Ross Mathews, before (left) and after
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic, Carlos Puma/AP
06/14/2011 at 06:00 AM EDT
Last November, Gwyneth Paltrow
gave Ross Mathews, the late night TV comic from Chelsea Lately
– a little tough love.
"We were taping a Chelsea special," Mathews, 31, tells PEOPLE, "and she pointed at my tummy and said, 'What's going on here? I love you. Get it together."
That was all the motivation needed by Mathews – who was tipping the scales at around 220 lbs. After seeing his friend Sara Rue lose 50 lbs.
on Jenny Craig, he signed up in January
to be the diet company's newest spokesperson.
"I was clueless about eating healthy before," he says. "Now I'm making good choices."
Even Paltrow has noticed the change. "I saw her when she was promoting her cookbook recently," says Mathews. "She was so excited. She said, 'You look good!' "
And she's right: The comic has changed the way he eats, added exercise to his day and reached his goal weight of 180 lbs.
"The weight was such a shameful issue for me," he admits. "I'm so happy to be rid of it."
He's also gone healthy. "I started walking rather than driving to get my coffee," says the L.A. resident. "I liked it so much, I do it for 45 minutes every day ... You know those annoying people who are like, 'If I don't work out I feel ... ugh
'? I might be becoming one of those people.
"And I've become a master chef," adds Mathews. "I make a vegetable medley. I have actually started gardening. I have tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green peppers, strawberries and blueberries."
He's even inspired someone else to get healthy. "My mom has joined Jenny Craig and is going to the gym now," says Mathews. "She's doing incredible. She's half way to her goal."
But the best perk of all? "When I look in the mirror," he says, "I'm proud that I look healthy and happy."