Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
2 Jan

Community, Accountability, and a New Year Challenge

Happy New Year, everyone! Is everyone pumped for 2012? Resolutions made and in action yet?

I’m coming at the new year with big plans, the first of which is a brand spankin’ new Challenge. I’ll get to that in a minute, but let me first say a few words about the power of resolutions.

Experts tell us that those who make resolutions are literally ten times more likely to achieve their goals than those who are interested in change but don’t make a specific, concrete commitment. Now that’s reason to resolve. Sure, motivation can and does wane. A little less than half of those who make resolutions are still committed to the journey six months down the road, but there’s plenty we can do to make sure we’re not among those who detour themselves. Among the most effective strategies: making your resolution public (PDF). Announce it to the world. Shout it from the rooftops. Own it. Flaunt it. Do a dance around it on YouTube. Tell the world you’re going to make this happen. Chances are then, you will. And you’ll have a great time doing it.

Now for the 2012 New Year Challenge. Can you imagine us kicking off the new year without something big and bold? In last week’s Grok Throws a Party, I mentioned 2011 was the year of the success story on MDA. So many of you have written to tell me how much you appreciate the Friday posts – how they inspire, encourage, and keep you focused in your Primal journey. It’s the infinite variety of people in these Friday stories – the whole gamut of ages, interests, fitness levels, and life circumstances – that showcase Primal living as an answer for anyone interested in taking health to a whole new level. It’s the emotional detail behind their stories, the struggles they’ve experienced, the better life they’re celebrating. It’s the jaw dropping before and after pictures.

Which brings me to the New Year Challenge… Let me share an email I received this past month from reader Adam.

Hi Mark. Huge fan of the site and all you do. I have an idea I wonder if you’d consider, inspired by the Primal Blueprint Real Life Stories you publish on Fridays. For those of us considering a Primal commitment in the New Year, it might prove inspiring to send our ‘before’ photos to you for publication in one post upon the understanding that you will also publish ‘after’ photos at a later date. This could be either predetermined (3 months or 6 for example), or when each respective person considers themselves ready. Though it’s a somewhat artificial method of motivation, that doesn’t mean it might not provide the final push many of us may need to really go Primal in 2012. I for one find the stories very inspiring, and by having sent the before photo we would be publicly accountable for our results thereafter. While this may not work in every case, I’m pretty sure it could help for many people. I’d be very interested to know if you think it can be incorporated into your plans for the New Year.

Adam, it most certainly can! Here’s the plan….

The 2012 Challenge is “Success Stories in the Making“. Just as Adam described, I want to provide everyone with a platform to formally share their Primal journeys this year and to benefit from the encouragement of MDA members. I’m creating a new page on MDA that will include those “before” pictures (along with updates), and Challenge participants can create a journal to track their progress, share updates, request advice, or enjoy support from one another and the greater MDA community in this special forum.

I want you to join what I know will be one amazing, inspiring, and motivated group of folks here. All you need to do is choose a photo – fully clothed or semi-clothed (no fig leaves, please) – that (figuratively speaking) says “Hello world, this is me! I’m committing to going Primal this year.” Email it to me along with your first name, age, and your personal goal. Make sure the photos are at least 540 pixels wide. A full body shot would be best but isn’t essential. Oh, and please use “In the Making” as the subject line of your email. This will help me organize all submissions.

I’ll reveal the Challenge page next week. Be sure to send your photos and personal goal statements by Saturday, January 7. I’ll publicly announce a request for update photos a few times throughout the year but you can feel free to send updates at any time.

Let me say this. It’s not about who has the most dramatic “reveal” in their photos. It’s not about the biggest weight loss or the greatest muscle gain. Yes, you will lose weight, and you will gain muscle, but going Primal is about reclaiming vitality as a whole. Look back at the Friday Success “after” pictures. Re-read the stories. What always strikes me is the sheer energy and elation that comes through. The photos illustrate inspiring physical changes but they also reveal something deeper, more personal about each person’s achievement.

