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.