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, May 6, 2014

Weigh In With Dan--Surgery, yes or no?

Good afternoon!
I enjoy sharing the questions I get from various folks, in hopes that by doing so, others may find comfort and support. I realized today that I hadn't blogged a "Weigh in with Dan," segment in some time, so, I thought this bright and sunny day seemed as good as any.
**Questions are via Facebook. Names have been changed to protect their privacy.**

Tim: Did you ever consider surgery for your weight loss?

Hello Tim and thank you for asking. I considered it, for a minute.

Brother, I’m scared to death of doctors and hospitals, so, the idea of somebody going inside me, tying things together with needles; it only took a minute to make that decision.

I'm in total support of folks doing what they need to do, to better their lives, but for me, I was ready to tackle the challenge on my own. I knew I could do it. I had a renewed sense of faith, in myself and in God.
I will never knock those that choose surgery. We all have a key. I can’t turn your key, you have to do it. I can fill your tank with gas, give you encouragement, but you’re behind the wheel. You have to start your own engine.  

Many say they want to, many more say they’re going to. Too often the starting line is approached with doubt and hesitation, which leads to failure. Weight loss is achieved when a complete understanding of what is at stake reins—health, happiness, and in some cases, life itself!

You must be 100% on board with your goals. You have to be willing to take risks, come out of your comfort zone, and keep the-peddle-to-the- metal. Don’t be afraid to take those rough turns, because they are coming. Stay the course, change up the pace from time to time, but never coast. And most importantly use the best fuel (food) you have to keep on your game.

Don’t’ wait, get that engine started now. Take back your life and start living. Get on your mark. Get set and.......GOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Mary: What is the biggest challenge you have faced?

Without a doubt, Mary, Dan was the biggest challenge I had to face. I had to look at that six hundred pound giant in the mirror and be honest. I had to say things he didn’t want to hear. I had to lay it out for him, in real terms, and then I had to forgive him.

For me, the inner struggle was far harder than the physical. The giant intimidated me, scared me. Good LORD he was BIG! But under that bloated exterior lay a kind and gentle soul.  And he wanted to live.

My new self could not officially start until I jumped into the trenches with Dan, the giant. There we were—me, myself, and I—screaming, name calling, and many tears fell before a feeling of hope could cultivate. 

Hope allowed me to dream. Forgiveness made it happen.

Now, I’ll be honest, hurdles and obstacles still came. It’s not like I had my moment and all was well, complete with a fairytale ending.  No. There were temptations, fears, and insecurities to face each and every step of the way.

What I can assure you is that by confronting that image and granting myself a pardon, only then was I able to rediscover my power!  Once you believe in you again, no roadblock will hold you back. No obstacle is big enough, no hurdle high enough, to keep you from your life.
Defeat that which binds you and you will find your freedom. 

Don’t wait. Do it now.


Monday, April 7, 2014

As Easy As Riding A Bike

Happy spring everyone!
 As you all know, I have shared many of my experiences here, blogging all those firsts; my first bubble bath, my first “Oh S*&T moment in the gym. And keeping true to form, I’m led to share my latest adventure dubbed, “As easy as riding a bike.”
Since this journey began, I have been working hard to cross things off my bucket list. I have not lived in full-color for some time, and many activities like riding a bike, have only been enjoyed as Dan the child and not Dan the man.  For instance, I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 12 years old. I remember the simplicity of life back then, when the world could be seen from the back of my Huffy and summer rides lasted from sun up until sun down. Some days I’d imagine I was Evil Knievel or maybe even the Fonz, but one thing was for certain—I was the king of the road.

Recently, my sister offered me her bike, to use for the summer, since running with this bad leg just hasn’t worked out for me. I was leery, at first. I haven’t been on a bike in well over 30 years, and that 600 pound gorilla stigma still follows me around from time to time (I seriously forget I’ve lost 350 plus pounds). However, as a firm believer in the “you gotta try” motto, I took her up on that offer and headed out with my angel in tow (a.k.a my partner in crime, a.k.a TL, a.k.a my co-writer Patricia Garber).

Revelation one: The seats are not as big as I remember! Revelation two: You will hurt in all the wrong places!

