You know who Jared Fogle is, even if you don't recognize his last name. For the past 11 years, he's been the public face of the Subway restaurant chain, appearing in advertisements and promotional appearances across the country.
Jared, now 32, was a 425-pound college student when he began his Subway diet. He lost about 245 pounds in less than a year and has kept the weight off.
I caught up with him Friday at Soldier Creek Elementary in Midwest City, where he talked to a group of children. It was his first speaking engagement since getting married on July 30 and honeymooning in Napa Valley, Calif. I asked him questions provided by Ken 2.0 readers.
A: I lived next door to a Subway restaurant in 1988, when I was a junior at Indiana University (in Bloomington, Ind.). I just stumbled in there one day and, by chance, picked up the nutritional guide. I knew they had low-fat options, but in the past I hadn't paid it much attention. A lightbulb went off in my head: "I wonder what it'd do if I ate this stuff twice a day?"
Q: You ate multiple meals there every day?
A: Twice a day, usually for lunch and dinner. Seven days a week. Back then I was doing 6-inch turkey subs for lunch, and then dinner was a 12-inch veggie sub. The bread was a big part of it for me. I liked bread a lot, and this way I could eat nutritious meals and still get a filling portion of bread.
Q: What's your favorite Subway
A: Now my favorite would be the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki. I get lettuce, pickles, green peppers, banana peppers, cucumber, jalapenos, a little salt and pepper and sweet onion sauce.
Q: What exercise program were you on during your weight loss?
A: For the first three months, not much of any. At 425-plus pounds, just walking next door to the Subway was exercise. For me, even now, it's hard to appreciate how immobile I'd become. Until I took those first 90 or so pounds off, I didn't feel comfortable doing any exercise. ... Then I started walking. Ten minutes a day, 15 minutes a day. I got up to a half-hour a day or sometimes more than that.
Q: How much did you lose, and how long did it take you?
A: Two hundred forty-five pounds was the total loss, and it took me just under a year. Mid-March of 1998 to February of 1999. It did come off very fast. I tried to get checked out by a doctor every couple of months. Even though it was an unconventional method, they were comfortable with it as long as I was comfortable with it.
Q: What is your exercise program like now?
A: Up until this year, it has been very basic — trying to incorporate walking several days a week, going into a gym to do some weights a couple days a week. Now, starting this year, I've actually been running a lot. My goal, God willing, is to complete the New York City Marathon this fall. I'm able to do 13 miles now.
Q: Did you have any serious relapses, and how did you stay motivated?
A: Over the last 12 years, I've had some (relapses) here and there. No more than 10 or 15 pounds. It's tough. It's never easy, especially when you travel as much as I do, with the hours as long as they are.
Q: How important was routine to you?
A: Routine was critical back when I was losing the weight. It almost allowed it to be a no-brainer. I knew what I was going to eat for lunch every day. I knew what I was going to eat for dinner.
Q: What is the most difficult thing about maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
A: For me, it's just my crazy travel schedule more than anything. When I'm at home, I'm able to eat very, very well. When I'm on the road, I have to monitor myself a lot more. When you eat out a lot, like I do, you have to be careful about what you're being served. I still drink diet soda. I still put Sweet & Low in my coffee. I prefer to eat my calories, not drink them.
Q: What's the most rewarding part of it, aside from being skinnier and wearing smaller clothes?
A: The positive effect it's had on other people around the country. It's something I never dreamt I could do. I remember back when I was heavy, watching TV shows about people who'd lost a lot of weight or reading about it. It gave me hope that I could do it. To me, being able to inspire other people like that is something I don't take lightly.
Q: How did Subway find out about you?
A: A friend of mine in college ... wrote an article about me for the campus newspaper. He wrote about me in the spring of 1999. It became a local sensation and ended up on the news wires. Subway's advertising unit saw it and contacted me, asking if I'd be interested in doing a test commercial. It was only supposed to be a single commercial. Nobody ever dreamed it would go on to become what it's become.
Q: Have you had any surgical procedures associated with your weight —
A: No. I think I lost the weight at a young enough age that I didn't need any. I might have some done at some point, but my skin was elastic enough back then that a good chunk of it bounced back into shape. Nothing was necessary.
Q: What advice do you have for others who need to lose a lot of weight?
A: You have to want it more than anything. It'll be one of the hardest, if not the hardest, battles you'll ever fight in your life, and unfortunately it's a never-ending battle.
Staff Writer Ken Raymond began a yearlong weight loss and fitness journey on April 1.Here are his stats:
Age: 41Height: 6 feet 1 inch
Beginning weight: 307 pounds
Current weight: 276 pounds