And then there is Jared Fogle. He's the once-morbidly-bese, now- thin-and-ultra-chipper spokesman for Subway Sandwiches' low-fat menu. He claims to have lost 245 pounds -- over half his body weight -- by walking and eating nothing but a steady diet of Subway sandwiches and baked potato chips. It sounds like just another marketing ploy cooked up around a conference table by smartly appointed advertising types in black outfits and chunky designer eyewear. But no. Before he started munching chicken and veggie-sandwiches Fogle really did weigh nearly half a metric ton. Now he's long and gangly. Thanks to a combination of fortitude and good fortune Fogle is the rarest of TV spokespersons: He's the real-meal deal.
Fogle stopped in Memphis recently during a promo tour for Subway.
Flyer: Did you set out on this diet hoping to become the TV spokesperson for Subway?
Jared Fogle: Halfway through the diet, around the fall of 1998, my mom wrote a letter to Subway. Never got a response. Maybe the letter got lost in the mail, I don't know, but it never got a response. I didn't think Subway was going to care anyway and that just reinforced it for me. But that was okay because I was doing this for me.
You stress the importance of walking as part of your weight- loss program. How far away did you live from Subway?
I actually shared a wall with them. They were right next door. Obviously I was eating a lot of Subway as it was, just not the low-fat. I was eating the steak-and-cheese and the meatball and stuff like that.
So you didn't get the exercise actually walking to Subway?
Good thing they didn't put in a Pizza Hut or something.
So how did you eventually hook up with Subway?
A friend of mine who wrote for [the Indiana University] newspaper wrote a story about me. He hadn't seen me for eight or nine months, so I was close to the end of the diet, and he didn't recognize me. This happened all the time -- people I knew wouldn't recognize me because it was such a dramatic weight loss. Anyway he thought it was the neatest thing and wanted to write a story about it. That got everything snowballing. They are a big enough paper that the story went out over the AP wire and got picked up all around the country: Portland, Oregon, San Diego, Boston. Shortly after that I got a call from Subway's national advertising agency.
Do you still eat only at Subway?
I don't. I mean I eat at Subway a couple of times a week, but I've had the weight off for two years now. When I'm going to have fast food I eat there, because I don't like the grease or the heaviness of your typical fast food. But I eat what I want now; I just don't eat the quantities.
Now for a math question. Let's say I want to lose 50 pounds by walking to and eating at Subway three times a day. I live five miles from Subway, but only work five blocks from Subway. How long before I lose the 50 pounds?
That's the frustrating part. I don't say to go out and do exactly what I did. For some people it might not take any time at all; but for some people it could cause more problems than it helps. You need to talk to a doctor first because your body could react badly to it.