That’s me on the left enjoying the “Three Cs”: #coffee, #cheesecake, and #chiangmai.
I thought it’d be a bit funny and ironic to start a post on weight loss with a picture of me consuming coffee and cheesecake, but the truth is that I doubt I’ll eat even one more piece of cheesecake for the rest of the year. It’s just one of those rare moments of unadulterated bliss, even though I actually only had two small bites (I was splitting it with someone). Plus, it’s a great close-up picture to show what I look like in real-time (as of the end of October 2017).
The title of the article already spoiled the surprise.
But I’ve lost five pounds in a month since relocating to Chiang Mai, Thailand as a dividend expat.
And it (pleasantly) happened without any extra effort on my part (relative to my weight-management efforts in the States).
Now, it’s not like I was in terrible shape before I left America. I actually weighed myself just before leaving, if only because I was curious as to how the move was going to affect my weight and health.
I, like most everyone else, keep a pretty close eye on my weight. Obesity runs in my family. And so that is something that’s provided some partial motivation for me to exercise my butt off – I find myself in the gym 5-6 days per week, every single week. Of course, I also happen to really enjoy exercising. It makes me look and feel better, increasing happiness and energy while decreasing stress.
In addition, I’ve been managing my food portions for some time. American portions are really out of control. But by minimizing my portions, I’ve been able keep my wallet thick and my waistline thin.
Weighing myself the day before leaving America showed that I came in at 177 pounds. That’s right about where I’ve been treading for some time now, which is great. My take on it is that if I can maintain a good weight for years on end (I weighed about 177 pounds 10 years ago), I’m a happy camper. I’m still wearing the same jean size I did in high school.
177 pounds on my frame looks like this:
— Jason Fieber (@JasonFieber) September 26, 2017
Not too bad for a jobless 35-year-old guy!
So I wasn’t in bad shape before I left. But I still felt like I had a few extra pounds of adipose tissue that could be eliminated. But as much as I hit the cardio, it was really tough for me to get below 175 pounds.
Well, I guess I missed the memo that revealed that moving to Thailand was the answer, because I’ve lost five pounds in the first month I’ve lived here – and I haven’t changed my exercise habits one bit, nor have I been dieting.
I weighed myself two days ago. I used two scales, because I couldn’t believe the first result. However, both showed the same weight: 172 pounds.
I’ve spent the last day or so trying to figure out how this happened.
I certainly haven’t gone out of my way to lose weight. And the funny thing is that I feel like I’m eating better than I ever have, as my social media posts will show. I can say for sure that I’m eating out for every single meal. That’s totally new.
I’m still hitting the gym 5-6 days/week. My routine hasn’t changed. The aerobic/anerobic mix is the same. My strength hasn’t decreased at all, nor do I feel like my muscle mass is any less than it ever was before. Indeed, I’m actually lifting slightly more weight and/or performing more reps.
However, I’m definitely more “cut” than I was before I left. Said another way, I’ve lost about five pounds of excess adipose tissue (or body fat). Perhaps some water, too. And it’s not just a normal daily fluctuation, as I weighed myself at the same time (and under the same circumstances) both before and after the move. Plus, like I just mentioned, there’s a definitive difference in how I look and feel.
And I believe there are three reasons for this.
As I recently noted, there’s a tangible air of happiness here in Thailand. It’s almost impossible to describe. But it’s so different from America, it’s not even funny.
The reasons for this are plentiful. And I’ve gone over many of them.
But the wonderful thing about it for me is that it’s infectious. I feel like I’ve caught a virus – one which adds by way of subtraction, reducing stress in my life and thus making me happier.
I was already financially independent in America. But as I’ve openly expressed, it was just barely so. It was really tough for me to live on ~$1,200 per month in the US. And it required a constant vigilance (in terms of managing expenses) that I just don’t want to deal with any longer.
Meanwhile, living on $1,200 per month over here not only comes without any effort, stress, or vigilance, but that amount of spending actually represents a lifestyle that was completely off-limits in the US.
I can live in a fantastic and fully furnished apartment that’s in a very dense, walkable, and urban area of a city that’s already very dense, walkable, and urban as a whole. I can play active bachelor. I can play tourist. I can play social entrepreneur. I can be anything I want to be. This lifestyle would easily cost three times more in the States, but I just don’t have to worry about or even manage spending any longer.
So it’s not about buying stuff or spending frivolously. It’s instead about aligning my passions with how I spend my money and time.
My big financial goal all along was never to have the most money. Building an ever-larger portfolio just for the sake of having more money, stocks, and passive income was never a thought that crossed my mind. All I’ve ever wanted is to be free. Free of anything and everything that weighs me down and negatively affects my quality of life. Money is simply a means to an end.
Unfortunately, even financial independence itself itself can sometimes chain me. Being chained to the constant managing of expenses might be very worthwhile, but it’s nonetheless a chain. I’m totally free of that now.
