Why I Will NEVER DIET again.


Hey guys!

Real talk happening in 3…2…1…

I want to get real honest with you today. There’s been something I’ve neglected talking about for about 4 years because I didn’t want to admit to myself that I had a problem. But today, I think I need to tell you about something that I was extremely ashamed of. I want to talk to you about my experience with extreme dieting and…

my eating disorder.

Remember how I was in a bikini competition 4 years ago?

cassey ho bikini

The first time I walked on stage in my leopard bikini.

cassey ho bikini booty

The butt shot.

It took about 8 weeks for me to drop 16 pounds. That’s about 2 lbs a week, which they say is very healthy and safe, so I was proud of myself. But what I was not proud of was how I did it and how I felt for the next 2 years.

4 years ago, I was a younger Cassey who had just moved back to CA from Boston after quitting my job. I was eager to reinvent myself and start a new. I was reading a bunch of blogs about weight lifting and discovered this community of girls who did Bikini Competitions. Not the Miss USA kind, but one that was based solely on muscularity and body composition.

I was slightly intrigued by the sparkly bikinis and the toned abs and round bootys. I thought they were so pretty, so fit, so confident. I was like, I wonder if I could get myself to that level? Could I do it? It’d be my own personal challenge.

Those 8 weeks for some of the most wonderful and terrible times of my life.

It was late February and I hired a retired bodybuilder who owned a gym in the area and asked if he could get me bikini competition ready by April. He said yes he could. So the personal training sessions began.

He had me working out for 4 hours a day on top of me teaching my fitness classes because “those didn’t count.” I did weights and cardio with him in the morning for 3 hours and then did my own cardio at home in the evening for 1 hour.

He also planned out my meal plan. This was what I was allowed to eat:

  • tilapia
  • chicken breast
  • egg whites
  • lettuce
  • broccoli
  • protein powder

If I wanted any flavor, a squeeze of lemon was ok.

I was also allowed to ration out 10 raw, unsalted almonds a day. 1 gallon of water a day. 2 gallons of water on Wednesdays.

Also, he had me take a papaya enzyme pill once a day to help my digestives. Let me tell you, that sweet little pill was the best part of my day. It was so sweet. Sometimes I would sneak 2 pills and hope that the extra calories wouldn’t show on the scale.

We weighed in every morning. Weight loss was applauded, while weight gain meant I had to stay longer at the gym.

I worked out about 6-7 days a week. I think rest days meant 1 hr on the elliptical.

During this whole process, I could see my body changing and it was the coolest thing ever to see those Victoria’s Secret ab lines come in! I was like WOAHHH it’s working! I also liked that my thigh gap was getting bigger.

cassey ho bikini prep

I was lifting super crazy heavy and squatting with two 45 lb plates on the bar until my knees almost felt like they were going to split apart. But butt however, didn’t really get much bigger no matter how much squat jumps, stairs, stairmaster routines, or heavy squats I did.

Overall, I was very pleased with my body. Maybe too pleased. I was so vanity-driven. But…how was I feeling?

When I started posting my progress pics on my blog, people were congratulating me for how I looked. AND I LOVED IT. It kept me going longer and harder at the gym. But no one ever asked me how I felt. In fact, I would often disregard how I was actually feeling just so I could get to my goal. All I wanted to do well at the Bikini show. Place top 5, maybe.

But looking back, I have to tell you…I felt so empty.

Empty described how my stomach felt. Empty described how my brain felt. Empty described how my friendships and relationships felt. I also a very angry person who would snap easily. This is not a Cassey characteristic.

Because all I was doing was working out and eating literally nothing, I couldn’t think. I was at 1000 calories a day. It was tough for me to get creative. I wasn’t designing. I wasn’t drawing. It was tough for me to even blog. I just felt like I never had time. I couldn’t ever go eat out with friends.

As the weeks went by and the days drew nearer and nearer to the competition date, my coach would get stricter and stricter on me. I remember walking in one morning and telling him that my stomach didn’t feel good. I was super constipated. Maybe it was all the protein I was having.

He put me on the scale and saw that I had not dropped weight. (Well obviously, I hadn’t pooped in a few days!) He got mad and asked what I was eating. I said tilapia and iceburg lettuce with a squeeze of lemon. Right then and there we said THAT’S IT!

“That’s what?” I said.

“Lettuce has way too many carbs. Why are you eating that? That’s why you can’t lose weight.”

As cloudy as my head was about 7 weeks into this, even then I knew he was crazy…Lettuce has too many carbs?!!!


But I only needed him for a few more days so I thought, whatever, I’m just going to keep taking his advice til the end. I’ve already gone this far. Almost there.

