A few weeks ago, senior Jared Fogle walked into an American Eagle clothing store bursting with a smile like a kid walking into a candy store for the first time.
Fogle’s enthusiasm while trying on button-down shirts, pants and shorts must amaze some folks who loathe shopping for clothing.
What’s the big deal? A kid went into a clothing store and tried on a few things. No story here.
But imagine for just a minute that you couldn’t walk into a random clothing store, pull a few clothes the rack and try them on in the fitting room.
Not possible, right? Even the poorest soul can walk into a Value City and find something.
Unless, of course, you happen to weigh 425 pounds -- with a 60-inch belt size -- in which case no stores, including Big & Tall, carry anything remotely close.
Now imagine losing nearly 245 pounds in less than a year, dropping the belt size down to 34, all because of a very regimented diet of only two Subway sandwiches a day.
“I ate the footlong veggie and six-inch turkey every day,” Fogle said. “No cheese, no mayo, tons of vegetables and a bit of spicy mustard.”
As unbelievable as it sounds, Fogle now weighs 180 pounds because of what he calls the “Subway Diet.” Specifically, Fogle ate two sandwiches from Subway’s “Seven sandwiches under six grams of fat” menu.
To qualify for that claim, you can’t get mayonnaise or cheese on the sandwich. Fogle always asked for tons of lettuce, green peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, pickles and a touch of spicy mustard. He usually bought the footlong veggie around 3 p.m. and the six-inch turkey (with Baked Lays, of course) at 9 p.m. daily.
“Don’t forget that I only drank zero calorie drinks,” Fogle said. “You’d be amazed how good Diet Mountain Dew tastes.”
That diet accounts for about 1,000 calories a day and 15 grams of fat.
Looking at Fogle’s present picture, no one could ever guess that he weighed so much only a year ago. Yet it’s Fogle’s life in the year of “B.S.” -- a.k.a. “Before Subway” -- that makes this such an amazing and uplifting story for all weights of people.
When the B.S. Fogle registered for a class, he didn’t base the section number 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, Fogle worried whether he could find a parking spot without a car already parked nearby -- he needed the extra room in order to open the driver’s side door as much as possible so he could get out.
Most folks take the bus when they need to travel from North Jordan Avenue to Ballantine Hall. Fogle took it from Read Center to T.I.S., 1302 E. Third St. Fogle’s inactivity and eating habits during his first three years at IU reached such lows that at times he couldn’t find the energy to leave his chair to attend class or even go down to dinner. Frequently, he fell asleep in class and unknowingly snored so loud that students would vocally complain.
After living in Read Center for two years, Fogle and senior J.L. Lou, his roommate, moved out of Read and away from its McDonald’s into the apartment complex that also houses the Subway shop on Atwater Avenue.
Fogle’s specific apartment sat literally next to the eatery -- they shared the same wall.
“I thought that would be the kiss of death,” said his father, Dr. Norman Fogle, a general practitioner in Indianapolis.
Inactivity maintained the norm as Fogle continued to eat. He rarely left his chair in the living room and lived with zero self-respect or confidence.
One day in late December 1997, Lou noticed severe swelling in Fogle’s ankles. Based on his pre-med background and classes at IU, Lou diagnosed Fogle as possibly having edema, a condition in which fluid builds up in the body because blood can’t carry water. Lou called Dr. Fogle, and both decided Fogle needed to seek medical attention.
Time after time, Dr. Fogle had tried warning his son about the dangers of obesity, but he said it really comes down to the individual wanting to make a change.
“It doesn’t matter when you’ve got a child that’s not interested in what you have to say,” Dr. Fogle said. “Even being a doctor, I couldn’t force him to lose weight. Jared had to make that decision.”
At the hospital, doctors confirmed Fogle’s edema and said the condition is a indicator of future complications like diabetes, severe heart conditions and early-age heart attacks.
“The weight was going to kill him,” Dr. Fogle said. “With severe obesity, his ability to live past the age of 35 was a major concern.”
Along with help from Lou, Fogle decided to change his lifestyle, yet didn’t know how to go about losing that much weight. Fogle tried buying Slim Fast and low-fat frozen dinners. He even tried cooking low-fat food.
Nothing worked, and Fogle found himself binging on late night pizzas and hiding them from Lou. By spring break 1998, Fogle’s frustration ended when he finally saw the light one night at Subway.
“I was looking at the sign of low-fat sandwiches and thought, ‘This is it, this is what I need,’” Fogle said. “I even remember that first sandwich, the six-inch turkey.”
After eating, Fogle walked back to his apartment and announced the plan to Lou.
“I didn’t think he could stick to it,” Lou admitted. “Although I’m one of the few people who stuck with him through all of this, I wasn’t sure he could pull this off. You have to remember, he would talk about plans like this all the time.”
Yet the regiment diet allowed Fogle to easily assess how much to eat as well as how much weight he lost.
After three months, Fogle stepped up to the scale to see if the Subway diet worked.
“I was down to 340 pounds,” Fogle said. “I felt awesome. It was the most unbelievable feeling in my life in that point. It only made me work that much harder. And I loved these sandwiches and still eat them.”
Fogle never faltered on the “Subway Diet” and at times lost a pound a day. He never exercised heavily, yet he started walking everywhere, refusing to take the bus or even little things like escalators. Now, even though he eats anything he wants, he still gets Subway three or four times a week.
“The main reasons this worked for Jared is because he stuck to the plan, he’s young and that his metabolism could speed back up very quickly,” Dr. Fogle said. “I’m just so excited about my son, but everybody has to do their own thing. The Subway diet isn’t going to work for everyone.”
Everyday Fogle experiences life like a reborn teenager. He’s finally experiencing typical college encounters, including dating.
“I was reborn in every sense of the word,” Fogle said. “Subway helped save my life and start over. I can’t ever repay that.”
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.