I’m sitting in the hospital waiting room in Nha Trang, Vietnam to get x-rays and blood tests to see what’s wrong with my big toe on the right foot, and on the TV screen I see a list of medical-related video links.
“Endoscopic carpal tunnel release.” I’m guessing this has something to do with carpal tunnel syndrome and repairing the tendons by releasing the stress?
“Proximal humerus percutaneous aiming system technique.” This sounds like a kill feature in one of Iron Man’s latest armors. “Activate humerus percutaneous aiming system.”
While I don’t know what some of these words mean, none of them sound good. They all sound like medical procedures to repair or fix a body part that is no longer working properly or is broken. Kind of like my big right toe.
I’m 35 and I just found out that I had my first onset of gout. My blood results came back and I’m above the normal range for men (not scarily above, but comfortably above). They say symptoms first appear in men 30-50. Well I had all the symptoms and let me tell you that this was one of the most intense pains that I’ve ever felt. It was so bad that I needed wheelchair service from Vietnam Airlines. I could not put any pressure on my foot.
Intense joint pain – it felt like I had a broken toe
Lingering discomfort – 3 days later and I still can’t walk properly
Inflammation and redness – my right foot looked like a tomato
Limited range of motion – I couldn’t move my big right toe more than 10 degrees
They also call it a disease of decadence or “King’s disease” because “people have incorrectly linked it to the kind of overindulgence in food and wine only the rich and powerful could afford” (link). And this makes sense because I have been living like a king these past 6 months on the beaches of Thailand and Vietnam. While I haven’t been drinking too much alcohol, my diet recently spiked in seafood during my time in Phu Quoc. The overload of purines from seafood likely caused my big right toe to blow up like a balloon and heat up like a heat pad.
Fortunately for me, while gout is one of the most physically painful things I’ve experienced, it is an illness that can be managed through diet, hydration, vitamin c, and exercise. I am looking at this as motivation to get myself into even better shape to minimize another attack. There are silver linings to everything in life.
Finding out that I am now in for lifelong battle with gout is a stark reminder that my time on earth as fully-functional, healthy being is not going to last forever. My youth and relatively good health, will slowly crumble away like removing pieces from a completed puzzle. New health issues are certain to arise in my future and I’ll think to myself, “remember when I just had gout?”
Our greatest assets – youth and health – are fleeting, a slowly but surely diminishing resource. Every second alive we are one step closer to our inevitable deaths. The grim reaper is coming for all of us. As my brother once told me (I’m sure he heard this from someone else), “we are all dying the second we are born.” The cruelty of existence. Sigh.
This is a why it’s important to never lose focus on the present because this is all that’s guaranteed. Minimizing stress and maximizing health and happiness should be everyone’s goal. The less stress you have, the longer your life expectancy is. The more you exercise and focus on having a clean diet, the longer your life expectancy is. And if you’re healthy today, be grateful and be thankful and use it. Don’t waste it sitting in an office 60 hours a week. If we weren’t supposed to travel, we would have roots instead of feet!
To have a career, or live in a city, or to be in a relationship that isn’t making you net happier will slowly kill you. Health above wealth, experiences over appearances. And as my friend Alicia said:
When I moved to Thailand in October 2018, I was worried that it was almost a guarantee that I would gain weight. Thailand is known for delicious (and cheap) street food with many of their dishes featuring rice and noodles as the primary ingredients. The iced coffees in Thailand are often loaded with condensed milk and sugar. The desserts (like mango sticky rice) are spectacular. And the nightlife of Thailand – from Bangkok to Phuket and even little beach towns like Hua Hin – is awesome. It’s even more fun because it’s super cheap compared to partying in America. For example, it cost me $100 USD for bottle service with top notch table service at Sugar Club Bangkok last week. This would have cost me $700 USD at a place like Greenhouse in NYC.
