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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