A New Year, a New Body: The Complete 12 Week Body Transformation Program

Like most around the globe, you probably plan to shed a few pounds as part of a New Years Resolution. Unfortunately, like most, you're probably setting yourself up for failure. Get started right with Primer's 12 week program to ensure that you finally get the body you want this New Year.

Editors Note: This is part 1 of Josef's 4 part, 12 week program.  Be sure to check out weeks 2, 5, and 9.

Your New Year's Resolutions Will Fail.

I hate to sound pessimistic, but chances are really good that you will:

  1. Set a New Years Resolution involving fat-loss and
  2. Be like the 99% of other Americans who FAIL to keep their New Year's Resolutions beyond even the first two weeks.

I am offering you a step-by-step guide to making sure that 2009 is the year that you finally get your act together and achieve the body you want faster than you ever thought possible. And I am doing it absolutely free. I don't even need your email address. However, I would REALLY appreciate your before and after pics and testimonials.

Part 1

The Main Reason for New Year's Failure and How To Set Yourself Up For Success In Advance

When I was growing up my favorite sport was hockey, and my favorite player was Wayne Gretzky. Last year was the first time in over a decade that ANYONE in hockey has scored even 60 goals in an 82 game season. Whereas, in 1981-82 Wayne Gretzky had 92 goals in only 80 games – about 150% of what Ovechkin put up last year in goals per game! As the all-time leading goal scorer in hockey history he had remarkable aim with the puck, if he picked a point on the net, it was going in whether the goalie wanted it to or not.

Wayne's aim was so good that one time when he was behind the net he shot the puck up, over the net and bounced it off of the goalie's back into the net. His aim was so good that if the goalie happened to be standing between him and the net he would simply turn the puck on it's side as he shot it so that it would slide right under the goalie's armpit. That's amazing to see, but even more amazing after you've tried to play ice hockey.

I have never played in the National Hockey League, but I am an outstanding teacher. In fact I am so good that in twenty minuets I can teach you to shoot the puck in ice hockey better than Wayne Gretzky could in his prime, during the best game that he ever played – even if you can't ice skate. No bull.

In twenty minutes I'll have you shooting better than Wayne, assuming we had first blind-folded Wayne, and spun him around so much that he was dizzy and had no idea where the net was.

“How could Wayne ever hit a goal that he can't see?” you say.

My question for you is, “How can you hit a goal that you don't even have?”

Most people start off their New Year's by pulling something vague and meaningless (to them) out of their ass like, “Oh, I should lose weight,” or “I should start exercising,” or “I should start eating better.Those are NOT goals.

Those are thing that you feel guilty about and think that you should do, and that kind of language will ensure that you FAIL.

Goal Setting The Right Way by Spelling It The Wrong Way: S.M.M.a.r.T.

My poor spelling is not just my poor spelling or semantics.

S = specific, as in, specifically, what do you want?

I can hear a few of you tuning out right now because you are saying to yourself, “oh, I've heard that before!” While I am sure you have heard it before I am also pretty damn sure that you haven't actually applied it before.

To know and not to do is to not yet know.”

-Zen Proverb

M = Measurable, as in, it isn't real if you can't put a number on it.

When you ask most people “how's your fitness program going?” they'll reply with something like, “good” or “not so good.” The problem with both of those statements is that they are completely meaningless. How many pounds of fat = good?

This is what people who have no idea how they are doing respond, and people who have no idea how they are doing are not likely to get anywhere at all. You NEED the cold, hard facts about how you are actually doing (NUMBERS) and how that compares to where you wanted to be.


“Oh yeah, my workout plan is going real good.”

M = Meaningful, as is, why the hell do YOU actually want to do this. Not why you think you should.

Purpose is the driving force or the missing ingredient in your quest for a brand new body.

He who has a large enough why can bear almost any how.


a” and “r” = attainable and realistic.

These are lowercase because I think that they are by far the least important things to consider and will not be in the action steps later on. Most people are so beaten down by weight-loss failures that they are pretty much shooting for the ground. So, they set extremely low and completely unmotivating goals.

If you want fire in your belly then you need goals worth getting hot and bothered about.

