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About a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Chris Sandberg decided it was time to get serious about losing weight – by turning his health journey into a TikTok challenge.
In January 2021, Sandberg, 37, started exercising every day until Taco Bell brings back his favorite menu item, the Grilled Stuft Nacho.
He pursued the challenge for over 480 days – lose about 87 pounds In the process.
“Because it’s TikTok, you can’t just lose weight, you have to make it a challenge,” Sandberg, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, told Fox News Digital. “I didn’t want the journey to be just a number on a scale.”
“I wanted it to be fun and maybe the goal was something I wanted,” Sandberg added. “And for some reason the first thing that came to mind was the Grilled Stuft Nacho, and I ran with it.”
On January 4, 2021, Sandberg released their first video for the challenge. At the time, he weighed about 275 pounds, he told Fox News Digital.
“Day one of exercising every day until Taco Bell brings back the Grilled Stuft Nacho,” Sandberg says breathlessly in the clip.
Sandberg captioned the video, “Do the right thing #tacobell.”
Grilled Nacho Stuft
Taco Bell first introduced Grilled Stuft Nacho in 2013, according to the Taco Bell Wiki.
The menu item – which is described on the website as “a flour tortilla, nacho-shaped, stuffed with beef, cheesy jalapeno sauce, sour cream and crunchy red strips” – was dropped in 2015.
Sandberg said he first tried Grilled Stuft Nacho just before it was pulled from menus.
“It was the best thing I ever had at Taco Bell,” he said. “And then I had it every day for a week.”
When Sandberg returned to his local Taco Bell the following week, he said the Grilled Stuft Nacho was no longer available.
What makes Grilled Stuft Nacho so special for Sandberg is the cheesy jalapeno sauce, which Taco Bell doesn’t use for any other menu item.
“I want to be clear: Cheesy Jalapeno Sauce is different from their Creamy Jalapeno Sauce,” Sandberg said of another sauce on Taco Bell’s menu.
Although it’s been about seven years since he last ate the Grilled Stuft Nacho, Sandberg said he still thinks about it.
“I just didn’t give up.”
Make Weight Loss Fun
Sandberg told Fox News Digital that over the years he’s lost — and regained — hundreds of pounds at different times with different methods.
Sandberg said another motivation for him to try to lose weight again was the fact that people who are overweight are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Overweight adults are at risk for serious chronic diseases and “increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19,” the CDC states on its website.
Also during the pandemic, Sandberg took to TikTok and started making videos.
“It occurred to me that if I spent as much time focusing on my health as I did on TikTok, then maybe I could lose the weight I’ve always talked about,” Sandberg said.
Making the Grilled Stuft Nacho part of Sandberg’s goal served two important purposes: to bring humor to the process and to give Sandberg something to focus on other than his weight.
“The dichotomy between exercise and fast food is obviously a lot of fun,” Sandberg said.
“The Grilled Stuft Nacho was amazing because that’s something that made this trip fun for me,” he added. “For people struggling with weight, it’s a serious thing and it can be very difficult for people to live with. I know it was for me. Allowing the process to be fun has been very helpful.”
By making weight loss fun, Sandberg was able to “maintain consistency” and not burn out.
“If something is fun and goofy, you take yourself less seriously,” he said. “You are able to laugh a little more at yourself.”
“And if you’re able to take yourself less seriously, you’re less in your head,” he continued. “That real estate in your mind is now open to really pushing yourself physically.”
No matter how much fun he had, Sandberg said he made sure his aim was genuine.
Lose 87 pounds
As his TikTok challenge suggests, Sandberg has exercised every day since Jan. 4, 2021, though he told Fox News Digital that includes a weekly recovery day on Sundays, where he stretches and works his heart.
During her challenge, Sandberg lost around 87 pounds, dropping from 275 pounds to around 188 pounds today.
When he started his exercise challenge, Sandberg said he had been doing Beachbody on Demand for several months. He has since moved on to weightlifting and cardio.
Sandberg also focused on changing her eating habits.
Sandberg said focusing on the specific nutrients in her food — not just the calories — is what helps her achieve her goals.
“For me, I realized it wasn’t about losing weight, it was about building a stronger body,” he said.
Sandberg said he learned healthier eating habits, but didn’t cut anything from his diet.
“I couldn’t do this if I had to give up the food I love. I don’t eat it every day,” he said.
Sandberg said he regularly enjoys a “treat” meal — not a cheat meal.
“You should never call it a cheat meal,” he said. “You’re not wrong. You’re definitely treating yourself. And if you’re efficient and conscious throughout the week, have a burger, pizza. It’s OK.”
stick to it
Sandberg said he only considered stopping his challenge twice over more than 400 days. He had suffered knee and shoulder injuries, which meant he had to do lighter workouts and cardio, rather than weightlifting.
The other time he considered quitting was after a year, when his local Taco Bell specially made Sandberg and his fiancée Melissa Grilled Stuft Nachos. Taco Bell also gave Sandberg a tub of the cheesy jalapeno sauce he loves so much.
“I was like, is this the natural ending?” Sandberg said. “When I watched the videos, I said ‘exercise every day until Taco Bell brings back the Grilled Stuft Nacho,'” Sandberg said. “Not just made me one.”
Sandberg said when Taco Bell made him his own Grilled Stuft Nacho, he asked if the company would bring the item back to its menu.
“They said, ‘Anything is possible,'” Sandberg recalls.
Taco Bell did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Huge love and support
Sandberg received encouraging messages from many of his 448,600 TikTok followers.
His fiancée Melissa – who he has been with for four years – has been a “rocking bedrock” for him, Sandberg said.
“She loved me when I was the heaviest,” Sandberg said. “And it was important to find someone I could fall in love with at a time in my life when it was hard to love me.”
Melissa’s support took the pressure off when it came to Sandberg’s weight loss journey, he said.
“I know she’s going to love me regardless of my size,” Sandberg said. “She just wants me to be healthy and happy.”