Chiang Mai, Intermittent Fasting, Income and Goals Update - Jan 2020

It feels so good to be back in Chiang Mai! I've been coming to Chiang Mai every winter since 2013 and still love it just as much each and every single year. I've been all around the world and there's no other place I'm healthier, more productive, less stressed, happier and enjoy more. I end up spending less money here, walking more, exercising, hiking, swimming, and working out and eating healthier than anywhere else in the world. And on top of all of that my income and business always grows simply because I'm around other like minded entrepreneurs and because it's such a productive, distraction free, place to be. Everything is so close by that you spend little to no time getting around, meeting up friends or going out to eat. It really is as close to perfect of a place as I've found. And Chiang Mai just keeps getting better.

This year was my shortest time in Thailand since I started coming every year in 2008. I've been to 50 other countries since including all the popular hot spots of Bali, Berlin, Vietnam, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, and others, but still nothing beats Chiang Mai. I'm not alone in this either. I have multiple friends living here year round, many who purchased the 500,000thb ($16,000usd) Thai Elite Visa just so they could stay here year round without dealing with visas. These are guys who can afford to live anywhere in the world, many of them US dollar millionaires, but choose to stay in Chiang Mai because they love it here. It's kind of crazy, first time digital nomads love Chiang Mai because it's an easy, cheap place to live and bootstrap an online business. yet, even when we've made it and have all the choice in the world, this is where we choose to stay. In this post i'm going to break down my second month in Chiang Mai this year so keep reading.

January Travel Updates

I really loved that I stayed in Chiang Mai the entire month and really got into an amazing routine without having to leave. My original plan was to pop over to Taiwan to visit my relatives for Chinese New Year as my parents would be there. But after months of dread thinking about how exhausted I would be after hosting the Nomad Summit and needing to take 3 flights to go from CNX to BKK to TPE then a Bullet Train down to the south of Taiwan where they would be at just to see them for a few days before making the exact same route back through Bangkok just to get to wherever I wanted to go next made me stressed and ill. So as difficult as it was to say no to my parents I told them that if they wanted to come to Chiang Mai I'd pay for their travels but I couldn't meet them in Taiwan this year. The choice was theirs and instead they opted for a package tour to South Korea to go sightseeing.

A big goal I've had for this year is to say no to more things, travel less and take less overall flights this year so I don't get burnt out. As difficult as it's been to say no to things, I've already passed on speaking engagements to the south of Portugal in the Algarve and an all expenses paid trip to Budapest this upcoming summer even though I know both would have been fun and I could have technically slotted them in, but would have caused way more travel for the year. It's also the reason why I'm skipping the Nomad Cruise this year even though that also would have been fun to go to. My mistake was booking my Airbnb before my next flight causing me to leave to check out on Jan 30th, but not fly out until the morning of Feb 6th. Not only are those dates now full, but extending the dates would have cost me double the nightly rate as they wouldn't have been charged at the monthly discounted rate. So instead I thought it would be a better option of just going to Bangkok early and hanging out there for a week before my flight, not factoring in that not only will it cost me more, but I lose access to the gym I already paid for here in Chiang Mai, my friends and productive routine.

I'm sure i'll have fun in Bangkok for a week but it would have been a better choice financial, health, productivity and routine wise for me to have booked booked my next plane ticket first then my Airbnb all the way until the day I'd actually fly out. That's my lesson learned for the year. I did however do a few cool things this trip inside Chiang Mai as I've added to my 30 Things to do in Chiang Mai list including going to the aquarium for the first time here which was surprisingly excellent as well as going to San Kamphaeng hot springs for a day trip.

At the natural hot water mineral pool

Diet and Fasting

The last time I was in really great shape was from 2013-2015 when I followed a strict Paleo diet and completely cut out all alcohol, sugar, rice, bread and noodles for two years.Unfortunately since then I've been over indulging on the rich life eating tons of pasta in Italy, Georgian bread, Beers and Tacos in Mexico, Potatoes Lithuania and Ukraine, as well as yummy delicious food everywhere I traveled to. The biggest culprit was over indulging, sugar, alcohol, and carbs. Luckily I knew I was going to gain weight and had decided to just use it as an excuse to bulk and add muscle if I wasn't ready to eat clean.

But as as the start of 2020, I knew that enough was enough and it was time to start leaning up again. I was at the heaviest I've ever been, and could no longer fit any of the shirts that I had left in Chiang Mai meaning that I would either have to go buy all new clothes just so I had something to wear at the Nomad Summit or I could lose some weight. I decided to save money and my health and make a big change. What had worked really well for me in previous years when I was really lean, and a lot lighter, was drinking bulletproof coffee for breakfast, and eating strict paleo the rest of the day cutting out all carbs, sugar and alcohol.  This was part of my goal setting challenge that I detailed in my second book Life Changes Quick which worked and got me in the best share of my life for over two years, started my business, helped me save my first $30,000, and ultimately lead me to discovering the best parts of myself in health, wealth and relationships.

