Cody Rigsby, XOXO, CODY: An Opinionated Homosexual's Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness

Cody Rigsby, XOXO, CODY: An Opinionated Homosexual's Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness

Zibby (and Zibby Books author Alisha Fernandez Miranda) interview New York Times bestselling author and beloved Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby about XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness, an inspiring memoir that chronicles his journey from a childhood of poverty in the South to fitness stardom in New York City. Cody talks about being his mother’s caregiver at a young age, losing his best friend to addiction, practicing self-love and honesty in his life (and in this book), and what success means to him. (The episode ends with a hilarious game of literary smash or pass.)


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Cody. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” Tell us everything about your book. We are so excited. Your memoir was amazing. Now we know all about you, but you have to have the listeners learn all about you.

Cody Rigsby: I am really excited about this book. It’s been an incredible journey. I started the whole process of getting a proposal together and all this almost a year ago, over a year ago. It’s good to see that it’s crystallized. It’s coming out to the public. This is a memoir about my life, but it also is balanced out with some self-love and relationship advice through my lived experience. In this story, we go through my younger years and a lot of the hardships that I faced, including dealing with two parents that were battling addiction as well as going through bouts and periods of homelessness. I grew up super poor. Sometimes I look back at my life and wonder, wow, how did I get to this point right here? We really talk about that in the book. Through our hardships and through the ups and downs, we can really land in a place of, A, self-love, but B, also finding our purpose and our stride and success. I’m really excited to share the story with people. Hopefully, they take bits from it that they feel inspired to love themselves more and laugh at life and not take things so seriously.

Zibby: I know Alisha’s going to jump in with a bunch of questions.

Cody: Hey, Alisha. Come on, boo!

Alisha Miranda: No, go ahead, Zibby.

Zibby: You go. I’ll come back later. Go ahead.

Alisha: You have such an open chain to your viewers, everybody who takes your classes. What made you decide to put your story into a book format?

Cody: As you know, you’ve taken my rides, it’s a twenty- or thirty-minute ride. I’m telling you what cadence, what resistance, how long to push. I’m shaking my titties to Britney Spears. We’re doing tons of things. Sometimes these stories or these little anecdotes only come out in fifteen to thirty seconds, and so you get a little, short, snackable portion of it. Any meal, we don’t want just the appetizer. We want the full entrée and dessert. I really feel like this book was the entrée and dessert and a nice little cocktail on the side to some of the stories that I’ve told. We get to go a lot more in depth. I think a lot of people who have taken my content really content to the stories about my mom, Cindy. A lot of those stories are always silly and fun. Those are the things that I cherish about my mom and our relationship. Of course, I want to share them there. I think there was a lot deeper story to tell about my mom in this book, and about my life. I think that so much of that, like anybody’s relationship with their parents, is complicated. The biggest thing that I’ve learned is to let go and to accept people and to love people how they are and know that our time with people that we really care about is short and precious and that the more that we focus on resentment and pain and hurt, it’s stealing of us and robbing of us really incredible and connected moments with people that we care about.

Zibby: I was struck with your relationship to your mom, particularly when you described the scene where she went to walk the dog. The dog came back, and your mom did not come back. You were like, what’s going on? You had to go find her. You found her lying face down. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Oh, my gosh. You had this moment in the book where you’re like wait a minute, I’m trying to show up and be a good son, but maybe this is more than I can handle. What do I do now? Tell me more about that.