With that said, I not only was able to gain muscle mass while living in Hua Hin, Thailand (and exploring the rest of the country) but I was able to lose fat as well. I am going to share some basic tips and strategies that I used to improve my health and aesthetics during my time in Thailand. The cool part about this article is that many of these tips will work for anyone no matter where they live.
Before we get into it, I want to be clear that I am not a fitness or nutrition expert. I enjoy working out because I want to look good and feel good, but I do not take any supplements, I do not meal prep, and I do not track my “macros” or “micros.” Admittedly, my fitness and appearance would go to the next level if I incorporated supplements, meal prep and nutrient tracking into my lifestyle, but I’m the kind of guy that likes to eat a bacon cheeseburger and drink vodka sodas. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. #thanos
These are simple, common sense tips that almost anyone can immediately incorporate into their daily routine and it will make a positive impact on their health.
Drank my iced coffee black
When I lived in the US, my Starbucks order was “venti iced coffee, splash of soy milk, 2 pumps vanilla syrup.” Typically, Starbucks puts 5 pumps of flavored syrup into their venti drinks which translates to over 100 calories. if you’re drinking 2-3 of these a day, you’re adding 200-300+ calories into your day just from coffee. Thailand takes it to the next level by adding condensed milk. While this makes their coffee absolutely delicious (almost like a dessert), I removed all condiments from my coffee and drank it black. It took me awhile to get used to the taste but after I did, I felt so much healthier and leaner. Also, my favorite spot to get freshly-brewed iced coffee was 7-Eleven (they have cafes in Thailand).
Take it from @maxlugavere, Author of New York Times best-seller Genius Foods.
With pad thai being one of the most famous dishes in Thailand, I mostly avoided anything that had rice or noodles. Instead, I ordered a plate of stir-fried or grilled vegetables to pair with my proteins (typically chicken with peppers and onions). This filled me up without all the extra calories from carbs.
I also discovered a type of oatmeal dish called Muesli which is a cold breakfast cereal dish made with rolled oats. The typical toppings were yogurt and fresh fruit. According to Men’s Health, “Muesli. Originating in Switzerland, muesli is a fiber-and-protein power combination of rolled oats, dried fruits, and nuts. Though 1 cup pushes 300 calories, the payoff in vitamins and minerals across the board makes it a hearty meal.”
Cut back on drinking and never drank beer
When I drink, it’s whiskey, tequila and vodka (no mixers). Beer is an inefficient way to get a buzz. It’s a lot of calories, it makes you feel bloated, and it puts a tire on your stomach. To be clear, any amount of alcohol is not good for you if you’re trying to build muscle and lose fat. It’s empty calories, it makes you hungover (which negatively affects your workout the following day), and it hurts your recovery. I kept drinking to 2-4 nights a month, which is almost like being completely sober in Thailand.
Worked out consistently
Whether or not you’re new to lifting weights or you’ve been doing it for awhile, you know that consistency is the number one rule. The fitness program I primarily used was Anabolic Aliens on YouTube. What I like about this channel is that the host, Mike Rosa, does his HIIT routines along with you. He doesn’t just explain what to do but he does it in real-time. He’s put together routines as short as 5 minutes that have seriously killed me. His channel is good for gym rookies (both men and women) and bodybuilders who want to mix things up.
And if you find yourself in Hua Hin, the gym I recommend is Metamorph Hua Hin. It’s the only boutique gym in Hua Hin and they offer both personal training and yoga. Their day passes are 150 baht but you get a better deal the longer timeframe you buy (1 week, 1 month). The owners O & Nick have become good friends of mine so if you go there, tell them I recommended it. And if you’re in Hua Hin during the full moon, they have full moon meditation.
Rode my bicycle everywhere
I had a bicycle during my time in Hua Hin and I would sometimes find myself biking 10-15 km in a day. It didn’t feel like I was exercising because I was just trying to get places but it added up. If you live in a climate where you’re able to walk or bike between places, take advantage and sneak some additional calorie-burning into your daily routine.
