The 1,000 Pound Health and Fitness Journey of My Name is Earl’s Ethan Suplee

Over the years, lifestyle change aside, Ethan Suplee has shown the world that he’s incredibly talented and full of passion. It wasn’t until his significant role in Disney’s heart-warming football drama film Remember the Titans (2000) that his career genuinely sky-rocketed; however, it was his roles after that proved just how flexible and dynamic of an actor he truly is.

In more recent years, though, he’s proven to the world and Hollywood that his significant change in physical appearance hasn’t stopped him from being the talented, passionate actor that we all know and love. It’s shown us a completely different side to him that most people didn’t know existed.

After gaining and losing a total of around 1000 pounds(!) in the past twenty years, Ethan Suplee has recently opened up about what’s been going on behind-the-scenes of his phenomenal fitness and health journey.

Let’s dive in and find out what’s been the secret motivation that kept him going strong all these years!

Flexible and Dynamic Acting Skills

Ethan Suplee, such a successful actor, is so flexible and dynamic with the types of roles he can and has conquered over the years. From some of his more hilarious characters like Randy Hickey in My Name is Earl and more recently Officer Billy in The Ranch, to more intense dramatic roles like Seth Ryan in American History X and Tuna in Blow, Suplee has shown the world that he’s an incredibly talented and passionate actor.

But it wasn’t always a leisurely climb up to the top, let alone an easy time staying up on top.

Screenshot from “American History X”

Losing Pounds and Losing Work

Getting to the top in showbiz and Hollywood is one tough climb, especially when it comes to the physical appearance aspect of it all. And while plus-size actors typically have a more challenging time landing jobs, Suplee received many of his roles because of his appearance. But he never would’ve imagined that a new look would lead him to lose out on work.

Even with the challenge that he had to face when it came to his profession, 20 years later, he’s finally at a point where he feels comfortable and happy in his skin and feeling good about his career path.

How exactly did he get there, though?

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Acting in His Blood

On May 25, 1976, Ethan Suplee was born to two loving parents and actors, Deborah Deele and Bill Suplee. Born in Manhattan, New York, and raised in Los Angeles, California, it’s safe to say that Suplee was destined to be a movie star.

He landed his first significant role in the popular comedy-drama TV series; Boy Meets World, when he was at the sweet age of sixteen with acting in his blood.

But it wasn’t until after working on the show for four years, from 1994-1998, that he started to think about his physical appearance and health status.

Screenshot from “Boy Meets World”

Always a Big Boy

Ethan Suplee was always a big boy and recognizes that, in general, he will always have a bigger build. While he’s okay with that now and has found a way to maintain his figure and well-being healthily, as a child, Ethan Suplee’s parents and grandparents expressed concerns for their loving little boy. Yet, because of how they handled their matters, Suplee started to feel uncomfortable eating around others and developed even more unhealthy habits.

“I had this idea now, that food was something that people didn’t want me to have … So if I wanted to have more, I needed to do it privately, and it became something that I was withholding from people,” Suplee revealed in his podcast American Glutton.

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Roles Related to His Size

While Suplee’s had much success with his roles as a plus-size character, playing that role wasn’t necessarily what he longed for. He tried to stray away from landing any roles or gigs that were relevant to his size.

“I never wanted to do something where I was the fat guy who was the butt of a fat guy joke … I told my agents to look for roles outside the box that could work for me. There were instances where somebody would want to add a line about me being fat, and I would say, ‘Hey, no, we’re not doing that,’” Suplee revealed to People.

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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Over the years, Suplee has fluxed between numbers on the scale, but there was one point in his life where he knew that he genuinely needed to change things up. Once he grew out of his adolescent years, there were a few significant factors in his life that played a role in his “much-needed wake-up call.”

It was in his mid-20s that the striving actor realized that he had fallen down the rabbit hole. He was using food, alcohol, and other substances as an unhealthy way to cope with personal issues. But where did those habits stem from in the first place?

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“I Preferred Video Games and Reading”

As a young adult, Suplee would stray away from eating in front of others, but come to the end of the night; he would go home and eat as much as he wanted. With that said, his relationship with food and his poor eating habits were just part of the reason why Suplee struggled with being healthy.

During a 2020 interview, Suplee revealed to Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network that, “I just I ate way too much, and I didn’t move a lot, and I didn’t move a lot for most of my life … I never played sports … I didn’t like PE. I never ran, like, I just wasn’t an active kid. I preferred video games and reading, honestly.”

Image via Ethan Suplee/IG

Understanding the Consequences as a Child

Even though his family cared about Suplee and wanted to do whatever they could to help him, the desire to change had to come from within at the end of the day. However, understanding the long-term effects of imbalanced fitness and eating habits can sometimes be tricky for a teenager to understand.

