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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Weigh In With Dan - Staying On Course

Hello everybody! Welcome to a new Q&A section, where readers can send in their questions, via email to or another form of media such as Facebook or Twitter, and I will answer them to the best of my ability. As I always say, I'm not a doctor, and I have no degrees on my wall, but I have a story, a life journey, and if I can help one person find their way back to a healthier life style then I have fulfilled God's purpose for my life. I'm here to help. Shoot me an email any time and we'll chat.

**In some cases names have been omitted by request**

========================Weigh In With Dan===================
Q.) Dan, first, congratulations on your weight loss success. I have tried and tried to start a diet and workout routine, and I do well for a while, but eventually I cave in, get weak, and fall back into my old routines. How did you (how can I) stay on course? This added weight is holding me back from living a full life? Thank you for answering my question….Michael.

A.) Michael, thank you! What a great question. I think the number one thing you, and anybody embarking on a new and healthier journey, can do is to drop the "D" word. Diets are temporary quick fixes that set you up for failure, right from the start. You're changing your life style, taking a step on a new journey. You're not going on a diet. You're building a better you, inside and out.  And it starts with changing how we think. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, we fall, and we make more choices. But as I always say in my lectures, weight loss success is all about understanding that though the decisions me made today may not have been the right ones, we can wake up tomorrow and make a better choice for the new day. And I'm not talking just about food choices either. I'm talking about how we approach each day with a mind set on recognizing the beauty in ourselves as well as other people. Remind yourself why you want to lose weight, why you want to be healthier, and begin your day with that positive approach. Look at that man in the mirror every morning and tell yourself, you are in control. You make the decisions; you make the choices, and then you, Michael, take control.

It was Dr. Martin Luther King who once said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." If you can stay consistent, Michael, in time you will feel stronger and more motivated. You will make better choices and you will stick to them!

 Thanks again for taking the time to “weigh in." Best of luck on your journey……PEACE. Dan

Q.) How do you avoid the foods you love? I live a very stressful life and sometimes I need those comfort foods to help get me through. Ruth

A.) I feel you Ruth and I understand 100%. For many years, comfort food was the remedy to my ailing day. I relied on it for love and I thought it loved me back. And, why not, it made me feel good. It took me to a happier place, to a warm embrace full satisfaction--for about 10 minutes. For the 10 minutes it took to consume the burger, fries, and chocolate shake, I was happy. And when the food was gone, the pain returned. Thus I'd eat again.

I knew what I was doing, that every piece of cheesecake I stuffed in my mouth was hurting me, but I thought I needed it. And it wasn't until I spoke blunt and brutally honest words to myself, until I dug deep, that I began to make a change. I had to learn to like Dan again, and in doing so, I took control over the food. The food no longer controlled me.  Sure, I still enjoy a burger and cheesecake. They're still my friends. Only, now, I visit with these friends on my terms. They're the type of friends one only sees over the holidays, while on vacations, or at family events. They may stop by, from time to time, but they never stay for long. For as they say, "we're known by the company we keep.”  Are you feeling me, Ruth?  It's OK to drop in on those comfort foods, aka old friends, if you really miss them, but afterwards, let them know you won't be seeing them for a while. You have a life to live now and they don't fit into the master plan.

I say it all the time, once you’re a recovering food addict, those temptations and addictions never go away, not completely. So, keep moving forward, and make better choices as often as you can. If you need that cookie once in a while, by all means have it. Believe in yourself and your power. You have more control than you think. Go get em Ruth. Believe in you as I do…PEACE. Dan.

Thanks to everyone that wrote to me over these last two days. It's a new process, I know, and though I may not have gotten to your question today, does not mean I won't use it next time. Thank you again and since this will be the last time we will talk until Christmas, let me wish you and yours a very merry and blessed holiday. Merry Christmas to ALL!

If you'd like to "weigh in with Dan," email me at or come see me on Facebook at the link provided on this blog page.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Power of Positive Thinking

As I begin, I’ll be honest from the start. I’m not always Mr. Happy Pants. I’m not always a positive ball of energy. Like you, I have days when things build up and get me down.

