Free The Animal profile
Free The Animal
Free The Animal
Stories of an American expat living in deep rural Thailand
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  • I write stories about my expat life in Thailand and Southeast Asia
  • I write about life lessons and opportunities for self-improvement
  • I create podcasts, videos, Zoom meetings, and I consult one-on-one

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Free The Animal

Short and Simple: My "Magical" Fat and Weight Loss (with bonus video)

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American Expat in Thailand 2: Pleasure and Reward

Yea, ridiculous screen shot, but the marginally least bad of three. Jesus, YouTube. "That's The Best We Can Do, Folks."
Life should be pleasurable, but is "reward" the right way to think about that?

[Note to Pledge Peeps on Patreon and SubscribeStar: These initial videos are introductory, which is why they're public-access for now. I'm giving a free trial period. Soon, and without notice, they will be patron early-access, until such uncertain time in the future they become open access on]
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In January, 2020, I sold everything and hopped on a plane for Thailand. Just as I was leaving for another country, Corona caught me, and I end up staying, now a permanent resident.

Now I’m on the prowl, so find out what that’s all about.
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Free The Animal


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Unfiltered. iPhone X to the left, Samsung Galaxy A51 quad-camera to the right. Yea, I went Android. I’ll get a new $400 phone every year rather than wait 2-3 years because $1,200. If it breaks or I lose it: no big, no stress…and no protective cover or “care”plan.
I snapped the photo to the left upon arrival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, January 16, 2020. I’ve been here ever since, and from then to mid-May did nothing much but seek various forms of pleasure—not much discipline, thought, or control involved.
On May 18, 2020, the girlfriend and I got up early and drove the 1,000 kilometers to her rural childhood home. Three months later, and the picture to the right was taken yesterday, August 15, 2020. So, the contrast is seven months as an expat in Thailand.
How rural?
Ban Laem Thong, Sano Subdistrict, Khukhan District, Sisaket Province—one of the Isan provinces that neighbor Cambodia and Laos. We’re about 30 km from Cambodia.
It wasn’t really culture shock at all. To my mind, the essential characteristics possessed by self-sufficient, self-guided, honest, hard-working, and productive rural country folk cross all cultural boundaries and are far more important and meaningful than are the facades that the multi-cultural left intelligentsia would highlight and emphasize; for, their aim is to conjure victims, making you inferior by inference, especially if you are of the honest, hard-working, productive salt: inferior to surface trappings of their faux narrative selection, especially of the third-world. Mud huts? Even better.
I wasn’t culture shocked. Rather, I soon took account of important, critical, and boundless aspects. Things like children, family, village, food, work, and honor. Everyone works. No exceptions. And no, this is nothing like that display of hubristic, delusional grandeur in a snide-glib screed called “It Takes a Village”—the “village,” of course, being leftism and its mind-and-probity destroying indoctrination.
This isn’t perfect, of course, since it’s a current satellite image, not from the 1960s, but this was my free-roaming playground, growing up. All that green along the north bank of the Truckee river was owned by my grandfather.
Toss in the hunting trips for food, fishing trips for food, and vegetable gardens for food—the preservation through canning, freezing, and dehydrating—and the little businesses that provided dollars in trade, and it’s a far cry from the contrast of a country girl and some street-smart Brooklyn asshole or Park Street silver-spoon wanker.
So as I’ve written previously, all of this combined focussed me; and so I decided to build what was 2 small rooms of 400 square feet into 4 bedrooms, two full baths, large kitchen, and sitting room of 1,400 square feet, plus encircle the house with a wall, concrete, and tile which is serving us wonderfully during the daily heavy rains, now (90% reduction in tracked-in mud and dirt).
Lot’s of stuff focussed me, but none as profoundly as these three mignon objects of focus.
First day back in school.
…The new 7/11, AKA ‘sewen’, 5 km away in Lalom, has a scale. In the first few days, I stepped on it with Yui present. 93 kilo (204.6 pounds). I only wear shorts, tank-tops, and flip-flops, so I take off 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) for each weigh-in. So, call it 204-205 pounds starting. At my worst in 2008, I was 240. At my best in 2009-11, 175. So, as I said, I gained about half of it back.
That picture to the right, above: 85.2 kilo (187.5 pounds). 6.8 kilo loss (15 pounds) in three months, technically, but I really didn’t start cutting down on booze and doing much for the first month. For several weeks now, I’m alcohol free and far better across all channels. My vision, focus, and purpose is crystal clear. I have shouldered all pertinent responsibilities and am seeing to them with no excuses, no evasion, and no moral uncertainty.
Here’s what I wrote yesterday on my social-media channels when I posted the juxtaposing photo collage:
January 17, 2020 arrival in Chiang Mai, Thailand vs. August 15, 2020 rural Thailand.

No booze, daily 18:6 or more fasting, whole food always, sunshine, sleep, and boom-boom.