“I doubt many kids are thinking about [their eating habits and] their activity levels in terms of physical fitness—unless they’re actual athletes. But I didn’t move a lot. And then I ate for multiple people. I wasn’t eating for one; I was eating for two, three, four people,” he further explained to Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network.

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Working all the Time

Surprisingly enough, Suplee wasn’t even having trouble finding work while in his 20s. He was getting all sorts of jobs and working all the time as an actor at that point. His signature look was the “big dude,” and Hollywood utilized him for his unique physical appearance.

But just because your professional life is going so well doesn’t mean that your personal life is, too. Suplee started to feel the struggles and toll his lifestyle took on him between scenes and outside of the film studios—mainly when traveling around.

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Motivation to Make a Lifestyle Change

With anyone trying to transform their lives, it all comes down to wanting that change and feeling motivated about it. For some people, it’s health-related issues, and for others, it’s about feeling uncomfortable in front of others, especially in situations that would seem harmless to others.

From struggling up a flight of stairs to having swollen feet at the end of his acting workdays to a bad case of sleeping apnea, Suplee’s medical condition was at a low.

“I definitely had medical reasons, but none of them were really motivated me to do anything about it,” Suplee shared during his Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network interview.

So what got the ball rolling on a whole new lifestyle?

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One of Suplee’s Motivations

“I remember once I got a seat belt extension, and even with the seat belt extension, I couldn’t get it closed. I’d always buy two seats,” Suplee shared on his podcast. Talk about a rough time. Can you imagine how he must’ve felt in situations like these?

Suplee tried all sorts of ways to keep those extra pounds off since 2002, but in 2005, he landed the role of the lovable, clumsy, dimwitted young brother Randy Hickey on the comedic, heartwarming TV series, My Name is Earl, and quickly was back to his bad health habits.

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The Aftereffects of “My Name is Earl”

Many of us know and love Suplee for his endearing, sweet, and hilarious role on My Name is Earl. And it was precise during this time that his significant lifestyle change started to come about. However, his motivation and transformation began a few years before the show kicked off in 2005.

“I was around 300 pounds when I started doing My Name is Earl, and I gained like 50-60 pounds over the course of a few years doing that. And so, when it ended [in 2009], I was like 350-360,” Suplee shared with Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network.

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Becoming More Active

After reaching around 350 pounds, Suplee decided to focus on being more active and gained a whole new look.

Ever since Suplee was a child, he truly enjoyed riding his bike. However, when he was young, it was just something that he did for fun. But when he realized that he needed to change his health, he decided to focus on being active and got down to 200 pounds. How incredible!

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Getting Down to 200

“In 2010, I was riding bicycles like obsessively … My Name is Earl was a TV show I had done, [and] at that point just ended, and I became like an obsessive cyclist, and I was riding 3-4 hundred miles a week every week. I went and did all the stages of the Tour de France a couple of times, and got so thin that I actually was uncomfortable with how thin I was,” Suplee confessed on Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network.

Suplee might’ve not looked as big as he once was, but he was still considered on the more massive end of things. Even though, since he was cycling so much, he was at 12% body fat. That’s when his doctor told him he needed to be careful when it came to losing more and had to tread lightly when it came to balancing out his health.

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A Visit to the Doctor

Even though he was about half the weight he once was, he still struggled with health issues. That’s when he felt like it was time to see a doctor and figure out a plan to maintain a better lifestyle and habits. He wanted to get into shape, more healthily.

Of course, he didn’t want to suffer from any more health issues taking a toll on his body due to how he had treated it in the past. But as we mentioned before, Suplee’s motivation wasn’t necessarily focused or oriented on his situation’s medical downfalls.

Still, though, his doctor helped him understand that he needed to continue the hunt to find a method that will help him both look and feel good in a healthy way.

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The Press Was Far from Supportive

Suplee’s motivation all stems from the mental side of it all. Even after reaching 12% body fat and 200 pounds, he didn’t feel comfortable in his skin. And once he had slimmed down, he encountered a-whole-nother set of problems he never would’ve anticipated.

Even though Suplee had worked hard to change his habits, it seemed like the public was quicker to jump on the downsides of this dramatic change.

“There were a few press articles that were not kind about [my new look] … and so I was just like … I’m not even gonna talk about this with [the public] because nobody’s really reacting to [my transformation] great.”

What exactly did the press have to say about this sensitive topic, though?

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Taking Two Steps Back to Take One Step Forward

Hollywood knew Ethan Suplee as “the big guy,” which made it quite difficult for him to find work after that. And sadly enough, he isn’t the only celebrity who has struggled with this dramatic shift in professional success.

And, the press didn’t seem too supportive about it either, which made Suplee feel even less at ease about it all.

But if this experience taught him anything, it’s that sometimes you have to take two steps back before taking one step forward.

