Meet Herman and Sherman Smith, also known as the “Subway Twins.” A dramatic wake-up call, as well as a major setback, taught these twins the value of a healthy lifestyle—especially exercise.
Their journey to better health began in 2002 when the mother of the then 21-year-old twins walked into the living room and made a startling announcement. As the two avowed couch potatoes (each of whom weighed more than 300 pounds) sat watching TV with trays of food on their laps, she said tearfully, “Guys, I need your help. My doctor says I need to lose weight! I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.” The twins looked at each other with blank stares, shrugged their shoulders, and said, “What are we supposed to do?”
That was a pivotal moment for the brothers. They realized they needed to make a lifestyle change, not only to help their mom, but to help themselves, too. Shocked into action, the twins began walking half a mile a day and radically changed their diet. One of their frequent menu items became Subway sandwiches on wheat bread piled high with veggies.
After seven months of consistent effort, the twins shed a combined 215 pounds. Eager to share their victory with others, they contacted Oprah Winfrey and soon afterward appeared on her show. Following that interview, Subway restaurants contacted them, and for the next three years Herman and Sherman became spokesmen for Subway. They became familiar faces in Subway’s TV ads, and they traveled to schools and universities across the country to share their success story in front of large audiences.
Then came Hurricane Katrina.
Displaced from their home in New Orleans, relocated to Houston, Texas, and thrust outside of their normal routine, the brothers found themselves slipping back into their old ways.
“Frankly, the last thing on your mind in times like those is ‘Where is the nearest walking trail?’” It wasn’t long before their weight had crept back up.
Then one day, Sherman recalls, “God spoke to me very clearly. He told me that we had a responsibility to care for our bodies.” So, armed with faith and determination, the brothers redoubled their efforts to get back into shape. And they did. “In three months I lost 80 pounds by exercising and eating correctly,” says Herman. “We vowed never to become overweight again.”
Fueled by a passion to help others incorporate exercise into their lifestyle, the two eventually moved back to New Orleans and started an exercise class called Enlightened Up.
“We started with three class members. Now our enrollment is up to 180,” says Herman. Along with instruction on how to exercise, the class offers food plans, health tips, and effective weight-loss strategies.
On their second weight-loss journey Herman and Sherman realized they would never be able to achieve and maintain their ideal weight without exercise. Now they know—and teach—that being active is an important part of any healthy lifestyle.