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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 27, 2008

Act “As If” – A 30-Day Primal Health Challenge

By Worker Bee
52 Comments

30 Day ChallengeLast week we looked at what goes into our decisions to be healthy: the hows, the wheres, the whos and whys of consideration, of envisioning and finally of commitment. It’s a decision that puts ourselves at the core, we said.

Sometimes our path to that decision is smooth. Sometimes it’s a collection of fits and starts. Usually, it’s a little of both. Progress can come with slow, steady dedication and effort. But, oftentimes, there’s at least a few experiences when we put the pedal to the metal. Whether it’s an overwhelming, positive rush of internal motivation or the insistence of an external, swift kick in the pants, these instances of hyperdrive move us forward. And, yes, even if we lose some ground afterward, we’re changed for the experience nonetheless. We’ve felt that higher level of health, whether it be fitness, nutrition, life balance, etc. Even if we give up some of the result, we know how good it was, and mark our words, you’ll eventually crave it again and be back for more.

And, so, that’s why we embrace the fits and starts, the push that is too intense to be wholly sustainable. Our motivation muscle isn’t much different than our physical muscle. Ultimately, you have to max it out to build it.

In that spirit, we have a challenge.

We’re talking something more than a new diet, something bigger than a 5K, something broader than a new work project, something, well, other than streaking through the neighborhood. We’re talking taking on a new identity (alias not required but fun). We’re talking an experiment that lets you slip into a different life than your own. It’s a sneaky, tricky, scheming little trial that will leave you with some good stories and probably a serious sense of accomplishment. What if…you went fully “Primal” for a month? Took on the part of diehard, hardass primal man or woman?

No, we’re not talking about donning skins, killing prey and giving up indoor bathroom facilities. But it does involve the spirit of acting. In all seriousness, what if you chose to play the part of Primal Blueprint extraordinaire, certified/certifiable health nut for one full month. You’d be the person who makes no compromises, no excuses in your diet or exercise routine. You’d take on the life of others who have the energy, the commitment, the bodies, etc. No cheating – ever. We’re talking Soup Nazi inflexibility. Could you do it? Could you do it and have fun while you’re at it?

It’s summer, after all, when the weather and long days are more conducive to better exercise variety, when vegetables and fruits are cheaper and in season, when we all seem to have a happier disposition and more optimistic attitude. (Isn’t July a little more inspiring than January?) Can you think of a better time than now?

Take up your drumsticks and join your fellow Apples in this experiment. All it requires is that you act as if you are a diehard for a single month. It’s a 30-day tale (minus Morgan Spurlock) seeing how the other half (well, far few than half) lives.

The upside, the veritable beauty of the experiment (other than the alias possibilities) is that you are bound to gain new insight and perspective into the life that you’ve wondered about, even pined after. Up until now, it’s been unattainable. (Perfection generally is. But people berate themselves nonetheless.) But to pretend that perfection for one month? That might get interesting. It’s a version of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. But for a limited time only!

The key phrase here is “as if.”

All you have to do is act as if you were the person at the gym with unlimited resolve.

Act as if you can sustain Primal living 100% of the time.

Act as if you have no desire for sweets, bread, pasta and rice.

Act as if you can let the big and small stresses of everyday life slide off your back.

And don’t worry that you may not be that person. All you have to do is act as if you were. Before you know it as if may turn into I am.

At the end of the month’s challenge, you will see how you feel physically and mentally. Perhaps you’ll love every minute of it and think it wasn’t as hard as you anticipated. Maybe you’ll feel that every day was an all out struggle and you’ll applaud the return to your own version of measured balance. You may also find that your previous life contained some “vices” you don’t really need anymore. You might find that the sensible (and some not-so sensible vices) contribute to the life you prefer to live… despite the health consequences. Hmmm. Maybe you’ll need another month’s worth of experimentation to decide how you feel.

We challenge you to give it a try. At the very least, you’ll learn something about yourself.

If you’re a regular reader, consider yourself “armed” with all the knowledge and tools you need to play Primal for a month: exercise routines, menus, recipes, stress relief tips, etc. You’re ready for the experiment. The primal role is yours for the taking. Are you game?

Report back with your findings!

(Check back later for recipes to get you started on the right foot.)

Further Reading:

The Primal Blueprint: Your Guide to Acting As If

Have you Decide to Be Healthy?

