(WCBD) — It is a subject that is very personal “weight”. In this News 2 special report “Living Large” you will meet an inspiring man who offers a glimpse into his struggle, the stigma, and the unique motivation in his life.

Peek into Jonathan Dugan’s second-grade classroom at Burn’s Elementary School and you will find a teacher totally focused on educating students.  The 27-year-old says he was so focused on his students, he lost sight of his health.

“Waking up in the morning running out the door to be at work super early in the morning working through lunch and not taking time to eat lunch and then getting home and you reallze you haven’t eaten anything and then you eat everything because you are starving,” Dugan said.

He is usually known for his attention to detail. Outside of the classroom, he takes his students to parks, playgrounds, stores and special events.

He shared with me how his weight spiral out of control.

“Along the way, you wouldn’t know it is happening…and you would be like oh I gained 10 pounds oh let me fix that and then I realize, oh no I gained 20 more pounds. ..

and then you lose some then you gain some more then I wouldn’t pay attention to it”. Dugan said

Neither satisfied at the number on the scale nor what he sees I the mirror. Jonathan says he has seen a rise in the acceptance of people like him.

“You don’t realize it is happening until you get to that point and then you realize I am not healthy at all. It is easier to focus on other things it is easier to focus on grading papers or graduate school work than to go and run at the gym.”

Dugan says he believes there is a new normal for weight.  And that it is more acceptable to be overweight.

South Carolina is one of the leading states in the country with obese people.  Thirty-one percent of us are obese.

“Everyone I am around is like we are in the same boat we’re exhausted and not stopping to think what is more important for my health and my future…” Dugan said.

But  Jonathan says the weight was hard on his heart so he made a decision.  He got moving and and took his students with him

Jonathan is losing weight and gaining confidence through the Louies Kids Program, a non profit organization that treats children who are obese and their families.

He takes his students with him so he will stay motivated and obligated

“Bringing the kids committed me to going.”

Louies Kids founder, Louis Yuhasz, developed the program after watching his 500 pound father die of a stroke

He says 20 years later obesity has become common.

“You only need to go into a walmart or into a mall or grocery store, elementary school, high school, there is definitely a new normal. /we are used to seeing overweight people we are almost comfortable with it now.” Yuhasz said.

Dr. Kenneth Mitchell of Roper St Francis Bariatric and Metabolic Services said it is easy to be obese these days.  He said being overweight is bad for your health  particularly your heart but millions of people are growing out of control

“It is projected now that not just 2 out of 3 people will be overweight in the next 5 years it is 3 out of 4,” Dr Mitchell said.

Dr. Mitchell says the world is adapting to bigger bodies

“That is not just for adults that for children we are making car seats now for 3-year-old who are 80 pounds.  A 80 pound 3-year-old. We are not making car seats that size because we are endorsing it we are making it because we have to.” Dr Mitchell said.

Moving around and motivated by his student

Here are some suggestions if you are working toward a healthier lifestyle.  Experts say don’t tell yourself a particular food or food group is “bad”. Focus on how a food makes your body feel, not on whether it fits in with the current diet fad.

Don’t subtract from your diet, add to it. The restriction has the opposite effect we want it to have, so if we focus on adding foods that make you feel good.  For example, fruits and vegetables feel good proteins that keep us fuller, longer — restriction often leads to a future binge.

Also, work on your negative self-talk. Write down positive changes that you are making each day such as drinking more water or taking a walk) in a journal, and stop using the words “good” and “bad” to describe your food choices – and yourself.

Ultimately, what works for weight loss in the long-term is small, incremental changes to your overall eating patterns. the less you focus on restricting and categorizing foods and the more you focus on creating healthy behaviors around food and exercise, the healthier your body – and mind – will become.