Hey guys, this is Mike! You might not recognize me these days. On the outside, I don’t look much different. Sure, I can still teach you how to get in shape and rock a six pack. It would be easy to slip back into the routine many of you have known me for throughout the years: workout, film videos, run a business, repeat.
But if you’ve seen me recently, you’ve noticed a big change: unlike my past life, I’m not as sweaty, and I rarely pop up on Instagram or YouTube without a shirt. I know it’s a shock to the system for many of you, but I actually own a wardrobe that extends beyond shorts, beanies and Vibram Five Finger Toe Shoes!
If you’re new to EmLife.com, and haven’t the slightest clue who I am, allow me the opportunity to introduce myself.
My name is Mike Chang – no, not the Glee character – and a few years ago, I founded a company called Sixpack Shortcuts (SPS) with two other guys. We helped countless people get into the best shape of their lives, and I became the #1 Fitness Trainer on YouTube because our workouts were so popular and effective.
Now, back to the shirtless stuff …
Some of my best employees walked around the SPS office with their shirts off (and I considered myself the best employee) or sporting gym wear on a typical work day. Life was good.
My business for the past 6 years sprang forth from my 20+ year passion. How could I complain? I was young, making money from what is a hobby for most and becoming internet famous. Life seemed good.
I still feel lucky to have had the opportunity to train myself and others. So how in the name of “Keep Austin Weird” (what can I say, I love my town!) could I have been unhappy with my job. Life maybe wasn’t as good as I believed.
Wow! Did I just say “job?” I mean “my business,” “my passion” and “my blah blah.” After a while, you try to convince yourself that it’s all good, when the facts prove otherwise.
This all brings us to the two questions I receive the most when I am out in public or reading through my social media accounts: 1.) Why in the world did I leave the place that once represented my passion in life? 2.) And, where the heck have I been since I left SPS?
Why I Left SPS, Part 1: Leaving My First Love
Where to begin? I honestly don’t know. I’ve been thinking about this very article for more than a year now, and I still have a hard time explaining it.
Time is the great deceiver. It feels like a lifetime ago since I was making videos and managing 7 departments at SPS. In reality, only a year has passed, but what a year!
The inspiration to change all that one knows can be sparked but infinite possibilities. For me, the moment of clarity came in the form of 6-non-stop hours of talking out loud to myself at a business event. Seriously.
Unlike a Presidential Debate: 6 Hours of Productive Talking
On the night that changed my life, I was in a room with about 40 fantastic people sitting on comfortable cushions and smoking a hookah – Just chillin’. The conversations were wholesome and sweet; people were genuinely listening, and egos were left at the door.
As the conversation flowed from one topic to the next, someone asked me about how and why I started working out, and where my journey with SPS began.
I was more than happy to share my story and the starting points of how I got from the past to the present we were sharing in that moment.
We started with my childhood. I first started exercising around the age of 11. After about 20-30 minutes of the people around me engaging me in this conversation, I noticed that the more said about my childhood, the more I felt physically lighter. My body relaxed, and a super calming sensation swept my body. It was pure ecstasy.
I had zero clue what was going on at the time, but it was clear: something new was happening inside of me. Somehow, some way, I was releasing an unease that held a tight grip on my body. Funny thing – I never realized it was there until that moment.
It was the best sensation I have EVER felt. I was thinking to myself. “ I want to feel like this forever.”
Talking about my history, in that setting, and with those people, opened the gates to the life journey to come. For the first time in my life, I got to know the real me. How I presented myself, my personality, my ambitions, my viewpoints, the way I treated people, my internal fears and so much more.
it was obvious that EVERYTHING about the me of that night was dictated by the me of the past. I found myself in a seemingly unbreakable loop. Memories would continuously repeat in my head and determine my choices, decisions and goals.
This was crazy! I was a grown-ass man still motivated by the same goal I had as a 10-year-old little boy. My priorities failed for succeeded on my need to prove something to people. There was a time in my life when people looked down on me back in the day.
Here I am, helping people with their bodies, improving their lives with positive thinking and all that jazz, while I was a stranger to my own mind. Wow. Just wow.
Check Yourself on the Judging and Learn Something with Me
You have every right to think this is pretty crazy, but here’s a little secret – I am not the only one experiencing this battle within. It happens to everyone. The majority of the human population deal with this past-driven model of behavior.
Unless you are aware of how your past controls your present, then there’s a 100% chance this is happening to you right now!
How about an example? When you read my story above, here are likely responses:
#1 “Mike Chang was, is and always will be a fraud. Time to take to his Instagram to let him know how much a fraud he was, is, and always will be!”
#2 “What’s he selling? There has to be a link to a product at the end of the page that guarantees I will have the same experience.”