I was off like a flash. I zipped up that the first hill, with my pretty angel right behind me, peddling her little heart out, and took the neighborhood by storm. I waved. People honked. And then, like a horse headed for the barn at feeding time, I rounded Wilson Blvd and made a b-line for Pope Avenue, my old stomping grounds.

There I was, in the old neighborhood, back where I once ruled. I’d grown up in these alleyways, and before I knew it, I was yelling out the sights like a regular tourist guide; “There’s where grandmother lived,” I shouted to TL over my shoulder. Adrenaline pumping, and without even awaiting for a response, I flew through Pope and crossed over to the Rose Hill Cemetery. I got to tell you, there are a lot of hills in that place, but nothing can match the peacefulness I felt inside the quiet. I rode up one side and down the other, loving the feel of the cool breeze in my hair.

OPS! Wait a minute, back up. How about, I loved the cool breeze across my bald head? (Wink)

Any-who, it wasn't long before I heard TL yelling, “No more hills!” which of course meant, I took the very next hill available. (My bad)

I have to tell you folks, I’ve never felt younger in my life. This new bucket list accomplishment has renewed my excitement, my determination to live a healthier life, and has now become a full on obsession.  I ride everywhere and for everything. Need toilet paper? Let’s take a ride—a ride we shall call “the ride to wipe.” (LOL) Need to drop off books at the library, let’s ride down town and when we’re done have some coffee in the square. I’m pumped!

What’s next? Zip lining—you know it! Backpacking—I want to try it! Trail hikes—absolutely. I’m living to live friends. Life is beautiful. Now, go dust off your bike and ride like the wind.

See you on Pope Ave.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Are You Happy?

Hello my friends and happy spring to you all.

It's been a few weeks since I blogged (bad Dan, bad) and when I finally sat down and tried to gather my thoughts, I actually struggled.

We have shared so much together, you and me, chatting about the emotional struggles, the physical efforts, as well as the tips that lie in the day by day details of getting healthy. 

What could we possibly talk about next?   

Then a thought passed, "How is Dan these days?" A simple question really, but it was the answer that surprised me--Happy.  Yes, happy, the golden  word we all strive for, wishing to apply it and then call it our current self.  

We all live for this little five letter word, don't we? And for me, life had always been so convoluted and full of darkness that the anything uplifting was--for lack of a better word--suspicious. If life was too good, I'd wonder what I was missing. Shouldn't something bad be happening? I had lived at the bottom for so long; I never knew life could be easy and forgiving. That once you conquered your darkness, there was only light--and the light was good.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel," we hear people say it all time, don't we? Do we believe it?

I didn't. Life was negative. Life was a struggle. Life, the good life, didn't happen to me. It happened to privileged others, and surely they'd performed some miracle to earn such a life.
Over these past three years, looking back, I realize didn't long for so much as a privileged life as I did life itself. I wanted to walk through a mall or around a park. I wanted to sleep in a bed. I wanted to dance. I wanted to breathe without struggle. I wanted to believe in love, real love, and I hadn't since I was in my twenties.

I'd spent years allowing the negativity to control the way I lived, the way I believed, and all because I had no pride or self esteem. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and truly believed that I'd blown my chance at real happiness a long time ago.

So what changed? How did Dan get happy? CHOICE. It's that simple.

I have blogged about my mirror moment, and how important it is to start loving yourself, but the fuel behind any step towards a better life is the simple act of choice. There's no 10 step method to follow and it often means departing from that in which brings darkness into your life, be it a friend, a job, or in some cases, a spouse. It's hard, I know. It means believing you have the right to have more, more love and more respect, and not just from those around you but from you yourself.

Wait a minute, you say, that can't happen! Nobody finds love and happiness by simply choosing it.

Yes you can. I'm living proof.

You can choose to get healthy.

You can step outside of the darkness.

You can step away from that (those) in which bring only sadness to your life.

You choose to do so.

I did. I chose to love Dan, and in doing so, I lost over 365 pounds. I chose to leave a 20 year relationship, one that was bringing only sadness to us both, and in doing so, I found my angel, my love, my soul mate. 

