‘Mike & Molly’ star Billy Gardell jokes he still battles ‘fat guy in there’ amid 170-pound weight loss

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Billy Gardell is working to maintain his 170-pound weight loss.

“The fat guy is still in there when I eye a plate,” the “Mike and Molly” star joked during an appearance on “The Jennifer Hudson Show.” “I gotta fight him back a little bit, but he’s still in there. But, yeah, I went from a young Jackie Gleason to an old Paul Newman.”

The 54-year-old actor once weighed 370 pounds but has been able to keep the weight off through surgery and a lifestyle change.

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Billy Gardell before and after

Billy Gardell joked about his 170-pound weight loss in a new interview. (Getty Images)

Gardell has lost 170 pounds since undergoing bariatric weight loss surgery in 2021. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes before the COVID-19 pandemic and dropped 30 pounds.

“At first, I developed Type 2 diabetes, and then I went on a medication for that for about a year and started taking care of myself better,” Gardell told Entertainment Tonight.

“I lost about 30 pounds. But then COVID hit. And when they punched up all the markings that made you ‘at risk,’ I had all of them except ‘over 65.’ I had a full bingo card.”

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Billy Gardell at SiriusXM Studios

Billy Gardell in 2017 (Getty Images)

Searching for dramatic change, Gardell decided to undergo bariatric surgery. The available bariatric procedures make the stomach smaller or bypass a portion of the intestines, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

“Bariatric surgery gives you a tool for long-term weight management, but it requires a commitment to lifestyle changes, including a balanced, nutritious diet and regular exercise,” the Mayo Clinic says on its website.

Billy Gardell Melissa McCarthy on set

Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy in “Mike & Molly.” (Getty Images)

Gardell emphasized he has managed to commit to his post-surgery lifestyle change.

“I just changed everything I did,” the actor told Entertainment Tonight. “I want to be clear – [getting surgery] was a very personal choice. I’m not telling anybody to do it. For me, that’s what I needed to do, but it’s just a tool. The real battle is still in [the mind], because people get this big again.

“You have a small window to change the way you live, the way you eat, the way you exercise and, so far, I’ve been able to do that,” he added. “I do it a day at a time, and I’m just so, so very grateful that that happened for me. No more diabetes, no more bad blood numbers.”

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Billy Gardell at an awards show

Billy Gardell lost 170 pounds. (Getty Images)

Gardell said he had to unlearn things about food and rebuild his relationship with eating.

“If you grew up like I did, you grow up in a house where it’s like, ‘We had a bad day, let’s eat. We had a good day? Let’s eat!’ So, I had to learn that food is fuel. And it’s not comfort. And it’s not celebration. And I work on that daily,” Gardell explained. 

“If you don’t have a problem with food, thank whatever god you pray to and be grateful you don’t, because … it’s a serious addiction, just like anything else. But I find my way. I do my thing … and I try to stay between the lines, and I’m grateful I get to.”

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The “little victories” of losing weight excite Gardell, such as “not having to take a deep breath when I tie my shoes” or being able to shop “at a normal store.”

“Things that heavy people understand. I’ve been freed from them. My body feels better, my joints feel better, and I’m trying to stay around and annoy my wife for another 20 years,” he added.

Billy Gardell red carpet

Billy Gardell underwent bariatric surgery in 2021. (Getty Images)

Gardell gained fame in 2010 with a role in “Mike & Molly” alongside Melissa McCarthy. 

The comedian went on to star in “Bad Santa,” “Avenging Angelo,” “You, Me and Dupree” and, most recently, “Bob Hearts Abishola.”

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