The Proof

With a good plan and follow through you can make progress at a staggering rate – a man in his 20's can drop 30-40lbs of body fat in 12 weeks and pack on 10lbs of muscle in that same time period. You can do that without starving, eating food that tastes great AND while having a life outside of the gym (3-4hrs/week will get the job done).

On Day 1 his stats were:

  • 201lbs
  • 28% body-fat
  • 40″ waist (a.k.a. a walking heart attack)

On Day 84 they were:

  • 169lbs
  • 31″ waist (9″ drop)
  • 9% body-fat
  • Down 40lbs of fat
  • Gained 10lbs of muscle

*Total body composition improvement of 50lbs in 84 DAYS

The plan is yours free of charge, just don't bastardize it by adding in low-fat cookies, bicep curls, crunches and long distance running. That shit will not be included for a lot of very good reasons.

By the time people are actually going out to seek help they're expectations for themselves are so low that they are usually selling themselves really short. They've tried poor advice from friends like, “eat only one meal per day and run for an hour everyday.” When that backfires, they get depressed and discouraged and assumed that they were the problem and that it' just not possible to make the kind of progress that they want to make.

T = Time bound, as in, how soon do you want to get there?

Work will expand to fill the time allotted to it. And the journey to the body you want will drag on forever and ever if you don't put a solid deadline on WHEN you are absolutely committed to being there. Most people resist and dread pressure like this because they don't want to look like a fool if they fail to achieve by that date.

That pressure is EXACTLY what you want. You WANT to be thinking, “shit, if I eat this cookie now I am going to look like a fat-ass tool when I go to the beach next month. Let me put that down and eat the apple instead.” If you just keep your goals to yourself then you'll have no pressure and no accountability to achieve them, and odds are you will NOT achieve them.

YES, it is infinitely more comfortable to keep it all to yourself and tell yourself bullshit like, “it'll happen when it happens.” BUT, that comfort comes with a HUGE price – no accomplishment.

As trite as it is, the difference between a lump of coal and a diamond IS heat and pressure. As much as your cynicism would have you pooh-pooh that, in your heart you know that it's true. Business as usual = body as usual.

Putting This Into Action

You Are 30min Away From Getting Off On The Good Foot

It's 30min if you focus for 30min and just get it done without allowing anything to distract you. You've already got a little momentum going, don't waste it. If you wait then you are subject to the law of diminishing intent – the more time elapses between intention and action the less likely that intention is to be brought to life.

Turn off the phone, log out of your email and don't read part 2 of this article, just take action and get this done now.

#1. Find out where you are now.

Before you decide on your destination figure out where you're starting from. This is very simple:

  • Weigh yourself. pick one scale, one outfit, one day of the week and one approximate time to do so. Your weight can fluctuate by 5lbs or more in a day, so controlling as many variables as possible will ensure that you get some useful data when you weigh in. This is as simple as weighing yourself first thing on Monday mornings in the bathroom after you pee.
  • Measure yourself.  for guys this is simple, just measure your waist at the plane of your belly button. If your waist gets smaller you are leaner no matter what the scale says. Women should measure waist, thighs and hips, but testosterone will just put the fat in your belly for the most part. Pick a standard time, day and outfit – probably the same time as your weigh-in.
  • Make an excel file with the date, waist circumference and your weight. You're going to update this EVERY WEEK with your new data. We're only talking 2-3min of “work” per week to actually know if you are on track or not.
  • Snag some “before” pics – no shirt, with short shorts – front, side and back. Yes, this will probably be embarrassing, BUT it will also be MOTIVATING. Most people have no idea how they actually look. This will really start to light a fire under your ass. Total Time: 5min (without distraction)

#2. Decide where you'd really like to be.

Where would you be EXCITED to be in 12 weeks? Figure out to the best of your guessing abilities what this would be in terms of waist size. Waist size is the most important number. If your waist shrinks, but your weight stays the same that means that you lost fat AND gained muscle at the same time. How else could you be smaller, but the same weight?

This is the best of both worlds as it means that you are accelerating your metabolism while dropping body-fat, whereas most people lose metabolism while losing weight.

Write this down. Really, write this down. In your journal or in a Word file.

Total time = 5min

#3. Decide when.