Shared my carbs with my dogs
Even when I was eating mango sticky rice, I needed to find a way to not finish all the sweet rice. My solution was to share some with my dogs! Now to those who say that this isn’t healthy for my dogs, understand I love them more than anything in the world, but also that they walk anywhere between 3-5km a day. They walk more in 1 day than most dogs walk in a week. The point is that they burn off all the calories that daddy feeds them. Whoooooose a good girl? Whoooooose a good boy?
Late night meals were relatively healthy
Given my night owl schedule, I would often eat dinner around midnight. I found restaurants like Conom on the Rock on Soi 88 that had healthier options such as roasted chicken. Another hack that I discovered was that the 7-Elevens in Thailand had refrigerated grilled chicken packets that they could heat up in the microwave for you. And they only cost 40 baht ($1.33 USD)! With 20 grams of protein and only 90 calories, these snacks were life-savers. I would sometimes eat 2-3 of them for dinner, and of course share some with my dogs.
Drank 3-4 fresh coconuts a day
Every day, one of the moments I would look forward to the most was getting to the beach and immediately ordering a cold fresh coconut. I didn’t even realize how beneficial coconut water was for weight loss until recently. This article from Women’s Health explains how powerful coconut water is for weight loss, or you can read the below from NDTV.com.
“For all those looking to lose weight can have coconut water. Coconut water is low in calories and easy on stomach. It is packed with bio-active enzymes that are known to ease digestion and boost metabolism. The higher the metabolic rate, the more fat you burn. And the best part is that even though coconut water has a very low concentration of carbohydrates, it still gives you a feeling of being full. Drinking coconut water at least 3-4 times a day may help in losing those extra kilos.”
Ate a lot of fresh fruit
Some people say that fruit will make you gain weight because it has carbs and this is half-true. Yes if you eat 5 pounds of fruit a day, you will almost certainly gain fat, but according to Healthline, “Fruit is low in calories but high in nutrients. Eating it in place of a high-calorie snack can help increase weight loss.” So there you go. If you have a sweet tooth, and a craving hits you, it’s better to have a freshly-cut, cold pineapple, than a Snickers.
Bonus Food Vlogs!
If you’ve been a good boy or girl and you’re looking for a place to get delicious, home-baked desserts in Hua Hin, the Pang Hwan Bakery (across from Hua Hin’s Big C) is a must. My uncle said their pandan pudding is the best dessert he had during his entire time in Thailand.
For many people, fitness means keeping a strict diet and workout routine. But as Guest CorrespondentBear Williams discusses today, it’s important to build a level of flexibility into your routine. If you’re overly committed to your plan and you haven’t incorporated room for changes, you might end up feeling frustrated. Instead, it’s better to be open-minded and free.
As many of you remember, Bear was stranded on the Thai island of Koh Phangan during Storm Pabuk. He was forced into incorporating flexibility into his diet and fitness routine. Below he shares some inspiration on how to stay on your game even after being knocked off your game.
The Unpredictability of Life Requires A Flexible Fitness Mindset (by BEAR WILLIAMS)
“With my target being only to explore and adapt, the last two months of maintaining and improving a healthy lifestyle built specifically for me, have been interesting and wildly challenging.
I spent the month of December on an island. I was unable to eat many of my staple foods, and could not cook for myself (something I will remedy immediately if I return to same or similar situation). Training was light the entire month.
While on the island, I made lesser evil food choices and used carbonated sugar beverages often to fill gaps in calories needed for energy. In hindsight, I was a carb-burning monster and actually got leaner drinking 3-5 Coca Cola a day. I think the healthier option for me and more conducive to island-living will be a ketogenic + low fruit approach. The sugar withdrawal from soda was fucking terrible.
While leaving the island and returning to Bangkok, my girl and I both got sick with a bad sinus infection and cough. Mine due to lack of sleep, bad food, minor stress, and possibly made worse by the Bangkok pollution.