I choose to help others, and in doing so, I no longer feel worthless. I have a purpose--to reach out to anybody who will listen and let them know nothing is impossible or unreachable.

I have a direction--to help others. I choose to believe in the simplistic circle of life, in which proclaims we are all here to help, encourage and inspire one another, and until we do just that happiness will never be more than a word used by those imagined privileged.      

Don't wait. Choose life. Choose happiness.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Weigh In With Dan-- Simple Changes Equal Pounds Gone By Summer!

Happy Wednesday everybody! I hope this new blog finds everyone well, and depending on where you live, free from the ice and snow. Today, I've got a great question from Gina, who asked if I could help give her a few tips on how to loose 30 pounds before summer. Thank you Gina for the question. It allowed me some time to reflect on my own goals and how these little changes made such a huge difference in my own journey. It's time to get back to basics!

Be good everybody and love yourself. You're the only you, you got!

PS- Please take time to read a little goodbye note to my dear friend Andrea, whom passed away recently, at the end of this blog. Many can relate to Andrea's struggle and her life is worth remembering. God Bless.
      -------------------------------Weighing In----------------------------------------
Q.) Dan, I am going to loose 30 pounds for summer if it kills me. Would you mind offering some tips please??......GINA


A.)  Hello Gina, thank you for you for contacting me and sharing your desire to get healthier. 30 pounds is a very realistic goal. That being said, I’m not quite sure of your current diet or medical situation, so I can only give a broad answer. I hope it helps. You are welcome to email me at if you have any further inquiries.

       When I began my journey, I was drinking a lot of soda, eating processed foods, and basically, living in the drive-thru lane.  In the beginning, simple changes in the right direction made a huge difference--a 100 pound difference to be exact! Keep in mind I was 625 pounds, but I see no reason why these simple food changes could not shed 20 or 30 pounds for another, in a three or four month time span, especially when adding fitness to the mix.
       My fitness pal, The Boss, Thomas Burge, once told me that the key to weight loss was 80% food and 20% exercise. I've lived this truth, Gina, so, we're going to start there and talk about food today.   
       Small changes make a huge difference. For instance, switching from white bread to wheat, eventually decreasing bread consumption as a whole, is a good place to start.  When I made these adjustments, I had a preconceived food-mindset that continually set me back. I truly believed I couldn’t eat eggs without toast. In my mind, leaving out bread ruined my breakfast experience. And believe me, eating was just that, an important event that I looked forward to and needed, I thought, for me to be truly happy. 
       Understanding this ideal was in my head, and not a reality, I began to focus on “new” food experiences that were not only acceptable but allowed me the thrill I needed.  In other words, I learned to work my own food dysfunctions to my benefit. 
      Examples: A lover of coffee, I experimented with a wide variety of brands, leaving out the sugar and cream, in order to decide which was best based on the raw basics alone. Sounds silly? Well, it worked. I've been drinking Black Coffee for over two years, which is far healthier then the alternative.
                        I added fruit—bananas at first—to my meal, which gave a new flavor to my morning “event”. I never ate fruit.  
                         I love bacon, so I’d allow myself a few more pieces of that to counter balance the bread I wasn't having, eventually cutting back until bread was no longer missed. 

         I’m sure playing such mind games sounds odd to a person who has a healthy relationship with food, but for me, everything I took a way I felt—emotionally. I could not just go cold-turkey and sit down to, say, a bowl of fruit and oatmeal. That would have put me into a very dark place. At the start of my journey, I still needed to have that “food experience”, but I had to refocus it to other healthier choices.

         Eventually, my emotional need for food began to change. I began to only have bread when I’d eat breakfast out, like a treat.  Soda, which was a big no-no, I drank like a thirsty camel in the desert. To cut that completely out would have thrown me over the edge. So, I went from a liter a day to one 16oz bottle, and drank water the rest of the day. The balance of good and bad foods in my life began to change, with more good taking over the bad, and then before I knew it, I wasn’t drinking Coke at all. In fact, I craved water. My body wanted it!
          All these changes, from white to wheat, and then no bread at all, to more fruit and less sweets. Little Coke to no Coke. All of it, shocked my body into dropping weight. It was the start.
         Now with that said, I will tell you there is one area that this gradual change up didn’t work for me and that’s in regards to fast foods.  The first few months, I cut back to once a week. When I did eat it, I'd pick healthier choices like fish instead of beef, but it simply didn’t work.  My body had begun to function on a healthier level, so, consuming this junk food made me sick. Outside of toxicity, or allergies, food should not make you sick.  I cut it. I simply felt better NOT eating it.    