The Challenge isn’t a competition but a chance to share your story and Primal journey real-time with the MDA community. Putting yourself out there, making your resolution public will, indeed, infuse a sense of accountability, and that reality will work for you in ways that might make you contemplate, even hesitate, for a moment now. Trust me, it will be a communal momentum and a powerful source of drive to tap into.

And let me tell you something about MDA readers (if you haven’t already noticed). I have never witnessed, let alone been a part of, such a positive, supportive health community before this one. Know that when you submit your photo, you have literally hundreds of thousands of people rooting for you. You will have their enthusiasm, their backing, their encouragement along the way. You are among friends here (just check out the Success Story comment boards if you need convincing).

It’s your time! I want you to feel the excitement of making your resolution real, tangible, manifest. You have nothing to lose (except poor health and extra pounds) and so much to gain.

I am so pumped to begin this Challenge with you. I hope everyone today will offer their support to the initiative. Here’s to an amazing 2012, everyone.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Fabulous idea – I love it! I also agree that everyone is so supportive on this website – we can ALL succeed in this journey to become and remain fully primal! But it’s even easier when you know there are others out there who can provide support, even via the internet!

    Sue wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  2. Great Idea!
    email and photos submitted…
    My own goals, to achieve during this year, are pretty simple: being able to do at least a dozen full pull ups, run a full set (of 8) Tabata sprints and fit into off the rack L (or even M) size clothes.
    Happy New Year everyone!

    Hugh wrote on January 2nd, 2012
    • (8) should be ( 8 )

      Hugh wrote on January 2nd, 2012
    • Hello Hugh.

      Since you copied my name I’m going to copy your goals. :-)

      Happy 2012 from one Hugh to another.
      OC Hugh

      OC Hugh wrote on January 4th, 2012
  3. Here is my picture and info. I am more than ready for this challenge! Blood work doesn’t lie. Primal works!

    Sonia wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  4. Excellent idea! I’m in too. Need accountability. Need all aspects of my life to be balanced. Need our 11 yr old daughter to see how to set goals and work hard to achieve them. Need to live healthfully til I’m 97, so i can love lots of grandkids. Our whole family is in. Happy 2012. Thanks Mark.

    Erin wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  5. I’ve been off and on Primal for a couple of years, so it’s time for me to get (and stay) serious. I just sent my photo in, too. :-)

    KC wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  6. I just took pictures this morning (Singapore time) before reading this post. I’ve been “trying” to go Primal for most of 2011 but half-harted at best. 2012 is it for me and my husband is on board…my 11 and 6 year olds are another story. I want to live by example for my kids, my mom and sisters. Wish me luck and Grok on!! This is a GREAT idea and I will participate. Thank you all for all the inspiration and information.

    Ada wrote on January 2nd, 2012
    • With our 15 year old, we told her that she could continue to eat what she wanted to. We started in June ’11 and slowly she has eaten less and less of the old foods and more of what we eat. She only complains now the next day when she goes to a friends houses and eats the wrong foods. She now knows by experience that eating like her friends will make her feel sick and tired. She is so exited about all the weight she has lost, including the little belly she had.

      Yesterday out of no where she mentioned that we not only looking thinner but that we are starting to look younger.

      They’ll come around if you set the example.

      David wrote on January 3rd, 2012
      • Thank you! I needed to hear a little encouragement where kids are concerned…honestly, I wonder if I use them as an excuse at times…this transition is proving more mentally challenging than anything else for me. Grok on!

        Ada wrote on January 8th, 2012
  7. ii’m in too! This is the a great idea and perfect timing. Good luck to everyone!

    Kevin W wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  8. Great idea – posting up photo’s (even in your own house) is a great way to keep you accountable. Even on the internet people can develop a sense of loyalty and accountability to people they’ve never met.

    Neil wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  9. I’m in … and I’ll rope my girlfriend into it too! Double trouble … Craig (and Pat)

    Craigp81 wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  10. I love the idea!