Cody: Listen, I’m thirty-six now, and I’ve had a few years of being more of an adult caregiver at this point, so a little bit more well-versed. Back then, even three or four years ago, I was probably thirty-two, thirty-three, and most people my age are not taking care of an adult parent. They’re not taking them to psychiatry appointments to figure out their mental health issues or things going on. They’re not learning what kind of medicines a diabetic takes or any of these things. I remember, at times, just feeling really defeated because I didn’t have any resources. I didn’t know anybody. I was really trying to figure this out the best that we can. I just remember times really breaking down crying being like, how am I going to figure this out? When we love people and we decide to take care of them, in a way, it really is sometimes unconditional. We just have to take care of them no matter what’s going on. Fortunately, I was in a place where I could, specifically, financially take care of her, but also have time to be able to figure these things out. Now we’re in a good pace. I have more understanding and some tools in my toolbox to really make it a lot smoother. I really do feel for anybody at any age who’s starting to take care of their parents. It’s a wild journey because it’s hard, but it’s also interesting to see our parents age and still be the same person, but things just function differently.

Zibby: I don’t know if either of you saw — this was posted yesterday, so this, of course, will be a little bit of older news — Bruce Willis’s wife who just posted yesterday about caregivers and how she tries to just put her best foot forward. That’s all you can do, is to try to find something beautiful and just keep going. I felt like that was so profound and on theme with your whole message.

Cody: Absolutely.

Alisha: You really cover some very deep ground throughout the book. Like Zibby, actually, in her writing, you’re very open with things that are —

Zibby: — You too.

Alisha: Well, yes. I’m always so impressed by how, even on Instagram, you’re so honest with people about how you’re feeling. Cody, that’s absolutely what we get from your book. Was there anything that you really didn’t want to write about or maybe that ended up getting cut, but something that just felt like, actually, you couldn’t be that open, you really didn’t want to go there?

Cody: No. I got this question a lot. No, nothing was off limits. I’m an open book. We might have changed a few names of boyfriends to not be too petty. We did do that. I think that so much of the things that we consume are so curated and such bullshit and so boring that it’s not authentic. Sometimes we just really can’t relate to it. I think people have found me and really connect to the point that they feel that I’m authentic, that I’m real, that I’m raw. I wanted to infuse this book with that same type of energy. I’m doing people a disservice to preach self-love and share my journey of self-love and then to water it down and not say that the things that we’re ashamed of, the hardships that we go through, the things that we have guilt about are all in that journey to loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. It’s an ongoing process. It doesn’t ever change. If I’m sitting here ashamed of certain things that happened in my life, then I can’t tell you to let go of shame and love yourself. It was important for me to just be as real and honest and truthful about what was going on. Hopefully, people connect to that, and they say to themselves, okay, it’s time for me to let go of shame that I’m holding onto.

Alisha: I definitely think openness and authenticity begets others doing it.

Cody: When you see other people doing it, you’re like, oh, now I have their permission to do the same.

Zibby: I also was so moved by your description of losing your best friend and even including the final texts and then all of your guilt about addiction and alcohol and all of it. How could you have helped? How do you help somebody who’s struggling? Just that whole rabbit hole of emotion compounded by the grief itself — sorry, I keep going to these depressing things. You’re such an upbeat, fun guy. I’m like, tell me about the worst moments of your life, please. Alisha can be my counterbalance here. Tell me a little more about that. Then we can go for some more fun.

Cody: Let’s get deep. I’m sure we’ll get fun at some point. I think people need to hear this. Addiction is a really crazy thing. I don’t completely understand it because I don’t experience it. I’ve learned to have a lot more compassion with it in relationship with my mom, with my father, and most importantly, my friendship with Oscar, who we lost about three and a half years ago. It was really challenging to see someone hurting themselves and continuously doing that, and also hard because he didn’t know how to get out of that cycle. You try to help as much as you can. Sometimes that help is not received, not because they don’t care, but just because they can’t. Their desire to hear you or love you is so overpowered by this demon that is just already infused into who they are that they literally cannot help it. It is really challenging dealing with someone who’s dealing with addiction.

