Not so long ago, I was 625 pounds. I took cholesterol and blood pressure medication, walked with a cane, and hated life and myself. As many of you know, I've been on an amazing journey, a journey to take back my life. I'm not a teacher, a doctor, nor do I have a degree or any plaques on my wall. What I do have is the experience, a plan, that helped me to regain control of my life, and I want to help you to do the same. Let's do it together. Dan Hawthorne

Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting Caught: I'm Good with That!!!

As you know, my story went public many months ago. As I walk around Hagerstown, people reach out to me. "Are you that man that lost all that weight?" It's heartwarming and I appreciate that people are listening. I want to help. Helping others is my purpose in life. It's what I believe I was put on this earth to do. But, I admit, being in the public eye does have one drawback-- It's hard to successfully cheat!

The pressure I feel to eat right, especially when dining out, is huge. I'm aware that people are watching me. And I'm good with that, however, enjoying a cheat meal or a reward snack seems to require covert operations. I've yet to figure out how to cheat guilt free.

For instance, several months ago, the family and I were having a little party at a local restaurant. Everybody was ordering from a menu full of comfort foods. There wasn't a healthy dish in the joint and I could not wait to try a few. So I whispered to BJ,"I think I'll have a little cheat meal today," scanning the menu and spotting the special; meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy. Man-oh-man, my tummy went to growling, just anticipating that awesome, fattening, calorie engorged goodness. I was salivating, as the waitress rounded the table.

When she got closer to me, I noticed an older couple, sitting across from me. The man was reading the local newspaper. What do you think was on the back of that paper, facing me? My story, the whole shebang; complete with bold inspirational headlines and a photo of me at 600 plus pounds. What a view. What a buzz-kill.

When I refocused, the couple had spotted me. And I could tell by the way they were tossing sideways glances back and forth--first man to wife, then to me, and then back again. They're read the article. They knew exactly who was sitting across from them.  And I could see only one question forming in their eyes: What will he eat?

No way was I going to order Meatloaf!  So I quickly opened the menu and opted for the grilled chicken and broccoli, my stomach protesting the entire time.

That's when I knew; I seriously needed a new game plan. So, days later, I regrouped and tried again. I hit a quick burger joint--a popular Hagerstown joint (Hint: A couple of guys run it, five of them I think) on my way to a Batman movie. This time, my splurge went off without a hitch. So I thought.  Until I went to the gym the next day and my buddy/trainer Thomas asked me what foods I'd eaten over the weekend.

Are you kidding me, I thought. There's no way he knows. Yup, he knew! Someone had spotted me and spilled the proverbial beans. I was busted--again!

Cheating, in moderation, is essential to your success. I don't have to tell ya, I like food. I get emails all the time from other food loving people, all asking me if they must give up all their favorite foods. It weighs heavy on their minds. And in the beginning, it did mine too. Good news! NO. You don't have to stop eating your favorite dishes. YES! You can have those cheat days. But you must work hard for it before hand and indulge carefully.

And above all else--make sure you have an escape route in place. You just never know who is watching! It may even be me.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Your Mirror Moment

When I talk to people dealing with weight loss issues, one of the first things they share is their inability to like themselves. Hating yourself is a big problem--the hardest hurdle to overcome. Sadly, I understand the crippling effect of such an emotion first hand.

See, not so long ago, I hated myself too. In fact, it's probably more accurate to state that I despised myself. I was ashamed at who and what I had become. I felt like a complete failure. I believed I let myself and everyone I cared about down.

I would avoid mirrors, but if I had to look at one, I saw only a monster.  Truth be told, I saw nothing good in anything or anybody. Yes, friends, I was bitter and angry. And it wasn't until I looked beyond that monster in the mirror, and forced myself peer into his soul, that I caught a glimpse of the old me.  Now, that guy, he was full of fun and happiness. That guy wanted to be somebody. He had dreams.  But he was stuck in there, buried under pounds and pounds of flesh, desperate to get out.

I'm telling you this because I want you to understand you aren't alone. I've been in your shoes. And I can honestly tell you, only you can change what you see and feel about that person looking back at you.  But until you can look deep inside, and find something to like about yourself, your journey will not fully mature into all it can be.