         Instead, I ate burgers at home, using good quality low fat beef and often turkey. Rather than home fries, I would eat a pickle and fresh fruit. I also tried veggies and raw nuts I normally would never eat, even if you tied me up and gagged me, but I found that I loved many new and healthier foods. My horizons were expanding, and it wasn’t long before my pallet, as well as my mindset, began to change.

        Did I give up all my favorite foods forever? No. It’s just that I had to find a way to put them in their place and enjoy them on my terms.  In order to do that, I cut them back--and in some cases out--as was necessary for my mental and physical health. The key is to understand our relationship with food first and then deal with it. Let's be honest. Are we eating to feel good? Is eating the only time we're happy? It was for me.

        So, you want to loose 30 pounds, Gina? Well, I think with a few of the food changes above and some activity, outside or in a gym, you should have no problem. But it all starts on the inside. You can have doctors, trainers, TV weight loss personality’s yelling at you to eat this and that, or don’t eat this and that, get on the treadmill—blah, blah, blah—but until you’re ready, until you really want it and are serious, none of that will mean anything. You have to look in that mirror every day, tell that man/woman that you want it, you’re ready and you’re going to do it. Then do it wisely. Be gentle on yourself. Don’t get upset if you fail one day and don’t make it to the gym or splurge on that drive-thru burger.  It doesn’t matter if your trying to loose 30 pounds or 300, those small changes always make a difference. And before you know it, small changes lead to bigger ones.   

        I am rooting for you, Gina. I’m on your side and in your corner!  

      ------------------------------On A Personal Note-------------------------------

         I’d like to take a moment to remember a friend of mine whom passed away a week back. Her name was Andrea.  She was a woman with a vibrant spirit and sense of humor. She loved her family. She was witty and she made me laugh. On many a lonely night, cruising Facebook, I’d get to messaging with her and her husband—also night owls—and before I knew it, that alone feeling was long gone.

       Andrea was a large woman, struggling with her weight as so many do, and we often talked about the key to weight lost success. I did my best to try to inspire and give her just the right tip that might start her out on her own journey.

      A few weeks ago, fresh out of the hospital, Andrea wrote me another message. This time she was using words like “wake up call,” and “rock bottom.” She had gained 100 pounds in the last year, she said, bringing her weight up to over 400. To hear such words of desperation, coming from a normally jovial lady, scared me.  However, she was also telling me she was ready to finally get the weight off and she asked if I’d mentor her, help her. YES! Of course, I assured her I’d do everything I could to support her.  I was so happy. Andrea was finally going to take back her life.   
     She was ready. I sensed it. Then the next day, I opened up FB, and this dear soul was gone. Andrea had passed away in the night. I couldn’t help her. It was too late.

    Messages, just like Andrea’s, come to me often.  The struggle is scary and it’s real. It’s not by chance that I say over and over, “you have the power to change your life.”  There’s a reason for you to, “have your own mirror moment.” There’s freedom waiting for you beyond that image. You must find you! Find your strength. Find your desire.  Do it today. Don’t wait!

    Andrea is healthy now. She walks in a brand new body. Thank you Andrea, for your friendship and support, you were always a good friend.

   RIP sweet lady…PEACE.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Weigh In With Dan - Eating Healthy On A Budget And Keeping The Faith

Happy Friday friends! It's been another cold-cold week here on the East Coast, so, if you live in a state where icicles aren't hanging from every nook and crook of your life, then stop reading this right now! GET OUTSIDE AND ENJOY THAT SUNSHINE! (wink) All kidding aside, this week has been a great one for me. I'm busy creating a new look for a PowerPoint program I'm soon to be using in a few lectures for TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) this coming Spring, as well as adding my two-cents to "Man In The Mirror," a memoir I'm writing with co-author Patricia Garber, which is coming together real well. And best of the best, I'm excited to share this blog with you about some wonderful questions sent to me last week. The question of eating right on a budget, and how faith helped me get back to a healthy life style, has opened up a great opportunity for conversation. I'm thrilled to share what I've experienced and encourage you to add your comments as well. Share your stories and feelings with me. I'd love to chat with you. Also if you would like to email me a question for my next "Weigh In With Dan," you can do so at
(All questions are listed on a first name basis only, unless asked to be anonymous.) 

