Dara Sarshuri hadn’t stepped foot on a scale in over two years, but when he finally decided to, he was shocked to see the numbers glaring back at him: he weighed 390 pounds.
Up until then, he had no idea.
“It was way more than I thought,” Sarshuri told TODAY. “I was just mad at myself. It really just hit me and I thought, ‘You got to do something. You are almost 400 pounds.’”
Raised by food lovers
The 35-year-old first grade teacher, of Vonore, Tennessee, was raised by food lovers and his part-Persian, part-Southern family life revolved around it.
“The two parts of my family are all about the food. The Southern side is the fried cooking and the Persian side is about cooking and celebrating. As a little kid there was a lot of food and you were expected to clean your plate,” he said.
Growing up, Sarshuri was always bigger than most kids his age, but he played sports and as long as he stayed active, he was able to manage his weight.
As he got older, he stopped exercising and entering the workforce led to a sedentary lifestyle. On top of it, he stopped paying attention to what he ate.
“The older I got, the less active I got,” Sarshuri said. “My choices got worse and worse and I was putting on more weight.
A crucial turning point
Like many others, he considered weight-loss surgery and is the case for anyone choosing to go the gastric bypass surgery route, he was required to lose weight before undergoing the procedure.
Starting in February this year, he began eating a low carb diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and started incorporating lean proteins into his meals. Within a month, he lost 25 pounds and after 2 months, he was down 30 pounds. By the month of June, he lost 100 pounds and his doctor was taken aback.
“She didn’t believe it and weighed me twice,” Sarshuri remembered, laughing.
But then she asked if he still wanted to pursue weight-loss surgery; he was having so much success without it and he decided to continue with what he was doing.
She then asked if he still wanted to go ahead with the surgery but he was so motivated by the progress he’d made without it, he chose not to pursue it.
Maintaining healthy habits
He started exercising again, but feeling intimidated by the idea of hitting the gym, he began by walking.
“The first day I could barely go a mile,” Sarshuri said. “I was huffing and puffing and cursing and I said, ‘I am just going to be fat.’”
Nonetheless, he persevered and walked the next day. Come June, he was walking five miles per day and finally mustered up the courage to join a local gym.
Today, he hits the gym five days a week and spends time walking on weekends.
Since he began his transformation journey in February, he’s lost 180 pounds and has never felt so good.
“I am stronger than I ever thought I was,” he said. “I never had any confidence and now I see how far I have come. I can run. I can do burpees. I can do push-ups. I can do planks. I take these small victories.”
His advice for others wanting to lose weight is to stay focused on your personal goals, short-term and long-term.
“Don’t compare yourself to others. It is so easy online,” he said. “Celebrate you and the success you have had and how far you have come.”