When stress enters the picture, we have to deal with issues we don’t like. It’s normal. It happens.

A few years ago, I lived in daily stress. It was a struggle just to get through the day. I would focus on the negatives, like my job. I hated my job. I hated my car, my living arrangements, and the state of my then marriage. Many nights I went to bed angry and stressed, which would lead to another day of stress, leaving me angrier than the night before.
It was a destructive cycle, one that affected my health. I had heartburn, headaches. My nerves were a wreck, and I was not only overweight, but I was a heart attack waiting to happen.

Never once did I stop to think about the good in my life—and there was some--but instead of finding the good, I would get upset, mostly at other people for being happy. I wanted what they had but could see no way for happiness to find me.

At the time, I was living in Ocean City MD, the happy family and tourist capital of Maryland. I’d watch them enjoy the sun and the ocean, laughing and smiling, partaking in the boardwalk fun. They weren’t six hundred pounds, like me.

Why do they get to be happy? Why are they enjoying the pretty blue ocean, when I can’t even fit into a bathing suit? Shoot, forget swimming, I can't even walk.

I was morbidly obese! And I was pissed.

The more I focused on these negatives, the further I sunk into a state of depression. And having spent years there, I can attest to many things, like negativity brews Anger. Anger leads to resentment. Resentment leads to envy. Envy leads to a feeling of entitlement, a feeling of being left behind, which leads back to anger and more hopelessness.

Hopelessness walks hand in hand with depression.

You see, that’s the way it works; the law of attraction. We attract the same energy we’re living back into our lives. I could find no joy, no peace, because I failed to see the beautiful things around me. In stead, I choose to focus on the bad.

Why didn’t I see the beautiful sun shinning? I could feel it on my skin. Why couldn’t I hear the beautiful bird singing outside my window? I never took time to sit and admired the beauty around me. I never thought about sunsets, or the magic that happens when the ocean meets the sky.

It took giving up on me, and almost dying, before I realized how much I wanted to live.  It took understanding how important the little things in life really were, like being able to ride a bike or walk the boardwalk like a normal man. It took understanding that I did want to live. I wanted to love and find happiness, and soon that revelation lead to thankfulness. I began to thank God for what I did have—friends who loved me, a family who cared and would always be there for me--and it was inside those positives that I found the key to changing my heart. 

You see, the positives helped me to see the good in the world. It lifted the clouds and allowed me to feel the warm summer breeze, the cool rain falling after a hot august day. The more I realized I was alive, the more I wanted to live. The more positive I became, the more success I found.  And it's happening even today.

Will change happen over night? No. But it can’t start until you take that first step.

As I stated from the start, I still have days when life throws me a curve. I don’t dwell on the injustice of it all. I don’t ask, why me? I refocus on the good, the positive. I don't let politics upset me. A losing game, depressing news, and or negative gossip, don't rattle my cage. I ignore it all. I've lived in a negative place for long enough and it led me to hate. I hated life, people, the world, and finally, God and me. It led me to 625 pounds, to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and very nearly death.

Since changing my focus to the good and positive, I have found purpose and direction. I challenge you to do the same. Start to focus more on the things you have, rather than the things you don’t. Focus on the good people in your life, the sunshine and the blue sky. Wake up everyday and strive to find something good, something positive, and I promise you, your life will change for the better.

We can all find something to be grateful for. If you’re reading this Blog right now, you have eyes to see and a mind that allows you to read. You have a heart that beats. It’s not hard to realize what we all have--choice. We have the power. We make the choice, whether to dwell on the bad or the good. It's all up to us.

Will you still have days when life can be tough? ABSOLUTELY! But you keep going, keep focusing on the positive. When you’re in a bad place, feeling angry or depressed, refocus. Get your head in to a better place. Think of a happy event, a song, or a funny story. All you have to do is look around you and change your thinking.

I've said it before, "Positive thoughts bring positive results."

