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.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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153 thoughts on “Community, Accountability, and a New Year Challenge”

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  1. You’re requesting that we send you nude photos? Are you freaking serious?!?

    Just kidding. Happy New Year!

  2. I want to participate, but I don’t have any tangible goals yet. I want to build some muscle definition. I’m not sure what a reasonable goal would be (in terms of # of push-ups or pull-ups (don’t have a bar yet) or squats) when I’m pretty much starting from 0.

    1. How about just progress? If every month you can do MORE of each of those things than you could the month before? That will take commitment and will no doubt produce some awesome results!

      1. GREAT idea, Annette! I went primal without any set goals, but have achieved what I feel are incredible results. Not knowing what goals to set was part of the issue of not setting any for me. But progress IS just as much of a goal as anything else.

      2. I set some more tangible goals, ones I know I can reach. I’m getting a removable pull-up bar and want to be able to do one pull-up by my birthday (mid-June) and 10 regular push-ups. I’ll increase the goals as I reach them, which should happen at least once, maybe twice, before June 🙂

    2. I don’t have any specific goals either. I just want to feel awesome. Feel alive. Be full of energy every single day. I want to love life. I know that focusing on eating whole foods, primal foods, will help me do that.

      When I first went Primal on April 5, 2010 I felt amazing. Alive. On top of the world. I’ve been on and off since that date but am ready to be on for life. I don’t worry about the little things but I am done chowing down on anything that is not primal.

      I’ve never been a goal setter. I just want to LOVE LIFE! Primal helps!

      1. Same here, no specific goals physically. However, I feel the most alive and aware when I’m trail running in the mountains near Tokyo and I’d love to feel that way all of the time. I wonder if that’s possible.

        Improving my memory would sure help me pass the native-level Japanese proficiency exam coming this summer. Translating my blog will help me gear up for that if I can just get my motivation up for that.

        So ya, rather than physical, I’m shooting for heightened awareness and memory with a side of inner peace (^^)

    3. Tasha, I don’t have a bar either, but started doing assisted squats & pull-ups anyway… To do a pullup, you can sit by an interior door, with a leg on each side with your butt on the floor & hang on to the doorhandle, (one hand on each side of the door.) It’s not perfect, but it is a good start! Works for assisted squats too, by using the door handles as you would a pole. I really wanted to get started & didn’t want an excuse “not to”, so had to get creative & work with what I had available. 🙂

  3. Happy New Year! Gotta admit I had a little moment of panic go through me as I read this. I think all the better then to take up the challenge. Ok–here’s my public admission. I’ll be sending in my photo tomorrow once I snap my picture tonight.

    1. Geez, I actually was a little apprehensive about hitting the “submit” button. *grin*

      1. I feel apprehensive just trying to decide if I am going to join, I think its the photo that does it. I already set up a new years 30 day challenge on my blog but this feels more…public, yikes! Good for you hitting submit!

    2. @Happy Cycle Girl: Everytime I see your avatar photo it looks like your licking cake batter off your fingers… which then makes me think of white cake batter… which I love. No fair.

      1. for every grammargeek about to start twitching, I meant “you’re.” Also, I refuse to give up my elipses abuse.

      2. Marlene,

        I guess I have to update that photo. It was actually chocolate icing from a cake! (she writes while blushing)

        It’s one of the things I am looking to give up with this new challenge (actually all sugar). Have a look at the picture I’m submitting for said challenge–I am sadly waving goodbye to a container of ice cream.

        1. The cake was easy to give up, it was the frosting that I had a hard time with.

          Try coconut milk ice cream instead of regular ice cream.

        2. Raw ice cream works too, and is just absolutely amazing! SOOOO much better than the junk from the grocery store any day!

  4. This is going to be my year. 64 years old. 312 lbs. I’ve been circling this site for months, reading and waiting. I also have been drinking a bottle of wine a day for a year. Tension at home and work is incredible. Nowhere to go but up!

    1. One step, one day at a time. I think this IS going to be your year … and you’re going to love living the primal life. Welcome!!

    2. Hey man, now’s the time! This community is amazing. And let me tell you, my ability to deal with stress as a result of the Primal lifestyle is so much higher than it used to be.

      We’re here for you, pulling for you, friend!

    3. Welcome to the Primal Lifestyle, ezestreets! Stick with it and you will absolutely amaze yourself with the progress you’ll make. Not only the progress, but the speed at which it can happen, if you REALLY stick to it. In less than 2 months I dropped 20 pounds of fat and gained 5 pounds of muscle. No mean feat and by no means the best results on here. But for me, the way I feel INSIDE is worth more than anything else. WElcome, friend! We’re all here rooting for you and hoping that 2012 really WILL be your year!