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The Negative Feedback from the Press

“[The press would negatively talk] like about loose skin, and the downside of weight loss, and how problematic it can be to lose weight, and basically just that I didn’t look great,” Suplee shared.

“Now the truth is I wasn’t comfortable with myself … I went back to close to 400 pounds, but I was I was going to the gym quite a bit, and then when I decided to [slim down] again, I kept lifting weights,” Suplee openly expressed with Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network.

Surprisingly enough, though, this wasn’t the largest number on the scale that Suplee had witnessed for himself.

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Started as a Child

While Suplee realized that he was turning to food to escape whatever was bothering him when he was in his 20s, his habits developed far before that. When he was just a sweet little 10-year-old boy, he had already weighed over 200 pounds—which is around the weight that he’s now as a full-grown muscle-building adult.

Even though Suplee admitted that he never knew exactly what the highest number was on the scale, he states that he has a pretty good idea about it—especially after weighing himself on “an industrial shipping scale.”

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Over 500 Pounds

“It was 536, yeah, so, I know I weighed that much. I suspect I got heavier than that, but that was the highest I ever could objectively say that I weighed,” Suplee shared during his recent Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network interview.

In recent years, Suplee felt like he finally found the perfect method to keep him fit and healthy, both physically and mentally.

But he recently opened up and shared what his secret motivation was to live a better lifestyle overall.

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Suplee’s Ultimate Motivation

In a recent interview with Men’s Health, Suplee shared both his motivation for his transformation and some fitness tricks and workouts that he practiced.

At the base of it all, his motivation all comes down to trying to live a better and longer life for the ones he loved—especially an extraordinary someone.

Suplee heartwarmingly expressed that, “I met a girl who I felt was more important than all of the girls I’d known previous to her … getting healthy was the only way that I could see on making sure I have the longest time with her.”

How heart-warming!

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For the Future

Suplee met and fell head over heels for the love of his life—Brandy Lewis. The two of them started to plan a future, and we’re excited about the idea of traveling around the world and starting a family together.

In 2006, the two lovebirds exchanged their “I Dos” and tied the knot. However, with the way Suplee was living his life, all of their dreams seemed to be much harder to achieve than it needed to be.

So, he was determined to kick things back into gear and focus on bettering himself so that he could be the best husband—and future father—that he could be.

“I knew that if I didn’t change, I wouldn’t have that future … That was the motivation that kept me at it,” he further explained to People.

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Different Strokes for Different Folks

Every person’s body, figure, and needs are entirely different than the other. What works for some people might not work for others.

Suplee has been working on himself for the past two decades to become the healthiest version of himself because it took a long time to find what makes it work. It’s not just about what you need, though.

Suplee wanted to feel good about himself in his skin—physically and mentally.

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Hulking Out Instead of Chunking Out

After trying different methods and doing many of his research, he finally found the perfect way to keep himself motivated, healthy, and, most importantly, satisfied with it all.

Not just that, be he redefined himself and his successful acting career when it comes to being the “big guy.”

He figured out how to utilize his naturally bigger physique by retaining muscle and hulking out with muscle mass instead of overeating and adding on extra pounds by chunking out.

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Not Too Big, Not Too Small, Just Right

Suplee expressed that now he’s at a comfortable place with his physical appearance. He’s not too big and not too small; he’s at a home that feels good and is just right.

“I didn’t like how I looked [when I slimmed down], because, you know, at the end of the day, it’s vanity … But with muscle mass, it fills that out a bit. It just makes me. I am happier with the muscle mass … I felt big again, but I felt big in healthy terms. In terms that I was comfortable,” Suplee shared with Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network.

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Planning & Progressive Overload

Whether it was about his eating habits or retaining muscle mass, Suplee didn’t have a set plan or goal to maintain the results he wanted for many years.

Suplee found that for him, along with eating correctly, the method of “Progressive Overload”—which focuses on strength training that advocates for a steady increase of the stress placed upon the musculoskeletal and nervous system—was one that worked for him to reach his goals.

“There was no real plan. And once I kind of put a plan into a place of counting my macros using progressive overload … it did not take long at all to start to see muscle definitions to start to see,” Suplee explained during his interview with Generation Iron Fitness & Bodybuilding Network.

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Changing Your Relationship with Food for the Better

Eating is a pleasure and should be something that you enjoy and look forward to. Unfortunately, many different fads and dietary trends these days seem to create a fearful or negative relationship with food instead of teaching how to have a healthy one. However, Suplee has found a way to shift his mentality and now feels comfortable and satisfied with his eating regime.

“I actually am eating more food than I have in years … We went on vacation for Thanksgiving, and I was terrified that I might gain a bunch of weight. But I didn’t gain any weight because I’m really eating the way I should be eating. It doesn’t feel fragile,” Suplee eagerly expressed with People.

