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. What a fantastic idea! I’m totally in. I absolutely need that extra push to fully commit and be held accountable for staying on track. Thanks Mark for EVERYTHING and happy 2012! Anyone else scared sh!#less about sending in their pic? Mine’s baaaad!

    306girl wrote on January 4th, 2012
  2. This is just what I need. I dabbled with Primal last summer and lost 15 lbs in 9 weeks. That was diet only, no exercise. I’m really exited about the results I’ll get when “I do it right”.

    I’ll be sending my photo tomorrow after I borrow my daughter’s camera. She and her boyfriend are thinking about doing the challenge too. (GO FOR IT!!!)

    This is a such a wonderful community to be a part of. I’m looking forward to this life style change.


    PS: I see that there is already someone named Hugh on this forum so I’ll be going by OC Hugh to avoid confusion.

    OC Hugh wrote on January 4th, 2012
    • photo sent.

      OC Hugh wrote on January 7th, 2012
  3. Photo sent!

    Erik wrote on January 4th, 2012
  4. Starting out new in 2012 – I’ve been primal for 3 days, and I’m excited about transforming from an unhealthy, overweight and lethargic 21st century digital man into one bad a** caveman! My current body configuration is – 5’10”, 210 lbs, 25% body fat, Male, 32yrs. My goals are to become healthier by putting on some muscle, achieving a sub 15 body fat percentage and to start enjoying life again. I’ll be e-mailing my picture in by Sat. Good luck to everyone on their journey and always remember you’re not in it alone.

    JK wrote on January 5th, 2012
  5. I’m going to stop doing things that I know are stupid (detrimental) and try not to inconsiderately cause problems.

    Animanarchy wrote on January 5th, 2012
    • Going good so far. I threw out my bad habits a few days ago and haven’t gone back despite the fact it would be easy. So I’ll say here for accountability, and I’m literally getting goosebumps typing this because it’s a big jump for me, that from now on I’completely abstaining from those habits, which are smoking weed and taking drugs like big-pharma brain bashing pills. Sure I might still eat some enhanced stuff on occasion or make some poppy seed tea, but no more inhaling smoke or filling myself with sketchy chemicals.
      Of course the day after I decided and declared to the people I’m living with I was done with all my bad habits I found a little bit of weed (really like the stuff) in the form of a roach (joint butt), go figure. But after a moment of standing there contemplating what I should do I left it where it was and did an ab workout instead. That is new neural networking and behaviour pattern conditioning in action!
      I’m limiting my coffee intake to what I’m pretty sure is a sane limit and swapping it with cocoa… lots of cocoa. And lots of herbal tea. A bit of juice.
      On caffeine, I read the other day that it can actually cause abnormal spiky looking nerve growth in part of your brain. (I wonder if this would cause long-term thinking/behavioural symptoms or degraded brain activity (though that doesn’t make sense with the Parkinson’s connection) – maybe the spiky nerves cause your nerve impulses to get redirected thus changing your thoughts or behaviour or maybe it makes them need to travel farther so brain activity is slowed.. I’m no brain expert, just thinking out loud). There’s some pictures online of spiderwebs spun on drugs and the caffeine web was messier than the LSD web if I remember correctly. Of course the dosage would make a difference but still that makes me think twice before downing any more than a few cups of coffee in a day.
      I’ve gone back to my old, healthy habit of starting exercise early in the morning. It seems the earlier I start, the easier it is to find motivation to exercise later in the day as well. If I can force myself through the first couple sets soon after I wake up then I know I’ll have an active day. Plus I live in a shelter where we’re kicked out early in the morning often before the library is open so there’s nothing to do but cycle, or jog or walk around sprinting and jumping over snowbanks, climbing whatever’s in the way (or what I make in the way), doing calisthenics in creative places, such as dips in the corner of a ~15 foot brick wall, and climbing trees, etc.
      As well as avoiding my harmful old vices I also want to add I commit to shunning laziness through exercising with devotion, being more organized and doing what’s important, and staying on my feet a lot unless I’m gassed out (I’m at a stand-up library computer now, which I used to hate but have grown used to).

