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Monday, April 20, 2009

WE CAN! Part 3: Lessons I Learned from Jared Fogle

Having already accosted Jared with my Flip at the NIH / Subway WE CAN! program kick-off, his PR people thought it best to allow him to give me a more civilized a distance, and over the phone. Luckily, I think I won him over and he knows I'm not psycho. Also, he totally won me over and is my new blog friend. These are things I learned from Jared.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Be a Communicator

Jared understands that people are curious about him. When I asked him why he started blogging he explained, "Everyone is doing it now. It’s a way to communicate. People are always coming up and asking me questions. They want to know who I am. I’m this guy they see on a 30 second commercial or interviewed, but they ask, "What do you do?". The blog gives me a space to let people know what I’m doing, if they want to keep track of where I'm going, and occasional tips for staying healthy."

This reminds me that people respond to the personal stories and insights I share as much as the giveaways and contests. Readers want to know who I am too.

Time is not an excuse

Jared's full-time job is as a spokesperson for Subway. He also does key note speeches and is starting the Jared Foundation to help battle childhood obesity. While I envy this, Jared travels over 200 days of the year. He never knows when he'll be eating or when he'll have time to relax or work out. Yet he makes the time to take care of himself.

"My schedule is not left up to me, it’s up to the people who schedule the trips...but there are always going to be issues. Everyone has things that crop up. If they have a gym in the hotel then I try to get even 30 minutes on a treadmill. As far as eating part, I’ve always known what’s healthy or not but restaurants these days have enormous portions and you have to have the discipline not to eat the whole thing."

Jared reminds me that while I have a list of products to review and articles to write, I have to find the time to take care of myself, and get quality time with the people I love. As he said, there will always be issues. So I need to make it a priority.

Kids are kids and parents are not police

When Jared said, "I got my first Nintendo system in third grade and things went downhill from there" I realized that he wasn't always overweight. Parents need to teach kids that staying active can be fun too.

When he was in college, Jared started the Subway diet because it was convenient for him. "I tried not to schedule my first class before noon", he explained, "So I really never ate breakfast. Maybe a cup of coffee." And Subway was just a few blocks away." Basically, Jared discovered the lazy-kid's diet.

Now that he's older, Jared is spreading his message to adults as well. He asked me, as a parent, what I thought about the WE CAN! program which is where I first met him. The materials in the WE CAN! program work to engage not just the kids, but the entire family, if not the community. Jared understands that while a healthy lifestyle starts with the parents, there "is a lot vying for a kid's attention these days. It's not easy."

And so once again I learn a lesson from Jared Fogle. Start now, but as a parent we cannot be perfect. You give them the tools and show them the right choices and then stand back and say a little prayer. Then you blog about it!

In the end I learned why Jared the-Subway-guy has become so successful. It may have started as a fluke, but it has lasted because he is a genuine person with a message he is passionate about. And, he is making a difference.

In this series:

Part One: Video Interviews with Jared and Laila Ali
Part Two: More on the WE CAN! Program