I Swapped Detox Teas For The 80-20 Rule—And I Lost 50 Pounds

My name is Gen Coco (@gensgym). I am 25 years old and lucky enough to live in beautiful and sunny San Diego. I am the CEO and founder of Gen’s Gym, an online health and fitness coaching company that helps women ditch the diet mentality and overcome their negative relationship with food so they can love their bodies and lives—just like I did.

Growing up, I was a chronic overachiever in my academia but underachiever when it came to health and wellness. I also thought of myself as awkward and had trouble making friends. My parents split up when I was just 7 years old, and it was really tough. I began to see my dad and siblings less and less, until my mom eventually got full custody. I became quiet and unemotional because all I wanted was for everyone to get along and be happy—but with that came some very real loneliness.

By the time I was in elementary and middle school, I turned to food to try and fill that emptiness I felt inside. When I was 16, I started dating a guy and he showered me with the love and affection I had been craving for so long. But our relationship was unhealthy and left me feeling more broken and empty than ever, and it went on for four and a half years.

Again, I turned to food. Entire pizzas. Full tubs of ice cream. Family sized bags of chips. I think a part of me somehow thought that I would find the solution to my problems at the bottom of the bag. And as time went on my problems only became worse and worse. During that relationship, I gained over 30 pounds.

My turning point came on my 21st birthday, when I stepped on the scale and, for the first time ever, saw the number 200 staring back at me.

I sat on my bathroom floor that night and cried for hours as I looked in the mirror confused and angry. I realized that I needed to make serious changes. I couldn’t keep eating Domino's pizza and a pint of ice cream every night and expect to be happy.

So, I signed up for a gym and removed the junk food from my house. But I still didn’t know a lick about weight loss. I had tried to lose weight *so* many times before, using every method you could think of. I bought gym memberships and never went. I counted calories for a month and then gave up. I did seven-day cleanses to try to lose 10 pounds in a week, and then binged so hard afterward that I gained 12 pounds back. I tried skinny detox teas. I even tried these really sketchy “metabolism-boosting” pills.

Eventually, I realized that crash diets were not going to give me the results that I wanted. I knew that I needed to find something realistic if I was going to lose this weight and keep it off permanently. So when I started researching weight-loss approaches, I looked for something that sounded legit and sustainable.

Enter: the 80/20 rule, which is when when you get 80 percent of your calories from whole, healthy foods, and the other 20 percent from your favorite treats.

Before, I would commit to a diet and tell myself I need to be 100 percent perfect and could not make a *single* diet mistake. No sugar. No carbs. No alcohol. No life. I knew that to make things work, finally, I needed to have flexibility and balance in my diet in order to succeed—and that's what adapting an 80/20 rule mindset allows.

For me, another key to sustainable weight loss was learning how to cook healthy food that was also delicious. By taking the time to learn and master healthy staples, I began to look forward to eating my healthy meals and stopped craving less healthy options.

I planned all my meals ahead of time and made sure that I grocery shopped on Sundays. This helped guarantee that I would not be stuck in a situation where I didn’t have healthy food prepared and would need to go out to eat.

Here’s what I typically eat in a day now:

  • Breakfast: Three eggs with salsa.
  • Lunch: Chicken and veggies. Usually, I eat about 6 ounces of chicken with roasted sweet potato and broccoli.
  • Snacks: Greek yogurt with fruit, a handful of almonds, an apple with peanut butter, or a protein shake.
  • Dinner: Turkey taco bowls. I love using taco seasoning on ground turkey, sautéing some onion and bell pepper, and throwing it on a bed of lettuce with a scoop of rice and beans.
  • Dessert: My go-to dessert is a frozen banana, a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder, a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and a dash of vanilla. Blended together, I swear it tastes just like a Wendy’s frosty.

When it comes to exercise, I do my best to take advantage of the amazing weather in San Diego.

For instance, I love taking my dog for walks. I walk him three times a day, every day, usually for about 30 minutes. That is really the only “cardio” that I do. I truly believe that you need to love the workouts you are doing...otherwise you won’t do them. So I don’t do any running, cycling, stair stepper, etc., because frankly, I do not enjoy those activities.

On top of my dog walks and other outdoor activities, I also do three to four resistance-training sessions per week. This will either look like a quick 30-minute HIIT workout where I am doing a lot of high intensity exercises with very little rest periods, or a longer 60-minute weight-lifting session.

I first discovered HIIT workouts when I was too shy to workout at the gym. Even though they were challenging, I loved that I could do them in the privacy of my home without the gym-timidation factor. As I created a baseline for my strength and started to build confidence, I signed up for a gym and started lifting heavier weights. I love how strong and badass I feel playing with all of the barbells and free weights on the gym floor now.

I lost 50 pounds in nine months—but I’ve gained so much more in love, respect, and confidence.

I can finally look in the mirror and say that I truly love myself. I can walk into a room and feel fully confident that I belong there. I know my worth when it comes to my relationships and do not accept less than what I deserve. I am unafraid to raise my voice, share my story, and put myself out there to the rest of the world because I know just how much value I have to offer.

Be patient and keep things simple. Stop buying weight loss products that promise quick results and effortless short cuts. There is no secret pill that is going to help you lose 30 pounds in 30 days. Losing weight and being healthy is about so much more than just “being skinny.” It’s about loving yourself from the inside out. It wasn’t until I really focused on the type of person I wanted to be, instead of just the type of person I wanted to look like, that I was able to succeed in my weight-loss journey.


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