TODAY   |  January 10, 2014

Tom Arnold: ‘I stopped eating like a jerk’

In an exclusive interview with TODAY, the comedian and actor opens up about how he shed 90 pounds in nine months. His son’s birth, he said, was his main motivator to get healthy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and now to tom arnold who has made big changes in his life. he's a new dad and a new person. we're going to talk to him about his major weight loss in a moment. but first, a look back at what he's been through.

>> four, five --

>> reporter: tom arnold is a changed man since the birth of his son jax last april.

>> like getting nominated for an oscar every day.

>> at 54 and a father for the first time, arnold knew he had to make profound changes in his life.

>> all of a sudden it clicked in my head i've got a kid and you're like, oh, i'm in this forever.

>> through much of his life he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction . he's now clean and sober, but he also struggled with his weight.

>> i've always thought i was fat.

>> his very public career as a comedian as arnie thomas on a show "roseanne" and starring with arnold schwarzenegger in "true lies" showcased the ups and downs with his battle of the bulge . at 6'2", he's weighed in at more than 300 pounds. jax and wife ashley changed all that. arnold 's focus became losing the weight, getting fit and staying healthy.

>> ten minutes, if i could do ten minutes --

>> reporter: for breakfast, arnold has gone from a six-egg omelet with cheese, six turkey sausage links plus oatmeal to greek yogurt with agave nectar. arnold lost 90 pounds in nine months.

>> i really changed the way i eat. and hence the way i live. there's no other option.

>> and tom arnold is with me this morning. good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> you are a shadow of your former self. and i mean that in the best possible way.

>> it's shocking. i had no idea i was that big. and i see clips from a year ago, a show i filmed the other night. and i was like, oh, my gosh, it's like i had an extra padding of me. and you forget. but, man, i was big. i really appreciate my wife for marrying me now. she married that guy.

>> well, tell me about this transformation. because it has a lot to do with your wife.

>> yeah.

>> and your new baby. that was kind of an a ha moment for you.

>> i was eating all the frosting off the cake, going back in the other room and doing that. and then i said, wait a minute, this kid, i'm 54, i weigh almost 300 pounds, this isn't going to work out if i want to be around this kid. every day is important when you're my age. from that moment on, i stopped eating like a jerk. i stopped being selfish about what i ate, and i really pay attention to it. and the weight came off.

>> and as you mentioned, this is something you've struggled with your whole life. tell me about the battle days. what kind of changes did you have to make to change your eating habits?

>> well, i grew up in ottumwa, iowa, when i worked at mcdonald's, i would eat eight big macs . it was always like how much can i eat? what can we do? we work hard, work in the field. but then when you work in my business now and i'm still eating like that and don't have that physical farm job, it's a problem. my self-esteem so tied up in that. i hated trying on clothes, had to wear the same shirts over and over . had to make sure they were clean. only two shirts fit me. and it's just felt really bad about myself.

>> so many people can relate to that feeling. you've changed so much on the outside. but as we know, so much of weight loss is what's going on up here.

>> right.

>> do you feel like a thin person?

>> well, i feel -- i'm a little surprised when i see what i see there now. i don't know if i'll ever feel like a thin person, but a healthy person. this isn't a diet. i'm going to be a father forever. it's the first relationship i've ever had that i go, yeah, this is permanent. you know, everything else in my life, my mother growing up, she left, whatever. but my son is permanent. i've got to do everything i can for him forever.

>> give us a glimpse. we saw a little bit of it in the piece. what did you do to do this? and are chia seeds delicious?

>> they're interesting, but i'm told they blow up in your stomach like a chia pet and fill your stomach up. that's what dr. oz says. i eliminated bread immediately, no sugar. it's about what you put in your mouth, but i also do cardio. that's helps my head. i eat healthy, ashley's helped me a lot. i have somebody cook food every three days and bring it over so i don't have to think about it. i try to go gluten free now. as time goes on, i learn more and more about food. what you put in your baby food -- you read every label. i thought, well, maybe i should do that with myself. so a lot less calories, but i've never been hungry this whole time and i don't feel i'm on a diet.

>> well, it's amazing what you've accomplished in a short time. congratulations to you on all your successes.

>> and congratulations to you.

>> thank you.

>> thank you.

>> great to see you.

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