When you get emotionally invested in your friendships, like we all do, we also have to create boundaries where we understand that we’re trying to help. We’re trying to do our best. We love them. At a certain point, you can’t let your desire to help someone or your love for somebody else outweigh your protecting of your own sanity and your own love for yourself. We have to come first. If we don’t have that, we can’t help other people. I had to come to a place where I had to create a boundary and essentially, love from afar and know that I’ve done my best. Unfortunately, Oscar passed. It just wasn’t enough. As much as I beat myself up about, I could’ve done that better, I could’ve done this, I do give myself a little bit of grace. I think anybody who has a similar situation should give themselves a little bit of grace. We only know what we know when we know it. Thirty-six-year-old Cody knows a lot more than thirty-three-year-old Cody. I can only know what I knew then.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry that happened.

Alisha: The thing you said about being able to preserve yourself and your boundaries is something we hear from a lot of the listeners of this podcast, who are not all moms, but certainly, there are a lot of moms who listen to “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.” This idea that you have to be able to take care of yourself before you’re able to take care of and support others is incredibly challenging but also so fundamental to what we do. We talk a lot about time and not having time on this podcast and in the many things that Zibby has done. What would you say to the moms out there who feel like they don’t have the time for the kind of self-love that you’re advocating for in your book?

Zibby: Or even the time to just take a Peloton class?

Cody: Listen, I don’t know what it’s like to be a mom. I have so much respect for the mothers out there. It is a really challenging job. You don’t get paid for it. You get paid in love and getting to see your child grow up and be the best version of themselves, hopefully. I think it comes back to the feeling of grace or giving ourselves grace and understanding that there’s a ton of mommy bloggers out there and people who have curated lives that make it seem like, oh, I should be able to have an hour of time to myself a day to do the facial, do the workout, do the meditation, all these sort of things, and that’s not reality. We’ve all got really busy lives. Everyone’s a little bit different. Give yourself a little bit of grace that it’s not as perfect as you want it to be. Then most importantly — okay, maybe not twenty minutes. Do you have five minutes? Can you lock yourself in the bathroom and take some deep breaths? Can you listen to a podcast while you’re on the go? Where in the day can you find those little moments that prioritize yourself? Don’t beat yourself up if it’s not as big or as meaty as you want it to be. Give yourself a little bit of grace. Try to fit in little moments that you can. Also, it’s not selfish. I know you love your kids, but you also have to love yourself and pour from an, already, I’m sure, very empty cup.

Zibby: Thank you for that advice, by the way. Maybe I’ll now go and take five minutes, but probably not. You often talk, in the book, about, you can’t believe you’re here, that you’ve attained this level. You have a whole section of, I can’t believe now I can drink out of green glass bottles to have water, and how you’ve really made it ordering two appetizers and all of that. How do you feel about achieving this level of fame that you might not have — I know you wanted to be a dancer and all that. How does that feel to you? How do you wrestle with that on a daily basis, becoming a brand?

Cody: I’m a true Gemini, so there’s a multitude of emotions. I can go one way or the other. I am really grateful that I have this. It does excite me and bring me a lot of joy that I have success. Honestly, the fame part of it isn’t what really drives me. The success part of it, the monetary part of it allows me to feed my inner child and give to my inner child a lot of the things that I didn’t have. Everyone always asks me, why do I love to go to Disney World? It’s because I remember going to Disneyland when I was a kid with my mom. You know kids at these places. They want that snack and that toy and that T-shirt and that drink. I could always ask my mom for those things. I knew it hurt her so much to be able to have to say no because she literally could not afford it. In a way, that monetary success that I have now very much feeds my inner child and gives it what I didn’t have. That brings me a lot of joy, and also being able to give back to my mom and make sure that she’s taken care of. For the longest time, she’s felt like she hasn’t done enough and doesn’t know what she’s going to do next. Taking some of that stress away from her really does bring me a lot of joy. When it comes to having a platform, it’s just nice to be able to affect people’s lives and have them think that what I do has a positive impact on their mental health, their physical health, how they love themselves, how they go out into the world, how they find courage. I’m fortunate that the job that I do does affect people and that I get to hear that it affects people. That really does bring me a lot of joy and happiness.