Give it a try and you’ll understand what this formerly 625 pound, severely depressed, and half dead man was talking about.

Life is precious, life is special. It’s beautiful and so are you.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Challenge Makes Life Interesting

Life's far more interesting when there are a few challenges along the way--don't you think? It seems as if the things we want most in life don't ever come easy.  New house, new job, new career, whatever it may be, we have to fight for what we want! This also rings true when ones fighting to lose weight.  There's no magic pill.  There's no special powder to sprinkle over your ice cream and make the pounds stop accumulating.

Let's face it folks, if weight loss was that easy, America wouldn't be number one in the world for obesity!!!!  1 out of 4 children would not be obese. If there was a magic pill, everybody would be healthy.

Eating healthy does not mean starvation. You don't have to eat seaweed or run 20 miles a day and live at the gym. However, we do have to take on a few challenges, and a little discomfort, in order to have progress. Believe me, I know discomfort first hand. I understand what it's like to live as 625 pound man, struggling just to walk a short distance.  I understand the pain that's involved when one attempts to move arms and legs the size of tree trunks. 

We all must start somewhere. Why not here--in the now?

When my journey began, it required only small changes before the weight melted off me.  I was dropping pounds like crazy and it was happening because I was challenging my body and mind to go places they had never been before.  At least three days a week, I challenged myself to go to the gym.  As each week passed, I challenged myself to lift an extra five pounds, forcing myself to work harder and pushing myself to "my" personal limits.
The dreaded day did come when the weight didn't fall off as easily as before, though I worked out regularly and ate clean 90% of the time. My body is trying to outsmart me, I thought, as I realized with great fear that rather than losing weight that week, I had gained 2 pounds! 

What was wrong; was my lucky streak over?  Was I going to stop at 420 pounds and never reach my goal (235)?  

Unwilling to give up, I turned to the Boss (a.k.a Thomas, my buddy and trainer at the time) and learned about something called a "Plateau". This is where our bodies, very smartly, evaluates the workout routines, and switches into some evil back-stabbing gear which helps it to work more efficiently, thus slowing down the weight loss progress. The nerve!

I'd never heard of such a thing--a system smart enough to find a way to conserve energy while still accomplishing the same activity?  And it didn't take a panel of big-thinkers and bean-counters, soaking up several pots of coffee, to draft up this cost cutting plan? That was some kind of craziness!  No worries, Thomas had a plan geared to help me over this first bump, one that would keep my body guessing and the weight falling off.  And this was when I'd first heard about an eating plan called Paleo--also known as the Caveman diet. 

What is this Paleo?  It's a way of eating fresh foods rather than processed (boxed) items. 

When one is on a Paleo plan, one cannot eat any foods that come from a box or can.  Only loose or freshly bagged foods, like frozen veggies, are acceptable. But that wasn't all! To beat this Plateau effect, I also had to change my workout routine. I needed to work new muscles with new weight lifting techniques, using new machines, and I switched up my cardio. 

I worked hard, challenging myself to do all things new and different.  It wasn't easy. My body hurt and I was craving chocolate milk like crazy (I still crave CM like crazy).  When my body didn't feel like doing five more minutes on the heavy ropes, I pushed all the more. This went on for a month and when I finally stepped on that scale, let me tell you, I could have done a back flip.  I had reached my goal of four hundred pounds, losing 20 pounds in a mere month!

 I had won!

I've lost many more pounds since then but my struggle to reach my final goal weight (235) continues. My body has once again reached another dreaded Plateau.  Each time this happens, I struggle to find yet another unique exercise -at least unique to my body--in which to outsmart my system. This journey has been on going now for two years, so, as you can imagine, it's taken some creativity, to say the least. Today, I weigh 280 pounds. Sure, that's a long way from where I started but, frustratingly, a good 50 pounds away from my goal. 

Time for a change, don't you think? I couldn't agree more. 