#3 “Bro? Broooo? You taking your meds? My man has gone off the deep end. He needs to get back to lifting and forget about this madness.”
#4. “Who cares?”
#5 “Are the feelings he felt something I can feel? Do I have to meditate 20 hours each day and only drink kale smoothies?”
I had a little fun with the responses, but seriously, there is going to be support, skepticism and all opinions in between. I had made it 32 years without knowing about the tons of stuff influenced by my past.
Most of us go through our entire lifetimes without realizing our lives are a never-ending, always present, frustratingly-repetitive process of reminding ourselves of the past and allowing these thoughts to control today. Which means that the outcome of our future is determined by who we believe we are today.
After this night of enlightenment, I almost felt superhuman.
What You Didn’t Know …
A lot happened that night. There was peace of mind and a lightness of spirit and body. I was floating whenever I walked. My arms felt like they had those little kiddie pool floaties on them. Even my chest felt as if someone was lifting me up by the back of my shirt collar.
You may be thinking, “Well that’s neat and all, Mike, but many people have amazing experiences and their lives go back to normal.” And that was true, but there was a deeper problem that caused me to take notice of the power of this night.
Eight months prior to this gathering, I suffered the worst back injury of my life. I was in constant pain all day, every day. Whether sitting, standing, walking or laying down, my lower back and right abdominal maintained a severe stabbing sensation.
The videos I made for SPS at the time reflected the injury. If you watch closely, you will see me trying to hide the pain and embarrassment of being the #1 Trainer on YouTube who can barely stand, let alone, train.
About two hours into this night of awakening, my pain stopped completely. Please don’t dismiss that statement. An agonizing pain ended and has never returned.
At the same time, my mind expanded to Bill Gates level … well, that may be an exaggeration, but something dramatically changed in my processing capabilities, memory and analytical skills. My mental software went from running Windows ’98 to an upgrade of Mac OS Sierra (plus, my hardware added 1000 TB to the hard drive and 500 TB of RAM). You get the nerdy picture I’m trying to paint – my mental stuff done got real!
All of this was held in place by a soothing and comforting vibration throughout my mind and body. As hard as it is to understand what I’m saying, it is just as difficult to explain it. Please trust me when I say that this sensation was like nothing I’d known. NOTHING I’ve ever experienced came close to this level of pleasure.
Between you and me, I have tried more than my fair share of some shit in my younger days, but they were JV in comparison. Not sex. Not money. Not a bigger house. Not a nice car. Not an exotic vacation.
The New Mike Chang (A Tale of a Work in Progress)
The shift in me was sudden, and in the time it takes me to drive to Houston from Austin and back – with time to spare – I was becoming a new me.
My empathy and concern for others exploded. It was once very difficult for me to feel and recognize another person’s feelings, but not anymore. I was suddenly gifted the ability to see and understand how different people express themselves just by how they organize their daily lives.
My mind was once overrun by thinking, rethinking and overthinking. Work commitments, stress, to-do lists, relationship issues and any other negative or busy thought. Now, instead of the nonstop noise, silence ruled the space between my ears.
I had clarity of mind, and as a byproduct, I saw old things new again. The veil that covered my eyes for so long was lifted and replaced with love and calmness. I felt a beautiful connection between the people and things in the room.
Keep in mind, only a few hours prior to this event, I was in a dark hole of discomfort, tension and heaviness. This new feeling shined a light on how painful my past experiences were to my health and wellbeing.
By the end of these epic 6 hours, I promised myself two things:
1.) I would hold onto this feeling forever and never go back to the person I was before – no matter the costs.
2.) Learn how to continuously experience awakenings and enlightenment, and teach what I learn to everyone in the world willing to listen.
Life is about feeling good, being happy and doing what you love. Believe me, I was willing to sleep on someone’s couch for the rest of my life it meant I could invest my time and money in discovering more and ensuring others do, too.
Fortunately, I soon learned there is absolutely no need to travel to foreign lands, live like a monk or sacrifice your 401K to experience pure joy.
Back Home in Austin, Far from the Finish Line
When I got back home, I was pumped and ready to shout from the rooftops! I had work ahead of me. I began a regimen of study, learning, conversations and hands-on opportunities to grow and know. Most importantly, it was critical for me to include you guys in my epiphany.
When I was out of mind on fire on the night I’ve been discussing here, I really didn’t give a shit what others thought of me. I’m not ending my happiness so that others like me or want to include me. As I talked for 6 hours STRAIGHT, the real Mike Chang was revealed, and my friends, I want to know the real you.
Everyone deserves to feel this good. Even if it means leaving all that knew behind. But I’ll get to that next time.