Alisha: The subtitle to this book is An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness, which I love. You are clearly a man of very strong opinions. There are many of them in the book. Can you tell me one time where you have changed your mind about something or someone?

Cody: That is good. This is a good question. Now I don’t have something that popped up on my mind right away. I’m trying to think of a food.

Alisha: I know it’s not Taylor Swift.

Cody: It’s definitely not Taylor Swift. Haven’t changed my mind. If you love her, you love her. Great job. This is not a very good one, but I have really moved into — I’ve never said that Beyoncé is bad or anything like that. I’ve never said that Beyoncé is overrated, but I have never put her so high up in my hierarchy of female popstars. Britney hasn’t really put out music in a while. She’s on her own journey of figuring out herself right now. I feel like Beyoncé is now becoming my number one. I’m just such in awe of her performances and what she gives and the talent and the awareness. It really excites me. I haven’t done a complete 180.

Alisha: An evolution, maybe.

Cody: An evolution. I wish I could think, off the top of my head, something else. I know there’s something that .

Alisha: You’re going to think of twenty as soon as this call .

Cody: I know. I know there’s something that I was like, I didn’t like that at first, but I’m kind of into it now.

Alisha: I think spinning might have been that for me. I was never a big fan. I have to say I’m so sold. I think my longest fitness relationship is probably with my Peloton bike.

Cody: I love that. Me working at Peloton made me fall in love with it more. It was only something that I did periodically. It definitely gave me a little bit of love for cycling the more that I was at Peloton.

Alisha: How are you feeling about going out on tour and meeting so many of your fans face to face in different parts of the country?

Cody: I’m excited. The tour aspect of it, I’m excited about. I know how much of an impact I have on people’s lives, and so I kind of get a little bit stressed or worried that I’m not going to be able to have really individualized tons of times with people who are really excited to meet me and see me. Knowing that there’s going to be a thousand people at a book signing, we’re only going to get a small morsel of time. I hope that people understand that and they don’t feel disappointed. When people come to the Peloton studios, there’s forty bikes in the room. I’ve got forty people in the room. Then we go out to the main space, and we take a picture. I know how important it is to people, so I really try to spend a little chunk of time being like, hey, how are you? Why are you here? Thank you so much. I do get a little worried that I won’t have as much of that time with people. I hope people don’t get mad.

Alisha: Don’t get mad at Cody.

Zibby: No one’s going to get mad. No one will get mad. You’re going to be fine. Don’t you think? I think you’re going to be okay.

Cody: Great.

Alisha: You’re going to be great. I think maybe some people will meet you, and they’ll just be too stunned to say anything, or burst into —

Cody: — I know. That happens. Me and my assistant, right now, are trying to organize what the book tour events are going to be like and what aspects of it we’re going to put in there. We’re getting that all together. I feel like we’re in good shape. I hope it all goes off really amazingly.

Zibby: Is there anyone that you’re like, oh, my gosh, I kind of don’t want this person to read this book?

Cody: No, I don’t think so. I wrote about my relationship with my Brazilian boyfriend, Mateus. I purposefully sent him the chunks of it to be like, “Hey, this is going in the book. Do you want me to change your name?” I sent it to him. He gave me the approval. No, I think it’s fine. I think everyone can have a good laugh at it. I think anybody that might get offended by anything is missing the point.

Zibby: Do you have advice for aspiring authors?

Cody: Just give it your all. Don’t hold back. Be as true and honest to yourself as you can be. Don’t try to assume what people want to read or people want to consume and base your decisions on that. Rather, follow your intuition. Create a book or content that is authentically you, and the right people will flock to it like flies to honey. Is that the right phrase?

Zibby: Bees to honey?

Cody: Bees to honey, okay. That does make more sense. I think it’s flies to shit. Not as beautiful an analogy, but I guess it does make sense.

