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.”
Welcome to the first installment of BeFreeMySheeple.com’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who’ve inspired me by successfully turning their passions into a career. When your career is your passion and you’re passionate about your career, it doesn’t feel like work and Mike Rosa, founder of Anabolic Aliens truly exemplifies this. Look at those guns.
What is Anabolic Aliens?
As many of us have experienced throughout our fitness journeys, sometimes you hit a wall (also called a plateau). I was on YouTube before the summer of 2018 searching for intense workouts that would push me to my limits and prepare my body for the beach. That’s when I first discovered Anabolic Aliens.
Anabolic Aliens immediately became my go-to for workout routines because the founder, Mike Rosa, created approachable programs built specifically for people who want to challenge themselves in 5, 10 or 15 minute increments of non-stop exercise routines (HIIT) sometimes using just 1 set of dumbbells. His Intense 5 Minute Dumbell Bicep Workout was the first routine I tried and it left me sorer than I had ever been for almost an entire week (video below). Pain means gains so I was completely sold. Mike also built intense bodyweight routines that can be done from home which is especially useful when you’re a traveler like me and access to a gym isn’t always convenient.
Today, his YouTube channel has almost 500k subscribers with another 40k on Instagram, all from organic growth. He’s expanded his empire beyond social media and created a workout app called Exerprise (which currently has a 4.8 rating in the App Store) and allows you to create fully-customized workouts.
I first connected with Mike in April 2018 when I messaged him on Instagram about how much I loved his videos. He shipped me a branded Anabolic Aliens sweatshirt and tank top as a thank you for the support and I filmed this Instagram video for him when I was living in Los Angeles (the greatest city in the world).
I had a chance to reconnect with him this January for this exclusive BeFreeMySheeple interview.
Adam Francisco: So good to finally connect man! I love watching your Instagram stories and seeing people from all over the world sending you messages about how you changed their lives. How did Anabolic Aliens get started?
Mike Rosa: It all started out by releasing a YouTube Video on July 2nd, 2014. It really was more of a hobby than a business. I fell in love with fitness and then I started to competitively powerlift which sparked my interest in sharing my progress. That’s when I started filming my workouts, tips and videos that could help other people enhance their own fitness while also doing what I love. Since the first video released, I have not missed 1 week of uploading a YouTube video.
Adam: They say consistency is one of the most important aspects of fitness.
Mike: Yeah that’s absolutely true! Now the Anabolic Aliens YouTube channel has over 470k subscribers, a high-traffic website, online clients, multiple sponsors, a workout app called Exerprise, and my growing Instagram.
Adam: Damn man, you’re killing it! What was your previous career?
Mike: I didn’t have one. I started this while I was at the University of New Hampshire. As soon as I graduated, I knew I was doing exactly what I love and I was going to make a successful career out of it.
Adam: So you completely avoided the corporate world of being a sheeple. I am super impressed.
Mike: Yeah, but the only hard part was trying to balance building a platform and school. Juggling school and a business wasn’t easy at all, but it was all worth it to me.
Adam: Definitely looks that way. Were there any obstacles along the way? How’d you deal with them?
Mike: Absolutely. The first main one was putting myself out there for the world. Being on camera was an acquired skill for me, not at all natural. I used to get so nervous filming and I’d stumble on my words constantly. Over time I’ve gotten extremely comfortable and can now talk into the camera on cue.
Adam: I was totally the same way. When I watch earlier videos of myself, I cringe a little bit.
Mike : [Laughter]. Another obstacle was business motivation. I mentioned earlier how Anabolic Aliens really started out more as a hobby. Since it wasn’t this big serious business yet, that thought of “I don’t need to post today” hit me often, especially when school was busy. The reason I never stopped in the beginning was because I felt somewhat obligated.
Adam: Obligated to yourself or your audience?
Mike: What I mean by that is I was noticing amazing results and became overall so much happier, so what I was doing was working. I wanted as many other people as possible to feel that same feeling. Passions is my motivation.
Adam: I love it.
Mike: Yeah. The only other obstacle to really mention was just trying to stay true to my values. As money started coming in and varying business opportunities and partnerships arose, I had to always make sure that any move I made was one my heart was behind. Sometimes dollars signs can be distracting, but always gotta keep it real.
Adam: I’m so impressed that you launched your own profitable business without any formal corporate experience.
Mike: I always hated school. I always hated being told what to do. As I was trying to think about what I wanted to do, the one certain was I needed to be my own boss. I needed my creativity and time to be completely free. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Adam: As you say, “no limits!” So if someone wanted to follow in your steps and become a successful YouTube, what advice would you give them?