You can also reached me on Facebook. Peace everybody! Have a great weekend. Dan      

                        ---------------Weighing In--------------------

Q.) Stan: How can I eat healthy when on a tight budget? I work on the road and the dollar-menu is easier and cheaper. I know it's not healthy or good for me, but again, I'm on a budget.

A.) I totally understand, Buddy, and I thank you for such a great question. I get the whole dollar-menu dilemma, as I used to live in the drive-thru line. I knew all the number specials for each burger house, and could decide if I wanted the "Big this-or-that" or "the-super- blah-blah-blah" ahead of time.  Though these places seem like a dollar saver, over time, they can drain your account just as fast as eating in a sit down restaurant.

For instance, you may spend 5 bucks in a drive through, purchasing a burger, fry, soda, and a pie or whatever. But if you take that same five bucks and buy, say, some Ground Turkey, how many burgers patties will it make? More than one, I assure you. Sure you won't have pennies left over for the fries, the soda, and pie, but they aren't good for you anyway. 

A while back, I bought a 10 pound Turkey, and once cooked that turkey made for several healthy salads, a wonderful Crockpot full of soup, leftover turkey sandwiches and not to mention a wonderfully moist Turkey dinner.  Ten dollars made a tone of food, for several days! 

If you have a cooler at home Stan, pack it for the road, and stay away from the drive-thru.  Buy fresh fruits and make a sandwich. Get a pound of lean low sodium turkey breast or ham, wheat bread, and grab a jar of pickles.  It's a popular myth that eating healthy costs more, but I disagree.  It will cost you more, and I don't just mean in your pocket, if you rely on boxed meals which contain chemicals not meant for your body. Trust me; a large pack of chicken breasts for 10-12 dollars can go a long way. It's really not hard Stan, it just takes some pre planning. 

It really boils down to a question I will ask you, Stan: How bad do YOU want it?


Q.) Sharon: How much has your faith helped on your journey, and how has this transformation changed you, as a man?

A.) Wow! Great question and I thank you for asking, Sharon. I usually try to stay away from debatable subjects like politics, religion and so forth, but since you've asked me, I will be honest and truthful. 
There is no question that I am only alive today because I had help from above.  I am thankful everyday for my life and the chance to live again. There was a time, not so long ago, when I had lost my faith. I was angry with God. I blamed him for letting me fall into a sad dark-state, and I cursed him for not helping me get out, though I had not even asked him for his help but rather expected him to do his "job". He was God after all, wasn't he? Why should I ask him, he knew what he "had" to do!  This was how I thought back then, in a very selfish me-me-me sort of way.

It didn't work--big surprise.

I believe God, though supporting me without me knowing it, was also waiting for me to finally ASK, and one day, I woke and realized that I couldn't do it alone. I didn't just ask, I begged that same God I'd been so angry with for help, and well, here I am: 350 pounds lighter and living a life I would never have dreamed possible. 

People have asked if I regret that part of my life, when I was angry, sad, and unhealthy. I'll admit, in the first year of my recovery, I'd answer YES. I felt that I'd lost all those years of my life for no real good reason and I was now angry with myself. But another year went by in my journey, which is now on its 2 1/2 year mark, and I say NO WAY! 

I'm thankful that I lived that 625 pound life. It helped bring me closer to God and it made me the man I am today.  Living that life taught me how beautiful life really can be. It taught me to believe in myself, and know that we have the potential to do anything we want, if we put effort and desire into it. It taught me to love others more than myself and to see God's beauty all around me. It taught me that we all have purpose and value and that faith truly does work when you apply it. 

