Drew Carey Says He’s Lost 1,000 Lbs. Over the Years, Vows to Stick to Healthy Eating Because ‘It’s So Freeing’ (Exclusive)

The ‘Price Is Right’ host explains to PEOPLE how a wake-up call from his doctor led to an 80-lb. weight loss in 2010, and how he keeps the weight off

<p>Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic; Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty</p> Drew Carey before and after his weight loss

Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic; Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty

Drew Carey before and after his weight loss

When Drew Carey shed 80 lbs. in 2010, the transformation was largely driven by fear.

“I would go out to Swingers diner after The Price Is Right my first year, get a plate of pasta, a cupcake and iced tea with a bunch of lemons,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “Then I’d go home, have Doritos and several Pepsis, and take an Ambien to go to sleep. It was miserable to live like that.”

Carey’s doctor offered the wake-up call he sorely needed, telling him, "‘If you don’t do something, your life’s going to be shorter, and you’ll have these bad things to look forward to.'”

The comedian took those words to heart, cutting out carbs and sticking to 45-minute cardio workouts several times a week. Now Carey, who quips he's lost "1,000 pounds over my whole life,” weigh 80 lbs. lighter “more or less.” He also no longer has type 2 diabetes.

Related: Drew Carey Says He Feels 'Way Better' After 80-Lb. Weight Loss: 'I Got a Few More to Lose'

<p>Michael Yarish/CBS</p> Drew Carey on 'The Price Is Right'

Michael Yarish/CBS

Drew Carey on 'The Price Is Right'

"It's better being like this and having my blood sugar at these levels, and I love myself enough now to want that for myself and desire that for myself," he continues, adding, "It's a whole kind of change of mindset that you have to have about your whole life. ... but once you do, it's so freeing."

And while Carey, 65, still mostly avoids carbs, he sometimes makes exceptions.

“I'll have cake and stuff every once in a while,” he explains. “I'm not a maniac, but I won't eat the whole cake like I did before.”

Being slimmer also has other perks, Carey admits. He feels good looking in the mirror and no longer has to worry about a store not having something in his size. Plus, “I like the energy I have now, I like how I feel, and I like the lucidity I have in my thoughts,” he says.

<p>Sonja Flemming/CBS</p> Drew Carey on 'The Price Is Right'

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Drew Carey on 'The Price Is Right'

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“It's just a better attitude all the way around,” he continues. “That's part of my happiness now, is being able to look in the mirror and go, ‘Oh, I like my haircut, I like my face, I like the way I'm dressed, and I look good in this. I don't have to sit in a corner or apologize to myself in my head when I'm talking to somebody, you know what I mean? All these things you do when you're overweight or you think something's wrong with you.”

Reflecting on his weight-loss journey now, Carey says it was actually taking that first step that proed to be the most difficult.

"The idea of loving yourself is the hardest part of it when anybody wants to lose weight," he says. "The first thing you have to do is realize you're worth it."

For more on Drew Carey, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here

The Price Is Right airs weekdays at 11 a.m. ET on CBS. 

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