    Actively keeping tracking of our progress from time to time is a fantastic thing. Even those of us that are more than a year into our Primal journey, myself included, need some encouragement from time to time.

    The only caveat I see is this: much like the Primal Blueprint, which is not a diet, I don’t believe in “resolutions”. Resolutions always seem to be put aside at the first stumble: too much pie or a missed exercise.

    Rather, what is important, just like the Primal lifestyle, are “lifestyle changes”. For whatever reason, simply changing the phrase for the same thing has a much larger impact. We’re not on a diet, we’re participating in a lifestyle.

    I have found this to be much more effective!

    Merry 2012!!

    Jsnyd wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  11. I’m in too, just sent off my e-mail to Mark. I also feel a little worried about sending off my picture but its a statement of intent i’m making. This is going to be my year folks.
    Good luck to all

    Nick Ball wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  12. I’ve went 100% primal since the day after I read Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution”.

    No compromises except with full time work and weighing 297 pounds/135kgs I never enjoyed exercise nor did I have the energy to.

    But I have now lost 45 pounds/20kgs in about 8 weeks, feeling better than ever and my depression seemingly a thing of the past my energy has jumped and I’m now starting to exercise regularly and actually enjoying it! Something I thought never possible when CW was telling me I need to bore myself on the treadmill for an hour a day… How that is sustainable or fun I will never know.

    For the first time in a long time I am now looking forward to the future and can’t wait for the months ahead, no longer being obese or the fat kid.

    I’m only 20 and want to be under the 100kg mark for my birthday in early march.

    I won’t lie I still get cravings from time to time but having the most consistent results I’ve ever had on any diet(calorie counting… You name it) and never having the feeling of being hungry makes it so easy to stay motivated and the feeling of being able to wear clothes I stashed in the closet cause they would never fit also helps.

    Sorry for the essay but that’s my little story and I’m hoping to be primal for life and trying to convince,y family who although are very supporting and acknowledge the benefits simply are motivated rough to commit to a diet which limits the foods they usually eat by about 80%.

    Kamal wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  13. I am IN!!! I’m just starting out and this is the perfect way to get going!! I’m so excited to start on this journey. Finally- something that makes sense(Primal)!!!

    Alexis wrote on January 3rd, 2012

    So ya wannna be in on this..????
    Having a support group that’s on your side, with a full load of encouragement, and enthusiasm and a variety of information at different levels,,, is WAY more effective than doing it alone..
    Maybe you will remember the letter from me that stated “I WAS NOT ALONE”..that many of us are out there on the same path…I WELCOME ANY AND ALL NEW AND CURRENT PRACTITIONERS OF THIS WAY OF LIFE TO THE BEST PLACE OUT THERE…TO FIND FRIENDS AND INFO AND ALL THE THINGS THAT CAN BE OF HELP…TO show you that you too..ARE NEVER ALONE!. The Daily Apple GROKS THE NATION!>>>…And so do WE>>>> PAPA GROK

    Dave PAPA GROK Parsons wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  15. I’m so IN! I needed this motivation so badly. Pics today. Goals are to lose fat, but mainly to get going on PBF, and to be able to do one real pull-up. I’ve already signed up for the Airforce Half Marathon in September (New Years Day deal!), so I want to run that in a better time than the last 2 years, thanks mainly to overall better fitness, not overdoing the training. And get my hubby and son on board.

    marthat wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  16. I sent my picture in this morning. Urg. Well, my next picture will be better!

    SmokeFan14 wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  17. I’ve tried reading all the comments so I don’t repost something that has already been said but it just wasn’t possible. I’ve been doing low-carb for 7 years and feel great but struggle with the usual fat storage problems on the thighs and stomach. I see the after photos here of these muscular, flat stomachs and feel daunted although I do Taekwondo 3x per week and am a black belt. I’m also not to far from mastery level on the primal movements (2-3 chin-ups, 10 normal pushups and 30 squats) What is realistic? Should I just accept my little paunch? Is it better to not have a flat stomach and not be stressed?