2 days before the competition, he was really concerned with the little bit of fat I still had on my lower belly. He wanted to dehydrate the life out of me. This is exactly what he prescribed:

  • the day before the competition I needed to do 1 hr of cardio
  • sit in the sauna for 45 min
  • drink only 8 oz of water
  • take diuretic pills to make me pee out all of the water in my body


He wanted me to basically turn into a living prune. Because, the less water you have in your body, the less space there is between your skin and your muscle. This creates the effect of looking more toned.

I actually bought the dehydration pills, believe it or not. I also did the cardio, the sauna, and the 8 oz of water. But last minute, I was too scared to take the pills. I was scared I might die. Thank goodness I listened to the shred of light that was still within me.

So the day of the competition came. My family and my friends came to support me in my oddly tanned body and leopard bikini. I was the obvious newbie. All the other girls knew exactly what was up. They looked at me with their huge eyelashes, big hair, bright nails, and huge boobs and asked, “Who’s your trainer!!?? How much weight did you have to lose to be here?” I’m not saying all bikini comps are catty, but most pageants I’ve competed in, they’ve all kind of been like this. I mean, we’re all here for the same reason – to win the crown. Or, the trophy in this case.

When I got on stage and lined myself up against all the other girls, I suddenly felt like a piece of meat. Wait, why was I putting myself in this position to be physically judged against other girls based solely on the size of my waist, the roundness of my butt, the perkiness of my boobs? I’m thinking…wait they’re not going to get to know me first? But I’m a good person!

cassey ho bikini comparisons

The line up.

cassey ho bikini comparisons back

The line up butt shot.

I didn’t walk away with a trophy that night. It was ok though, because all I wanted was to have a slice of cheesecake sooooo badly. You guys know I love cheesecake. Plus I hadn’t YOLO’d in 8 weeks. My family and friends took me out for cheesecake. The moment the cheesecake touched my lips, it was like heaven x 800 billion.


But the moments after were pure agony. I cramped so hard and had to curl into fetal position in the car for a couple hours before I could walk again. My stomach wasn’t ready. I cried. It had been starved for so long that it didn’t know how to react to cheesecake.

This is actually a real symptom of starvation. Some people even throw up after starving for so long that once they eat something, their stomachs completely reject it.

Now, you would probably think that I was able to nourish myself back to a healthy state of mind and body and get on with life post-bikini competition right?

Well this is the part that I’ve been avoiding telling you for the past 4 years because I am so ashamed of the sick mentality I had afterwards.

Guys, for a year and a half after my bikini competition I had a form of an eating disorder, some form of extreme orthorexia – the eating disorder of being obsessed with eating healthy food.

I kid you not, I was afraid of apples. I didn’t want to have anything to do with any type of fruit because I thought they had too many carbs and sugars. I thought they would make me fat. And I couldn’t even fathom having grains. Grains meant fatness guaranteed.

I kept restricting my food the way I had when I was on the bikini competition diet except now I had a little hot sauce again. I was eating full eggs with yolk instead of egg whites. I had sweet potatoes once in a while. I also decided to work out for about 1 – 1.5 hrs a day like a normal human. These were all healthy things.


This process was so terrible because I was gaining weight before your eyes on YouTube, on the blog, on Instagram. People kept commenting “Is Cassey getting fatter?” “Why is Cassey gaining weight?”

Because of the pressure from social media and the pressure on myself, I tried to restrict even more. I mean, it used to work before, so why doesn’t it work now?

But no matter what I did, I KEPT GAINING.

A year later, I decided the heck with it, I’m just going to eat whatever I want. So I had pizza, Chinese food, lots of rice, boba, cake – whatever I wanted. I ate that on the daily. I also got so unmotivated that I stopped working out too. And guess what. I didn’t gain weight or lose weight. I was like what!?? My metabolism is broken! I was so confused and lost.

But eventually, that way of life started affecting my YouTube videos. It got harder and harder to film a video. I was huffing and puffing and felt so weak.

Now, I was super ashamed and embarrassed…not only was my physical appearance diminishing, so was my actual strength – the thing that REALLY MATTERED.

I had always taken my strength for granted. I thought it would always be there for me and that all I would need to focus on were my looks so that the public wouldn’t judge me so much any more. But it was that moment when I was filming “Flat Stomach Fat Melter” that I knew I had to get back to working out. But not for vanity…for me, my health, and my joy.

That’s also when I realized that I needed to eat for my energy, for nourishment, for happiness, and not for my looks. And that CARBS AREN’T BAD!

It was that switch in my mindset that changed everything.

I am so happy to say that 4 years after my Bikini competition, I’ve healed myself by loving myself and respecting myself again.

As a fitness instructor in the public eye, I know why I felt so pressured to look like every other fitness model out there. It’s almost impossible to not think…If only I had abs, people would like me more. If only my butt were bigger, more people would do my butt workouts.

