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Part 2: Fat, Sick & Triggered

June 2014 was when my journey towards health started in earnest following a series of awareness triggers. Triggers that led me in a direction of whole-self, or holistic, transformation where weight loss became the happy side effect of overall wellness gain.

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Last Modified: November 17, 2021
June 2014

First few Steps on a Thousand Mile Journey

John Sick Fat Tired 2014
June 2014: Self Portrait of Misery, Pants Size 48

June 2014 was when my journey to health started in earnest, with four trigger events leading up to that launched my flight to recovery and health. I won’t further bore you with gruesome details of my life’s suckage. Did that in Part the First. Unless your life is rainbows, unicorns who shit gold and fairies who fart perfume, you no doubt have your own tales of woe and despair. Lets not be about sad stories, but about joyous outcomes. And the steps of self-authenticity, self-realization and self-responsiveness required to pump up the volume on our life. So we are going to roll out with triggers.Triggers that slam a hammer into the center of self and demand recognition and response.

Somebody said a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step. Understanding that intellectually doesn’t help a body in the slightest when they have no idea what that step is. Or what direction that step needs to be made.

So, I let my triggers guide my steps in this the initial phase of my journey.

Trigger: "You qualify for....

…bariatric surgery!” Said the doctor. As though I had won some fucking prize. “Here, take this informative brochure.” Nope. 

All to often this is presented by the medical industry as a primary option rather than the last option of desperation. Sometimes such measures are absolutely necessary. Many times they are not. For me it wasn’t. It was a choice. Did I know that at the time? Oh no. But this was a place to begin to look at my own options. This was about April 2014.

I could do what it takes to keep myself out from under the knife. Or, I could do the easy thing: sit and let someone else manage it for me with a snip-snip here and a tie-tie there. 

But it was an option I had to seriously consider, distasteful though it was

Sometimes things resolve to choices. Between nothing and a something or two. A crossroads. Make a move with or without the support of others. And it's a reoccurring thing in life. That's one of the ultimate tests of self. For me? I could lose weight, or my doctor could lose weight for me. Or of course I could do not a thing at all.

Trigger: The poster in the doctor's office.

I was sitting with someone else at their doctor, and there was a poster showing what was an actual serving size.  I understood it intellectually. I had been down the dead-end diet road before. But it had not sunk in. I have no idea why it did right at that very moment. But it did. And it started a cascade of thoughts about thinking. About unlearning and relearning and about reimagining…health in general, but with special focus on food.

Of course, since then I have come to understand that portion sizes notwithstanding, nothing on that poster should be eaten by humans.  But this poster triggered a cascade of understandings about food and me

Portion Distortion Poster E1633542605583
Portion Distortion Poster. (Clue - The best portion size of the food pictured is none.)

Knowing that we have to change how we eat is a no-brainer. That is what every diet plan out there does. Our first change should be perceptual though. We need to start unlearning and relearning food. Start critically looking at everything we put in our mouth and asking what our relationship with that should be. Then pursuing that relationship in earnest. We shouldn't be surprised when we learn that our body already has the answer if we will listen.

Trigger: The hike that wasn't.

Rocky Neck State Park 2
Rocky Neck State Park

One of my favorite state parks in Connecticut is Rocky Neck SP. It has a great public beach, wooded campground and a 2.5 mile loop trail. I was gung-ho about hiking it one sunny June day in 2014. I made it a quarter of a mile down the trail before turning back to hobble back to my car to sit in pain, misery and self-disgust..

That was the final trigger leading up to what was a transformative experience.  It was my final trigger moment The one that resulted in action.

We are back to choices. Continue to on the road with the "bridge out" sign or take another road. Step up or sit down. Shit or get off the pot. Time comes though when an action has to be taken. That Journey of a thousand miles needs the first step or there just isn't a journey.

Deconstructing my own Triggers - WTF Happened Here?

And more importantly, what does this mean for you, dear reader?

We are Unique, Cosmically Unique.

Yes that is real. You my friend are a Cosmic Individual, unique. That nutrition and health coaching school I went to called it bio-individuality. But then spirituality drops into the mix of holistic transformation, and it’s debatable if any “Bio” is involved there soo… Cosmic. This is a holistic perspective of the wonder that is you and bigger then bears explanation here, But later.

So then, your story will differ, if not radically then in specifics. My triggers, and how those triggers resonated in my inner workings is uniquely me. Your triggers, should they be required, are unique to you, you cosmically individual person you. You see. I have a couple of thoughts about triggers before I take mine apart before our very eyes.

  • Thought the First

    I think that God, the universe, whatever, sends us triggers all the time. Or maybe life randomly happens in such a way that our consciousness perceives order within chaos. Either way it impacts us at a primal, spiritual level when we recognize it. We can train ourselves to see and recognize these moments and respond in a fashion that will be of the most benefit to us. Meditation helps. Yup. Meditation is a banging way to calibrate your trigger recognition machine. Yes it is.