A few weeks ago, understanding that I needed something that incorporates both food and exercise, I set out to invite all my FaceBook friends on, not a 30 day, but a 21 Day Food Challenge. The food challenge ran from Oct 1-21, and boy, what an event that turned out to be!  More than a 100 people, which included my partner in crime, Patricia (aka TL), cut out everything from sugar, soda and chips, to sweets of all kinds and pasta from their daily diet. Some took it one step further and cut out alcohol and bread completely! We were getting crazy up in here. LOL. 

Many came to the Team Getting My Life Back's FaceBook events page to share recipes, along with personal struggles as well as their success.  We all laughed over our crazy food habits, while patting each other on the backs for extra strength to overcome them. It was a great supportive event for all of us, but the best came in the end when so many shared they'd lost between 10 and 20 pounds!


They say the last 50 Lbs is always the hardest to loose, and though this 21 Day Challenge did help me, the scale remained steady. Wait--I'm not done yet.  Remember that in order to reach my 400 pound goal, I had to change not only my food but also my exercise, so I signed TEAM GMLB up to participate in Hagerstown Community College Thanksgiving Day 5K run on Nov 28th. And just like the 21 Day Food Challenge, I opened a FaceBook events page and invited all of my Facebook friends, living right here Hagerstown, to join us. Poor TL, she had no idea--until I told her--and she was so happy! (eye-roll--wink)  

Today, TEAM GMLB has 36 members signed up for HCC's Thanksgiving Day 5K run and we're hoping to see those numbers grow over the next 30 days!  Join us on Facebook

As I said at the start of this blog, success comes when we challenge ourselves. And there is nothing better then taking a challenge together and supporting each other through it. Sure, I have never ran in a race, as I have a bum ankle, one that makes it nearly impossible to run--but, you know what?  I'm going to train hard and I will cross that finish line if I have to crawl!!  And I hope do it several pounds lighter and closer to my goal weight (235).  

Bet you thought I was going to say "AT MY GOAL WEIGHT"? LOL. Well, nobody likes too much pressure, ya know. LOL. 

The best part is, we'll do this together, cheering each other right to the end. And if you have never ran before, like TL and I, no worries, there's still time for you to start the training process. Remember, it's a walk and or run race. Will this challenge be easy? NO! Will it always be fun? Probably not. But it will be a wonderful feeling when I (we) step up and win! 



PS-To all of those that joined me (TEAM GMLB) for the food challenge, I thank you! Thank you for your support and friendship. You all did a wonderful job and I'm so glad that so many of you found yourself pounds lighter at the end of those 21 days. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Imagine it! Believe it! It's true!

This morning, as in every morning, I am thankful. I'll say it over and over again, till the day I die, what a lucky man I am. These are not words I toss around lightly. I mean them 110%. 

When I wake up every day, I thank God for my life. I spend a good portion of my day encouraging others, praying that the masses will wake up and realize how blessed and lucky they truly are. Too many focus on what they don't have, what they need and or want. They spend their time stressing over their problems.

That was me! I was/am a worrier. I hated that I didn't have a better job, a newer car, a nicer house, and in looking back at where I was three years ago, I realize, I never felt thankful for anything.  I didn't feel lucky, and maybe, just maybe that was my problem--part of my demise.  Because, you see, even at 625 pounds, I was still alive. I still had a place to live. I had family and friends that loved me. I had a car to drive and a functioning brain to use. I could see. I could hear. I could smell.

 I had something to be thankful for, don't you think? 

I wouldn't/couldn't see it. I saw only negativity. I saw what was wrong in my life rather than what was right and good. Dark thoughts consumed me. You suck Dan. Look at you, you can't even walk, your body hurts, and you can't find clothes that fit. You can't go to the movies anymore, which works out just fine because you don't have any money--ya-da-ya-da-ya-da--- poor Dan.

You see, all along, most of those things were fixable. It was my choice to shove a 20 piece nugget and a number one value meal down my mouth every day. It was my choice to sit on the couch and not move. It was my choice to wallow in my own misery and give up.

We all have a functioning mind, don't we? 