You know, I understand that there is truth in that. But I also know that vanity and the physical shell only lasts for so long. I can’t base my career and my life off of how I look. Because looks will deteriorate with time. And I don’t want to deteriorate with time. Because with time, your mind gets wiser.

It’s been PROVEN that people who diet by restricting foods usually gain all their weight back and even more. It’s just not sustainable. As you can see, my body acted like a sponge after my 8 week bikini competition. PLEASE use me as an example and DO NOT put yourself and your body through that torture.

And I am so happy I have my healthy and happy brain back. It was literally THE WORST not being able to think and hating life for the sake of 6 pack abs, that well, never even came. And you know how tough my core workouts are! I just never had 6 pack abs. And who knows if I ever will…but I can bet you that my ab strength can out-crunch a lot of people who have 6 packs. And that’s something I am proud of and that no one can take away from me.

At my best, I had pretty lines on stomach, but even at my lowest weight, I still thought I was fat. The body image disorder was the spring board for the ED.

I want you guys to also take a step back and ask yourself, why am I working out? Why am I “dieting”? Is it for looks purely? Because if so, you need to refocus that energy on something else if you want your new body to last. Like strength. Or skill. Or joy.

I recently watched this video called #WeighThis by Lean Cuisine and it was so beautiful. The video showed a bunch of women who were asked if they wanted to be weighed by their body weight or weighed by something else. I loved it so much when the women were lead to the scale, they decided to put their textbooks, diplomas, and their backpacks on the scale. A huge thank you to Lean Cuisine for inspiring me to share my own personal story.


I was like YESSS!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!

Can people stop judging each other by how much they weigh or how they look and start respecting people for who they are and what they do?

Like seriously, does having more 6 packs in the world make it a better place or does having more environmental scientists help us save our world for future generations? I think we can all agree that it’s the latter.

So I am making the pledge to NEVER EVER go on a restrictive diet again. And I want you to make this pledge too. Promise that you will eat for your health and eat for you energy, not for your looks. Treat your body with respect and feed it good, whole food, please.

I hope you guys enjoyed this video and learn from the mistakes that I made. Comment below and tell me what you would rather be weighed by other than your weight.

Love you so much!



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  • nicole

    this video is simply amazing. they way she addresses everything….her honestly around such taboo subjects. I had no idea she was going through all that at the time. she has always been one of my favorite trainers. this made me love her even more.

  • This is crazy, the way he made you diet! I am currently dieting for a competition but my diet is more varied and i would say it’s pretty normal and only 3 weeks out my carbs are being cut down a bit but i have no complaints :-) I hate strict dieting and only getting through mine cos i still get to eat chocolate and i also had treat days, would never do a diet so restrictive from food, i would fail straight away,lol

  • Laura

    I’m just an occasional visitor and I have never ever commented on any posts, but I must say it: this was the most moving, inspirational, and courageous post I’ve read, not just here, but in any other fitness blog. You’re truly a brave and wonderful person, Cassey. Wish you all the best!

  • E.M.W.

    I don’t usually post on sites like this, but I have to say thank you for opening up about and bringing awareness to this stigmatized mental illness. Thank you! I also wanted to thank you because after over 7 years of dealing with an eating disorder, your videos were the first exercise I was able to do after becoming a healthy weight for the first time ever this year. I’ve never felt healthier and stronger and I’m so glad to now be physically able to be on a journey to HEALTH for the first time ever. Your honesty is so brave and empowering. THANK YOU!

  • TF

    It’s no wonder you felt horrible during that time, not only the low calorie thing, but you were eating practically no fat. I can’t imagine doing that for 8 weeks. I’m glad you got through it all and shared your story with all of us. You’re a true inspiration.
    And I just want to say, I stumbled on your blog/youtube channel almost 4 years ago, and I’ve always thought you looked perfect the way you were. And I don’t care what size your butt is, your butt workouts are great and I love them! I always envied your strength and respected you for that, not for how you look or your physique. You’re awesome, and your energy and strength is beautiful. Thank you for doing what you do. <3

  • Ileyah

    While reading this I finally realize that I’ve been losing weight for all the wrong reasons. For now on I will lose weight to stay healthy and I will enjoy every moment of it.

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  • Hello, and thank you for your testimony. Excuse me for my bad English, I’m French. I think it’s really important that people like you, influential and beautiful have the strength to tell their bad experience and trauma imposed on their bodies. It is essential to beat the marketting and true propaganda that guide our ideal into a superficial and morbid quest. Indeed it is very hard today to love, to accept her body and really do good. SEVERAL friends are, I think, in extreme food to lose weight and it hurts me that they impose such a tyranny that does not bring them happiness. Perhaps a few more glances, envious or desirable but not for the real reasons and their inner being. Myself I’m obsessed with my body and discovered today that I do not like. It’s hard to admit but I will look for other ways to make peace with myself and my image. Fortunately for me, my mother who is diététitienne, allways saved me from the extreme, because the priority remains healthy, and I’ve always been thanks to her. and thanks to you again.

