Graham Elliot

Courtesy of Twitter

MasterChef judge Graham Elliot is getting into shape after undergoing sleeve gastrectomy surgery in July to deal with his weight.

"I started [weighing] 396 and I'm now at 340," the 36-year-old Chicago-based chef tells People (for the record, that's a 56-pound weight loss). "That's even better than expected."

"I feel amazing," he added. "I have a lot more energy. I'm able to play tag with my 6-year-old son, [Mylo]. He said, 'You're way faster than you were.' He's so excited."

"The hardest part is relearning how to eat," Elliot admits. "And temptation is still hard for me. If friends are eating fast food or baking fresh chocolate chip cookies, it's difficult not to grab even a tiny piece. Mentally, I've got to start thinking of that stuff as the enemy...We did a party the other night at one of my restaurants that was soul food—fried chicken and all these great things—and I didn't have one piece because I knew it wouldn't be worth it."

Elliot says he hopes to be fit enough next fall to be able to run in the Chicago Marathon. "I'm going to lose the weight and start training," he says. "MasterChef cojudge Joe Bastianich says he'll join me. Maybe we'll get Gordon [Ramsay] out here as well."

The thinner frame does come with one hang-up. "My clothes are all too big so I'm a frequent shopper at Target now—especially for something with drawstrings," he dished.

"I keep thinking tomorrow I could plateau," Elliot admits. "I have to keep working. I can't just sit all day on the couch and expect the weight to come off. My goals are my new focus instead of food."

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