On fasting? I use the fantastic app.
So, as you can see, pretty damn consistent and August 9 was only the second or third time since starting that I missed the 18:6 target, and it’s always because of familial stuff, not caving to hunger. Just today, 11yo Chili and mom made some chicken and it just happened to coincide with 19:11 hours fasted on the timer, so I ended the fast even though I wasn’t hungry and wasn’t watching the clock (I was writing this). Also, about half the time, I’m pushing to 19:5 and 20:4.
It’s so liberating. Frankly, I barely pay attention to how much I eat in the window. I focus on 2 things:
  1. Target protein, lean preferred
  2. Eschew added fat, dribbles of salad dressing are OK
A snak
So that’s that. Big changes coming up, otherwise, mostly having to do with this blog. Steps taken so far:

  1. Much planning as to topics and posts contemplating stories, expat living, online entrepreneurship, writing projects and series, lessons good and bad
  2. Set up two subscription sites for early access to all writings, podcasts, video meetings, and even one-on-one consulting
  3. Gave notice to my three Facebooks groups with over 3,000 combined subscribers that I will depreciate them in a couple of weeks to focus on this blog and my direct social media channels (personal wall and the Free The Animal page on Facebook)

That push begins next. Here are the social media outlets where you can interact with me.

Here’s what I posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram just this morning, before drafting this, so you may be missing out if you otherwise like my style.
The way this works is that Trump as president is the greatest evil on earth. Therefore, any other evil is lesser, and thus justified if it serves to weaken him and his chances for reelection. This is how evil becomes virtue.

This is precisely the cognitive dissonance in which the Left and Democrats are operating. No exceptions.

Never buy their virtue-signalling lies about “concern” for LIVES!!!
Always approach it as “one angry mind at a time.”
From my Blurry Misanthropy file.
And with that, more details to follow within the next 24 hours. And here we go.

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The Urban and Suburban Blight

Could you come up with a better illustration by means of juxtaposition between urban/suburban and rural?
My take: Urban/suburban is where the fear-driven grazers congregate. Grazing animals like population density because it implies the safety of the herd or flock. If everyone's an equal grazer, then one prey target is as good as another and chances are it won't be you. Social adherence is rule #1—you don't want your prey-mate ratting you out to the predators. Conform, be one of the pack; solidarity, one for all and all for...well, themselves. Don't stand above, or the herd will make sure you stand OUT. This is a prime environment for parasitism, as it can go undetected. Indeed, often, the most successful parasites go not only undetected; but most often, they are heralded as the most virtuous. Co-dependency emanates from dishonest and lazy dependency.
Conversely, rural is where the self-sufficient resource planners and managers congregate. They deal with each other as partners, traders, mutual providers in a naturally occurring division of labor—the starkest example of which is that you won't see women doing men's work and you won't see men doing women's work. Form there, you have many layers and levels of self-directed cooperation. This is an impossible environment for parasitism because full-scope accounting is always in play, written or unwritten. It's a prime environment to create real and tangible values for yourself, family, and villagers. Your virtue is rooted in what you honestly produce, and not the words, platitudes, slogans, and bromides you utter and preach. Virtue is recognized, not bestowed. Co-reliance emanates from discipline, thought, control, honesty, and hard work.
Two photos are of schools in densely urban Bangkok. Two are of last Tuesday's Mother's Day honoring at the rural village school, 200 meters down from where I sit.
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In November of 2003 I started my blog, named since the Paleo Diet days of 2008 and onward. In total, as of 2020, I've published 5,000 posts.

My Patreon page began in mid-2017 in order to teach the intricacies of getting into crypto: buying, trading, and safeguarding. But by early 2018 I felt like that task was complete and I didn't wish to continually publish posts with no real value. My position on crypto is pretty simple: I buy and hold only Bitcoin. I liquidated all my ~50 altcoins in early 2020 for Bitcoin and never sell it. End of story.

That Patreon presence has remained pretty idle for a long time and I want to revive it in a more general way, the blog way, including full cross-mirroring here, on SubscribeStar. That is, I'm always relating everything I post to personal stories and experiences. You can get dry and stale "facts" and "commentary" in a million places. I maintain the original, true spirit of a blog: it's about me and how others might learn from airing my laundry (clean, dirty, stylish, or mundane) within the context of lessons worth learning—successes and failures.

Plus, I'm now an expat living permanently in deep rural Thailand, Si Saket Province. How exotic is that?

With that, let me begin with an example post at from August 6, 2020.

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’m 14 years older than Warunee’s mom. Both think that’s hilarious.

Rural Si Saket Province, Thailand (my motorbike is the 70s Triumph look-alike)

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.
Yea, snakes in Thailand. I have so far encountered that green pit viper pictured and a baby monocled cobra right outside the back door. By the way, that’s a tile floor.
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.
You can read and comment directly on Twitter, or on Thread reader. Or, continue below.

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.

9/ 165# goal, male, moderate activity
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.

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” bullshit, 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.

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To continually make ourselves better in all available ways: to ourselves, loved ones, and others in society. To continually introduce new topics, or revisit those I haven't visited in some time. To create widely integrated variety; literally, to jump around from topic to topic. To always include a personal touch. To tell you all of my stories in an engaging manner, integrated with all of my lessons, good and bad.


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