    4. This is the year! We’re all in it together, one day at a time!

  5. I’ve begun a 21 Primal Challenge with my sparkpeople Primal Team (we are your fanclub there!) as of TODAY! We are cleaning out our fridges, I just freecycled the LAST of my frozen breaded fish items and all other grain-based treats. I’ll come up with a pic for the forum. My little one is on the adventure with me, since November, and she’s been doing way better, too. She had just had a glorious breakfast of: scrambled eggs, broccolini sauteed with garlic in coconut oil, organic kiwis and orange slices from our produce bin. She asked for huge SECONDS on the broccolini and eggs. This child is transformed from 2 months ago. I love paleo/primal and what it’s doing for us. My actual Resolution is: 2928 in 2012. That’s the number of hours of sleep I plan to score. Primal Joyousness in 2012 to everyone!

    1. Hey, I’m starting the 21-Day Transformation with my parents and one of my friends today too! I’m already pretty Primal, but with all the holiday treats that were around, my 80/20 rule became something like a 60/40 rule! :\ Time to get back in the game.

      So here’e some encouragement and companionship as we go forward in 2012 together! Grok on!

      1. good lord I sunk to 20/80 last month. And It Shows!
        So I will take my picture tonight & send it in! I WILL get back on track, reclaim what I lost, AND surpass where I was.
        That’s my goal 🙂

        1. Me too! I remember it was just a short month ago how I didn’t ache, want to sleep all day or feel bloated or a little sick. Darn those processed foods!

          I’m back.

        2. Me, too, or is it three? The pix of me on New Year’s Day preparing to Polar Bear plunge into frigid Lake Michigan aren’t horrible, but you can see that I am not the lean machine of days gone by when Primal was the rule instead of the exception. I’m a fellow Sparker, too. Gonna go find that team and join asap!

    2. Hi JoyBeer

      from a fellow Sparker 🙂 teammate and all!

      Yep, we’ve cleaned our fridges, gave the cookies from TJs to co-workers (belated christmas gift from one of my kids at church) and are ready to go for 2012.

  6. I’ve resolved to take full control, stop allowing sabotage from others. I started a food log. I figure if I have to write it down I’ll think twice. also I want to keep track of the fat, protein carb numbers.

  7. As a very big dude just starting out in the primal world (started Nov 22nd)I am so excited to get this started! Everyone around me thinks I’m crazy and now I’ve got a whole tribe to be crazy with! Bring it on I’m super pumped!

  8. Yeesh. It’s rough looking at the picture that I just sent in – so much more the motivation to set the Grokette free of all the extra me! Gotta clean out the fridge of all the holiday freebies and leftovers tonight…

  9. I have TONS of goals…laid out over the entire year, each month is 1 goal down!

    And, for the first time in my entire life none of those goals have actually anything to do with either my weight or my health, thanks to 2 years of eating primal 🙂

    Happy, healthy and successful new year everyone!

    1. this one goal per month is brilliant! i love the idea…
      now,about that photo for mark’s challenge – gulp! gotta just do it!

    2. None of them have to do with weight or health! Wow, I want that to be me!

  10. I’ve tried just about everything since I was 16 to lost the weight, but it just keeps coming back. My father passed last February from a heart attack and poor health. I’m determined not to have that happen to me. So I’m going to commit to the Primal lifestyle as much as I can as my New Years Resolution. I’ve picked up the 21 day transformation and now am starting today. Just cleaned out the fridge and heading to the pantry to de-carb as it where. Lol. Here’s hoping I can get to my birthday in late May with a bikini worthy body.

    1. Very sorry about your father, Jen; I’m still struggling with that loss two years later.

  11. Email sent- I really need to get back on track with eating primal ( holidays- self explanatory- ehh) I need a good challenge and a way to hold myself accountable-

  12. I was praying there would be a challenge at the start of the new year! 😀 I’ve been eating 80/20 since just before Thanksgiving. Traveling to family and friend’s houses for nearly two weeks at the end of December wreaked havoc on my brain and eating habits. I feel like I did at the beginning of November. 🙁 I am SUPER motivated to get my brain and body back on tract. I am publicly declaring I am sending in a photo for the challenge. IT”S MY TIME!!!

  13. I didn’t plan on actually doing anything formal but now that I see this I am totally down! I really don’t eat to many processed foods as is but tend to stink at eating a lot of meats. I think this is a great way to get on track stay motivated and get inspired by others! 🙂

  14. I’m in. I was hoping there would be a challenge just as I’m starting this adventure. I cringed big time sending in those photos, but can’t wait to see the changes. It’s so exciting to be part of this community!