Most certainly we do and we can choose to take it where we want.  I'm alive today to tell you, nothing-but-nothing changed for me until I decided to take my mind to a new place--my soul. I went searching and I found me. I found what I needed--a desire to live--and my focus began to change.

Instead of dwelling on the fact that I was dying--and believe me, I was--I focused on the fact that I wasn't dead yet. I wanted to live. I told myself I could do without a drive-thru fix every meal of every day. I convinced myself I could move, even if it was just my arms and legs while sitting on the couch. I focused on the positive moving would bring to my life, like getting off all my weight related medications. In short, I focused on the good, and willed my mind to stay there, refusing to go back to the negative world I'd been living in. 

When offered, I accepted a hand up from family and friends instead of turning everybody away.  I talked to my maker and asked Him for help. I accused less and BELIEVED that things could change. And the most important change was I BELIEVED it could get better and it did get better. 

And it can for you too! 

I say it often, "see and feel the beauty," it's everywhere around you. Be thankful for the sunshine. Be thankful for the air that you breathe. Be thankful that you have a heart that beats and a mind that works. Positive thinking brings positive actions and positive actions bring positive results. Maybe you're not a religious person--that's your choice--but you can still use positive thinking to your benefit. You can still appreciate the gifts that you have, as you have the gift of life and that's a start.

We could all thank more and ask less. I'm thankful to God for all the wonderful people he's put in my life. I'm thankful to Him for my angel, sent to help me find my way back to Dan. I'm thankful for all the beauty that surrounds me, and just this morning, I thanked Him for you--you right there--reading this blog now. I'm thankful that I was once 625 pounds--yes, thankful--for without that pain I would not be able to help another man or woman find their way back from obesity.  

Yes, whether you wish to believe it or not, like me, you are a very lucky man or woman. You may not feel it right now, but you were created, by perfect design, to be the best you you can be! 

Imagine it! Believe it! It's true.  



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Defeating the Shoulder-Devil

It's been two years and many months since I first stepped foot in to the fitness center at Hagertstown Community College. HCC, the start of my rebirth, was the place where I finally took control and learned to believe in myself again. 

Occasionally, I look back and remember that first day, and that long walk from the parking lot to the front door step. I was scared to death, sitting in my car, physically shaking while just staring at the larger than life building.

What was I getting myself in to? Would there be a load of college students just waiting to laugh at the first 625 man that dared enter those front doors? Could I even make the walk from the car to the building or would I pass out before I got there? 

There was a battle going on inside my head that day, for sure, a real shoulder angel happening. You're familiar with the scene, the famous angel on the right and that little guy in red on the left mouthing: "Don't you go in there, you fat loser! There's no way you're going to lose weight, you're too far gone. Look at you; you can't even walk ten feet before you have to sit and rest. You have a cane. These kids are going to laugh at you. Nobody will take you serious. You're wasting your time."  And on the left, I was hearing: "Go in there! This man (Thomas Burge aka The Boss) wants to help you. You may never get another opportunity, and, if you don't go in, you could very well be pushing up daises at anytime."

As I sat there, nerves rattling, the white noise escalated. I was listening intently. Though not sold on either pitch, the little guy in white made far more sense. Course there was one looming problem--the effort alone MIGHT just kill me. Then again, no effort WAS killing me! 

To die or to die--now that's some dilemma.

The way I saw it, I could either go home, order me another pizza, and take my spot back on the couch, waiting to die, or I could fight-- for my life.

I chose life.

It wasn't easy. I managed only a few steps, from the car towards the building, before I had to take a seat at the first available bench.  It was hot. My joints hurt. My shirt was soaked with sweat and I hadn't even worked out yet--or had I?

Once inside, there were two flights of stairs facing me. You've got to be kidding, I thought, and once again the white noise chimed in: "I told you it would be a big waste of your time. You can't possibly make it up those stairs fatty; you might as well bag it!" Then I heard my own voice mumble: "Are you going to do this ass-hole or not?"  

