JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – A first responder inspired by his middle school football players lost 130 pounds and is now working on building muscle.

In the fall of 2019, Nino Accardi of Jefferson County weighed 420 pounds. At the time, he was coaching football at Parkway North Middle School and decided to make a big change.

“I was telling my kids, ‘Let’s get in shape, let’s get ready for the season.’ And then I told myself, ‘How can I force these kids to get in shape if I’m not there?'” he said.

Accardi used to eat out often and drink a lot of sweet tea.

“I didn’t realize that what I was putting into my body was actually bad for me,” he said.

Accardi started his transformation by getting into a new exercise routine that included cardio, walking, HIIT, and weightlifting.

“The hardest part about working out is just going to the gym. Once you’re at the gym, it’s easy,” he said.

He also started to eat healthier and cut out sweet tea. Now he drinks unsweet tea and puts Stevia in it. On top of that, he drinks a gallon of water per day and avoids sugar. A few months into his weight loss journey, Accardi joined a 30-day challenge and never looked back.

“When I was losing my weight, I was still eating out, I was still eating fast food, but I learned what to eat, what was healthy for my body. Instead of having a whole pizza, just having a few slices,” he said.

Accardi said his diet isn’t too strict and he likes to have fun with his food.

“I don’t meal prep. I love fresh food but I will meal prep snacks all day long,” he said. These include fruit, nuts, and cheese.

Accardi’s wife Jenny has supported him throughout his entire transformation and her eating habits have also gotten better.

He now weighs about 290 pounds and is working on building muscle before he gets back to losing weight again. So far he has gone from wearing a 4X tall shirt to wearing a 2X shirt. His goal weight is 250.

Accardi’s transformation has touched every part of his life. Two years ago, he became the owner of the protein shake shop Nutrition Fix in House Springs.

He loves inspiring others to make positive changes and posts about his weight loss journey often.

“You can’t hit a home run every day, but you can at least hit a single,” Accardi said.