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“The First Time I’ve Actually Been Comfortable with Myself.”

Soon after his revolutionary change, the tabloids caught on and started sharing his jaw-dropping new look.

“This is like the first time I’ve actually been comfortable with myself. So, all those pictures, like, I’m happy that they’re out there because I actually think I look okay, you know—which is a bizarre thing to say. After all, I’ve not ever once thought that about myself,” he shared.

Suplee isn’t just comfortable in his skin; he’s more than happy to share his story and journey with the public now, too!

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Having a Motivational Figure and Support System

Whether it’s your favorite musician with their heart-warming and relatable lyrics, or our famous actors portraying characters that hit close to home, it’s safe to say that one of the reasons we love and gush over our favorite celebrities is because they touch and uniquely inspire us.

So when it comes to making a significant lifestyle change the way that Ethan Suplee did, he knows just how important it is to have someone help motivate and support you during your journey. Because of that, he’s found a way to spread his knowledge, experience, and support with his fans excitingly and entertainingly.

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“American Glutton”

Instead of focusing only on maintaining his eating habits or being incredibly active, Suplee’s found a stable balance between the two that works for him. So much so that he’s even started up his podcast to talk about the whole process and help others out!

In his official podcast, titled American Glutton, he covers a range of topics about his journey from braising a pork belly “the proper way” to interviews with experts and the details of his health and fitness journey he’s experienced over the past two decades.

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A Dynamic Range of Topics and Guest Speakers

Suplee’s podcast American Glutton touches on some of the topics that hit close to home for fans that experienced/are experiencing the same things that he has/is.

From his episode about “Charging at Your Fears with Lewis Howes: NYT Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Entrepreneur” to his interview episodes “Kevin Smith: Filmmaker, Actor, Comedian, Author,” or “Breaking Down Macros with Dr. Spencer Nadolsky,” the podcast is a dynamic and fresh take on down-to-earth and relatable topics.

But that’s not all that Suplee has got cooked up in recent years!

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His One True Calling

Ethan Suplee has all sorts of passions, including his newfound love of muscle-building and working out. But aside from sharing his success story, heart-breaking struggles and fails, and secret tips and tricks in the kitchen on his podcast, he’s still focused on his true-calling—acting.

His size might’ve been something that he’s worried about in the past—especially when it comes to finding work in the entertainment industry—but Suplee has been eagerly landing great gigs in recent years. How inspiring!

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Recent Work in Showbiz

Through all of the ups and downs that Suplee’s experienced with his own life and health, he’s still focused on his professional career. The dynamic television series superstar and magnificent movie star have had a chance to take on new roles with his new transition, and there’s no doubt that fans are thrilled about it!

From starring in the television series, The Ranch, alongside the astonishing Ashton Kutcher to Santa Clara Diet starring the delightful Drew Barrymore and talented Timothy Olyphant, Suplee was also featured in multiple movies in recent years, too.

However, acting isn’t the only passion he’s continued to pursue.

Screenshot from “The Ranch”

New Hobbies for His Mind and Body

There’s no doubt that his intense acting career and work-out regime takes up a whole chunk of his time, but Ethan Suplee has found fun in all sorts of dynamic hobbies that keep both his mind and body fresh and excited.

Suplee enjoys reading now just as much as he did as a kid and playing chess, and of course, cooking. And along with his muscle-building workouts, Suplee has also learned Muay Thai kick-boxing’s intense martial art method. How inspiring!

With all of these new hobbies and habits in mind, Suplee’s cultured a whole new perspective and way to live his life—both professional and personal.

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“I’d Pass. I Don’t Need to Do It.”

In Suplee’s life, there have been certain times when he has contemplated adding those extra pounds to land a movie’s role. He did agree to put on some pounds for his role in the drama mystery thriller film, Chance, starring Hugh Laurie.

But after that, he agreed that enough was enough and that he didn’t want to fall to the pressures of changing himself for a job.

“This is how I want to look … If somebody said, ‘We’re going to remake American History X and Cold Mountain and some of your favorite movies that you were in when you were fat, and if you want to be in a movie, you got to gain weight.’ I’d pass. I don’t need to do it,” Suplee confessed to People.

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A Role Model for Many

There’s no doubt that Suplee and his beloved wife, Brandy Lewis, have been through thick and through thin—physically and emotionally—with everything Suplee has gone through during his fitness and health journey. Their love is still standing strong, though, and they’ve created a big and beautiful family together, too. Over the years, the Supplies welcomed not one, not two, not three, but four adorable and loving kids into the world. How heartwarming!

It’s safe to say that along with being a father figure and inspiring role model to his kiddos, though, Suplee’s been an encouraging and supportive figure to his fans, too.

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