This is now what I refer to as being trapped inside my own head, doing far too much thinking and not enough feeling. I was existing solely from the neck up, and nobody, not even me, wants to hang out in there for too long--trust me! And really, why would any of us want to hang out in there when everything wonderful comes from the heart?

 We (YOU) Don't!  And thus, brothers and sisters, the point of this blog: To beg you to switch your focus! Stop listening to the shoulder-angels, good or bad. In order to succeed, we must turn off the white noise arguing with our success and turn to our hearts--the place where anything good in our life has always emanated.

When we do this, we hear; "give it a try," "take a chance." This voice is always subtle, easily missed, but soothing and beautiful. It will cheer for you, help you as it helped me to take that much needed next step forward. It will help you to climb the mountain(s) in front of you.
On that first day, my mountain came in the form of an elevator and a distance that felt long and tedious. But I did it one tiny step at a time, not by listening to the white noise inside my head, which by the way was arguing it out the entire way, but by listening to my heart. And make no mistake, for some of you reading this, it will be an uphill trek, but fight you must!

Death is not an option!  

And though it's hard to believe, what basically amounts to a short walk around a neighborhood block, that day, changed my life. I believed in myself long enough to walk in to that gym and it was not the thoughts swirling inside my mind that got me there! It was the cheering I could FINALLY hear in my heart.

That first day led to other first days.

There was no going back to a life of canes and electric carts. I was tired of not being able to go to the movies because I couldn't fit in the theater seats. I was tired of feeling sorry for myself and always wishing for a healthier better me. It was time to finally take control and I was no longer willing to just accept my self-made HELL.

I wanted to be happy. I deserved to be Dan again. I wanted my life back.

So friends, please hear me when I tell you, with love and respect, get out of your own head! Get into your heart! Listen to the subtle voice inside--a voice I choose to believe is God--encouraging you to make that change. Maybe you can't hear it this very second, but trust me it's there, waiting for you to discover it's power--your untapped inner power--to be a healthier better you.

It's your decision. It's your life. It's your turn.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Extra! Extra! Read all about it: The Bellybutton Scare Is Over.

Changes and more changes. Since my journey began two years ago, I've shared many wonderful changes with you all--both inside and out. From the expected, like how I feel younger, stronger, and healthier than ever before.  To the unexpected, like how I've had one small cold in two years--nothing really--and it lasted only a few days which is amazing to me; the guy who needed a sleep aid and nasal spray at night. At 625 pounds breathing was difficult, but then add a cold on top of it, and suffocation becomes a hard and fast reality.

Honestly, there were nights when I fully expecting not to live to see the morning.

The changes continue to come my way. While some are not always pleasing--I'm talking about the loose skin, which is driving me nuts--there are yet others that are downright amusing.  So much so, I've decided to share one such change, in a very tongue-in-cheek kind of way with you today.

As you can imagine, or possibly have experienced, when losing weight, one often looks at themselves in the mirror, eagerly anticipating the changes.  It just can't happen quick enough, and well, I was no different.  Every day, I would spend uncountable minutes examining myself, analyzing every new detail like the thinning of my face or the fact that I actually had a neck again.  And believe me, its twilight-movie- bizarre to look down and not even recognize your own hands! 

But what happened to me the other day was all together different, involving a part of my body that, lets face it, most wouldn't bother to notice--not even me. 

(Now,now, don't go there. That's not what I mean! LOL)

What am I talking about? I'm talking about my bellybutton! 

That seemingly unimportant factor, most could care less about--unless you're a baby in the womb, of course--has become an actually obsession for me. Why? Well, just imagine how it would feel to wake one morning, and in looking down, you realize that your in-nee, or out-tee as the case may be, is now completely transformed?  So, basically, what was out is now in and so forth.  Would this freak you out? Or would you simply think it was something you missed somehow? LOL! Trust me, when something you think is concrete on your body, something God given, suddenly changes without you putting an effort out to change it, happens--it's shocking!