I cannot fully express--though I try--how grateful I am to God for all the wonderful things he's brought into my life. How much has faith helped me? To this day, it guides me through every moment of every day. I believe He has more for me still, accomplishments of His choosing, and I cannot wait. He has placed the right people and the right opportunities into my life and only good things are yet to come.

How do I know this, Sharon? Because I have FAITH (wink).


All the questions today came to Dan via Facebook

Friday, January 10, 2014

Am I Really This Happy?

Am I really this happy? Do I really view the world as good and wonderful? Do I tell the tree outside,"Your beautiful," as I leave for the day? YES YES and YES. Did losing weight create all this positive energy? NO NO NO. Then how did I get so happy, you may ask.

I lived at the lowest of low, both inside and out. I hated myself. I hated my life, God, and anybody or anything. There were days when I didn't care if I woke up, days when I felt like the biggest waste of human flesh. I felt alone and I never saw the good around me, like the family and friends who cared about me. I didn't see beauty in the ocean, though I lived next to it. I didn't think I would know love, true love, or experience a full happy life. I thought my chances for all these things had passed, nothing more than a young man's fantasy . And as I sank lower and lower, my body and soul were in a constant state of decline. I used everything as a excuse to be upset; politics, sports, job, failing marriage, bills. It's too hot. It's too cold. I hate the rain. I wish it would rain. I hate these tourists--I  hate, I hate, I hate. Yep, friends, that was me. The guy you know as Mr Happy. Mr Inspirational. Mr PEACE.

I've shared many times how I got there, how ugly and painful life had become. How it took all of that negativity, all the pounds, and all the pain, to wake me up. And though it sounds very cliché, the turning point did just happened. I was tired of feeling like a second class citizen, it wasn't who I was deep inside. I wasn't this angry man who didn't care about life. I wasn't an addict who needed a cheeseburger to be happy. This was not Dan Hawthorne. Dan is a happy guy, a man who loves people,  loves music, the sunshine and the rain. He loves swimming in the ocean, going out with friends on the bay, and having shrimp and cold beers at Happy Hour. I was the guy that wanted to go out and see the world, experience all that life had to offer. I was the guy who believed in love, but I wasn't living like the man I wanted to be, the man I truly was. I was living in a 625 pound prison. Fed up,I stared down at the giant in the mirror looking back at me. I heard a call for help. I heard that man, so full of life and dreams, cry out to me, "help me Dan, don't let me die."

I wanted to laugh again, live and love again, and in that moment, I made a commitment to him. I told him I would do my best to not only help him, but to give him a full life, help him to accomplish those dreams and goals.

That night, I began to refocus and look at things in a different way. I'd wake up and look outside my window, focusing on the sounds of happy people riding around the bay on jet skies and water boats. I could smell the wonderful salt in the morning breeze and I'd actually linger to enjoy it. I looked at that big guy in the mirror now and told him that we could handle this, we were going to get our life back.

The more I did this, the better i felt, about life and about me. The more I concentrated on the good, the more motivated I became. The more I became thankful to the man upstairs, the more he gave to me. That's how it started; I simply refused to become angry and bitter. I would not let food control me or my life. Nor was I returning to that 625 pound prison. I'd lived it, I knew what it was like to give up and I wasn't going back.

Today, I like to think I'm proof that nothing is impossible. Did losing weight bring me happiness? No. Happiness allowed me to care enough to lose the weight. Its just that simple. We have to fix the inside before we can fix the outside. You can watch videos and read every weight loss book on the market. A trainer can tell you how to exercise, how to eat and how to live healthier, but until you come face to face with that man/woman in the mirror, have a heart to heart, none of it will matter. I can't make you be happy. I can make people laugh, help them to seed the funny side to life, but its you who has to want it. You have to do the work.

Im a new man today. Im alive. I can breath, I can walk, I can see and smell. I wake up everyday and see the beautiful world around me. I feel love like never have before and I appreciate the life that I've been given. But most importantly, I take great joy in being able to say to you with utmost certainty: Yes. You. Can.

Am I really this happy? You bet I am!

