For Yalies looking to lose the freshman — or sophomore, junior or senior — 15, consider Filipe and Sione Fa’s example: together they have lost 255 lbs.
“My freshmen 15 spiraled into 172 lbs.,” the 30-year-old Sione recalled.
Filipe and Sione, cousins who appeared on last season’s NBC reality television weight-loss competition “The Biggest Loser,” stopped by Gourmet Heaven on Broadway Tuesday afternoon to share tips on healthy living with the store’s college-aged clientele and to promote Adina Holistics, a low-sugar soft drink. From noon to 3 p.m., the Fa cousins manned a booth set up outside Gourmet Heaven and handed out juice samples, signed autographs and shared the lessons they learned while on the NBC reality show, which pits overweight contestants against one another to see who can lose the most weight.
New Haven was just one of the pit stops the Fas are making as part of a nationwide tour for Adina Holistics, during which they are spreading their message of healthy living and the dangers of artificially sweetened, high-fructose corn syrup-filled beverages, they said.
As they poured samples for passersby on Broadway, Filipe and Sione chatted about their struggles with obesity and discussed how their personal ordeal led them onto “The Biggest Loser.” The Fas said they were excited to be at Yale and that the students they talked to were interesting.
“It just makes me want to go back to high school and get good grades so I could get into Yale,” Sione joked.
Standing outside Gourmet Heaven, bracing against the cold wind, Sione said being on the show opened his eyes to a healthier way of life. He said that during the five months he and Filipe were on the show, they worked out for six to eight hours every day. They also learned about proper nutrition, he said, adding that now he is more aware of what he eats and shies away from sugary soda as much as possible.
Both cousins said they now find it shocking to encounter so many people their weight-loss success story has touched. Filipe said the downside of filming the show was being away from his family but that the end result was worth the sacrifice.
“I can now do things normal people can do, like bend over and tie my shoes. I don’t have to ask little kids to do it anymore,” he said with a smile. “I feel a lot more alive.”
Both cousins are now fitter and healthier too, they said. Filipe and Sione said they have both dropped down to a 38 pant size from a 52 and 50, respectively, since going on the show. Sione went from being 372 lbs. to 245 lbs., while Filipe went from 364 lbs. to 242.
Bruce Burke, Adina’s chief marketing officer who joined the Fas outside Gourmet Heaven, said the brand targets college students because they are the primary consumers of soft drinks.
“We compete against the evil empire of Coke and Pepsi, which dictates what the consumer takes from the shelf space,” Burke said.
He said Filipe and Sione are the right spokespeople for the brand because they made successful lifestyle changes.
People who tried the beverage Tuesday expressed as much excitement about meeting Filipe and Sione as they did about the beverage. Many, as they sampled, said “I love that show!” and “Can’t wait to tell my mom.”
Even those who did not sample the drink could not help but notice the black and orange Adina van, which had a giant monkey on its front, parked outside Gourmet Heaven.
David Walker, who is currently taking a year off from Yale to work on a student startup, said he thought Adina’s marketing campaign was friendly and funny and that the mango orange chamomile juice drink he tried was delicious.
Today, the Fa cousins are heading to Manhattan as part of the Adina marketing tour, and next week they will head to Denver and San Diego to promote the beverage.