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FOX Medical Team

Man hopes weight loss story inspires others

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For a lot of us our weight is a struggle. For Dan Hawthorne it's been a lifelong challenge. It took him 40 years and more than 600 pounds to finally right the ship and begin to turn his health around. But he did it.

Hawthorne says he'd spent his whole life making one bad choice after another. So when his alma mater, South Hagerstown High in Maryland, asked him to share his story with students, he wasn't sure what to expect. They might laugh, or they might just listen.
   
Dan told students that he sat on the couch for two years and ate himself to death.

"Food was my drug," he said.

The problem started when he was a kid.

"The highlight of my paper route was stopping at Hall's Corner Store and getting my Krumpy donut and my chocolate milk," Hawthorne said.

As he got older, Dan ballooned to 625 pounds.

"I was really at that point where I thought it was over. I really thought I was going to be pushing up daisies real soon," he said.

Then he hit a turning point. He got an email from the friend of a friend, Thomas Burge, a professor and coach at Hagerstown Community College.

"You know what his reply was? There's nothing you said we can't fix," Dan said.

Together, they worked, sitting down at first. Hawthorne made it down to 400 pounds.

Now he's 315 pounds, working out six days a week.

"Every day the first thing I do is look in that mirror. And I might have those days when it's cold outside and it's dark and you don't want to do it, but you have to do it because I like breathing. I like feeling good. I like looking better. That's all the motivation I need," Dan said.

He says Burge saved his life.

"I think it feels good for me because of what it's doing for him," Burge said.

At his lowest point, Hawthorne thought he had no purpose. Now, he's addicted to helping others.

Dan and Thomas both talked to the students, telling them the choices they make today about what they eat and whether they are active will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Dan is hoping he's proof it's never too late for us to rewrite our own stories.

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