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

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.