Well, this is actually pretty much decided for you as this will be a 12 week program, BUT do decide on an event where you will show off your new body in 12 weeks. Beach trip. Pool party. If there isn't an event already set-up, organize one.

Total time = 5min

#4. Get some leverage on yourself.

Tell at least 3 supportive people about what you are about to do – where you will be, the date and about your “unveiling.” Oh, and send your before pics and your goal to me at [email protected]. The more leverage you can get on yourself the better.

Total time = 5min

#5. Get clear on WHY you want to do this.

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey says that no matter where he goes in the world, and no matter the age, culture, sex, religion, or position of the people, whenever people get clear about their mission in life it all boils down to just 4 things – to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy. Everyone is different in how they go about acting on this, but everyone's mission comes down to just those four elements.

Now its time for you to connect the dots from fitness to the rest of your life – your whole life, not just looking hot with your shirt off.

Take a few minutes, and really reflect, and write why and how being fit affects each of the four dimensions of your life. Include both what you will get when you succeed and what it will cost you if you fail – we are driven by both the carrot and the stick. Pollyanna positivity will not serve you here. They key is to feel what you write.

  • To live: how much better will you look and feel? What kind of new clothes will you be able to get?
  • To love: how can you take care of others when you have not first taken care of yourself? Does your significant other really deserve to be with someone who is a fat slob? How can you be a great partner and lover if you don't have the energy to be kind and passionate? As a guy who was an obese child I can tell you that being the fat kid in school is hell on earth – do you really want to be the one responsible for setting your kids up for that kind of a life?
  • To learn: how will becoming the sort of person who keeps his promises to himself help you grow into the person you've always wanted to be? What will you learn about time management? About self discipline? About working smarter?
  • To leave a legacy: why do you think you're here? Whatever that answer is, are you really going to be able to make a difference in this life if you are sick and tired? If you lack confidence and self discipline? Can you practice your spirituality without health and energy?

Total time = 10min (possibly more, but the other tasks should take less than the allotted 5min, and even if it does cost a little extra to really get clear it will really be worth it.)

Part 2

The Fat-Loss Blast Off

So now we get to where the rubber meets the road, BUT ONLY IF YOU HAVE ALREADY COMPLETED PART 1. Learning with action is just a waste of time. Don't spend the time to read this part on getting started until you lay the proper foundation.

Ivan Pavlov Would Have Been A Great Personal Trainer

I'll be honest with you, losing body-fat actually is hard work and there is some sacrifice involved in the process, BUT if you can link-up in your gut that this sacrifice = pleasure then you'll actually have no problem with motivation whatsoever. Notice that I said link up in your gut, NOT in your head.

There is a really simple way to make that happen – fast results. If you follow my advice and your pants fit better in the first 7 days, and your energy is through the roof, then unconsciously you will link up that following Josef's advice = pleasure, or eating right and exercising = pleasure and you will be VERY motivated to continue.

But, if I were to sell you some bullshit “slow and steady” plan where you drop 1/2lb per week, you would be sick of me and link-up that weight-loss sucks and is NOT worth the price. All change costs about the same amount of will power and mental energy. If you put forth effort and get nothing out of the process (or hardly anything) then you are going to quit.

With that in mind here is my nutrition plan to help you drop 8-10lbs of body-fat (not just scale weight) in the next 4 weeks flat.

Its called:

GREEN FACES: Eating for Maximal Fat-loss in Minimal Time

“Green Faces” is THE fastest way to drop body-fat in a healthy, safe way that will set you up to keep it off instead of rebounding. There is no calorie counting and your body will be primed to burn fat better in the future.

Green faces means that for the next 3 weeks, WITHOUT A SINGLE EXCEPTION, you will eat meals/snacks that consist of:

  1. Faces: Animal protein (came from something with a face, or that would have had a face – i.e. an egg would've had a face, and that tuna fish had one)
  2. Green: Non-starchy veggies (broccoli, peppers, cauliflower… a longer list is provided later)
  3. Healthy fat: You cannot cut back on carbs and fat at the same time. If you do, then your body only has the option of burning protein for fuel. That is terrible, because you will begin burning muscle tissue. Which will slow down your metabolism, further decrease your ability to handle carbs, make a “rebound” more likely, and make getting “toned” or “ripped” (depending on your gender) impossible.
  4. No fruit. No alcohol. No grains (this includes rice cakes, etc.). No bread. No soda. No juice.