I opted not to take antibiotics, and use Advil and nasal decongestant, along with lowering my total target food volume by 30%. While sick, I cooked all my food, mostly different soups with pork, beef, egg, shrimp, vegetables, and rice. Heavy amounts of turmeric, ginger, lemon/lime, honey, and water were consumed everyday.
Training was reduced to 1-2 days per week in preference of bed rest and sleep. My work schedule was maintained.
I lost about 5-6 kg when normally I would be growing slowly. This is a bummer, but I was able to weather 8 weeks filled with the inconsistencies of island life and beat an awful and debilitating cold while still keeping my body together.
…having “goals” is great, but too many people are married to the goal or outcome and quit because it doesn’t come quickly, or predictably, or easily.
Anyway, the point I want to make is that having “goals” is great, but too many people are married to the goal or outcome and quit because it doesn’t come quickly, or predictably, or easily.
Sure. I have a “goal” and it’s to build muscle. I just don’t think about it every moment because it’s set on a 5 year timeline.
I focus on everyday habits and the understanding that life is unpredictable. Many times the path to a goal requires going backwards methodically, and never giving up.”
Arizona has always been one of my favorite West Coast getaways so when I was invited to check out The Wigwam in Litchfield Park, I was in! Here’s some highlights from my weekend at this historic (and delicious) resort.
The first thing I noticed was how immaculate the resort was. You can immediately tell that they put a lot of effort into making sure everything looks beautiful. This really is an upscale resort. If I’m on vacation, I want the place I’m staying to be both beautiful & clean and Wigwam nails it on both fronts.
I later found out that they change the grass every season (different grass does better during different seasons). For those who haven’t been here yet, this herculean task cannot be overstated: The Wigwam sits on 440 acres and includes 3 professional 18-hole golf courses. They reset the grass 4 times a year. Insane!
The style of the buildings is what’s referred to as Territorial Adobe so while the outside has a historic feel, the rooms themselves are spacious and modern. The Wigwams refers to their hotel rooms as “casitas” (little homes) as they’re much larger than your typical hotel or resort stay.
I had never heard of FootGolf until The Wigwam and it is such a fun sport! It’s a combination of soccer (which I’m not very good at) and golf (which I’m also not very good at) but it doesn’t matter if you’re good at either because its a lot of fun! Same rules as golf just with a soccer ball (and a lot more fast paced)! I also found out through Instagram that there’s a professional FootGolf league. You can check them out here @southwestFGC! It was 105 degrees the day I played so I was able to get a tan too.
Despite being into fitness, I do enjoy mixology and The Wigwam does not disappoint! Through September 3rd, they’re celebrating the last decade through their Centennial Cocktail Menu (a different drink from each generation). I tried their 1950s Piña Colada, 1980s Bramble & (being from New York City) their 2010 Manhattan Revival. Delicious trio of drinks (the Piña Colada was my fave).
Also, I gotta shout out their Berry Margarita. I never thought of adding fresh berries to my margarita but they did it here and it was delicious. Nothing beats a fruity Mexican cocktail!
If you’re visiting The Wigwam, make sure you come hungry! The Wigwam is a foodie’s paradise (If you like food porn, check out my friend’s IG @thefoodiearticles).
I received an invite to The Wigwam’s famous monthly “Wine Dinner Series” which features an incredible 4-course meal paired with wine by Plumpjack, Cade & Odette. Between each meal, Chef Jason Paterno would discuss his inspiration behind each dish and a Sommelier would give details about the wine’s history and why it was paired with that dish. Not only was this dinner delicious, but it was very educational as well. The dinner had a number of repeat, local customers so you know this dinner is well-liked.
Check out this savory menu :
There’s 2 dishes that I must talk about:
Chef Jason Paterno’s Pork dish (with plum, blueberry, corn & mustard : the texture of this pork melts in your mouth.
Litchfield’s Diver Sea Scallops (with risotto, sweet corn, tomato, bacon, mascarpone & basil) : this a crowd-pleaser and some of the best-cooked scallops I’ve ever had. And that risotto. <3
So if you’re looking for your next foodie adventure, I highly recommend The Wigwam.
