- Gen Cohen spent almost a decade trying fad diets but all he could do was gain weight.
- At the age of 21, she decided to take a different, more sustainable approach.
- Cohen decided to love herself towards being healthy instead of hating towards being thin, she said.
Gen Cohen spent almost ten years since he was 12 years old trying to be different fad diets in an attempt to lose weight, but only ever ended up yo-yoing.
“I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life,” Cohen, now 29, told Business Insider.
After gaining weight in college, Cohen no longer recognized herself. She decided to make a change and go on a fitness journey, but she wanted to do it differently this time.
Cohen, who is based in San Diego, ate a high protein diet gently calorie deficitand follow the 80/20 principlemeaning that she didn’t skimp on her diet and enjoyed indulgences and alcohol in moderation.
Although Cohen didn’t lose any weight for three months, she stayed consistent and lost 50 pounds over a year. She has kept the weight off for seven years.
Cohen went on her first diet when she was 12 years old
Cohen grew up in a small town in Connecticut where, she said, health was not a priority. She was active and played sports, but she and her classmates would always go to McDonald’s afterwards.
Cohen remembers going on her first diet at age 12, which she now realizes contributed to her negative body image.
When she went to college in San Diego, being able to eat out for every meal was a new thing – as she did, and she also stopped playing sports.
“I ended up gaining about 30 pounds and just had all my life to figure out how to get it off,” said Cohen. “I felt frustrated, I felt sad, and I felt really deceived by the media and the weight loss industry because all I read was ‘Eat 1,200 calories, cut out carbsdon’t eat fats, buy these protein shakes or supplements,’ but it seemed like the more products and quick fixes I did, the more damage I was doing.”
She would lose 10 pounds then gain back 15, lose 20 then gain back 30, she said. Her experience reflects what research shows about how unsustainable weight loss methods can stress the body, causing weight gain.
“I would eat a huge amount of food and feel physically terrible afterwards because I didn’t have a certain amount of self-love,” Cohen said.
Cohen’s 21st birthday was a highlight
For Cohen’s 21st birthday, her mom flew out to visit her. They went to a beautiful vantage point and took some photos, but when Cohen looked back at them later, she was surprised at how she looked.
“I physically felt my heart drop into my stomach because I didn’t really recognize the girl looking back,” Cohen said.
She went home and stepped on the scale for the first time in a while and saw that her weight had crept up to 205 pounds.
Instead of going out to bars like many Americans do to celebrate turning 21, Cohen spent the rest of the night on her bathroom floor crying and feeling upset, disappointed, confused, lost and scared.
“I felt, if the weight could come on so fast without me being aware of it, when would it stop?” she said. “Because I had tried to lose weight so many times before, I assumed I was a lost cause.”
But Cohen realized she had a choice. “I could sit on the bathroom floor for the rest of my life and accept my fate or I could try again,” Cohen said.
Cohen found ‘self-love in a healthy direction’
The next day, she and her mom went to the mall to buy workout clothes, protein powder and a blender.
She knew she had to do things differently, so she began to educate herself, consuming information about nutrition, fitness and mindset. This time there would be no quick fix, gimmicks, or cut corners.
“I made a promise to myself that I was going to love myself in a healthy way instead of hating myself,” Cohen said. “Every other time I had tried lose weight, I tried to do it for a guy, for holidays, for a special event, for New Years, and this was the first time I was really doing it for me.”
Cohen prepared a meal and ate a sweet calorie deficit
Cohen knew she needed to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but unlike many of her previous attempts, she decided not to drop her calories too low because she wanted to it would be sustainable (and that is the extent. dietitians and nutritionists generally recommend).
Instead of cutting out carbs or fats, as she had done in the past, Cohen focused on a healthy balance. She also focused on proteinmaking sure she got a good hit at every meal – protein helps you maintain muscle and make you feel full – and started preparing meals.
Cohen had never cooked a chicken breast before, so she learned about cooking and nutrition at the same time.
Every Sunday morning, Cohen would write a meal plan for the week, go to the grocery store, then come home and prepare the food.
She tracked, weighed and measured everything. Count calories and weighing foods can be a useful educational tool and help you learn about what different foods provide and how much your body needs, however, it is not for everyone and this is not the any way to lose fat.
Crucially, Cohen was not too strict with his diet, aiming to follow the “80/20” principle. This meant that 80% of what Cohen was eating was nutritious and balanced, and 20% was what she wanted. Dietitians recommend this approach because it means you don’t feel like what you enjoy, and again, it’s more sustainable.
Due to injury, Cohen was unable to do any serious exercise, but she was consistent with her diet.
Cohen did not lose any weight for three months
For the first three months of his new lifestyle, Cohen didn’t lose a single pound.
“I was devastated, I was confused, I felt betrayed,” Cohen said. “I was getting blood work done, I was getting my thyroid tested, I was exploring all these different avenues and options.”
Cohen made the decision to have birth control — a Copper IUD – removed, even though her doctor told her it wouldn’t affect her weight. Within seven days of its removal, Cohen had lost 10 pounds.
Copper IUDs, also known as copper coils, are non-hormonal contraceptives, and weight gain is not listed as a side effect. Although there is some anecdotal evidence from women who claim that the device leads to weight gain, there is scientific evidence lack.
Cohen doesn’t know if her weight loss played a role when her IUD was removed or if it was a coincidence, because sometimes it takes time to see weight loss.
Cohen, now a certified nutrition coach, suspects her body was in a high-stress state after years of dieting, so it took a while to recover.
Over the next nine months, Cohen lost another 40 pounds. “I still say it took me 12 months to lose the weight because I was putting in the months of work beforehand,” she said.
Cohen maintained her weight loss for seven years
After losing all the weight she wanted, Cohen moved to maintenance, which was not easy. It took a bit of trial and error to find out how much to fuel her body well and keep her weight stable, she said.
It helped Cohen learn how to make healthier versions of her favorite takeout foods while keeping her weight under control, and she worked on her mindset and self-love, which helped her enjoy her remove every food and not feel guilty afterwards.
She enjoys alcohol in moderation, but has learned to make lighter choices and lose weight. For example, a tequila shot instead of a margarita, or a vodka soda instead of a Red Bull vodka slushy, she said.
Since recovering from her injury a year or two after losing weight, Cohen has started strength training two or three times a week and walking.
“I’m not your typical fitness girl who has to go to the gym six or seven days a week,” Cohen said. “Gym is not my therapy. Gym is my insurance policy.”
Her most consistent form of exercise is walking.
“I walk every day,” said Cohen. “It’s a huge part of my life.”