How Does It Work?

At a basic level, your body has two fuel sources – carbs or fat. If you take away the carbs, then it must start meeting almost all of its energy needs from fat, provided you are taking in enough fat from your diet. (FYI, your body can manufacture its own carbohydrates from fat and protein.)

Also, the hormone insulin is of great concern for someone looking to strip away lots of body fat fast. Essentially insulin is a storage hormone – the less you have circulating in your blood, the less likely you are to store body-fat and the more likely you are to burn it.

For more info on the subject check out my article The Real Deal About Carbs and Fitness: What Every Man Needs to Know.

Is It Safe?

Absolutely, 100%, YES! It is completely safe. In fact, it is more than safe. It will probably do wonders for your health via improved glucose tolerance, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, bowel regularity, and overall energy levels. The notion that high-protein diets causes kidney damage in normal, healthy people is completely made up.

There are at least 15 years of peer-reviewed clinical research saying that there is absolutely no risk posed to normal, healthy people from short or long-term exposure to a high-protein diet. In fact, higher protein/lower carbohydrate diets have consistently been shown to outperform low-fat/high-carb/low-protein diets for fat-loss, in the treatment of diabetes, and for heart health.

What About Carbs!? Don't I Need Carbs!?

No. There are essential fatty-acids, essential amino-acids (protein), and essential vitamins and minerals. BUT there is NO SUCH THING as an essential sugar (carbohydrate). You could go the rest of your life without a single gram of carbs and be perfectly healthy. Carbs are NOT an essential nutrient.

Am I recommending that you go the rest of your life without carbs? No. Am I suggesting that you even go the next 21 days without carbs? No way! I want you to eat carbs. I just want you to get your carbs exclusively from REAL vegetables. (Corn and potatoes are NOT veggies.) Load up on unlimited amounts of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, etc.

A plate of food with broccoli, with Chicken

What Should I Eat?

Every 2 ½ to 3 ½ hrs (or 4-5x/day for women, and 5-6 for men) eat Green Faces = animal protein + non-starchy veggie + healthy fat. Pick a number – most people find that 3 meals + 2 snacks works great.

Protein Sources: (These are good, but by no means complete lists)

  • High Omega-3 eggs (1 to 3 whole eggs + egg whites)
  • Egg whites
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Reduced fat cottage cheese
  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken sausage (lean)
  • Turkey breast
  • Turkey sausage (lean)
  • Turkey bacon
  • Lean red meat (flank steak, grass-fed steak, bison, ostrich…)
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Scallops
  • Any kind of fish (so long as it's not deep fried)
  • Protein powders (I would recommend “Metabolic Drive Super Protein Shake” available at www.metabolicdrive.com)
  • Low-carb, high-protein meal replacement shakes (I would recommend Muscle Milk ready to drink “carb conscious” available at Vitamin Shoppe, GNC – or – Aktins Shakes…)

Good Veggies

  • Eggplant
  • Tomato
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Leafy Greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Artichoke
  • Onions
  • Squash
  • Cucumber
  • Sweet peppers (any color)
  • Zucchini
  • Green Beans

Healthy Fats

  • Olives and Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Peanuts and Peanut oil
  • Flax oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Walnuts and Walnut oil
  • Avocado and Avocado oil
  • Almonds and Almond oil
  • Grass-fed butter

Count as BOTH Healthy Fat & Protein

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Grass fed beef
  • Grass fed dairy products
  • High omega-3 eggs (eat the yolk)

What Should I Drink?

Rule #1 – Do NOT drink your calories. So, if it doesn't have calories, then it is OK.


  • Tea: plain herbal, green, black, etc. If you really need to sweeten it use Splenda.
  • Water
  • Water with lemon juice
  • Seltzer
  • Flavored seltzer (can be really good)
  • Diet soda
  • Black coffee or coffee with Splenda

Don't Drink:

  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sugary coffee and tea drinks from Starbucks or wherever
  • Etc.

What About Dairy?

