JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KTVI) – A middle-school football coach was inspired by his players to lose 130 pounds, and now he’s working on building muscle.

In the fall of 2019, Nino Accardi of Jefferson County, Missouri, 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,” Accardi 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 he cut out the sweet tea. Now he drinks unsweetened tea with stevia, along with a gallon of water per day.

“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 admitted 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,” said Accardi, whose go-to snacks include fruit, nuts and cheese.

Accardi now weighs about 290 pounds and is working on building muscle before he focuses on reaching his goal weight of 250. But the results of his hard work are significant: So far, he’s already dropped several clothing sizes. And two years ago, Accardi was so inspired to live a healthy lifestyle that he became the owner of a protein shake shop called Nutrition Fix in House Springs.

He also 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.