A first-grade teacher who tipped the scales at 390lbs has lost a whopping 180lbs in just 10 months by following a healthy diet and exercise routine — after initially considering gastric bypass surgery. 

Dara Sarshuri, 35, from Madisonville, Tennessee, learned he weighed nearly 400lbs last February when he stepped on the scale for the first time in more than two years. 

The five-foot-nine teacher at Vonore Elementary told Today that he was stunned by the number on the sale, admitting that it was ‘way more’ than he had thought it would be. 

‘I was just mad at myself,’ he said. ‘It really just hit me and I thought, “You got to do something. You are almost 400 pounds.”‘ 

Dara explained that food was an important part of his upbringing as his father is a Persian immigrant and his mother grew up in the south. 

Both the Persian and Southern sides of his family loved to cook, and he grew up eating lots or rice dishes and fried foods. 

He noted that there was always ‘a lot of food,’ and there was an expectation for him to clean his plate. Although he described himself as a ‘husky’ kid, he was able to manage his weight by playing sports. 

Dara stopped exercising when he got older, and the pounds really started to pile on after college, when he started working full-time and stopped watching what he ate.

Like many people struggling with obesity, the teacher considered going under the knife and having gastric bypass surgery. 

However, before he could be approved for the procedure, he needed to clean up his diet and lose some weight. 

Dara adopted a low-carb diet with a focus on lean protein, vegetables, and fruit. Although he was too intimated to go to the gym, he started walking. 

In just one month, he dropped 25lbs. The next month, he lost another 30lbs. 

To keep himself motivated, he would buy a T-shirt that was too small on him and try it on until he lost enough weight that it fit. 

By June he was walking five miles a day and down 100lbs — a number that even surprised his doctor.   

Dara’s incredible progress inspired him to forgo surgery and join a gym as he continued to focus on losing more weight. 

When his weight loss plateaued, he’d look at his old clothes and remind himself how far he has come. He also tried to focus on how his clothes fit and how he was feeling, not the numbers on the scale.   

Over the course of 10 months, Dara lost 180lbs. He now weighs 210lbs and even likes going to the gym.

‘I am stronger than I ever thought I was,’ he told Today. ‘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.’