What does it take to lose over 250 pounds?
Anyone who has been on a fitness or weight loss journey can tell you — that’s not easy. And yet, somehow my guest today managed to do it… twice.
“The heaviest I’ve ever objectively been … — there was a shipping scale that people had me get on because … regular scales didn’t work for me — … [was] 536 [pounds], and then I know I gained weight. So I don’t know exactly what I was, [but] I would guess over 550. … And today, I’m 250, so it’s at least 286 pounds from there to now.” – Ethan Suplee
This man has struggled with weight for most of his life, and his insecurity and trauma surrounding his relationship with food even led him to struggle with addictions to drugs and alcohol at one point. It’s been a long journey, but today, Ethan Suplee — you might know him as Louie Lastik in a little movie called Remember the Titans — is healthier and happier than ever.
This interview is inspiring. We dove deep and dissected some of the pivotal moments in Ethan’s childhood that both drove him into his struggles and helped him decide to make some changes and get healthy. We also talked about some of the strategies he used to lose weight and perfect his diet. And finally, we talked about Ethan’s acting career, some experiences he’s had in Hollywood, and the incredible ways Denzel Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio have inspired him.
Ethan has experienced trauma, but he’s not defeated or defined by it. He’s learned to put into place the systems he needs to succeed, and he’s raising his daughters to do the same. I’m honored to have him on the show today, and I hope you get a lot out of this episode — I know I did!
Ethan Suplee is an actor of considerable talent and accomplishment. His diverse and eclectic resume ranges from hilarious roles in such comedies as Mallrats (1995) and My Name Is Earl (2005) to hauntingly dramatic performances in intense features such as American History X (1998), Blow (2001), Cold Mountain (2003), The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013), Deepwater Horizon (2016), and the TV series Chance (2016).
His breakthrough performance as a young football player in Disney’s Remember the Titans (2000) with Denzel Washington garnered him critical acclaim and led to two other roles opposite Washington in director Nick Cassavetes‘ thriller, John Q (2002), and Tony Scott’s Unstoppable (2010).
Ethan Suplee has recently launched a podcast called American Glutton in which he talks to experts about his incredible weight loss journey and shares the best diet advice for you!
Ethan really opened up in this interview and was willing to take a deep dive into his past to dissect some of the most crucial moments in his childhood, acting career, and health journey so that he could share with us the knowledge he’s gained along the way.
If you’re looking to make a change in your life and shift to a healthier mindset and lifestyle, you’re not going to want to miss this episode!
Growing up, Ethan was a pretty normal kid. He described his five-year-old self as an average and healthy kid with maybe some round, chubby cheeks — certainly a far cry for morbidly obese. But one visit to his grandparents in Vermont changed his whole perspective on himself and his body.
“I go to visit my grandparents in Vermont and … their reaction to me was like, ‘Oh my God, what are your parents doing to you? … This is out of hand. We need to get this under control.’ … My favorite food was lasagna, which my grandpa would always make me. … And I’m there visiting them for the first time without my mom or dad in Vermont, like super excited … and then they basically were like, … ‘You can’t have a second helping.’ That day was the first time that I snuck food.” – Ethan Suplee
As he helped clear the dishes that day, Ethan snuck a couple of bites of food off the table, and that started a bad habit that would take him years to recover from. And not only that, but his parents and grandparents started forcing him to exercise. They had him outside running around — not because he was a little kid who should enjoy playing but because they thought he needed to.
Ethan suffered more than just the physical consequences — there were psychological consequences, too. Suddenly, eating was no longer a fun thing or a social thing. Ethan felt this pressure to eat privately. It felt like something he had to keep secret. And he developed a strong resistance to authority and exercise — even playing outside felt like a punishment, so it’s no wonder he didn’t want to go to the gym or work out!
When Ethan got to high school, he recognized a new opportunity. There was a kid at his school who had been doing some acting, and Ethan started to see the benefits of that lifestyle. He saw that actors got to leave school from time to time, and they always had craft services and endless food available as well as private trailers to eat privately in. So, Ethan decided to give it a shot. He started auditioning for roles, and he landed the second one he tried out for — a small part on Boy Meets World.
Ethan started acting at 17 years old, and he’s been consistently able to find work ever since. He’s had this incredible career, but acting requires a pretty thick skin. Most of the guys you see in Hollywood are the typical young moviestar types with six-packs — how does a guy in Ethan’s situation make it?
It turns out that for Ethan, acting provided an escape. It allowed him to step outside himself and forget about his struggles for a little while.
“I’m a pretty shy person, and I’m not an extrovert by any means. And I don’t like being around a lot of people, but if I’m being a character that doesn’t have those kinds of … mental afflictions, … if the guy says, ‘action,’ … that insecurity goes away. I can feel some version of what I think that person is feeling.” – Ethan Suplee
Ethan is definitely a talented guy, and I admire his ability to tap into characters so naturally. But for a long time, Ethan used that ability to escape from his struggles with weight. He would get to spend a few hours a day on set being a character who wasn’t worried about how much he weighed or what he was eating, and that gave him some relief. And that’s how we got his incredible performance in Remember the Titans.
“I think if I had a six-pack at 22, I never would have done Remember the Titans. I would have been happier in school, and, you know, who knows what my life would be like now because acting was escaping who I was” – Ethan Suplee
Ethan worked hard at acting, and he didn’t mind being typecast as the lovable, goofy, big dude because, hey, he was still getting work! And he had some incredible experiences! He got to work with Denzel Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio, but each time the director would call, ‘Cut,” all of that insecurity creeped back in.