Achieving financial independence has been wonderful. But I’ve felt all along like it’s one chapter of what should otherwise be a fantastic book. Likewise, aiming to maximize financial independence once it’s achieved is a very interesting concept to me.
My life was once very stressful. And it’s incrementally become less stressful over time, with the achievement of financial independence being one of the main triggers for that. But I feel like this move overseas has probably reduced stress just as much as achieving financial independence in the States did.
We know that increased stress can cause weight gain. Stress can cause a rise in cortisol, which can cause all kinds of issues with the managing of weight – not to mention all kinds of general health problems.
While I had stress managed fairly well in the States (especially relative to what it used to be like when I still had a job), it’s even better over here in Thailand.
The Type Of Food I’m Eating
Ahh. The food in Chiang Mai.
How do I describe?
Plentiful. Delicious. Cheap. Healthy.
I could go on. But maybe a picture will do it better justice.
— Jason Fieber (@JasonFieber) October 28, 2017
I can say, though, what a lot of food in Chiang Mai isn’t. Or maybe I could say what’s missing over here: a lot of bread, milk, cheese, etc. I’m no longer regularly consuming a lot of foods I would commonly consume in America out of sheer coincidence that Thai food is so different from American food. Dairy is almost non-existent in their food, for example. There might be some dairy in some of the coffee drinks over here, but my overall coffee consumption hasn’t changed much.
Now, you could just as well eat American food all the time over here, if you really wanted to. You can get your pizza, cheeseburgers, pastas, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and whatever else. And I’ve occasionally indulged myself.
But seeing as how Thai food is so cheap, delicious, and convenient, I find myself eating Thai food pretty much every day. It’s frankly preferable. I do certainly crave a juicy cheeseburger here and there, and I’m free to go grab one whenever I want. But I also just as well find myself craving Pad See Ew on the regular. I didn’t anticipate this happening. But it has. And my body is apparently better off for it.
I liked Thai food before I lived here. I would even go so far as to say I really enjoyed Thai food. But I now love Thai food after trying out so many different restaurants, markets, and choices.
Looking around at Thai people, after spending years looking around at Americans, it’s painfully obvious to me which cuisine is healthier. I guess I just didn’t realize how much healthier until stepping on a scale the other day.
The Amount Of Food I’m Eating
If you’re following me on social media, you’ll see that I’m sharing pics of food all the time. That’s because the food scene is a big part of what makes Chiang Mai so awesome.
In addition, I’m eating out every single day. I quite literally have zero groceries at my apartment. I ate dinner at home once during the entire month of October. And that was only because no restaurants were open on the evening of October 26th, due to the ceremony that was being held in Bangkok in honor of the late King.
But while I’m eating out constantly, the amount of money I’m spending and the amount of food I’m eating are both minimal.
Portions are naturally small here, which I find refreshing. Taking home leftovers from a restaurant is a concept that doesn’t exist for me any longer.
A dish of Pad See Ew might look like this:
— Jason Fieber (@JasonFieber) October 18, 2017
A dish of that size is all I’ll eat for lunch. Dinner might involve just a little more food, but not much.
I find my stomach and wallet both full after eating food like this. And I find my taste buds and soul both happy.
Furthermore, I actually see an interesting phenomenon occurring now that I eat out all the time. There’s no “grocery friction”. No wasted food at home. No time spent on all of the grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning (none of which I’ve ever enjoyed, frankly). No ability to grab a midnight snack, because there’s simply no food there to eat.
There’s almost 3% less of Jason that exists now compared to a month ago. As a minimalist who doesn’t care to own or carry around much, I appreciate carrying around a little less me.
I was pretty satisfied with my weight and health when I lived in America. I was hitting the gym almost every day. I was limiting my portions. I was actively putting in a lot of effort to keep my body (and psyche) in top shape.
However, I find myself actively pursuing (and worrying about) this a lot less since I’ve come to Chiang Mai. And yet I’ve lost five pounds in a month. It’s almost unbelievable for me. I’m putting in less effort, and frankly stressing out about food and money much less, which has resulted in my body positively reacting to this. It’s a case where less really is more.
But this is only because of the way of life over here, which is incredibly hard (or even impossible) to attain back in the US.
I was already very excited about living in Thailand. I was confident it was the right move at the right time. But I wasn’t even factoring in losing a good amount of body fat weight in such a short period of time. As such, living over here continues to exceed my expectations in so many ways.
What’s perhaps best of all about this is that my weight loss has happened in a very organic, natural, healthy, and sustainable way. I’m not taking on any fad diet. No, I’m not starving myself. If anything, I feel like I’m constantly full and satisfied. And I see no reason why this benefit won’t continue to play itself out for many years to come.
Have you ever accidentally lost a lot of weight in a short period of time? Was it adipose tissue? Was it healthy and sustainable?
Thanks for reading.
And if you’re interested in becoming a dividend expat like me, or if you’re even just interested in financial independence, check out some excellent resources that could prove invaluable.