From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
BEFORE
290 lbs.

AFTER
205 lbs. (thanks to a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet)

Back in March, Jon Favreau stepped on a scale and realized he had to change. Busy with career and family, the actor, director and father of three hadn't paid attention to his weight gain. Bad habits like finishing his kids' macaroni and cheese had helped put 290 lbs. on his 6'2" frame. "I never crossed the 300-lb. threshold," says Favreau, 41. "But I was close."

Favreau, who first gained fame starring with Vince Vaughn in 1997's Swingers, vowed to get healthier. And he did, shedding 85 lbs. in just eight months. His secret weapon? His wife, Joya, 37, a doctor of internal medicine at L.A.'s Cedars Sinai Medical Center. "I knew John wasn't happy putting the weight on," she says. "But it sort of happened day to day." When he was ready to get healthy, Favreau didn't hesitate to ask for help. "I went to Joya because she has always been my partner," he says.

Together, the pair—parents to Max, 6, Madeleine, 4, and Brighton, 1—plotted out a weight-loss strategy. Favreau had long struggled with his weight. Lack of exercise wasn't the problem. "I was going to the gym, bench pressing over 400 lbs.," he says. "It was a case of a suburban dad eating too much." Joya prescribed a nutritionally balanced 1,200-calorie-a-day diet of five to six small meals every two to three hours. Busy directing the upcoming movie Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr., "I knew what I was going to eat so I never went to the craft services table," says Favreau.

Now at his target weight of 205 lbs., Favreau sticks to a modified diet, though he occasionally has treats like corn dogs. "It wasn't like when it was over, I could immediately stuff my face," he says. "Now I would feel weird if I ate the way I used to."

If Favreau needs a reminder, he gets it this month with the DVD release of all five seasons of Dinner for Five, the Independent Film Channel series he hosted in which celebrities chatted over gourmet food. "If you watch the 49 episodes in order you can see me get fatter and fatter," he says.

Not that looking back at his old self makes him cringe. "It's a lot easier looking at yourself fatter than it is looking at yourself thinner," says Favreau. "The other way around, when you used to look great and now you're the after picture? Now that's hard!"