As someone who always travels with their fur kids, I’m always looking for pet-friendly resorts. The Wigwam accepts pets (at $25 per day per pet).
You can learn more about the Wigwam at their website here or on their IG @wigwamresort. If you have any questions or want to connect with their sales or marketing team, you can contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is some of the best advice I can give to anyone.
In 2016 I quit my job to travel across Asia. In those 3 months, I never felt more alive getting lost on the Tokyo trains or exploring the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia or visiting the same jungles in Vietnam that my dad fought the Vietnam War in or hiking in pitch black darkness in Hong Kong. I had zero work e-mails to worry about. I didn’t even think of how many vacation days I was using or how many I had left because for that moment, they felt infinite. (The only thing missing was my dogs).
When I came back to the US, I wanted to enjoy my time in LA so I didn’t work for 4 months. It was glorious. I fell in love with the freedom of not having a job, not having a boss to report to, and every single day of the week being my own. A Monday-Friday felt like a Sunday-Sunday for me. I would wake up and forget if it was a weekend or a weekday because it didn’t matter. I didn’t have to wait for the break between Christmas and New Years to do something epic.
But of course there’s this limited resource called money and LA & NYC are not cheap cities to live in so I started to rack my brain about how I could generate income (without dipping into my investments which would continue to multiply if I didn’t cannibalize myself) but still have a relatively easy work schedule and the freedom of traveling whenever I wanted and waking up whenever I wanted. Was it possible to work smarter and not harder?
While these thoughts crossed my mind, it also happened that LA taught me the value of TIME & HEALTH over MONEY & THINGS (both of which NYC prioritizes) so I also realized that I didn’t need to make that much money anymore to have the lifestyle that I wanted. Yachts, penthouse apartments & brand names lost their allure to me. Freedom, time with my dogs and the ability to travel started to matter more. You can always make more money but you can’t make more time.
The question I get from people the most is “Adam – how do you live your lifestyle?” And the answer is that I created my own career (and stayed single – relationships come with limitations lol). I launched my own influencer agency called YourFavoriteInfluencer and as it is a business based (mostly) in Instagram, I can work and generate income from anywhere in the world because guess what! Email works everywhere! Do I make the same amount of money I made in NYC? Not even close, but it’s enough to maintain the comfortable lifestyle that I want (and the income will be worth 10x more in Thailand lol). I also take the job very seriously and it’s important to me that all of my clients have a positive experience.
I also set up my own consulting firm and I am exclusively working with VodelMedia to drive revenue from agencies (which is what brings me to NYC 10-14 days a month). I’ll be continuing to work with VodelMedia when I am in Bangkok. Very excited!
Lastly, I rent out my apartment for a rate which far outweighs my actual daily rent and this has given me a rent-free lifestyle (until Thailand).
A big reason for my Thailand move is because you can have an extremely high quality of life for a very low cost. 🇹🇭 YOLO!
So there you have it. That’s the secret to my lifestyle and my happiness. I created my own career. When you create your own career, the money may not be as steady or as predictable as a full time 9-5 job (and lord knows you have to pay for your own health insurance 😂), but the freedom is what life is all about. 2 or 3 weeks of vacation is not enough to live the life you were meant to live and I’m sure it’s not enough to live the life that many of you want to live! Your health is not guaranteed long term. Do you want to finally be free at 60+ when you might not even make it there and even if you do, you might not be physically fit to enjoy hiking Hong Kong Peak or touring Angkor Wat?
If you need advice, feel free to DM me! Don’t be miserable at your job. Travel more. Be more free. In other words…
Be Free My Sheeple! 🐑
P.S. follow me on Instagram either @adamfrancisco or my vlog @befreemysheeple if you aren’t already. I need more followers #addicted. 🚶🏽♂️🚶🏽♂️🚶🏽♂️🚶🏽♂️🚶🏽♂️