But things changed for a fairly simple reason — Ethan fell in love. There was a girl he knew from school who he was just crazy about, and when he was 16, they developed a romantic relationship. But there was one problem: Ethan felt that he couldn’t keep up with her active lifestyle. She liked to go hiking and walk around museums, but Ethan found it painful to do so much activity. He realized that he had to make a change:
“If I show her that this is something I want to change … and I say, ‘Let’s address this,’ that’s a very scary and narrow path to walk because … I figure life is failure at that point. … So I went all in in a very similar fashion to achieving sobriety, which was [to] admit that I’m powerless and turn my problem over to somebody else.’ … I went and found a guy who has a liquid diet you can do for up to two months … and I crushed that two months [and lost] 80 pounds.” – Ethan Suplee
And you know what’s even cooler? Ethan has never dipped back into that 80 pounds. In other words, he’s never gained back enough weight to be within less than 80 pounds of his heaviest. That’s incredible, and I have to give it up to him for his resiliency and determination to get and stay healthy.
And admittedly, Ethan’s had struggles. At one point he gained a lot of the weight back, and he once again weighed over 400 pounds. But today, he has systems in place to keep himself on track for his fitness and health goals. For example, Ethan says he never goes grocery shopping while he’s hungry:
“[I’m] always a day ahead of time. So if I have three days of food left, that’s when I start thinking, ‘Okay, what’s the next round of food going to look like? … I’’ll go to the store with at least 48 hours of food still in my house. I’ll never go to the store hungry. … And the food for tomorrow is always prepared the day before.” – Ethan Suplee
Ethan knows that if he goes shopping hungry, he’ll buy some things that aren’t the healthiest. He won’t be equipped to make the best and healthiest food choices, so he always makes sure to be full when he goes shopping.
Again, I’ve got to give it up for this guy. Ethan has come such a long way, and he looks and feels great today. Not to mention the fact that he’s still acting!
Ethan has had an incredible career in Hollywood — he’s acted in more than 40 movies and TV shows! He’s also gotten to work with some of the top names in the industry, and I couldn’t resist asking him about his experiences and the lessons he’s learned from some of Hollywood’s greatest.
First, we talked a little bit about Denzel Washington. Ethan shared with me that the first time he worked with Denzel, he was genuinely nervous. Denzel is so talented, and he’s such an icon, so he was definitely an intimidating presence on set. Not to mention, he showed playing the roll of the tough football coach, and he never let up until they wrapped:
“He didn’t let anybody off the hook. He’s playing the coach, right? And he’s playing a real no-nonsense guy in Remember the Titans. … He’s like a hard-ass. And he came on set, and he was that. And then I did other movies with him, and even toward the end, he’s not [staying in character] because that’s who he is. He’s doing that because that’s the character, right? And so he is, ‘I’m going to … maintain this, and you are going to behave appropriately.’” – Ethan Suplee
There’s a reason Denzel Washington is one of the greats — he expects the best out of everybody, and he elevates the whole cast by setting a strong example and maintaining that work ethic and dedication all the way until the end.
But he’s not the only brilliant actor Ethan’s had the opportunity to work with — he’s also spent time onset with Leonardo DiCaprio, and according to Ethan, Leo is also one of the most dedicated and respectful actors out there.
“Leo always knows all of his lines. And when they knock for him, no matter what he is doing, when they knock and they say, ‘We’re ready,’ he is up and walking to set. They could be dressing him — they will continue to dress him as they walked. … He is one of the most considerate and hardworking dudes I’ve ever seen.” – Ethan Suplee
Ethan went on to say that it’s not uncommon for actors at Leonardo DiCaprio’s level of stardom to send an assistant to the door to say, “We need a few minutes,” but Leo doesn’t do that. He’s always ready to go, and he knows his lines — which, according to Ethan, is the single most important thing for an actor to do.
“All you need to know is: Be on time … and know your lines because if you don’t, … it’s embarrassing. … You’ve got a whole bunch of people who are like, ‘We all learned our lines, [and] now we’re all waiting on you.’ You might as well have been late. Learn your lines.” – Ethan Suplee
Hear that, aspiring actors?
Ethan Suplee has an incredible success story. His journey will inspire anyone who finds themself trying to lose weight. He demonstrates that it can be done — you can lose weight and start experiencing the happiness and freedom that come with feeling happy and comfortable in your skin.
I want to acknowledge Ethan for constantly and consistently choosing to do the hard stuff. And I want to thank him for sharing his story with me on the podcast — I know it takes bravery to be honest about our struggles, and Ethan showed real vulnerability and honesty today. By being open about his own struggles and victory, I know he’s going to inspire countless people to achieve their health and fitness goals.
I want to share Ethan’s definition of greatness because I think it’s a perfect definition of Ethan himself:
“I think that greatness is overcoming obstacles, whatever they may be. Even just the pursuit of overcoming the obstacles is greatness. … It doesn’t have to be that you won the race or even finished the race, but that you’re in it — I think [that]s greatness.” – Ethan Suplee
Ethan has overcome his share of obstacles, and he keeps running the race anyway. He definitely lives up to his definition of greatness.
Thank you guys so much for joining me on this episode today! I hope it inspired you as much as it inspired me. If it did, please share it with your friends on Instagram! Tag Ethan, @ethansuplee, and me, @lewishowes, with your biggest takeaways from the episode! Remember — you could have a positive impact on someone’s life today just by sharing this episode.
And don’t forget to check out Ethan’s podcast, American Glutton! Who knows, you just might find an episode featuring a familiar voice.
Thanks again for joining me today, guys. Ethan and I talked about so much great stuff that I didn’t have time to include here — if you’re ready to learn how to process pain, lose over 250 pounds, and dissect trauma, join me on Episode 1,025 with Ethan Suplee!
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