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

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.