I struggled with my weight for seven years before I finally found a way to lose it in a balanced and sustainable way so that I could keep it off forever.

Honestly, I used to be really unhappy with my body. I dreaded waking up in the morning, one, because I had no energy, but two because that meant walking into the bathroom and looking in the mirror at a reflection that I barely recognized.

It meant taking 20 minutes to pick out my outfit for the day because none of my clothes fit and the ones that did, I hated the way they looked.

I even noticed my weight affecting my relationships. I couldn't have fun going out with my friends because the whole time I was thinking about how I looked, what others thought about me, and I didn't want to take any group photos. I was embarrassed about the way that I looked.

At this point, I was in my early twenties and I felt like I had tried everything. I would restrict calories to 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day, but then fall off because I was too restrictive.

I tried cutting out carbs, sugar, gluten, and fats. I tried meal replacement shakes and weight loss supplements. I got gym memberships but then never went because I was too self-conscious working out in front of others.

The big issue that I kept running into was that one person would say one thing and then another would say something completely different, and I didn't know who or what I was supposed to believe.

And because I failed time and time again, I started to make these decisions about myself that were just not true, like "I can't do this," "it's too hard," "maybe I'm just not meant to be skinny or happy or lean or toned," and my favorite: "I'm fine...this is my new normal. I should move on and accept it because that would be so much easier."

The moment everything changed was the day of my 21st birthday. During dinner, my mom took a photo of me to capture a special memory. And when she showed me the photo, I truly did not recognize myself.

Most 21-year-olds spend their birthday out partying and celebrating with friends. I spent mine on my bathroom floor, crying, completely sober, feeling so lost, confused, and embarrassed about who I had become.

I thought to myself: "Is this my life now? Am I really going to accept this future?"

I gained 30lbs in three years and knew if I didn't get my weight under control, I would only continue to add weight. And with that, I would not only face social stigma, but also put myself at risk for health complications down the road.

High blood pressure, heart disease, infertility, diabetes and so many other conditions that I would be at risk of experiencing for the rest of my life. I knew I needed to make a change but I felt so hopeless on where to start.

But I also knew I owed it to myself to try.

In the year after, I started implementing key lifestyle changes—and I lost 50lbs. I went down from 205lbs to around 155lbs. And now, since losing the weight, I've shifted my focus to building healthy lean muscle and toning and sculpting my body.

Cleaning Up My Nutrition

The first thing I focused on was cleaning up my nutrition. I realized one of my biggest issues was that I always felt like I was on a diet but, in reality, I was just eating healthy for three or four days a week and then going off the rails on the weekends.

Monday to Thursday I would eat egg whites and spinach for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and chicken, rice, and broccoli for dinner.

But by the time the weekend rolled around I would eat pizza, ice cream, burgers with a side of fries and a milkshake, and drink large amounts of alcohol which held hidden calories I wasn't even thinking about.

Because I was so restrictive the first four days of the week, I would go so far overboard in those next three days that I would end up canceling out any calorie deficit I had created.

I started tracking my food seven days a week and building consistency with what I was eating. I was meal prepping on weekdays and cutting out all processed foods and restaurant dining.

I also began to minimize my drinking, though I didn't cut it out completely. l was only 21 and so still going out to bars to socialize with my friends.

I noticed in the early stages of my journey that my body was really resisting weight loss. So I made the personal decision to go off of my birth control. I had the non-hormonal copper IUD.

My doctor told me there was no way that was affecting my weight loss. I still insisted they remove it—and I lost 10lbs in five days.

Now that's not going to be the case for everyone. It was just my own personal experience. But it was an important part of my own weight loss journey.

Incorporating a Fitness Routine

The next thing I did was incorporate a fitness routine into my life. Now, I am not the kind of girl who goes for a five-mile run every single day. I'm not even the kind of girl who gets 10,000 steps in a day. Nor am I the person who has a schedule that would realistically allow me to go to the gym five or six days a week.

So instead, at the beginning of my journey, I started out with three 28-minute-long home workouts with a set of 5lbs dumbbells and a yoga mat. I have since expanded into more traditional weightlifting with progressive overload.

I still don't have the time or desire to go to the gym five or six days a week. So I still only work out three times a week, but now those sessions are closer to an hour long. I also go for walks every single day, just for 30 to 60 minutes, even if it's broken down into three 20-minute walks.

Prioritizing Sleep and Stress Levels

Lastly, I prioritize my sleep and stress levels. I have a consistent bedtime and a consistent wake-up time. I'm usually in bed by 9 or 10pm and wake up around 6 or 7am.

This allows me to get a full eight to nine hours each night, compared to before when I was sleeping five, maybe six hours. I track my sleep using my Oura Ring and this gives me really valuable data on my sleep recovery and trends.

I went to therapy to work on my mindset. I read books on personal growth. I would journal daily about my goals. I attended personal development seminars. I focused on not just being skinny, but happy too.

At the end of the day, losing weight is not going to make you happy. Only you can make you happy. So doing the inner work is just as important as eating your vegetables and getting those steps in.


These days, I'm a women's weight loss expert and coach and I've managed to replicate similar results with hundreds of my clients.

The biggest difference in my life now is the confidence I have in myself. Losing weight truly felt impossible at the time. And having accomplished the 'impossible', I have the self-confidence to know I can do hard things.

I have more energy, I'm more present in my friendships and relationships. I feel confident in my clothes and naked.

But most importantly, I love myself in a way I've never loved myself before. And by choosing to love myself towards healthy instead of hating myself towards skinny, I know that I will maintain these results for a lifetime.

All that to say, I feel the last thing I need to do is acknowledge my clients. It can be easy to look at someone else who has lost weight and think: "That's great for her, but that could never be me..."

The reality is: It can. I am not special. I've taught my methods to hundreds of clients and they've all been able to achieve amazing results.

Nothing makes me more excited than watching a client who has struggled with her weight for years completely transform her body and life through the principles I teach my clients.

Helping them lose weight, gain confidence, and establish healthy habits and routines they can sustain for a lifetime gives me a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment, and that is truly the best part of my own weight loss story.

Gen Cohen is a women's weight loss and fitness coach. She is the founder of Gen's Gym.

All views expressed are the author's own.

Do you have a unique experience or personal story to share? Email the My Turn team at [email protected].

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