When Farmingville resident Gary Miceli was 16 years old his doctor was shocked that at 5-foot-7 he weighed a staggering 245 pounds. His doctor warned the teenager of the serious future health implications that would result if Miceli didn't begin to implement a diet and exercise plan.
Not surprisingly, Miceli, 19, was consuming mass quantities of fast food at the time.
"I really didn't know what it did to me; I just thought I was getting older, and I was changing," he said.
Miceli attributed his weight gain to adolescence. He said, "When you're a kid you always think you're perfect, like everyone else, and when the doctor said something it didn't affect me."
However, one day, shortly after his doctor's visit, he took a good look at himself in the mirror and realized he needed to make a change, but didn't know where to begin. The vexed fitness neophyte proceeded to experience his fair share of failed attempts at weight loss and "yo-yo dieting."
"I tried to lose weight in the summer, but I'd lose it then gain it back, and I knew about Jared," he said.
Jared Fogle, better known as "The Guy" became a celebrity during a much-touted ad campaign for the brand of sandwiches that he says helped him lose 245 pounds in a year. He is widely recognized as the smiling, bespectacled man, holding up the iconic pants with the 60-inch waist; now in stark contrast to his new slim and trim physique.
Miceli was skeptical about Jared's seemingly miraculous transformation aided only by a steady diet of subway sandwiches and walking. It just sounded too good to be true.
"No one really believes [Jared]. I didn't believe him at all; I didn't think it was possible at all," said Miceli of his initial incredulousness. "I just thought it was some way to advertise Subway, to get people to buy sandwiches."
On a whim, and in a fit of desperation, Miceli decided to pick up a nutritional brochure during a trip to Subway, and the teen who had, up until then, subsisted primarily on Happy Meals and Supersize everything had an epiphany. The fast food lover finally found a diet that spoke his language and really resonated with him, and one he thought might actually work.
"So I set up a plan," said Miceli. "I would eat a foot-long turkey sub for dinner, and a six-inch turkey sub for lunch; with no dressing, mayonnaise, no nothing."
He also began to run every day. He said prior to this transformation, "I was the average lazy kid, sitting on the couch playing video games and eating chips."
Miceli started off ambitiously running a mile a day, and increasingly worked his way up to an impressive five miles a day. Right from the start he was amazed at the results.
"The first couple of days I was able to lose two pounds, and the first two pounds made me feel fantastic," he said. "If I can lose two pounds then I can lose another two, and I can lose another two, and it can keep going and keep going."
Miceli started building weight loss momentum in August and by Thanksgiving he was down to about 210 pounds.
"I think the holidays are the toughest time to lose weight because of all the pies and the deserts, and all the food," he said.
This time of potential temptation and setback turned out to be a source of renewed determination on his journey toward greater health and vitality.
His Aunt Roseann came over that holiday and she had just lost about 60 or 70 pounds and that gave him the incentive to persevere with his goal firmly in mind. She imbued her nephew with what he called his "personal spark of inspiration."
The 2010 graduate kept the Subway Diet up for a year, and lost about 120 pounds.
Three years later, he is majoring in music at Suffolk County Community College, and is 6-feet tall and a lean 155 pounds. He is now content with the way he looks, but added, "I don't think anyone really reaches their goal in mind until you get happy."
Miceli recently visited Sachem East to give a health and nutrition presentation which the audience was very responsive to.
"It's one thing to see it on TV, but then it's another thing when one of your own students does the Subway Diet; and actually has success," he said. "I think it's definitely more real."
While he's not on the Subway Diet anymore, and has branched out to eating other healthy alternatives he said that he did recently have Subway for lunch.
"I had the same sandwich twice everyday for over a year, and I still go back there and eat it. It's the greatest sandwich in the world."