    Michele wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  18. I was off to a good start last year at this time. Lost 38 lbs by June. But then gained every single lb back by the end of the year.


    But this year will be different. My wife and I are expecting our first child in May, and I owe it myself, my wife, and our soon-to-be-born child to be the healthiest and happiest me possible.

    So, I’ll be sending in my picture when I got home from work this evening. I’ll work hard to achieve my goals (68 lbs weight loss) and will be cheering on those on the journey with me.

    RobbieC wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  19. Mark:

    There’s another line of thinking to the “shout it from the rooftops” approach to change you write about here.

    You can hear about it in Derek Sivers’ TED talk entitled “Keep Your Goals To Yourself.”

    I think the long and short of it is that telling people our goals works for some and not others. It definitely doesn’t work for me. I’ve found I’m better off quietly going about something, and telling people about it when I’m done. It unnerves me to know people are watching, and to have them checking in. Hate it.

    But other people are different, I’m sure, so it makes sense for each of us to do a little experimentation and see which approach works best.

    I also want to point out Sivers’ TED talk called “How To Start A Movement.” When I watched it, I thought of the PB. As Sivers points out, when a leader starts a movement and others join in, they join in doing it their way, whatever it is. I think that’s what we see here.


    Susan Alexander wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  20. Before second guessing my decision I sent my pic. I feel really good about this.

    Eric wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  21. Perfect timing! I had recently resolved to make 2012 my come back year. I am in the worst shape of my life and am ready to re-committ to a healthy lifestyle. This challenge will keep me accountable and supported all at the same time. I signed up for a New Years Day 5K (having never run before) just to “force” myself into a healthy new year start. I DID IT! IT WAS HARD! I DIDN’T DIE! Now I know I can face an unknown challenge and see it thru. Grock ON!

    Janet wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  22. I’m so stoked to do this! I eat primally, (follow 90/10 or 80/20) but NEVER workout. This will definitely motivate me to build some muscle. Such a good idea. Hopefully I can figure out my body fat % and then I can get it to a % I’m satisfied with

    Dani wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  23. PS- do you think a vegetarian could do this? My boyfriend is veg which makes cooking for him extremely difficult. What’s worse, he can only eat eggs when they’re baked in with something (like muffins). Otherwise, they make him gag. He’s trying to be more primal but it’s hard to make him meals. Any advice would be awesome!

    Dani wrote on January 3rd, 2012
    • tell him to read “the vegetarian myth” by Lierre Kieth.

      Hopeless Dreamer wrote on January 3rd, 2012
      • Haha that’s one of my favorite books! I actually bought it for him for Christmas

        Dani wrote on January 3rd, 2012
    • Dani, read this post here from a “lacto-ovo-vegetarian-paleo” guy who calls himself Avarind:

      His profile:

      gilliebean wrote on January 3rd, 2012
      • Thanks so much! I really appreciate it!

        Dani wrote on January 4th, 2012
    • here’s a quick flapjack recipe that incorporates eggs, and it’s super delicious:

      5 ripe bananas
      3 eggs
      1tsp vanilla essence
      1 tablespoon coconut oil

      blend together, and then using more coconut oil, and your stove on medium, fry them up. Because there is no gluten in the mix, they are not very bendy so it’s better to leave them cooking for a really long time before you try to flip them, basically till they unstick easily and are almost cooked on the top anyway.

      These are the most delicious things you have ever tasted…awesome with bacon (for you!) and I suppose pretty good with sliced fruit! :-)

      tinz wrote on January 4th, 2012
      • This. Sounds. AWESOME. Thank you!