Do you want to live again? I know you do. I urge you to have that mirror moment, look beyond the image and see the real you, the beauty within yourself. I want you to tell yourself that you have value and purpose. Then I want you to--FORGIVE YOURSELF.

Set. Yourself. Free. 

Do that and everything else will follow. 


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I'd like to talk about the changes we see as our weight loss becomes a reality. The little things, the everyday happenings that healthy people don't even think twice about. For instance, for years, I couldn't sit in a chair and cross my legs. I couldn't tie my own shoes. So, when the time came, and I could enjoy something as mundane as sitting in one spot without fidgeting for an entire movie, re-adjusting due to the pain, that was an exciting moment for me.  In fact, one of my most memorable moments happened several months and many pounds ago. It took place in the most private room of any household--the bathroom.
Now for the fellas reading this, I know, we're manly men. We don't take baths, we "SHOWER". Baths are for sissy boys and don't even get me started on bubble baths. We'll, I'm man enough to admit, I like a bubble bath. Nothing is more relaxing after a long day-- well, other maybe an ice cold glass of chocolate milk, but we've already covered that.

One evening, after a very stressful day, BJ (my wife) and I were getting on each others nerves. If you're married, you understand what I'm talking about. It happens. It's normal. Nobody dies--normally. So, I told her I was going to go take a shower. (That's married talk for, I'm getting out of here before one of us goes out back to look for a shovel.) Anyway, I was still in the four hundred pound range and still felt like a giant.

As I reached into the cabinet, for a towel, I saw a container of bubble bath. I looked at the tub and then glanced at the man in the mirror. I remember once--OK, maybe twice--enjoying a bubble bath, here or there. But it had been years since I'd had one.  The last attempt was not a pleasant one. Let's just say, that the tub and I became one in the same.  But this time,  I thought, Dan, you have lost nearly two hundred pounds. You're stressed. A bubble bath would do you wonders.  So, I decided to give it a try. After all, who was going to see me? (I know, no visuals please).

I poured in that Mr Bubble and loaded that baby up. Well, as much as I dared, as I was still four hundred pounds. I didn't want to over flow the tub. I turned on some cool Elvis tunes and took the plunge. Got in position, and it was freaking unbelievable--I FIT!!!!!!!  I was sitting in a mound of suds, relaxing my butt off. 

 I grabbed a towel, put it behind my head, cocked my legs and feet up on the sides. I was a happy fella. About a half hour or so into this, BJ knocked on the door (Minus the shovel) and yelled "Are you Ok, what are you doing in there?" I yelled back, "Go away, I'm having a rip roaring good time. I'll see ya in a hour" 

I loved it! The only thing missing was my Rubber Ducky (If you repeat that, I'll deny it). Rub A Dub, Just Relaxin' In My Tub!!!!!!!


Monday, October 1, 2012

"Oh Sh*t!!!!"

When I first began this journey, back in the college fitness center, I worked hard at being invisible, as if a six hundred pound giant could actually go unnoticed.  The last thing I wanted was to drawn unwanted attention to myself. So, if I was lifting weights, or tossing a medicine ball around like a wild man, I'd hold in my feelings of exhaustion and pain. I did my best to keep a low profile.

(Gym tip number one: Do not eat tuna or hard boiled eggs before a workout unless you'd like to experience a rather unpleasant bodily reaction guaranteed to make you famous.)

So on the second or third week into this new adventure, Thomas (Friend and Trainer) gave me some new challenges on the dumbbell bench press. I don't remember how heavy it was, but I was going for a PR--that's "Personal Record" (I'm hip with the gym lingo now). When I got into position, I pushed those heavy buggers up, and felt what seemed like the weight of the Titanic over me.  My face flushed red. The sweat was rolling down. My cheeks were blown out like some kind of a deranged chipmunk.  And as my arms were locked in that position, I realized the odds of me sustaining were dwindling with every passing second. Finally, I lowered the weights and I let out a really loud, "OH SH*T!!!!!!". 

Over me, Thomas just grinned and then said, "Finally, after weeks, I  got an "Oh Shi%#" out of you."

Now when I workout, I don't worry about drawing attention to myself. I let out every earned grunt and groan. I never hold back, however, I'm thankful my mother wasn't in the gym that day, as I'm pretty sure there's unwanted carbs in a bar of soap!!!!!

Working out is war! Never be afraid and take no prisoners.

Battle on!