Jan. 10, 2014 at 11:23 AM ET
Tom Arnold had just become a father for the first time when he found himself eating all the frosting from a cake that had been sent to the hospital. Something clicked that day in April. That's when he knew he needed to make a change so he could be there for his son, Jax, for years to come.
Since then, the 6-foot-2-inch Arnold, whose weight once topped 300 pounds, has dropped 90 pounds.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute. I’m 54...This isn’t going to work out if I want to be around this kid, because every day is important when you’re my age,’” he told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie Friday. “From that moment on, I stopped eating like a jerk, I stopped being selfish about what I ate and I really paid attention to it and the weight came off.”
The funnyman was motivated by his commitment to fatherhood.
“It’s the first relationship I’ve ever had that I go, ‘Yeah, this is permanent,’” Arnold said. “My son is permanent, so I’ve got to do everything I can for him forever.”
Arnold says he immediately eliminated bread, cut out sugar and reduced the overall amount of calories he consumed. He also kept up his cardio workouts, which help keep him calm.
“This isn’t a diet,” Arnold said. “I had to change my lifestyle because I want to be a father forever.”
While he once may have wolfed down a six-egg cheese omelet, six turkey sausage links and a bowl of oatmeal for his morning meal, breakfast today looks like Greek yogurt with agave nectar and chia seeds.
Arnold credits his wife, Ashley Groussman, with helping to get him on track. “Ashley has helped me a lot,” he said.
His eating style is a far cry from the way he ate growing up in the farming town of Ottumwa, Iowa, when he worked at a McDonald's and he and his friends treated eating like a competition.
“I would eat eight Big Macs because you got free food one day,” Arnold told Guthrie. “It was almost like, how much can I eat?”
But that was when he was working a farm job. Entertainment is another world.
“In my business now, I’m still eating like that and I don’t have that physical farm job; it’s a real problem,” Arnold said. “And my self esteem, so tied up in that.”
It got so bad that Arnold hated trying on clothes, and had a limited wardrobe.
“I had to wear the same shirts over and over,” he said. “I had to make sure they were clean if I was performing because only two shirts fit me. I just felt really bad about myself.”
Now, he’s feeling good but still surprised at the man he sees in the mirror.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like a thin person, but I definitely feel like a healthy person,” he said.
He’s also amazed to look back at photos of his much heavier self.
“It’s shocking,” he told Guthrie. “I had no idea I was that big.
“I really appreciate my wife for marrying me now,” Arnold said of Groussman, his fourth wife. “She married THAT guy.”