Practical Advice for Raising Healthy Seedlings

This Year: Evolve Your Resolve

The Whole Series of Eat This Today, Feel Better Tomorrow: 1, 2, 3, Intermittent Fasting, Special Occasions and Dessert Editions

More Recipes

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

Sponsor note:
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52 Comments on "Act “As If” – A 30-Day Primal Health Challenge"

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32Simon
32Simon
8 years 3 months ago

I’m on board! Count me in! Having this community, the structure of this mini experiment, and the “acting as if” idea to help me through I think I can do it. I’m less interested in seeing what sort of physical changes I see in one month’s time than I am in seeing how I mentally handle this sort of life. As you guys preach, sensible vices can be worth their weight in gold. This experiment may just reaffirm this. I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Zoran
Zoran
8 years 3 months ago

Yo, Mark! One question? Is coffee allowed?

Other than that, YOU’RE ON!

Bill
Bill
8 years 3 months ago

I will take the challenge,should i eat more veggies than meat and fat, or more meat and fat than veggies to keep the carbs low? i need to lose weight so i need better instructions(sorry)

Aaron
8 years 3 months ago
Hello Bill, We are happy to hear you are on board with the challenge! Here are a few posts to get you started: The Primal Blueprint Mark’s Daily Diet Mark Sisson’s Not Afraid of Fat I Can’t Eat Anything! How Much Protein Should I Be Eating? This should get you started. If you have any further questions feel free to drop us another line and we’ll try to answer it (if our helpful, regular readers don’t answer it first). Also, do some searching on MDA or take a look through our archives. You should find everything you need with a… Read more »
Aaron
8 years 3 months ago

Here you go, Zoran:

Caffeine Talk

Greg Battaglia
Greg Battaglia
8 years 3 months ago

Mark, I’m already “Primal” about 95% of the time. You’ve inspired me to dedicate this next month to 100% compliance to primal living. It should be a fun ride.

Jay - Ready, Set, Change!
8 years 3 months ago

Sounds like a great challenge, one that I’ll probably sign up for the next time around. I’ve got a 10 day vacation going on in July, and this primal wannabe considers all the beer I’ll be consuming as more of a reward for the things I’ve already accomplished than an excuse for those I have yet to.

With that said, good luck and good food to all those who will be participating!

charlotte
8 years 3 months ago

Oh you guys just said the magic words to me: challenge! You KNOW I love a good experiment and I’ve been toying around with various aspects of the primal diet for about a year now but I’ve never given the whole plan a fair shot.

I’m in:)

And yeah, that means I’m eating meat. At least for the next 30 days. I’ll post this on my site, The Great Fitness Experiment and then put up my results in 30 days. You guys are on!

McFly
McFly
8 years 3 months ago

Challenge accepted! I’m going 100% primal. Alright, maybe 99.6% primal, I’ve got to wear deodorant. Otherwise it’s the pits!

SuperMike
SuperMike
8 years 3 months ago

Watch out everybody! Don’t do it. It’s a trick! I did the 30 day thing two years ago and couldn’t stop. You’re going to end up lean and muscular, feeling better than you’ve ever felt before. Besides that, all your overweight friends are going to tell you you’re too skinny. Are you really ready for that?

(It’s funny you mentioned Soup Nazi, because they call me the Food Nazi at work.)

Good luck everyone.

SpecialK
SpecialK
8 years 3 months ago

I’m in. It won’t be easy. I just had pizza and pop for my companies monthly free lunch. I am weak when it comes to that kind of social gathering with free food. Okay, one month, here we go.

Cheryl L.
Cheryl L.
8 years 3 months ago

I’m in too! I’ve been reading your site for awhile now and feel armed and ready. Now it’s time to put all this great info to use. I’ll keep you updated.

Bandit
Bandit
8 years 3 months ago

I am in starting July 1st! One question: is dairy okay if it is raw? I just finished Nina Planck’s book “Read Food” and she extolls the benefits of raw milk and dairy made from raw milk. It’s a very convincing argument and she cites a lot of studies. Mark, have you read her book?

Aaron
8 years 3 months ago

Bandit,

Glad you are joining us! The Primal Blueprint isn’t so hot on dairy. Cheese and yogurt, for example, are considered Sensible Vices. But this experiment has a little more to do with you attempting to live up to your own highest standards of health than it does you following our recommendations to a T. We’d suggest going without dairy for a month as part of the experiment. On the other hand, if you do include dairy as part of your diet we’d be just as interested to hear about your results come August 1st. Keep us updated!

Christi
Christi
8 years 3 months ago

I’m in! Will have to make some adjustments to what I currently eat and make sure to get more sleep too but it can and will be done! Its on, July 1st and the entire month….possibly longer! I am doing this for health reasons first and foremost and hoping for a little weight (fat) loss as well!

