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

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.