The actor weighed 536 lbs. at his heaviest, and now he has 9% body fat

Ethan Suplee is crediting his wife Brandy Lewis as the inspiration behind his weight loss journey.

In an exclusive interview with People (the TV Show!), airing Thursday, the My Name Is Earl star, 44, explains that Lewis helped to build the "bedrock" foundation he needed to lose a significant amount of weight.

The actor, who dropped almost half his weight, says his journey began in 2002 after he had been seeing his now-wife for around a year.

"I became, for the first time in my life, kind of interested in the future and having experiences with her," he says. "Like spending a day walking around a museum or going on a trip or hiking that I just wasn't physically able to do."

Since getting married in 2006, the couple has had four daughters and Suplee says he's gotten "everything he wanted."

The couple first met when they were 16 and became "very, very, very close friends," he says.

"And I was utterly in love with her and she was like, not totally into me," he admits.

The pair later reunited in 2001 when Suplee says a "miraculous thing" happened.

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"For the very first time, I wasn't getting a deep concern from somebody about my health and I felt totally accepted for who I was versus what I looked like," he says. "And that I think was kind of the bedrock that I was successful with my goals at."

ethan suplee transformation
Credit: Getty; Jonny Marlow

Suplee reveals his highest weight was 536 lbs., and he had to go to a shipping center to be weighed on a "freight scale because back then there weren't scales that really went that high in doctor's offices."

He has since lost 250 lbs. and hit his goal of registering 9% body fat last October, he told Men's Health.

Ethan Suplee
Credit: Jonny Marlow

However, the actor says it's not the number on the scale that makes him happy, it's about "achieving goals."

"I cannot say that actually losing weight has made me happier. I don't think that's true," he admits. "I just think that achieving something I set out to achieve has given me this volume of happiness that is pretty great."

The actor tells PEOPLE that his goal this year is to "reveal my obliques."

Tune in to Thursday's episode of People (the TV show!) for the full interview.