Page 2 of 3   <       >

Subway's Biggest Loser

Despite concern from his parents about his increasing girth, he resisted all their attempts to help him. "I even refused to go to the doctor," he says. "I knew the doctor would tell me to lose weight." As a rebellious teenager, he simply ate more.

"I ate lots of fast food and was always super sizing," he says. "I always wanted the biggest portion. I always wanted to be in a state of constant fullness."

It took his worried college roommate at Indiana University to persuade Jared to make changes. "He was a pre-med major and very concerned about my health," Jared says.

The roommate slipped a tape recorder under Jared's bed to capture the sounds that Jared made while sleeping. He played the tape for Jared and told him that he probably had sleep apnea.

Closely linked to obesity, sleep apnea causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep and is a major risk factor for heart disease. Jared already had edema, or swelling, in his feet and ankles, often a symptom of heart problems. Plus, he was sleeping for 12 hours a day, "waking up and being completely exhausted," he says. "To be that heavy, that morbidly obese, affects every part of your life. After years of denial and not accepting that I had a problem, I had developed both sleep apnea and edema. I thought, 'Wow. Enough is enough. I need to make some changes.' "

His first attempts at weight loss were unsuccessful. Then he stopped in the Subway outlet adjacent to his apartment building. While waiting for his order, he read a nutrition brochure and looked at the low-fat sandwich section. This was his weight-loss eureka moment: He realized his "diet" could be composed of two of those sandwiches a day.

"It was sort of a crazy idea, but I thought it was worth a shot," he says.

As a college student who liked to sleep late, Jared decided to eat his first meal at midday. He ate a six-inch turkey sub with plenty of vegetables but no mayonnaise, oil or cheese, plus a small bag of baked chips. He also switched from regular Mountain Dew and orange soda to diet soft drinks. "That was very tough," he says.

For dinner, he ate a foot-long veggie sub with another bag of baked chips and more diet soda. The two meals added up to about 1,500 calories per day, about the amount recommended by many weight-loss programs.

When he felt hungry, Jared reminded himself that he was probably losing weight. The first month, he lost about 30 pounds but told no one of his efforts. By three months, he had shed 94 pounds. Friends and family started to notice. "Everyone was skeptical about it," he says, especially his father, who insisted that Jared have his blood tested regularly to make sure that nothing was going wrong. "Once they saw the weight was really coming off, they were really happy for me."

After he lost 100 pounds, Jared began to walk 30 minutes daily. It took him nine more months to shed the remaining weight. "The rate of weight loss slowed the more I lost, but it never stopped," he says. "At the end, I almost lost a little too much weight." He added back about 15 pounds the first year but has maintained his weight at 190 ever since.

Jared's story was featured in the university paper. Local radio stations picked it up. Then Subway contacted him to become the company's spokesman. He has since made more than 50 commercials and travels more than 200 days a year for company appearances.

<       2        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company