Jared Fogel became known as the college student who lost 225 pounds on a “Subway sandwich diet.”
By his junior year at Indiana University, Jared had soared to 425 pounds.
He avoided social events to save face, and gobbled junk food alone in the dorm room. As Jared describes it, “I knew you were supposed to go out on dates and go to parties, but because I was so big, I just took myself out of the equation. I didn’t want to allow myself to be made a fool of.”
Jared said that at McDonald’s he’d scarf down double quarter pounder cheeseburgers and supersized fries, and wash it all down with a couple of apple pies. He puzzled between 15 and 20 cans of soda each day and the typical snack was two candy bars.
As his weight reached 425 pounds, Fogel’s sleep apnea worsened. He woke up every 10 to 15 minutes and went to classes groggy and sleep deprived. Once he even fell asleep at the wheel, waking immediately when he felt his car veer into the grass.
“I didn’t hit anything, but it finally scared me enough,” Fogel said
Change began in his junior year, when Fogel moved off campus. In March 1998 he walked into Subway and grabbed a nutrition brochure.
The “Subway diet” was his own idea – a six-inch turkey sub for lunch and a full-length sub for dinner – both meals with a bag of baked chips and a diet soda.
“The big thing was no mayo, no oil, no cheese.” He said, “I did it for 11 months.” In less than a year he shed 225 pounds!
He became famous after a former dorm mate, Ryan Coleman, ran into him and hardly recognized him because of his weight loss. Coleman wrote an article in the Indiana Daily Student about Fogel and his “Subway sandwich diet.” This article was picked up and re-published by Men’s Health; Ultimately, Jared received an invitation to be on Oprah.
Coleman wrote about what it was like for Jared to be obese:
When Fogel registered for a class, he didn’t base his choice on professor or class time, like most students. He based which classes to register on whether he could fit into the classroom seats.
When most folks worried whether they could find a parking spot close to campus, Fogel worried whether he could find a parking spot without a car already parked nearby – because he needed the extra room in order to open the driver’s side door so he could get out.
Jared said that as his health permitted, he began to walk as much as he could – not taking the bus to classes and even walking up stairs rather than taking the department store escalators.
Subway hired Jared as a spokesman. His first ad ran on January 1, 2000 – just in time for the annual epidemic of diet related New Year’s resolutions. It showed Jared in front of his home. “This is Jared,” the announcer said. “He used to weigh 425 pounds.” – We see a photo of Jared and his old 60 inch waist pants – “but today he weighs 180 pounds, thanks to what he calls the Subway diet.” The announcer describes Jared’s meal plan, then concludes, “that, combined with a lot of walking, work for Jared. We’re not saying this is for everyone. You should check with your doctor before starting any diet program. But it worked for Jared.”
The take away from this story is not that Jared changed his eating habits to include healthier choices and smaller portions free of fatty condiments. or that you can find healthy food in fast food restaurants.The takeaway is you need to develop keystone habits. Jared not only changed his eating habits, but he also changed his daily physical activity – he walked nearly every place he went.
I am not recommending Jared’s “Subway sandwich diet,” although you could do a lot worse. If the bread was whole-wheat or whole-grain and not made with processed flour, then Jared was doing what is recommended – a daily habit of physical activity and eating smaller portions of healthy foods.
The American Institute for Cancer Research advises you to look at what you’ve been eating and make only small changes. They point out, most of us are creatures of habit and have a repertoire of foods that we cycle in and out of our weekly menus. Many of us eat exactly the same thing for breakfast or lunch, only getting variety at supper time. They recommend, for example, if you’re a breakfast cereal eater, try to find a number of different kinds, and try to make certain that they are as minimally processed as possible – oatmeal on Monday, shredded wheat on Tuesday, and so on.
If you’ve been eating the same ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on white bread every day for the last 17 years, introduce some variety. Try substituting a true whole-grain bread for the white, and use mustard instead of mayonnaise. There are many flavors of mustard that you can use for variety. Pile your sandwich high with leafy greens or some of the many kinds of sprouts.