I don't know if my body is now better adapted to fasting, or what had changed, but this time around I was able to do it was just black coffee, water, and then going to the gym when I started to get really hungry. There are a ton of health benefits to fasting in general, but most people take it too extreme then stop. What I like about intermittent fasting is that it's sustainable to do for the rest of your life if you wished, and you still get all of the weight loss, mental clarity and health benefits of fasting.

For me personally, my goal was originally to do an 18:6 (18 hours of fasting, 6 hour eating window) fast which means I would only eat between 1pm-7pm which is actually really easy, having a late lunch, and an early dinner. But as you'll see from my fasting tracker app called Zero, I started accidently going on an OMAD (one meal a day) diet, and just having one giant meal, usually at a buffet from 5pm-7pm for dinner. That's where the #BuffetBros on my instagram stories started as my buddy Patrick and I would meet at the gym everyday around 3pm, workout for a few hours, then hit up a different buffet every night. Our favorites in Chiang Mai included Chef Steak, Shabu Shabu, Auf Der Au German, and the Thai-French Beef BBQ buffet. The results after 21 days later of eating buffets every night resulted in tons of energy, a lot more free time, mental clarity, 3.6kg/8lbs of fat loss, more lean muscle, and me fitting comfortably into my shirts again.

Our daily OMAD Buffet routine

Keeping track with "Zero Fasting App" 

Buffet Bros 4 Life

Routines and Goals

If I were to have continued living in Chiang Mai, I would have happily and easily continued the OMAD buffet diet. It's not for everyone, and your it takes some time to adapt your body to the 22:2 eating window but for some people, it works really well. The reason why buffet worked so well is because it was the easiest, fastest, and most cost effective way to get in enough calories during one meal. The funny thing is, even though it wasn't the goal, I actually ended up saving a ton of money on food this month simply from doing one meal a day instead of eating 3x a day. Our favorite buffets would cost anywhere from 170-299 baht which means we were spending an average of $8 a day on food. Staying for 3 months or longer also reduced the monthly price of my favorite gym Playground Fitness

I would have loved to have continued eating amazing buffets every night, losing body fat, and saving money, but since I'll no longer be in Chiang Mai and in the same routine, the OMAD buffet experiment is now officially over. This is why I preach staying longer in each location so you can get into and more importantly stay in a good routine once you've established it. My goal for next year is to stay in Chiang Mai for at least 3-5 months as I really love it here and always get into a productive and healthy routine when I'm here. But now that I'm traveling again, and moving locations, I now have to build a new routine, find another gym, and be tempted by all the new foods and places to eat all over again. 

For this upcoming month I'll be spending almost a week in Bangkok before flying out to Sri Lanka, all of which will be fun, but it'll also involve me wanting to try all of the Michelin star street food in Bangkok, Rice and Curries and Rotis. I've also taken the last few days to eat all of my favorite Thai dishes in Chiang Mai before I left including Koyi Chicken Rice at Khao Soi Noodles, Mango sticky rice, all of which has ended the sugar and carb free diet. Staying in the same city for 3-4 months at a time would mean staying on track for 100 days, then taking a 5 day break to eat all the tasty stuff, move to a new location, and get back into the new routine which I think would be a good balance of enjoying life, seeing and experiencing new things, all while having a positive amount of time to sustain a good routine.

Thai BBQ at Thai-French 

Thai BBQ at PP Buffet Chiang Mai

Expenses for January 

The other great thing about living in Chiang Mai is that my monthly expenses drops super low. Even though there are plenty of things to do in the city, most of it doesn't cost very much, and I end up having a super high quality of life, for an ultra low budget. I lived for a few years in Chiang Mai for as little as $600 a month and did so quite happily. Now that I have more money I don't actively try to live as cheap as possible, and but I end up not spending very much whenever I'm in Chiang Mai just because. The only things I could have spent more money on was living in a luxury apartment instead of an older studio, but to be honest, I was 100% happy there. The location is directly off the center of Nimmanhemin ave, and within half a block of my favorite coffee shops. my gym, and within a 5 minute walk of my coworking space, favorite restaurants, and places I'd often meet friends.