Granted, at 625 pounds, my whole body had changed. My face was bloated to an almost unrecognisable state. My arms and legs were mere tree trucks. But those happenings had happened slowly, over many years. I did not merely wake up and find myself morbidly obese. However this happening literally happened over night. Was I now permanently deformed? I worried. And the more I questions, the further it seemed to jet-out!

Imagined or not, it haunted me, and I became even more self-conscious then before, stepping up my shirt size a notch, which is hard to believe as I was already wearing a 6X! I spent time in the bathroom, no longer analyzing but rather pushing on this new deformity like it was some nipple on a baby bottle, cursing each time the darn thing would pop back out! 

Face it Dan, I'd tell myself, this thing is here to stay. You might as well give it a name, like some evil twin attached at birth!

Up until a few months ago, I thought this new event was here to stay. Then, low-and-be-hold, I was taking one of those bubble baths I like to blog about, and when I looked down, "IT WAS GONE!!!!!!" That's right friends, my out-tee was an in-nee again! I was so excited, I almost caused a tidal wave in my apartment. 

YES-YES-YES, I was back to the old me! And I'm not ashamed to admit that I believe my new little bellybutton to be downright beautiful.  Shoot, I'm so proud of it, I may even stick my finger in it every day now. Because I CAN! (Not really. Well maybe. No, not really.)

I realize some of you reading this now may think my bellybutton status is not blog worthy material, but believe me me, it is! Why? Because when you are on a journey to get your life back, every tiny progress is worth celebrating! EVERYTHING! I don't care what it is--I didn't eat that doughnut today, I had broccoli! TIME TO CELEBRATE! I walked those five blocks to the grocery store, instead of driving. Yeah baby! TIME TO CELEBRATE! My bowl movements are regular! Oh yeah. That's for sure a TIME TO CELEBRATE.

Whatever the event is that moves you forward, celebrate it. For me this event means two things. First: It's one less thing I'll have to pay to surgically fix. Have I mentioned this extra skin is driving insane? I believe I have. And second: It's makes me feel wonderful to celebrate yet another hurdle along the journey to a new me. It makes me feel good, and in feeling good, I will push onward and upward.

So there you have it, Dan's bellybutton is Extra-Extra worthy after all! Oh, and don't get me wrong, if you were born with an out-tee, that's great! Stay beautiful. Because trust me; morphing into something opposite than what you were created to be us terrifying!

Stay true. Stay you! Can ya feel me, brothers and sisters? I know that you can.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Live To Laugh--Laugh To Live.

 Did you know that doctors around the world actually prescribe "laughter" as a cure for what ales you? Case studies have shown that laughter triggers positive chemical and hormonal changes in the body.  Just take a look at the list of specific health benefits below.

Lower blood pressure – After the initial burst of laughter, our blood pressure drops to lower than usual levels. We also breathe deeper and fuller after a good bout of laugh.

Exercise - Laughter also is a good workout for your body. By laughing, you are exercising the various muscles in your body including the diaphragm, face, abdomen, chest/lungs and back. This is known to help several bodily functions including our digestion process. Laughter burns as much calories as a few minutes of ‘real’ exercises such as cycling etc. Now is that great or what?

Pain reliever & feel good factor - Laughter releases endorphin's which is a natural pain reliever and gives a sense of well being. It is known as the feel good hormone.

Stress reliever - Laughter releases pent up emotions. Stress, tension, worry, anger etc can be reduced through a good bout of laughter.

Brain Power - When you’re laughing, it involves both hemispheres of the brain. This encourages a more balanced mental process especially in creativity and problem solving.

(Above information found on MSN Google search, "Health benefits from happiness and laughter.")

Convinced?  Well, let me tell you a few stories from my past, and together, well test out the facts.

"There's humor in every situation, the challenge is to find it." I wish I knew who actually said that because I'm that guy; the guy trying to find the ridiculously funny moment, even in a bad situation.  Now, don't get me wrong, if there was a horrible accident or a world disaster, I'd respond like everybody else, but you get my drift (Wink).

