Yea, I let myself go for a couple of years. Mostly is was about behaviors, bad habits, isolation, and other things. While I held my life together generally, it was nowhere near where I knew I wanted to be, where my blurry vision suggested. The manifestation was mostly in my appearance.
I never gained it all back—the 60 pounds I lost on Paleo back in the day— just about half of it.
Then I moved to Thailand in mid-January, thinking that would automatically fix everything. Nope. I’d been cooped up in a large house, small-town Sierras, alone, for a couple of years. You don’t fix the downstream effects of that sort of life overnight by jumping on an airplane to a tropical paradise on the other side of the world. If anything, it compounds existing issues which require focus to overcome.
Attaining focus requires, in a word: purpose. My only “purpose” was that I wanted to feel good again: physically, mentally, and spiritually. No, that’s not a purpose; that’s a desire. So, the first four months in Chiang Mai were mostly about fulfilling desires and other than a few false starts and a pound dropped here and there, nothing much changed.
Covid-19 unavoidably caused all my plans to change. I was to depart Thailand for Vietnam mid-March, then nomad-hop the world indefinitely—a new country every few months. Instead, the flight was cancelled and I got “stuck” in Thailand with no place to go except perhaps back to the U.S. But I’d just spent a year salivating about getting myself out and on the travel circuit. Plus, with things shaping down, down and downer as they were, who knew when I’d be able to depart the U.S. again for anyplace I’d want to go?
So I did something I hadn’t done meaningfully or importantly in years: I shouldered a whole lot of responsibility. And guess what happened? I attained focus.
I built a house in rural Thailand for myself, girlfriend, her two daughters, and mother. It took 2 1/2 months. People work 7 days a week, here.
I was my own general contractor, hiring individual labor and sourcing all materials. Consequently, my total build cost would make any “Lands of the Free” unionized tradesmen blush with embarrassment.
Of course, I had to create an amazing high-ceiling bedroom-workspace combo.
I have the full story to tell about all of this but for now, let’s get back on point.
Fat loss. See, right after I got here, being outside all day managing the build in the hot and humid tropical sun, I felt pretty miserable. So I started fasting quite a lot—hot and humid being a great appetite suppressant. The build ended, so that particular purpose ended with it; but my newly-established focus wouldn’t let me rest, so I took on additional responsibilities.
I do micro-lending to micro-businesses (think food carts and outdoor-market kiosks) through a Thai intermediary. These are very short-term loans, analogous to payday lending, but to businesses that are making money every day and making their loan payments every day. Not a penny lost, not even in jeopardy.
And I provided start-up capital for a small Isan food restaurant in Lalom, right across the street from 7/11. Location, location, location.
Call me a loan shark, I don’t care. My aim is to make money in Thailand without violating any conditions of my residency visa. On the drawing board is a home construction company, small scale. That’s the vision my focus has led me to while taking on the responsibilities keeps my sense of purpose in good health. No more effing around.
You want to know what a chief reward in all this is? Gloating. Yes. See, in “The Land of the Free,” all of the above things would be out of reach, in some way illegal, a regulatory pain in the ass—inter alia—and even if you persevere and succeed, it’s not if you’re going to be sued or investigated, it’s when. Here in deep rural? Guess how much the building permits cost? What’s a building permit? How many inspections and how did they go? What are inspections? And yet, this house is 100% built of reinforced concrete, block, and steel. The only wood is some doors. Your insanely-priced permitted-and-inspected toothpick jokes will blow down long before this place would.
So here’s the simplicity I’ve put together that has shed 4-5 kilos (9-11 pounds) in the last 2-3 months without really trying. It’s a combination of what I knew, plus just practical things along the way to make it fun and challenging. This is a basic overview. I’ll be diving deep in a series of posts starting soon.
First, drop the nonsense that it’s predominantly about what you eat [to lose fat]. What you eat can certainly contribute to helping or hurting but the truth is, most people use approved and disapproved foods to eat ad libitum, expecting magic. True fat loss is going to hurt, or you are not going to lose fat.
I did a Twitter series on this earlier. It’s actually an elegant little method, as it forces you to be concise. Like 13-points-240-characters concise.
1/ For all the continuing talk of best foods, best macros, stuff to avoid, and so-on, you can make it ridiculously easy with just three basic things (4-5 kilo fat lost last couple months):
- a. SOME presence of mind about calories
- b. Target protein (~30% of kcal)
- c. Eating window
2/ a: Some idea of calories is, if not absolutely essential, just helpful and smart. Why ignore what’s helpful? The big takeaway is that fat is more than 2x energy dense and the least satiating in comparative studies (I don’t give a shit about your n= 1 lie).
3/ a: Calculate your general daily caloric requirement, but not at where you are, where you want to be (people “stall” because they do the opposite and reach equilibrium when BMI gets to the level they’re eating). This is not hard. It’s easy and helpful.
4/ b: Protein is essential because #1 it’s the most satiating macro comparatively and #2, it’s the least energy dense (fat=9kc/g; carb=4kc/g; protein= <4kc/g, depending on thermal effect–the more protein, the less net caloric energy from each gram). Leaner cuts are better.
5/ b: Protein is also critical because #1 it aids in spairing lean tissue in an energy deficit and #2, it can give you “lean gains,” that is, build lean tissue through resistance exercise even when in energy deficit.
6/ c: Most people eat in a 6:19 window. That is, meals and snacks over an entire 18 waking hours and this is dumb. Flip that around and you have power. Even in perfect body-comp shape, 12:12 is an excellent policy. Go at least 12 hours every day, no exceptions, no intake.
7/ c: For fat loss, I think 16-18:8-6 windows are the best, with some flexibility built in. So, no less than 16 hours *no intake* every day, 18+ being better. This means you can only eat for 8 or less hours every day. Feel free to incorporate a 24+ 1-2 times per week.
8/ Now go full circle with calories. Calculate your requirements for *your goal weight* and apply the weight loss levels from mild to extreme as you prefer and you don’t have to stick to a single one every day. Maybe mild on weekends, moderate or extreme during the week.
10/ Next, divide your calorie number into your eating window hours. For example, if my goal is 165# and I’m at 185#, then I’m using the calculator at 165# levels (goal), not 185. If I go moderate and I’m doing 18:6, that’s 300 damn calories per hour for 6 straight hours.
11/ And that’s f_cking easy. All you need is just the barest knowledge of the food-calories and sorta winging it is fine because everything is stacked in your favor if you just adhere to the eating window, target protein, and calculate from goal weight not current weight.
12/ I highly recommend a fasting app. I’ve tried a few but didn’t find any helpful until I decided to give @fastic a go. Over a week now and I haven’t missed my 18 hour goal once. It’s very encouraging. No, no affiliate link (sadly–would love to have one). The free version is adequate for most, anyway.
13/ I’ve seen and reviewed everything since blogging Paleo and being an influencer since 2008. This is the most COMPREHENSIVE thing you will ever come across. And, @AlexJLeaf is involved.
Proud Affiliate Link:
Now, go forth and give this the old try if you need to. Many can just wing it on general principles alone and they continually self-correct. I’ve resigned myself to needing a structured program that’s pretty easy, very effective, and actually works, never having to resort to that “stall” builshit, which is euphemism for “I’m eating on average the exact amount of energy my body requires at this weight and composition.”
Stop embarrassing yourself by believing and uttering that nonsense. Today!
Best wishes. I’ve embraced the responsibility of once again jumping back into this sphere and to be effective with it. While there’s a limit to how much responsibility you can take on if it’s responsibility in the meaningful sense, there is no limit to your purpose and vision.