  • I’m an amateur fitness competitor (fitness is a division in body building shows). Couple of thoughts: Your trainer is stupid was practicing beyond his scope and possibly without proper training/education/certification- I don’t know ANYBODY who competes in ANY category who preps for 8 weeks, works out 6-7 hours a day, OR is prescribed by their coach a diet that consists of only a thousand calories a day. I don’t think everybody who competes once should be a repeat competitor; it’s super weird and not for everybody. But I believe that people should not feel overly harmed as a result of their training for a show and I hope that most one-time competitors will leave with neutral at worst feelings about their prep and their competition. This guy didn’t know what he was doing.

    I work out about an hour (maybe two because I have a “skills” round, so I have to practice those skills) a day (6 weeks out from my next show, my coach REMOVED a training day from my previous plan- so I work out 5 days a week, and put my rest days where I need them- and I do, because like you, I teach multiple fitness classes a week!). A little more a few weeks out but again, I have skills/choreography to run. From your starting point, I don’t know why your trainer wanted you to do so much boring ass time consuming steady state cardio. That is CRAZY. 8 weeks isn’t very long; most people I know prep for 16 weeks or longer. Maybe he was thinking that there’s only 8 weeks so you had to work super hard to “make up for lost time” or something, but I think you started with a fairly lean physique based on your pictures in this post.

    Just because somebody “used to compete” doesn’t mean they know how to train other people. That really grinds my gears. Body building is already arguably an extreme sport, there is a lot of potential for damaging people by doing stupid old-fashioned shit that the science doesn’t support any more.

    If anybody is reading this blog post because they are thinking that they also want to compete (don’t compete in bikini, it is the stupidest and least rewarding category and has stupid required poses), shop around for a coach. Ask them their qualifications, ask them who their other clients are (and talk to those clients if you can!), and ask them about their dietary philosophies. If you think that what they are saying sounds above-average crazy and not regular “body building is pretty wacky but this doesn’t sound like a death sentence” then talk to other coaches.

    Cassey, I’m sorry your competition prep experience was so poor. I’m sorry you had awful coaching that fostered unhealthy, dangerous behaviors and ideas in you. I think you are incredibly brave to share your story with us all and I appreciate you sharing your journey back to health with us. Keep being you!

  • Oh well ! Dieting is not for everyone

  • anonymous

    Hey Cassey, it’s the first time i’ve entered in your internet website, although i have already done some of your exercise the past few months with Blogilates app.
    I want to let you know that I’ve been through something similirar; in six months I lost like about 6 kg and had lead me to not having my menstruation. I excercised a lot; I ran 30 mins 6 days per week and ate very little, avoiding the excess of calories. I was a little obssesed as you with only eating healthy foods. Right now I’m concerned of what I have been through (I wasnt concious, I thought that I still had to lose some weight) and I started eating more varied and exercising less. Today, its been like one and a half year that I dont have my mentruation and I dont want to get fatter but I know that if I want to have it again (I still need to develope, I’m 15 and my boobs are really really small), I have to have more fat in my body… ANYWAY your video has helped my to see that there are more persons like me and im just soosososo proud that you are know balanced and ok with yourself.
    Sorry for my grammar; Im from Spain

  • nice

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  • And this is why I love you, Cassey! You’re so open and beautiful as a person. I met you on your book tour last year and told you I’d discovered you through a lifestyle group I joined, Live More Weigh Less. That program is what broke me of restrictive dieting. I had no idea I was even dieting. I’d always thought what I was doing was just being attentive. In reality, I stressed out about only eating 1600 calories a day and worked out to make up for more calories. I would berate myself if I went over and constantly deny myself the things I really enjoyed. It was awful. When I joined LMWL, the first step was to stop weighing yourself, stop keeping track of what your eating, and start eating more whole foods. I remember thinking to myself, wait a minute, how will I know what to eat. And then, I finally heard my body. I finally listened to her completely.
    I was doing some pretty great workouts when a friend in LMWL posted her #blogilates challenge. I was always a fan of pilates and yoga so when she challenged me to try it for a week, I took her up on it. I was impressed in just 30 seconds. Not only were you cheery and excited, you were full of real talk and inspiration. Not to mention the fantasticness that is cheap clean eats! I love the ideas you give on there and because I’m fully engaged with my body and her needs now, I like to use your recipes as jumping off points.
    Thank you for being so brave and open all the time. It has to be exhausting to be so full of life ;) I adore you and am a proud #popster.
    <3 & hugs