While low-fat dairy products should be part of your healthy maintenance lifestyle, many are NOT part of the accelerated fat-loss program because of their high sugar content (lactose).


  • Cheese
  • Reduced fat cottage cheese
  • Mascarpone
  • Greek yogurt


  • Regular Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Ice cream
  • Etc.

What Would a 3-Day Menu Look Like?

Day1 Day2 Day3
Breakfast Scrambled eggs (1 whole + 3 whites) with feta cheese and spinach (7min.) 1-2 hard boiled eggs + 1 chicken sausage + handful of your favorite raw veggie (1 min., if you pre-cook the eggs) Southwestern omelet: 1 whole egg + 3 whites. Filling: Sautéed onions + peppers + 1 piece turkey bacon + cheddar or Monterey jack cheese. Top: salsa. (10min.)
Snack Peanut butter + celery + beef jerky Cottage cheese with Splenda and vanilla extract 1 hard boiled egg + walnuts + baby carrots
Lunch Any South Beach PHASE I frozen meal Out with friends: Chicken Caesar salad (hold the croutons, and get the dressing on the side and use it sparingly) Tandoor chef frozen tandoori chicken and spinach meal
Snack Muscle Milk mint-chocolate low-carb protein drink (they come ready to drink and are widely available and are very good) String cheese + turkey lunch meat, rolled-up in lettuce (romaine and Bibb are excellent) “Reese's Pudding” Low-fat cottage cheese + peanut butter + chocolate protein powder
Dinner Flank steak in a balsamic reduction with spinach Lemon-Pepper Tilapia with roasted asparagus 6-pack Beef Stew

What About Eating Out?

This is actually not very difficult if you live in a big city, and you give a little thought to where you go. There are just 4 things to do to ensure success:

#1. Check the menu: Look up the menu of where you are going to go online. In less than 5 minutes you should be able to find several options that will fit the green faces bill – i.e. steak, shrimp, chicken, lobster…

#2. Go with good people: Make sure that the people you are going out with know what you are trying to do and that they will be supportive. Don't go out with someone who is going to be a jack-ass and try to put ice cream in your mouth, or who will constantly harass you to “eat my French fries! Eat them!” Life is too short to waste any of it with people like that. The good news is that most people will be supportive, or at least neutral.

#3. Drink right: Get the water or get the diet soda or the seltzer. Green Faces is only 3wks long and you don't want to undo 4-5 days of really hard work with an alcoholic drink. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you actually have more fun completely sober – I know I do.

#4. Ask for what you want and need: Tell the waiter to “hold the bread basket.” Order a salad, or order an entrée, BUT tell them to sub your potatoes (or whatever the starch is) with broccoli or spinach, or steamed veggies. All decent places will do it. Speak up and ask for what you want.

How Do I Get Through This?

What would you say if your wife, husband, boyfriend or whatever said, “I'll try to be faithful honey”? Exactly, that's bullshit. People are faithful and relationships work because people commit to them. Being committed means that you will honor that commitment no matter what.

By the way this has nothing to do with being miserable. In my opinion, it is impossible to be truly happy or fulfilled in life without having commitments that you honor. While it is tough in the short run, it actually feels wonderful to honor your commitments to yourself and others over the long run. Who you become in the process is far more valuable than what you get, even though that is really cool too.

Sacrifice has nothing to do with being a martyr, it means trading something OK or good right now for something AWESOME later. It's a choice that YOU make, not something you have to do. Remember, you WANT to do this.

The next three weeks of your life are going to pass anyway, the only question is, “will you be leaner in 3 weeks or will you just be 21 days older?”

What Should I Do Right Now?

  1. Pick a start date
  2. Create a rough meal plan
  3. Go grocery shopping
  4. Get your stats and send me your pics and goals – this will really help to put leverage on you.


Josef Brandenburg

Josef Brandenburg is a Washington D.C.-area fitness expert with 16 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book "Results Fitness." In 2004, he started True 180 Fitness (formerly The Body You Want) personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the time you have available. Josef holds certifications from Precision Nutrition, American Council on Exercise, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Functional Movement Systems, Corrective High Performance Kinesiology, and the National College of Exercise Professionals. Learn more about Josef on his blog, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.