        Dani wrote on January 4th, 2012
  24. I found MDA and the Primal Lifestyle in May 2009 and I’m so glad I did! Thanks Mark for turning me on to the freedom found in this way of living and eating and playing!

    gilliebean wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  25. If I can get my hubby to take my pic, I’ll send it in. I’ve always been what you call “skinny fat.” Vegetarian for 25+ years, but also dealing with constant pain from Chronic Lyme Disease. I have to wonder if the vegetarianism has been a big component of the constant pain due to inflammation. So I made the switch about two months ago to a primal/paleo diet and am feeling a bit better. I’ve been exhausted and achy for so long that I never had the energy to exercise. So I’m both skinny fat and weak. My goal this year is to finally become physically strong. I hope my before and after pics will show a change in muscle definition and some newfound confidence!

    Decaf Debi wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  26. I’ll be snapping and sending in a photo tonight. Nervous… 2011 was a year of backsliding. I had amazing success folowing what I know now to be a Paleo lifestyle with Crossfit. Slacked on the nutrition, stopped Crossfitting and gained about 30 lbs in 2011.

    Signed up for Crossfit again and with a new focus and guide in the Primal community here.. hopefully 2012 will be a year of forward progress!

    Erik wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  27. This is SO awesome!

    I’ll be snapping a picture tomorrow!!

    Stacey Z wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  28. Vanity is great motivation…but a community is needed to support you and make sure you follow through! :) I’ll be sending my picture tomorrow morning.

    Jasmina wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  29. OMG! Have done it sent pic n everything!!

    bigchick wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  30. O.M.G. Just sent in my pics before I could hit delete! Like others, my goals for this challenge are to get back in shape, get strong enough to do a couple of chin-ups and at least 10 ‘real’ push ups. More importantly, I’m hoping for increased energy and mental clarity. Thanks Mark for challenging us!!

    Teetac wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  31. wonderful idea!

    Josie wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  32. I just sent my picture :-)

    Tatiana wrote on January 3rd, 2012
  33. Seems like someone can hear my thoughts! I have been circling this site for a while now without really participating, and have been steadily cutting junk out of my diet over the past 3 months. I am 36, drink a few gallons of beer a week through boredom, drive a desk for a living, have approximately zero muscle mass and 3 months ago I weighed 94kg. With just a primal diet change, I am now 89kg, so I am a believer – the interesting thing is that most of the eating habits are just going back to what I ate as a kid.
    This challenge is just what I have been looking for, so I am in. Will see if I can dredge up a photo and email it in. My goals are to be under 85kg with visible muscle definition by the end of March 2012, and maybe drink less than a gallon of beer a week too!

    ozzie wrote on January 4th, 2012
  34. Now you’ve got me wanting to send in my photo, too! I have been lurking this site for a week now…here’s to all of us doing this together. I have faith in you guys…and 6 months down the road, I hope we are all well on our way to hitting our goals!

    Brandi wrote on January 4th, 2012
    • I hope so too :D- thanks for the faith in us all ( I especially need it lol)

      LexxyV wrote on January 4th, 2012
  35. Oh crap. Just hit send. :) I really admire those of you that this is no big deal for because I just almost had a panic attack!

    Bring it on!

    Sam wrote on January 4th, 2012
  36. Just sent the email, ouch that hurt. Hope the photo isin’t too fig leaf but this is the bikini I want to feel good wearing on 25th March.
    Now to the hard work … oops I meant fun eating and exercise.

    Caroline wrote on January 4th, 2012
  37. I’m in. If I can find a picture I want to use. LOL

    Shari wrote on January 4th, 2012
  38. I started to follow the primal eating plan in November and was feeling really good…but then come Christmas it all completely went out of the window and I found myself on a complete sugar and carb binge over the Christmas/New Year week. I gorged myself on festive cakes, desserts, bread – felt completely out of control and ultimately I ended up feeling unwell and unhappy (yet felt powerless to stop it whilst it was on!). I’m going to send in my photo tonight and have bought Mark’s 21 day plan. I really want to free my body from all the toxins that I’ve put into it recently and also regain the feeling of energy and happiness that I think the primal lifestyle brings! One thing I’m scared of though is cutting back on my exercise…I currently do a lot of running, spin classes, body pump classes each week and am terrified that if I stop doing this I will put on weight.

    Cassb wrote on January 4th, 2012

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