I used to feel the need or want to have modern, luxurious apartments, and thought I needed a separate living room and kitchen. However after these two months of being here, I realized that all I really want is a big couch and flat screen TV to watch Netflix, and if cost wasn't an issue I'd much rather eat out every meal and have a barista make me coffee than deal with the clean up of doing it myself. I also didn't realize how much of a difference a short scooter ride or even a few blocks walking makes. I guess that explains why even without a view living directly on high street, or across the street from the beach or central park costs as much as it does. There's something about being directly upstairs from everything that is both convenient and exciting. I'm also lucky that with the double glass patio doors, with them both closed it was completely silent inside the actual apartment. All that for $250 a month, it's a shockingly good value.

This month I changed it up a bit and started working out of Hub53 Coworking as I had a lot to do just before the conference. Also this month there opened a brand new Bali style coworking space called Coco Kala that you can check out in the video tour below taken during their grand opening party.  I also went to the dentist to get my annual teeth cleaning at a really nice place called Bangkok Hospital Dental Center which is actually much more expensive than other places but still at 1,300thb ($41) without insurance for an English speaking Dentist, check up and clean, all without any wait, it's absolutely worth it. Overall I actually ended up spending less this month than I have all year even without trying. It's crazy being able to enjoy an amazing buffet dinner every night, leaving feeling completely satisfied,  and actually end up lowering my monthly food costs. Here's my cost breakdown for the month.

Apartment: (1 month, furnished): $250
Utilities: (Electric, Water, Wifi) $18
Awesome Gym: $32.09
Thai Visa: (for 1 month) $31.50
Cell Phone Data: (unlimited 4G) $10
Daily Coffees: (2x a day): $90
Office/Coworking: $27.24 (flex pass)
Food Spend: (buffets) $250
Massages: ($5 each): $35
Transportation: ($3-$5 each): $95
Shuttle Bus: $8
Alcohol and Drinks: $0

Dentist Teeth Cleaning: $41.81
Chiang Mai Aquarium: $13
Fishing Lake: $10
Flight to Bangkok (CNX to DMK): $45.50
Gift to my parents: $1,000 (for their retirement)
Donations and gifts: $40

Living Expenses in Chiang Mai: $818.34

*not including donations, gifts, dentist, flights, etc. 

Coffee Shop Office of the Day

Working out of Hub53 Coworking Space

Income for January

The start of the year was a strong one with multiple streams of income kicking in for 2020. Some of my dropshipping stores are doing well, one with $16,597.33 in sales and a decent 1.34% conversion rate. The secret behind why we are still successful, in stock, and shipping within 3-5 days is the method we follow, while everyone else both dropshipping and selling through Amazon FBA is suffering. Everyone I know selling or sourcing from China has experienced a slowdown of products being produced and shipped, or just completely ran out of stock because of both Chinese New Year and Coronavirus messing things up. But since we follow Anton's Method of dropshipping and only using American based suppliers who have their products in stock and shipped from the USA, we haven't had any of those issues. That's another huge reason why I've been following Anton's way of dropshipping since 2013, as while other fads come and go, his method, has always and will always work consistently as it's building and running a real business, and not an arbitrage or private label based one.

This month was also a good month for my online courses that I sell through Udemy even without me sending out a single email or doing any promos about it. They run a ton of New Year Resolution sales and ads on my behalf, take a large cut, anywhere from 20-75% but it's completely passive income on my end aside from logging in once a month to answer questions and update things. My best selling course on there is Small Talk Networking that organically continues to get good reviews, ratings and shares even though we haven't marketed it in years. The sales come mostly through organic search, then the ad program that they manage in house, followed by other affiliates who promote my course. I also made a few thousand dollars through my 14 streams on online income in total this month which includes money from Youtube, affiliates, and both passive as well as active income.

A new additional income stream which is now bringing in just enough money to cover editing of one of the episodes a month is our new Pateron for Invest Like a Boss which will hopefully continue growing to the $500-$1,000 range to be able to cover both the editing and hopefully a VA to be able to help with guest scheduling, outreach and allow us to continue to do 3-4 episodes a week rather than cut back to just 1-2 now that Sam has been getting busier. Also this month was the 6th Annual Nomad Summit in Chiang Mai which had slightly less total attendees this year at just over 300, but was actually slightly more profitable as we raised prices and focused more on higher level entrepreneurs than making it cheap as chips for everyone to attend. This actually resulted in better and easier networking and a more valuable event for attendees overall. The profits from this event mainly went to pay for the carried -$8,546.12 loss from our last event, to pay for the non-refundable deposits for the next event, as well as pay all of the staff salaries till the next one.