Mike : Be consistent. Consistency is the number one thing I preach to everyone who is trying to grow their YouTube channel. You can have the best content in the world, but due to oversaturation of videos, if you’re not posting regularly then that amazing content you made had may never be seen. Develop some method of consistency before all else. I recommend at least 1 new video a week. Then as you stay consistent, you can keep improving your quality. Then a step further, you can start trying to ramp up the quantity. Keep posting and every time it’s more likely for your channel to be found.
Adam: I’ll take this advice into account for my thriving 31-subscriber YouTube channel.
Mike : [Laughter]. Gotta start somewhere!
Adam: You’re obviously happy. What advice would you give to someone who is unhappy?
Mike: Focus on you. Find our what your true values are and what you’re passionate about. We live in a time where you can pursue that passion so get after it. Do what you love and it’ll never be real work. The happier you are in your work life, the more motivated you’ll be to enhance other aspects of your life.
Adam: How do you define happiness?
Mike : I define happiness today as a sense of motivated self-comfort. You are comfortable with who you are yet motivated to keep getting better. You’re proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished, yet working to take it to the next level. You’ve established your values and you know what you stand for. Love, live, learn. I used to think happiness was just a temporary feeling. No more.
Adam: I can’t agree anymore. What are your plans for this year?
Mike: I plan to keep getting better and there’s a lot that’s going to go into that. Personally, I’m chasing the best physique of my life and will keep exploring new ways to enhance my overall health. Professionally, a ton of new YouTube content is going to be released. My app Exerprise is going to be having a lot of new feature developments. I also plan on optimizing and improving my Instagram content.
Adam: Let’s do a collab on Instagram if I’m in Boston or you’re in Thailand.
Mike: I’m in! Also excited to upgrade my website with improved features and overall aesthetics. I have a lot of new partnerships in the works and opportunities keep arising. This is going to be a big year for personal and professional gains. I know it!
Adam: I’m impressed Mike and really inspired by your story and your success. And a huge thank you for creating awesome videos that have improved my, as well as so many other people’s fitness. Thanks so much for the time Mike.
A lot of people are sending me links about how bad the air quality in Bangkok is thinking I live there (I don’t – I spend most of my time on the beaches, the islands or Chiang Mai). And yeah, it’s awful. Really awful. The Air Quality Score (AQS) has been close to or above 300 which is dangerous for almost anyone to inhale for an extended period time. You can’t even run outside. I mean, you could, but you’ll probably develop all sorts of health problems from it. People are wearing air masks and the city is scrambling to create clouds to force rain to relieve some of the pollution. Kind of crazy.
According to Thaiger.com, “the PM2.5 air-quality index (AQI) in Bangkok this morning reached a peak of 183, an unhealthy level, while some areas such as Bang Khen district were at ‘hazardous’ levels, with PM2.5 AQI at 396.”
The smog in Bangkok is what I expected to see when I lived in Los Angeles but never actually saw. This is proof that it is possible to reduce air pollution and improve air quality over time.
Bangkok is a cool city but it reminds me too much of New York City (but at the same, makes me realize NYC isn’t anywhere near as dirty as I thought it was). Bangkok is dirty, the traffic is godawful (the worst I’ve ever seen) and now this air pollution is just disgusting. Plus, outside of the nightlife areas, Bangkok generally looks grey, dark and depressing, like an empty cement jungle. And let’s not forget about the hundreds of exposed electric lines everywhere (some even dangling into the street) making it feel generally unsafe and in need of a massive upgrade.
However, there are some really wonderful things about Bangkok too. The food scene is absolutely incredible. The rooftop bars offer nice views. The prices for services (massages, vets, doctors) are amazingly affordable. The nightlife is awesome… so awesome in fact that Bangkok to me is best treated like Las Vegas : get in, get out. With places like Soi Cowboy, Khao San Road and Nana, what happens in Bangkok should stay in Bangkok. Luckily I’m here alone with my dogs and I know they won’t say anything.
If you’re willing to live out of the way or in a mostly Thai neighborhood, you can find apartments for $200 USD/month. The nicer areas like Thonglor or luxury buildings will cost you $1,000+/month (basically on par with some US cities) but you’ll have all the amenities you can dream of. You never have to leave your apartment if you didn’t want to. With the air quality this bad, you might not want to (if you have an air purifier).
Bangkok is great, but it is not one of my favorite cities in the world. I recommend it for those with a Bangkok-based full-time job. Otherwise, the islands, beaches and Chiang Mai are more along the lines of what I envisioned the Thailand experience to be.