(Random subject change: I write (Wink) a lot, don't I? Wink)

Laughter is good for the soul. I'm thankful for my inherited sense or humor, as my whole family is a tad--as they say--touched.  If you have ever experienced a Hawthorne family Christmas then you know what a "gay-old-time" really feels like.  We're the original Griswold's and I love that about us!

My mother is the one pulling practical jokes, like putting "just married" on a friend's car or prank calling a family member. She's the one setting off alarm clocks under your bed at 4 in the morning!  Yep, that's my Mom.  And some of her humor has rubbed off on me--thank the LORD, because I love to laugh.

Even when I was that large mound of a man that I often speak of, I used humor to cope and get through the day. I would go through the grocery store line, and when the young lady at the counter asked, how are you today? I would respond: "Hello (insert name here) I'm really FAT, and what's worse, I'm bald on top of that!"  Often they would freeze, having no idea how to respond, and then finally say, "You're not that fat!" And I'd always add, "You didn't say I wasn't bald." Even today, I use that line, thankfully omitting the "I'm fat" while keeping the more obvious "I'm bald."  

(Tip: If by some miracle there's a cure for baldness, I will need a new comeback, so please post a suggestion in the comment box below. If I use it, there may be money involved. "NOT".)  

We all know people who go through life never smiling, never happy. I've had more than my share of unhappiness, and yet, even I can find the humor in life, especially where human nature is involved like the lady who walks out of the women's bathroom with a stream of toilet paper trailing behind.  I mean, there are times when I'm in a public place and something just tickles my funny bone.  I will get this grin on my face. I know that others can see it, but that only makes me laugh all the more, often out loud. I can't help it. And I know people think that I'm a wacko-loon but man it sure feels good to laugh.

(The comedians reading this can relate. You get it, you've been there.)

My sense of humor, and or public outburst, has gotten me into some crazy situations. I remember playing hide and go seek in the mall with friends as a teenager.  I had stopped the elevator in mid air just as Bobby and I were headed downward.  HEY! We didn't want to be tagged "IT" for goodness sakes, and it seemed like the easiest way to "NOT BE IT", but of course, we couldn't stay in there all day. So, I reversed it--not understanding how such things work-- and the elevator didn't just continue down as I'd thought it would.  It got a bit confused and in midstream began to jump up and down. 

Right there in the middle of the mall, in front of every cute girl I ever wanted to talk to and every boy I'd ever hoped to impress, the elevator shook us up and spit us out.  And, my friends--the ones that were "IT" and safely on the ground watching--sure did enjoy the show but the security people did not. 

(If this had happened in 2013 and not 1978, you could watch it now on YouTube and prove this laughter research to be true right now! Thank GOD for the old-days!)

The years between 13 and 18 were always filled with mischievous adventures. I remember at 18, Jeremy and I (photo on the left) locked people-- virtual strangers--in jiffy-johns, also called port-a-potties, at the fair one year. Then we sat back with other friends and listened to them screaming for help.  

(What? Oh, come on, you know that's funny!)

Let's face it, we live in a world that can be very tough and stressful. We need to smile. We need to laugh at ourselves. In fact, if you want a good chuckle, take out those old school scrapbooks and look at your hair in that third grade picture! Look at those horrible shoes you were wearing. What were you thinking?

(Yeah, I remember hush-puppies too.)

Live-Love-Laugh; that's my story and I'm sticking to it. The three L's!  We've got to LIVE and drink in every moment.  LOVE deeper and strive to LAUGH until our bellies ache. Make a commitment to be happy friends, be well. Think happy thoughts.  Don't be so serious. Let your hair down once in a while.

"God is good. God is fair. Some he gave brains, others he gave hair." (Wink Wink) Hey, I said wink twice that time.

Thank you for laughing with me today.



More fun facts:
Ways to help yourself see the lighter side of life:
§  Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.
§  Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.
§  Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.
§  Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.
§  Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.
§  Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.
Laughter is good for your health
§  Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
§  Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
§  Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
§  Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.