Zibby: Alisha has a speed round last question or two.

Alisha: I was trying to figure out what you liked to read. You’ve got some books behind you.

Cody: I know. I like a lot of self-help or meditation or advice books. I also like a lot of fiction. I also really love a lot of queer fiction. Gay stories, I really love. My favorite book is Dancer from the Dance, which is such a great read. I will be honest, I’ve been trying to get through A Little Life so much, but I just can’t. I haven’t been able to really dig into it. Every time I take it to the beach, I get distracted.

Zibby: No, no, that is not the book to bring to the beach.

Alisha: It’s not a beach read, I think.

Cody: I know. Everyone says that.

Alisha: I did design a smash or pass, literary edition, for you. Do you want to play? Do you want to play a quick round? Zibby, do we have time for this?

Cody: Hopefully, I know the references.

Zibby: We have one minute.

Alisha: One minute. Smash or pass, literary edition. I think you’ll know these. We’ll start with Professor Dumbledore from Harry Potter.

Cody: Definitely, smash. He’s gay. Isn’t he gay?

Alisha: I think so.

Cody: That’s what J.K. Rowling said, that he’s gay. Listen, just like every other gay, and some girls, I have daddy issues, and so we have to get into our Dumbledore fantasy to let go of our daddy issues.

Alisha: Love it. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Cody: I have no idea who that is.

Alisha: I was thinking movie also. Colin Firth .

Cody: I’ve seen it. I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice. Does that make me a bad feminist?

Alisha: Not at all, but it’s a great book. Okay, pass. Hamlet. Talk about someone with daddy issues.

Cody: He didn’t have a lot of wives, did he?

Alisha: No. Although, I do sometimes have to figure out which one is Hamlet and which one is Macbeth in my head, but that’s .

Cody: Macbeth had a bunch of wives, didn’t he?

Alisha: Yeah. He had an opinionated wife, actually.

Cody: I bet.

Alisha: Also, Ethan Hawke played Hamlet in that. That was a really good movie.

Cody: Oh, my god, so then let’s definitely smash because Ethan Hawke used to be one of my biggest crushes ever. He’s so cute. Oh, my god, he was so cute. I just watched some movie. It was the one with him and Uma Thurman. He had his DNA in something. I can’t remember.

Alisha: Oh, my god, is it Gattaca?

Cody: Yeah, I think it’s Gattaca.

Alisha: I love that movie.

Cody: So good. .

Alisha: I think that’s it. If we’re wrong, we’ll just edit that part out.

Cody: We’ll edit it. It’s okay.

Alisha: I could go on forever, but I feel like we’re probably over time.

Cody: Try to hit me with some other ones.

Zibby: Last one.

Alisha: I was going to go for Sherlock Holmes. Zibby’s going to cut us off.

Cody: Sherlock Holmes, smash. Yeah, of course, a detective, but don’t cheat on him because he will find it out.

Alisha: But a smoker, so you do have to think about that.

Zibby: True.

Cody: It was 1800s.

Alisha: Everybody was a smoker.

Zibby: It was a pipe, though.

Alisha: Yeah, pipe smoker. Different.

Cody: Nobody knew that smoking was bad for them, so I can’t really hold it against him. He was just a man of his times. Everybody was smoking back then, so I’m not going to hold it against him.

Alisha: I suspect we will not be the only people to play this with you on your book tour. I hope we’re the first.

Cody: I think so, actually. I don’t think I’ve played it with anybody else.

Zibby: Thank you, Cody. This was so fun. Thank you for sharing your soul with the world every day but also in the book. I’m really excited for all you have in store connecting with people, even if it’s only in two-second increments on .

Cody: Good. Thank you so much for having me and chatting. I’m glad that you got to read it and enjoy it and give me such great feedback.

XOXO, CODY: An Opinionated Homosexual’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Tactful Pettiness by Cody Rigsby

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