Intimidated at the gym, this simple treadmill workout helped 1 woman lose 105 pounds

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Megan Tjelle, 29, shared the details of her 105-pound weight loss journey in a viral TikTok video that garnered 1.8 million views.

Walking played a big role in her weight loss. She also credits keeping herself on a consistent schedule of sleeping eight hours a night, waking up at the same time every day and eating at regular times as what she needs to maintain her health.

And she noticed some unexpected things like skinny privilege and body dysmorphia along the way. She shared her story with TODAY.com.

The focus on his career played a part in his weight gain

Tjelle was fit as a child with sports and activities such as gymnastics, cheerleading, track and cross country kept her active for hours every day.

But when she was in college and nursing school, she had to cut back on her exercise. I was completely focused on school, and I didn’t have any kind of sports that kept me active, she told TODAY.com. I feel like I’m starting to let myself down because I’m putting everything into studying. The stress eating started then.

Her first job out of nursing school she worked 12-hour overnight shifts: It definitely made things worse. I eat at odd times and don’t have a consistent schedule. I put everything into my nursing career, but gave nothing back to myself.

That changed in October 2022, when she got a new nursing job with regular Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 hours. That completely changed things for me. It’s the first time I’ve ever had that kind of schedule in my adult working life.

Tjelle said working 12-hour overnight shifts as a nurse and not having a consistent schedule led to weight gain. (Courtesy Megan Tjelle)

He forced himself to go to the gym

While Tjelle is a fan of “hot girl walks,” living near Chicago means walking outside in the winter can be tough. So, he started going to the gym every day. That was really hard for me at first. It took a lot to walk into the gym and start doing something without feeling very confident in myself.

He walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes at 3 miles per hour with an incline of 3-4% and slowly increased his distance and incline. And, over time, those trips to the gym helped her reconnect with her love of fitness and the mental health benefits of exercise.

It started slowly with walking, but as I lost weight and stayed consistent, instead of turning to food and emotional eating to cope with my stress, fitness became my outlet, she says. I turned my focus to the gym, which built my confidence and helped me believe in myself. So many times, I want to give up and not go to the gym. Just working on myself every day built my confidence. I honestly believe that I can do anything I set my mind to now.

He expanded his workouts from the treadmill to other forms of cardio such as the Stairmaster, running, cycling and weight lifting. I noticed a big change in my fitness level, she says. He is training for his first half marathon.

He also came to see the value of rest days. At first, he went to the gym seven days a week. I feel guilty every time I miss a day. But I realize now that I need to give myself a few days off each week to let myself heal and give my body the rest it needs. Now, he averages five gym days a week.

Tjelle lost 55 pounds in the first six months by walking, outside and on the treadmill.  (Courtesy Megan Tjelle)

Tjelle lost 55 pounds in the first six months by walking, outside and on the treadmill. (Courtesy Megan Tjelle)

He cleaned up his diet and aimed for a calorie deficit

I order a lot of takeout because I always feel like I’m in a rush. But I made it a priority to start planning everything and track what I eat, she says.

To save time and make healthy choices an easy choice, she started using a local meal service called Seattle Sutton, which offers meal plans with targeted calorie counts. He would add some protein or snacks to those meals if he needed to, but he stayed in a calorie deficit.

I continued to stick to those meals, and I stopped eating junk food. I didn’t cut out sugar completely, but I stopped getting sugary Starbucks drinks. I just really cleaned everything, he said.

Now that she’s reached her weight loss goals, she’s no longer strict about what she eats and doesn’t have to stay in a calorie deficit. She aims to eat in moderation and live by the 80/20 rule.

Now, Tjelle copes with anxiety by moving her body, instead of turning to food for comfort.  (Courtesy Megan Tjelle)

Now, Tjelle copes with anxiety by moving her body, instead of turning to food for comfort. (Courtesy Megan Tjelle)

He turned to weight loss medication when he hit a plateau

Tjelle lost 55 pounds in the first six months, and then her weight loss slowed. I’ve lost weight a few times before, but I always put it back on and gain weight because I can’t really stay in a calorie deficit and the cravings are bad, she said.

So, in April, she talked to her primary care doctor, who referred her to a specialist, and she started taking the weight-loss drug Wegovy (semaglutide).

I continued all the lifestyle changes I had made six months before, such as diet and exercise, she said. He used Wegovy to maintain and continue his weight loss.

She shared her weight loss journey on TikTok

In the beginning, Tjelle was inspired by the many transformation videos she saw on TikTok. So, he decided to share his journey as well. Honestly, it’s hard for me to start posting videos, because it’s so vulnerable to post. But I want to let other people know that it is possible. If I can, surely they can too.

Positive feedback on TikTok keeps her posting. She gets a lot of comments from people in the same situation as her: It’s really inspiring to see all the supportive comments and to see people say that I made a difference to them or inspired them to start. That really makes me happy.

She also shared some other aspects of her weight loss journey, both negative and positive:

  • People commented on her weight. She found that her weight became the main topic of conversation. As I lost weight and became more noticeable, it became the focus of almost every conversation with family, friends and co-workers, she says. I almost feel like I’ve become more self-aware after losing weight, compared to before. It’s like they’ve been watching me for a while, and now I’m aware of it.

  • She feels confident enough to wear clothes she wouldn’t wear before. It feels amazing. That is probably one of the best things about this weight loss for me. It’s not that I couldn’t wear those clothes then, it’s having the confidence now that I can wear the things I want to wear, she said.

  • He suffers from body dysmorphia. As I lost weight and even now, I hardly recognize myself. Sometimes, it takes me a minute to process that this is really me. Sometimes I still think of myself as too big, and I reach for those clothes. I have to take a minute and remember that I am small now. Its taking my brain a while to register that I have lost this amount of weight. It’s a big thing to understand. Keeping up with my fitness and strengthening my muscles becoming more defined and toned has helped my confidence and body image immensely. Its something that Im still working on, but its improvements.

  • He had begun to experience thin privilege. People treat you differently in public. You get noticed and treated better when you’re thin compared to being overweight. I feel like when you’re overweight, people look at you. People treat you better, as sad as that is, when you’re thin.

From back pain to PCOS: How weight loss improved her health

Along with keeping her weight at 137 pounds for several months, she saw these improvements in her health:

  • She has polycystic ovary syndrome, and her weight loss eliminated the symptoms and her periods returned to normal: I don’t think it will go away, but losing weight has improved every aspect of it. This is not an issue in my life.

  • She no longer has back pain, knee pain or plantar fasciitis.

  • He controls his insulin resistance, blood pressure and high cholesterol. “Taking care and losing weight is important to me because high cholesterol and premature heart disease run in my family,” she says.

  • She has reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, and she no longer binges or emotionally eats when she feels anxious or depressed.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com


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