But overall, it was a great month with income coming in from multiple streams, the live event that helps pays for a team of five other digital nomads to continue their travels and income from dropshipping that will hopefully pay off into another big sale in 2020. Below are screenshots of a few of my income streams, if you want behind the scenes access at all the ways I've ever made money these past 5 years, join my Income Boss course with case studies of how I've made an average of $100,000 a year online these past 7 years which now allows me to work on passion projects like hosting the Nomad Summit and building up the podcasts that actually lose money in the short term, but may be something huge in the future.

Total Profit for January $6,920.54

Sales from my Udemy courses

Dropshipping store sales for January

Our new Patreon page for ILAB

Final Thoughts

2020 is off to a great start! I've hit all of my goals so far for the month and have been super healthy, productive and happy so far. The only downside is the month is over and so is my time in Chiang Mai. I wish that I had at least another month here but with burning season in Chiang Mai starting earlier and earlier each year even though the air quality right now as of February 3rd, 2020 is still fine it'll probably be bad enough for me to want to have left by the end of the month. That combined with Thai immigration being stricter with people coming each year for 6 months or longer make me decide to go elsewhere this year instead of going down to Koh Lanta or Koh Phangan like I normally would have during burning season. It's a shame because I really love Thailand and wish I could stay here year round easily without complicated visas. That's why I think countries like Georgia will become more and more popular with digital nomads as they give 1 year visa on arrivals to everyone that comes.

Either way, as much as I was on a great routine of coworking, gym, intermediate fasting and surrounding myself with some great friends, my time in Chiang Mai this trip has come to an end. I'm in Bangkok now on my way to Sri Lanka for the next two months to live by the beach in Weligama, surf, and cowork with a bunch of nomad friends that I'm bringing with me. Keep in touch on the blog and lets learn and grow together. Watch this video below for more detail, tips, tricks and insights on everything I mentioned above.

Leave a comment below!

With love from Bangkok,

Johnny FD

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Post a Comment

  1. Have you ever tried intermittent fasting or OMAD? What were your results?

  2. So you can only stay in Thailand for 60 days? (30 days on arrival, 30 days extension)?

    1. Yes, unless you want to go to an embassy/consulate and apply for a 60 day visa which you can then extend to 90 days total. For me, this year it wasn't worth the extra hassle.

  3. Yes, I have tried it....I start with a 3-5 day fast (water only) to get the ketones flowing and then into IM...fasting is great for your longevity.
    Check out Dr. Peter Attia and his work if you have not done so yet. He's the go to guy on longevity studies.
    Thanks for the gym recommendation..Ill check it out tomorrow.

  4. BTW, can you share where you get unlimited 4g for $10.00/Month and the $5.00 Massages?


    1. AIS has an unlimited 4G plan for 250 baht a month right now, I got it at Maya Mall. The massages range from 150baht-250 baht for an hour, but I get them everywhere. My favorite places are the blind massage, the one in the old mall (Kad Suan Kaew) and old city. But I just got anywhere convenient.

  5. Great stuff Johnny. Im also trying to do the IF thing, and more keto/paleo. Dong got the gout bad whole past month since Xmas (hereditary, me and bros get it. well, also beer doesnt help lol)

    Wife and I run a private label kitchen brand and 4th q and Jan sales have been great - but concerned about delays now with the situation in China. We looked hard at moving to Chaing Mai this Spring but we have a greyhound and just cant subject the old girl to the stress of flying her over there. One day we'll come out.


    1. Hey Jerry, definitely start by cutting out the beer, it's not worth the downsides especially if your body doesn't handle it well. Hope to see you in CM in future years!

  6. Hi Johnny, I believe in the science behind IF but it just doesn't work for me. I've tried it a couple of times and always feel like crap. No mental clarity but plenty of episodes of nausea and increased headaches.

    The kicker was when I had been on it for about 2 months (the last time I tried it) and I had to go to the hospital for an unrelated matter. The nurse weighed me and I asked how that compared to the last time I was there. I was actually about 2 kilos heavier! After going through all the side effects with it and ending up gaining weight, I gave up.

    1. Hey Terry sorry to hear the bad experiences with IF. Everyone's body is different so there's a chance it just doesn't work well for you. I know for me the headaches came from my blood sugar levels dropping while not eating. What finally fixed it was to consume zero sugar, alcohol and eat super low carb, no wheat, starches etc, and making sure I eat enough fat. Bulletproof coffee was a good transition for me to go from skipping breakfast, give that a shot if you haven't before. It worked well for me.

    2. Thanks for the advice Johnny. You've inspired me to give it another go. I used a version of the bulletproof coffee before and it does help. I may need to use it as a type of meal-replacement until I get to dinner. Maybe not a true fast but better than doing nothing.

  7. How is your visa-exempt extension $31.50? Extensions are ฿1900, which is over $60.


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