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

Friday, 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 **