  15. Okay, I’m gonna do it. I’m going to send in the picture. I’ve been on and off since this past summer. One of my coworkers got me into the book, but I’ve had a hard time sticking with it. My goal this year is to pay better attention, which is something I struggle with on a daily basis. So, hopefully this will help.

  16. Great minds think alike. I am starting this journey. Not from scratch, but fully committed for one year. I requested a blog on Dec 10, and I just posted a few minutes ago. I came out here to tell you thanks for the inspiration and to encourage you to consider people in the midst – not already through the storm. Sounds like you already see that value. Glad to hear it! Thanks for all you do. My husband and I are on board!

  17. I’m in too.
    For me this community is a daily pleasure, when everyone around me think I am on the road to ruin. Trying to convince my family of young adults who are very healthy that this is the way to go, it’s a bit of an uphill challenge. My goal this year is to get the exercise part going, as I am the queen of plateaus. However, I am happy, have lost 22 pounds since august 2011 and am off half my medications with the hypertension ones to go next visit to my puzzled doctor, so I am stoked. Will find a phot to send before the deadline from down here,

  18. Uhm, I can’t get the e-mail link to work. I clicked on it, but nothing happened. 🙁

  19. I’m in! How long do we set the goals for? I’m not worried about weight but I’d like to be able to do one full pull-up and a full push-up by the end of the year. Is that too far out?

    1. I guess it depends on where you’re starting from, but I suspect you could smash that goal by the end of the year!!

  20. I’m in! I had already decided to blog this journey for accountability, but this takes it to a whole new level. I’m a bit shy about sending a pic (I just had our 3rd baby, so it’s not pretty), but we’re all friends here, right? 🙂

    1. Jen- Wait til you see mine. Very not pretty. I think we’re not the only ones.

    2. I had my third baby two years ago. I still have stretchmarks and extra wobble. It’s all part of nature.

      1. i have 5 children, AND i’m old! so i’ll be wearing a t-shirt! LOL

        1. You have 5 children, too?! Let’s hear it for all us parents who want to be good role models – – and NOT a burden some day from abusing ourselves…

  21. I’m in! I had already decided to blog this journey for accountability, but this takes it to a whole new level. I’m a bit shy about sending a pic (I just had our 3rd baby, so it’s not pretty), but we’re all friends here, right? 🙂

  22. Sounds like a great idea! I’m going primal starting today anyway. I’m a little bit worried about staying on the wagon though. Right now I have a month off from work, but once I go back I’m afraid I won’t be able to stick with it. I work on a ship and it’s hard to avoid the non-primal food that is provided.

    1. I used to work on ships a long time ago, just avoid the fried stuff (probably veggie oil, ask the chef), go for the cold meats and salads, eggs and bacon for breakfast, and pig out on roast days, but no gravy, and dodge the roast potatoes as they are usually deep fried. I would talk to the cook/chef as well, maybe he can point out the bits of the menu that fit the plan, and try for the 80/20 as much as possible, you can do it!

  23. MDA is the most inspiring website on the planet! Yet I’m too shy to send in my picture. Since I started the primal/paleo diet 7-8 months ago, no grains or beans have crossed my lips. However, I’ve only lost 12 lbs and don’t seem to have gained any more energy than I had before. I’m wondering if it’s too late for me since I started at age 65 and am now 248 lbs on a 5’7″ frame. Any other women of my age group out there with good success. If there are, I will definitely send in my picture.

    1. A lot of women with insulin resistance have to take extra measures to get back into shape. I started off with the more lenient Primal diet approach but found that the only way I can keep it up is eliminating caffeine, dairy and fruit (pretty much anything sugary or starchy in general). They may have some great nutrients in them, but they also jack up your insulin and cortisol levels which completely botches attempts to become more insulin-sensitive. It sounds hard, but believe me: It’s ironically easier to stay on track without them.

    2. Never too late!
      I am in the same place – started primal last spring, lost 20 pounds, great energy, great sleep, very active. Then winter came to Montana…dark when I go to work, dark when I get home, cold all the time, no yard work or activities going on. The carb cravings came back, I cheated a bit more over the months, then the holidays, sleep sucks, no energy, plateau on the weight loss, feel like crap. I have been reading about Dr Kruse and the Leptin Reset so I started a couple days ago. Along with a re-commitment to eating Primal I hope to jump start back to how things were this summer. I have about 30 more pounds to lose so there is a ways to go! It’s not to late! It can’t be cuz I’m not done yet! So it isn’t too late for you either! Let’s go!