  • Thought the Second

    I think that we can create our own trigger moments. What is a trigger but some thought or event that leads first to awareness and then to actions that power a change? Need an exercise? Breathe, Slowly, purposefully. Once, Twice, Three times. Clear your mind by lighting a fire in your head and throwing all your thoughts into it until they're all burned up. Now slowly and purposefully escort yourself through the phases of your first heart attack or stroke. "When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." -Samuel Johnson

    Great Trigger yeah?

My Triggers and the five Rs of transformation

  • Trigger the First: Realization

    From Part 1: The attempted photography day of the dandelion was a realization moment. A grasping that something needs to change. For me that meant trying to do something wholesome that I really wanted to, and not being able to.

  • Trigger the Second: Recognition

    The Bariatric option presented as a near necessity brought things into focus. A recognition of The things that must change. And the options available for implementing that change.

  • Trigger the Third: Resolution

    The portion size poster that hit me with what I already knew and started an internal avalanche of thoughts about rethinking food from the very beginning and resolving to begin doing so soonest. Making a resolution to change

  • Trigger the Fourth: Reminder

    The attempted hike was the reminder of the first trigger. Here was something else I wanted and couldn't have. My pain and suffering a reminder to change right fucking now. Maybe you don't need this step. Lucky you. You get the Four Rs of Transformation. Me? I'm slow.

The Fifth R: Response

Some people can go from R number 1 to R number 5 with one trigger. But, Like I said. I’m slow.

These were the possible responses before me from which to choose.

  1. Do Nothing – A passive response, but still a response. I would have continued to get sicker and lose mobility  until finally dying in pain and regret. Screw Door #1.
  2. Get the surgery – A lot of people do. Sometimes it is sustainable, sometimes it isn’t. Never is without accompanying lifestyle modification. Maybe it would have worked.  Maybe not, Either way I would have had to live within the limitations it imposed while assuming the risks it presented. Screw Door#2 with an upside-down hammer.Dear. If you have gone through Door 2 with whatever level of success it imparted. I’m not taking a shot at you. That surgery may have been entirely necessary, and you believed it to be. That is all that matters there. It is what you did to solve a problem and good on you for taking those steps and enduring what you had to endure to be better, My experience may still be completely relevant to you, Weight loss is only a part of holistic transformation. So read on.
  3. Go with what I know and start walking in the direction of a better me. I haven’t a clue what that me looks like, but I am ready to learn what I need to know and take the actions I need to take along the way. 

Of course my Response was Door #3. Everything that follows on this part of my web site is what I learned along the way. A lot of things. Some might be useful, some not.

But what did my Response do for me? Why, it added three more “Rs” to my Rockin’ alphabet.


What about you?

You have read all the way to here. I don’t want to leave you without a little self examination exercise to bring your head right into the moment and your heart into a place to reflect a bit. 

  1. What triggers are firing for you right now?
  2. Are they from inside or outside?
  3. What do those triggers mean?

Why and why again

At this point you have read some things that read like sales copy. You may even have arrived here via a social media ad (look at me, investing in your health.) You may be feeling that the pitch is coming. Honestly? I have no interest in your money. I hate the fucking stuff. Someone smart once said something about the love of money being the root of all evil. How funny is it that everything about money inspires love? Or maybe just lust among those who don’t and wish they did. Either way, not emotions with happy endings. Truth is, The public of now has entirely lost the ability to distinguish between wants and needs. Included are voracious advertising budgets, behavioral science and an insane product variety and frequency of update to newest and best. Just to further cloud that distinction. Add the ready availability of consumer credit and you have a fuckton of prisoners in the land of the free. Freedom & control lies more with simplicity married to efficiency than abundance. There is primal elegance in doing the most with the least.

Money is the last tyrant we must overcome and it has far fewer masters than slaves.  That my friends is by design.  I’ll just leave that here for this part of the site. Why is this relevant? Because dear reader, little is more stressful than having more month than money. And financial stress can be a key contributor to escapist eating and the gross chain of health issues attached to that.

You keep your money. You are going to need it once I start talking about healthier eating. Why again? I love you. I desire your health, prosperity and happiness and I wish I could grant all three to you with a wave of my hand. But sorry. God, the universe, whatever power defines reality, made up a rule that says you got to work for it. Transformation ain’t for sale, but you can earn it. Yes you can. Sorry. Truth is. 

What do I want? At some point a subscribe doohickey will pop up and you can do that. I’m not going to sell your email. I’m not that kind of asshole. It’s just so I can tell you when the next part of this exciting saga, or some other madness drops from my brain. Valuable shit for sure. Digression over.


July 2014

Part 3: Dietary Mythos

Having tried and failed at most diets I started with all the conventional unwisdom about diet and started there,

August Free eBook

Healthy Eats

Blueberry Superfood Glue

Blueberry Glue is a great quick power breakfast that is nutritionally balanced with 22 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber from yogurt, blueberries and superfood goodness.

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Hiking Trails


John Atkinson
John Atkinson

Health Coaching

I hold a Health Coaching Certification from Institute for Integrative Nutrition: Certificate Verification Link FYI. I hate the word coach. Its overused. I consider myself a Wellness Advocate in this one of my several roles.

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