      Animanarchy wrote on January 8th, 2012
  6. I’m doing this challenge with my partner so hopefully we can motivate each other, although we have completely different goals. I’m a 32 year-old male and have been skinny my whole life, mainly due to playing soccer 4-5 times a week. However, in my late 20’s I stopped playing soccer and started to notice a touch of body fat creeping in, as well as extensive stress, exhaustion, and feeling well below my maximum, due to a poor diet and all-consuming job in management. So 2012 is the year of change, I quit my job last October, and with my girlfriend, moved 12,000 miles to Australia, and we are embarking on the Primal life fully. My goal is to pack on 15-20lbs of lean muscle, improve strength, feel great and to be in the best shape of my life. I wanna have muscles for the first time! Not crazy muscles though, just some lean muscle mass. I’m not looking for an Olympic lifter or WWE Champion physique, if you can no longer put your hands in your pockets, you’ve gone too far in my opinion.
    I’ve been with my girlfriend 8 years, and she’s totally committed to the challenge too. Her goal is to drop 20 lbs in 6 months, and improve her strength and overall wellbeing.
    Think it’s gonna be hard when I’m eating 3000+ calories a day to gain size and she’s eating around 1200 to lose weight, but hopefully our relationship will survive the portion-size envy and our joint challenge will bring us closer together. Wish us luck!

    EnglishmanInOz wrote on January 5th, 2012
  7. Hello everyone! After looking around MDA for weeks I finally decided to go for it and make the primal leap this year. I am so excited! Started 3 days ago and feel somewhat horrified to be cooking with coconut oil, not have low fat yogurt and skinless chicken but it’s been ok sofar. This challenge is such a great ideea Mark! I’m in and will be sending my pictures and story tomorrow. Yaay! Regards from London!

    RalucaSings wrote on January 5th, 2012
    • If you haven’t tried kefir you probably should. It’s a more potent probiotic. I used to eat yogurt with sugar or artificial sweeteners and then got a container of kefir when I found out about it. I didn’t find it very palatable but knew it was healthy so I mixed small amounts with other things such as yogurt, nuts and berries and eventually I acquired a taste for it and now enjoy it plain.

      Animanarchy wrote on January 6th, 2012
  8. I’m in. I’m one of the people who fell off the wagon. Just turned 31, currently 5’7″, 220+ lbs. I went primal for a number of months last year (Spring-Summer) and eventually lost between 15-20 lbs. Then Fall rolled in, I got lazy (and cheap), started buying food that was cheaper to save money in this tough economy, and demanding freelance work took away my gym time. I completely believe in the principles of going Primal, but it’s difficult to properly maintain when money is tight and you live a sedentary lifestyle (I’m a graphic/web designer so I’m always parked in front of a computer.) But I made a resolution that 2012 is going to be different. My wife got me the 21-Day Transformation book for Christmas, I have tons of exercise videos and the fitness e-book to draw from, and I just had my first visit/blood test at the doctor in forever. I’m going to get my wife to take a picture of me tonight and I’ll submit it. I probably won’t go shirtless until I see some results, but since everything is in my midsection I don’t look horrible (I think). Hoping to drop down to at least 170 if not 160, and get muscular. I want to be able to play ice hockey next year, and most importantly, I want my wife to swoon when she sees me take my shirt off, lol!

    Peter H wrote on January 6th, 2012
  9. K. I finally submitted my photo. Phew, glad I did it. It wasn’t that hard of a decision, but anyone who is on the fence, come on and do it. I love when I attempt something that I am kind scared of. This should be fun.

    samui_sakana wrote on January 6th, 2012
  10. This is my first post. I jumped on board a few days ago and I already feel so much less bloaty! I did GF before and felt good on it but slipped back into all my grainy habits. I am 44, my mother has diabetes, and I am 150 on a 5’1″ frame. I want to lose 30 lbs but more than that, I want my old self back. I’m tired of the aches and the pains and the sleepiness and the brain fog. I know I can do this.

    I’ll send my pic in soon!

    PrimalPatti wrote on January 6th, 2012
  11. Just submitted. And, upped the ante and made it my fb profile pic.

    Jes wrote on January 6th, 2012
  12. Oh my, I just submitted my photo! How scarey! I have to shape up now…..

    Stacy wrote on January 6th, 2012
  13. I’ve already sent in my photo and started my journal! Just curious when the page will be up with the before photos? Once it’s public, there’s no turning back for me! On a side note, I’ve been easing into primal and lost 11.5 lbs (even during Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!). I can’t wait to get fully committed and see what happens! I’ve even had some people asking about going Primal! Mark, I love you! Thank you for opening my eyes!

    Rachel wrote on January 6th, 2012
  14. Cannot believe I have submitted a picture – albeit headless! Been reading about primal for 6 months but never really getting going. Got the 21 day book today so reading through and beginning my journey to a calmer happier me on Monday after the last of the new year get togethers. I want to drop 2 dress sizes and my initial goal is to lose 30lbs, though losing the inches is going to be the thing that tells me for sure I am in the right direction. Good luck everybody! X

    grok_loves_a_trier wrote on January 7th, 2012
  15. Love the challenge! One thing on the goals, be sure your goal’s are specific, measurable, and have a deadline. There is a saying that says “A goal without a deadline is just a dream”, or something like that…

    Jeff Liesener wrote on January 12th, 2012

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