  24. I’ve been thinking about doing the picture and results thing but just couldn’t bring myself to do it – vanity, ya know? But I’m doing it tomorrow morning – yeah!!! Vanity is a great motivator!

  25. I have put in my 1st post. Now for the New Years Resolution to get back to the primal lifestyle.

  26. I’m in, I’ll post pics this week. I plan on making this my healthiest year ever.

  27. Holy Cow! I can’t believe I just did it. . . and I used *that* photo that I’d hidden away in embarrassment.

    1. So funny! I barely even glanced at my photo 😛 I had my coworker take it and then just sent it in without dwelling too much. Good luck.

  28. What perfect timing! I was just thinking a public statement is just what I need! I have been in a “transformation contest” or two in the past, and being public makes a huge difference believe me!!! That accountability makes it much easier to stick to things. I’ll have to get that pic in. I don’t have much weight to lose (5-10lb) but I really need to FEEL better!

    1. I’m with you!! I’ve lost about 35 pounds since last year, but I need to lose another 5-10-ish, lean out, tone up, and I need to feel better!! First order of business: take picture and email it in. Second order of business: get some sleep!

  29. This is my year. I have a goal weight. But wonder if this is the most important aspect. I just want to feel like myself again. I want to become more capable… I’m 31 and have been carrying around some extra poundage for the past 10 years. No more. 2012 is my year baby: more personal empowerment, more strength, less blob. I started a new blog just to track it all… which will be up and running by the time the challenge starts! WHoooo-boy accountability is tough. Hopefully this community will help me through!

  30. New Years challenges are a great idea! I was just blogging about ways to improve the likelihood of New Years resolutions. Some ways I think include reducing the resistance to your goals. For example if getting out of bed is difficult for you do everything you can to make it easier. Place the alarm clock far away (so you have to get out of bed) place your workout clothes out. Even cue a favorite song to get up to. Some more ideas are on my site

  31. I have read every single comment posted so far and YOU ALL are the reason why I am proud to be Primal! Sure, I love feeling better and being healthy, but to know that I have smart, supportive people who “have my back” is more than I ever expected. I am nervous about posting a photo…not looking too hot after the holidays, but accountability is important, so I’m in! Looking forward to seeing the results!

  32. Wow, what a challenge. I have photos I took to motivate myself. (My 3rd child is 1) Not pretty ones! Hard to push that ‘send’ button. OK, here goes….

  33. I so need this acountability. I lost 30# going low carb and feel wonderful. I am attempting to transition my family too. I need to loose another 30 # as I am 5’7″ and hovering at 170#. I want to be even more healthy. I want to be able to do a pull up and 30 real push-ups. I want my baby belly gone! I do not think the food will be a problem except for the dairy. I would like to know where Zumba would fit into the primal fitness plan. I love my Zumba.

    1. I love Zumba too, I think it fits in as “play” which is one of our rules of primal living. I wonder if it would fit in as moving at a slow pace, mixed with sprints (slow song mixed with fast songs?)

    2. I too love Zumba, It is the only organized exercise (?) that I’ve been able to keep with. I actually enjoy it. Definitely play

  34. 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!

  35. 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!

    1. Hello Hugh.

      Since you copied my name I’m going to copy your goals. 🙂

      Happy 2012 from one Hugh to another.
      OC Hugh

  36. 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.

  37. 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. 🙂

  38. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  39. 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.

  40. I’m in … and I’ll rope my girlfriend into it too! Double trouble … Craig (and Pat)

  41. 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!!

  42. 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

  43. 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%.

  44. 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)!!!


    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

  46. 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.

  47. I sent my picture in this morning. Urg. Well, my next picture will be better!

  48. 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?

  49. 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.

  50. 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.


  51. Before second guessing my decision I sent my pic. I feel really good about this.

  52. 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!

  53. 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

  54. 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!

    1. tell him to read “the vegetarian myth” by Lierre Kieth.

    2. 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! 🙂

  55. 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!

  56. 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!

  57. 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!

  58. 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.

  59. 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!!

  60. 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!

  61. 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!

  62. 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!

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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!

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. I’m going to stop doing things that I know are stupid (detrimental) and try not to inconsiderately cause problems.

    1. 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).

  69. 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!

  70. 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!

    1. 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.

  71. 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!

  72. 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.

  73. 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!

  74. Just submitted. And, upped the ante and made it my fb profile pic.

  75. Oh my, I just submitted my photo! How scarey! I have to shape up now…..

  76. 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!

  77. 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

  78. 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…