consistently adds new material. Only a yoga mat is required for all workouts, and most of the videos are between 5-15 minutes. There are absolutely no excuses to be made.
2. It sets realistic goals. I started out with the beginner’s calendar, and while I was often VERY sore the next day, I never felt like I was pushing myself to the point of potential injury, which has been the case with other things I’ve tried. You are responsible for doing your own stretches, but I think (and hope) that’s common sense for most people.
3. It’s challenging. Did the previous point make is sound easy? It isn’t. You are definitely responsible for pushing yourself since no one is there to call you out in the privacy of your own living room, but if you give it your all you will absolutely feel it. The principles of pilates are grounded in core strength and using your own body weight as resistance, and Cassey is very creative when it comes to finding ways to keep pushing past the plateau.
4. It’s Cassey.
Cassey Ho, the founder of Pop Pilates, clearly works her ass off. The amount of content that she produces, her availability to those enrolled in her plan, and, let’s be honest, her physique are so impressive to me. Her personality makes the program what it is. Everything is colorful, cheerful, fun, and encouraging. The small talk during reps showcases how authentic she is. It’s funny, because I am NOT any of those things. I would be the Wednesday Adams of personal trainers. But it’s INFECTIOUS. When I do the program regularly, I am so much nicer and more optimistic throughout the entire day. Certainly part of that is endorphins, but I know for a fact that most of it is how pleasant and smiling Cassey is while I workout. I kind of actually feel like she’s my friend! (I’ll stop here because I’m feeling like a huge dweeb… I’m just so lonely in Oregon!)
5. The community. And now I get even more uncharacteristically extroverted. The Popster community on instagram is amazing. It’s almost like you can suspend disbelief that the internet is a warm and welcoming place where people support and encourage eachother instead of, you know… a monster pit. I LOVE seeing people posting their progress honestly and humbly. Making a second account just for my fitness journey has been so liberating. I don’t feel fat or whiny to admit when I’ve had a bad day, and I don’t worry about being judged or thought less of. I wish I could feel that way on my main accounts, but that’s alright. I’m happy to have the Popster community as an outlet and for the accountability it has provided.
I have to be honest: After all of that hard work, I came home from the wedding and stopped making clean eating choices. I also lost workout momentum when my job search became more dire. Without the wedding photographer as my motivation, I fell off the wagon. I wish I could say that all of the great results and feelings were more important to me than looking good in photos, but it seems insecurity was the greater motivator.
The good news is, I just finished day 3 and can already feel myself getting hooked again. The program focuses on monthly calendars, so I’m really excited to leave an iffy September behind and have an October even more awesome than August! I plan to post on the first of the month with my goals so as not to inundate the blog with fitness updates. If you’d like, you can follow my fitness instagram @catfit_foxfit .