As someone who tries to live a relatively healthy lifestyle, living in a city where breathing can make me sick is not something I want to do or should do (just like New York City air during winter hurts my face).
Some Pollution Solutions
Buy a protective facemask : Japan is known for them. It’s time to bring the trend over to Bangkok. The city has handed out 30,000 masks so far with another 300,000 on the way, but they can’t give them to everyone. If you can find a store that has some in stock, buy a few extra for your friends.
Invest in an air purifier at home : if you live in Bangkok, you’ll want to at least be able to breathe clean air when you’re at home. Your body needs relief from the pollution.
Leave Bangkok : Take a vacation and head up to Chiang Mai or go to the islands. Give your body a break from the pollution.
Get more electric vehicles on the road : the country can offer aggressive subsidies to individuals who invest in electric vehicles.
Work remotely: I know that not everyone can do this, but if your job is mostly accomplished on a computer or mobile device, ask your company if you can work remotely.
Grab Pool : Currently, Grab does not offer a service equivalent to Uber Pool. This could be challenging given how spread out Bangkok is, but maybe in specific districts this can be a service that’s available.
All these “pollution solutions” (forcing rain clouds, handing out masks) are band-aids to a problem that is only going to get worse as Bangkok continues to grow. Tighter regulations and punishments for those contributing to the air pollution are going to need to not only be created, but strongly enforced. Electric vehicles will also help (just look at Los Angeles).
I can sleep at night knowing I’ve helped the problem by choosing not to live there.
I only did 15 minutes because like the fish, I was hungry. Ironically, I ate a mango catfish salad afterwards. Fish eat human, human eat fish. The circle of life.
Hey guys! Have you ever tried a fish spa pedicure? Read about my first time trying a fish spa pedicure in Thailand.
I’m a huge fan of pedicures and spa treatments. It’s the ultimate me-time. If you’re a gentleman and you haven’t gotten a pedicure before, DO IT. It’s one of the most relaxing, cleansing experiences. And trust me – nobody wants to see some crusty ass feet. I also love spas and massages so much that it’s partially why I moved to Thailand … 1-hour massages here are only 200 baht (roughly $6 USD).
When I hear the word “spa” I think of a relaxing, serene experience surrounded by candles and lemongrass or lavender aromas. I do not think of tiny little fish nibbling at dead skin cells, bacteria and fungus. But that’s exactly what a fish spa pedicure is.
I don’t know what compelled me try it today. After all, I have seen fish spa pedicures offered around the world from Mexico to the Caribbean but I’ve always politely declined the opportunity.
Perhaps it was because I remember reading an article that went viral about a woman who got a fish spa pedicure, and then her toenails fell off a few months later. Allegedly, this was caused by “onychomadesis, a condition that causes the nails to separate from the skin of your fingers or toes and ultimately fall off.” Sounds pretty gross but YOLO! One reason this happens is because many establishments do not properly clean the fish tanks. This potentially exposes you to contagious bacteria that other customers may have had. I confirmed with the owner that she regularly cleans her fish tanks daily.
I was anxious about putting my feet in the water because I had no idea what hundreds of nibbling fish would feel like. But it’s exactly what you’d think it would feel like : an army of tiny creatures deliberately and delicately biting your skin. The closest sensation I could compare it to would be a ticklish vibration. After a few minutes, your body adapts.
These fish, called Garra Rufa (“doctor fish”) do not have teeth so they can’t bite you, just nibble at the dead skin cells that you don’t want anyway. The owner told me that 30 minutes is the recommended time for a full treatment. I only did 15 minutes because like the fish, I was hungry. Ironically, I ate a mango catfish salad afterwards. Fish eat human, human eat fish. The circle of life.
I was shocked at how quickly the fishies attacked my dying skin cells. Like moths to a flame, they quickly encapsulated and ensnared my entire leg. My leg was like smokeshow walking into a bar at 2am.
It’s been a few hours since my fish spa pedicure and my feet feel super smooth. And yes I still have all of my toenails.
Overall it was a great experience and I would totally do it again.
One of the best parts about not having a 9-5 job is being wherever you want to be in the world. And sometimes that means being caught on a tiny, isolated island while a massive tropical storm is coming.
This week, Thailand was hit by Tropical Storm Pabuk. BeFreeMySheeple CorrespondentBear Williams was on the scene in Koh Phangan during the storm. You might recognize him from PUBG’s latest commercial. Not only does he act like a tough guy on TV, but he actually is a tough guy too.