VONORE, Tenn. — The holidays are upon us with tempting treats and big meals. It can be difficult to resist.

But not for one man in Monroe County. His commitment to losing weight is amazing. In fact, he's about half the size he was last February.

Here's how he did it.

His students at Vonore Elementary School call him Mr. D.

Dara Sarshuri teaches first graders and he's learned some lessons himself about willpower, commitment, and perseverance.

"I showed them some of my old clothes I had last year and they didn't believe that those were my pants and my shirt., I've shared my journey with them," he said.

And what a journey it has been.

A year ago, a day on his feet in the classroom would drain him, he would go home, take a nap, and eat fast food.

His weight interfered with fully enjoying activities like traveling and UT football games.

"My family's had season tickets forever and I found myself wondering where we were going to park and how far away it would be from the stadium and stuff like that and squeezing in there," he said.

He decided to have gastric sleeve surgery, a weight loss procedure that removes part of your stomach. And he made an appointment with a surgeon who, of course, weighed him.

"Just seeing that number up there on the screen hit me like a ton of bricks. That was my wake up call or my ah-ha moment and I knew I had to do something," he said.

He did do something. That day he walked a mile at a local park.

"It almost killed me. I was huffing and puffing and cussing and everything. I was going to go back. I am just going to stay fat. But I kept going and finished that mile and jut every day it got a little easier and a little easier. One mile turned into two miles and eventually I got up to five miles a day," he said.

Dara Sarshuri checked in with his doctor once a month, kept a food journal, and canceled surgery.

"I totally changed the way I ate. I cut out sweets. I cut out most of the carbs. It was all lean protein and fresh, vegetables, fresh fruit," he said.

Now he works out at a gym with a trainer five times a week.

"I'm just in a routine now, down 190 pounds."

No magic pill. No gimmicks. No surgery.

"If I wanted a cheeseburger or I wanted a piece of cake I would say is it worth going up a size in a shirt? Are you happy with what you are doing? I would play mind games with myself that way and it always worked," he said.

It's working for Mr. D.

"It's just totally changed my life in every aspect. The only regret I have is not doing it sooner," he said.

He would like to drop a few more pounds to make it an even 200 pounds lost.