PEACE out.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Weigh In With Dan - Discipline Not Diet

Good day my fellow lover's of life! As the East Coast once again prepares to shovel snow, I thought I'd instead procrastinate--just for a bit--and spend the afternoon blogging. I want to again thank all of you that have sent me your concerns and taken the time to "Weigh in with Dan." Today's concerns will be focusing on the dreaded DIET WAGON. You know the one I'm talking about, as I'm sure most of us have all fallen off a few times. And you'll recognize the contraption by the spirit broken people--usually sporting a few extra pounds--lying flat in its dust! Well, I say, it's time we get off the wagon and start a new journey--on foot if we must! PEACE. Dan

Q.) Rhonda: Sometimes, I'm totally focused months. I'm really good.  We have huge family dinners and I'm OK, then for some reason I lose my will for a couple days or even a week.  I don't understand it. What advice would you give? I think it has to do a lot with my illness--I'm bipolar--but I still need to be focused. Advice???

A.) Thank you for your question Rhonda. My first thought or response on your question is: Don't be so hard on yourself. It's great to be strict and stick to a program, but I have learned to enjoy special events, such as holidays. From time to time, I give myself permission to enjoy some of those not so healthy foods.

Part of the reason I/we workout IS to enjoy those special events. If you never give in, if you never allow yourself a little fun--enjoy the foods you love-- you will become discouraged and eventually fall, sometimes a bit too hard.

Boy, do I know how painful that is!

I'd get so gung-ho, kicking butt and take names, so to speak. I'd start the latest diet craze with great determination, and then one of those special events would pop up.  I wouldn't touch a thing! I would say no to the deserts, no to the carbohydrates, no to soda and chips, and all the foods that I love and everybody else was enjoying. Man, it was torture. And it wasn't more than a month down the road, when a bad day would happen, and something would go wrong in my daily life. I'd be so weak from denying myself everything for so long that my vulnerability would win over and I'd cave.  On a binge, I wouldn't eat just one Krumpe donut; I would eat a box.  Then I'd move on to burgers and whatever else I fancied, falling so hard, it would take an act of congress to get back on track.

The weight this put on my spirit, my will, was hard pressed to patch after days of eating and feeling less than a human being. Only God knows--literally!--how I managed to pick myself up.

Don't do that to yourself, Rhonda.

Keep active, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle as much as you can, but give yourself a day here and there to celebrate your success with a small treat--small, being the key here--and remember, you're not on a diet. You're on the road to a healthier lifestyle, a permanent change for the better.   

It's OK to enjoy those special events in life--guilt free. When you call the shots, you will feel and in fact be in control.  And with this new found sense of power, you won't cave in as easily the next time a temptation falls before you.  It's worth repeating: It's all about decisions Rhonda; salad and grilled chicken today, and that slice of pizza some other day, as a reward.  Take that walk in the park or that swim at the gym. Love yourself, enjoy life, and it will come together.

There's no such thing as a diet, but rather, daily decisions. (Wink).

Go get em Rhonda!

Q.) James: Dan, what is your secret, the key to staying on track.  

A.) There is no real secret or trick, James.  Even I fall off track from time to time. We all do! It's a normal part of life, I believe, when one is trying to live a healthier lifestyle.  It's what you do after you get sidetracked that makes your story a successful one.  It's real easy to just stay off the wagon, I know, I've been there. I understand how hard it is to pull ourselves up, trying again and again, each time feeling a little less motivated.  

So what is the key? My personal opinion, one forged from many years of failing before finally succeeding, is to stop thinking of this journey as a temporary ride!  We have to stop putting so much emphasis on the diet ideology. They're temporary and you're not on a diet. You're making a forever-life-change. This is a journey that you should expect to travel the rest of your life. It doesn't have a particular destination, where it's suddenly over and done with. This is a new way of living and it goes on forever! 

I say, expect to get off track, once in awhile, James. You're human.

When we choose to eat ice cream and or pizza one day, we shouldn't beat ourselves up for it. We haven't committed some horrible crime. It's not all downhill from there. It's just a bump in this journey that we're forever on and it's still moving forward.

Don't let a missed day at the gym or a piece of pie stop the train!  Get back on and ride off into the sunset, yelling HIGH-HO-SILVER-AWAY.



**Today's questions came to Dan via Facebook **