Search & Replace S02E03: Shawn Tegtmeier

When Shawn Tegtmeier was 36, she no longer wanted to smell like a dirty ashtray. So, she made a simple commitment to herself to quit smoking. It was the hardest thing Shawn ever did, and to her dismay, she started to pack on the pounds. Then she was introduced to running by a good friend, something she had never been interested in. As she became enveloped in the world of running, she educated herself on health and nutrition at a community college, eventually becoming a personal trainer for other runners. Now, she runs 5ks and half marathons. Find out how this chain-smoking couch potato found the motivation to get off the couch and change her entire life on Search and Replace.

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

[00:00:09] Joe Taylor, Jr.: What if you decided today was the day to make a simple change in your life and that decision ended up leading to some unexpected, big changes. This is Search and Replace.

Sometimes there’s something in our lives that we tolerate, something we learn to live with, something that creeps up on us over time until we either accept it or choose to change it. Other times you get a flash of inspiration and end up changing your whole world. And that’s what Shawn Tegtmeier says happened to her.

[00:00:42] Shawn Tegtmeier: I suddenly realized at the age of 36 that I smelled like a dirty ashtray. And I had been smoking for half of my life at that point. And I just, I couldn’t stand it any longer, which sounds crazy cuz I’d been walking around for 18 years smelling like that. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

I didn’t immediately quit smoking. And I had been contemplating it after that. I’m like, Ugh, this is really bad. But then what would I do? I would like light up a cigarette and then I would look at it and I would tell the cigarette. I hate your teeny tiny little nicotine filled guts. 

[00:01:20] Joe Taylor, Jr.: As any former smoker can tell you, that’s a tough transition to pull off. Shawn did it and wound up facing another challenge. 

[00:01:28] Shawn Tegtmeier: I did quit smoking with hypnosis. And after I quit smoking, I gained a lot of weight – and that took three years to realize that I had gained weight. And so I went to Weight Watchers, lost the weight, but at that point I had never really been an exerciser of any sort. And I decided, because of my friend Walt, I thought maybe I could try a little bit of running. 

Walt and I, our oldest sons were on the same travel soccer team. And anybody that’s had kids in any type of a travel team knows that you become best friends with all those families, cuz you guys are going every single weekend to different tournaments.

Walt had recently started this thing called running. And when you’re a new runner, you wanna tell everybody about it. And unless you’re a runner, you really don’t care. And nobody else on the team was a runner. And so he would start telling me stuff about, well I ran this and then we ate this and then we did this. And I was just too polite to tell him I really wasn’t interested in listening. So I would just sit there and look at him and go, oh that’s great, that’s great. That’s great. And I think it planted a little seed in my brain because I thought, oh, maybe I could try this running thing that Walt’s always talking about.

[00:03:01] Joe Taylor, Jr.: All of Walt’s persistence paid off. But could Shawn really make another big change to her life? 

[00:03:07] Shawn Tegtmeier: I started running and I initially hated it, but just kept going. And through doing that, it was just literally life changing. I decided after a while that I liked it, and with the running I decided to become a little bit more educated about myself, about muscles and nutrition. So I started taking classes at the community college, which unbeknownst to me, the classes I was taking, they were a group of classes that readied you for a national certification in personal training. And I was like, no, I’m not here to be a personal trainer. I just wanna learn a little bit more. 

[00:03:49] Joe Taylor, Jr.: Shawn didn’t set out to be anybody’s role model, she just wanted to drop the weight she gained after quitting smoking. But she found herself drawn to the accountability that coaching brought to her journey, which led to another big change. 

[00:04:03] Shawn Tegtmeier: So I took classes for a couple of years and started actually teaching other people how to run. We had running programs. I started some running programs through schooling with an internship of bam I can run a half marathon, bam I can run a 5k. And people in the running community that were new and whatnot, and especially Walt who wasn’t new, they all said we can’t believe you used to be a smoker and a couch potato, and you’ve never done anything before. You really need to write about this.

So I used to just joke around about it. I’d tell Walt, okay I will write a book someday and you know what, I’m gonna call it running with Walt because if not for you I would’ve never started this. So I did write the book cuz he used to say, okay, just tell me when we’re going on book tours and book signings. So we’ve been on several book signings together. 

[00:04:59] Joe Taylor, Jr.: That initial impulse to quit smoking caused a chain reaction of changes that led Shawn to a new career as a personal trainer and as a published. And as she works on her second book, Shawn’s got some thoughts about what it’s like to make big changes to your career and to your health.

[00:05:17] Shawn Tegtmeier: Initially, when I was in that group of classes and they would say, oh, who wants to be a personal trainer? And a lot of the people they were in their twenties and stuff and here I am in my forties. And I think, well, not me who wants a 40 year old trainer and a girl that doesn’t look like she just walked off the cover of a magazine? But I have found that life experience is really beneficial because I have a lot of empathy. I completely understand what it’s like to hit middle age and not be very motivated and think, oh, I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I can do that. So I just really relate to people very well on that case. I just really love people and I love educating people on it’s not about how much weight you lose. It’s not about how much, how strong you can be. It’s just about staying fit and healthy and being happy. 

First of all I tell ’em that they can do it. Because if somebody’s reaching out for help, regardless of what it is, I’m like, we can do this, we can do this. We’re gonna take baby steps. It’s not gonna be the easiest thing in the world. And depending on what the goal is, I always say, we can’t expect this to be done in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. Cuz look how far we’ve come to make it like this, whatever we don’t like. So I just say, we’re just gonna work on this together and you’re gonna take baby steps.

[00:06:46] Joe Taylor, Jr.: That’s personal trainer and author, Shawn Tegtmeier. We’ve got links to ‘Running with Walt’ and to other resources. They’re all on our show notes and on our website at 

Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. [00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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