Zoran
Zoran
8 years 3 months ago

Ok, so no more coffee for me. I can handle that. But I will still consume dairy products from time to time and spike my insulin after workouts. I’m a wrestler and my workouts have lately been more about weightlifting and anaerobic endurance and i don’t think i’ll be able to survive 1.5 hours, 5-6 times per week.

Cheers!

BNicolucci
BNicolucci
8 years 2 months ago

I’m in as well. The wife and I have had fits and starts of eating better and exercising more (and smarter) but the occasional compromise ends up dashing most gains and taking us off track. Will 30 days of zero compromise change that? Well that’s what we aim to find out!

Good luck everybody!

Nkem
8 years 2 months ago

I’m in. Love challenges. I’ll send my updates as well.

Naomi Niles
8 years 2 months ago

I’m in! I just read this post today, but started yesterday anyway. So, whoo, I’m motivated!

Naomi Niles
8 years 2 months ago

I’m in! I just read this post today, but started yesterday anyway. So, whoo, I’m motivated!

And today I actually finished reading every article on this whole site. All 212 pages. Took me a few weeks, but it was so very worthwhile. Thanks for so much good information Mark & Co.!

Nagelson
Nagelson
8 years 2 months ago

I’m in on this challenge! I started the paleo diet on July 2nd. Seems easy enough to me. Good luck everyone.

jdpolson
jdpolson
8 years 1 month ago

Hi,

I’m currently researching various weight loss programs and courses.

So, if you don’t mind please answer in this topic: What’s your single most important question about weight loss?

Cheers, JD

trackback

[…] link for the places I’m checking out, but ultimately I’m accepting Mark’s 30 day challenge so I can be the fittest I’ve ever been coming into […]

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[…] Act “As If”, A 30 Day Primal Health Challenge – Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Richard
Richard
7 years 7 months ago
I’m on board, I started last Friday so its 7 full days. My diet has been EXACTLY prescribed by Mark, ie Omelette if hungry ( omitte so far ) Canned Salmon 8 oz can Salad as per rescipie Meat dinner and veg Berries 15 blueberries 12 nuts Exercized alternate days cardio intervals of 20 sec all out sprints followed by 10 sec rest x 8 Alternate days heavy weights assisted by a personal trainer shoulders – arms – back – legs My fat % had dropped from 21% to 18% Mt Weight from 173 to 169lbs I suffered from last… Read more »
Marc
6 years 10 months ago

Richard, are you still in hong kong? Have
not met anybody here who is into primal living, and since I live on lamma island that us saddening 🙂 would love to meet up for some meat and share hk tips. Find my email at my website!
Cheers,
Marc

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[…] you haven’t done it already (or even if you have!), consider taking the 30-Day Primal Health Challenge. It may sound daunting, but employing the “act as if” tips will be sure to get you through […]

kim
7 years 3 months ago

starting on june 1st! getting my grocery list together right after i finish reading the book today/tomorrow. going to cook and prep for the week tomorrow so i’m good to go!

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[…] you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my weekly newsletter. Thanks for visiting!The 30-Day Primal Health Challenge to act “as if” has come to a close. From the updates I have received – from the few that were kind enough to send […]

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[…] to subscribe to my weekly newsletter. Thanks for visiting!There has been an amazing response to the 30-Day Primal Health Challenge. We’ve received dozens of positive emails and comments from people that are enthusiastic […]

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[…] expressed (either in the comment boards or via email) their interest in being participants in the 30-Day Primal Health Challenge. We thought we’d publish it here to offer our services (we’ll, as always, do our best […]

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[…] want to subscribe to my weekly newsletter. Thanks for visiting!So, you’ve decided to accept the Primal challenge. No time like the present, we say! To get you started we thought we’d share a few recipes in […]

coley
coley
6 years 8 months ago
this was perfect. to act “as if..” i’ve been eating primal about 1 week. so far so good. i felt pretty lousy last week. i guess it was coming off the carb addiction. 🙂 now, i have a cold. i RARELY get sick. the congestion is unbelievable! but, i have maintained primal eating. one spoonful of whipcream is the only “cheat” i’ve had. today, still a little under the weather, i’m feeling very tempted and craving….anything. i want a cookie or chocolate or something. part of the problem is the little candy dish and snacks at work. i know, i… Read more »
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[…] not being one to dimiss infeasible ideas out of hand, I am willing to give it a try. I will do the Mark’s Daily Apple 30-day primeal challenge. And then one better: I will do a thirty day stint of eating only what is locally produced – […]

agnes
6 years 6 months ago

Im doing this – come June – even though I have some doubts as to whether someone primal would actually have survived where I’m at…http://mydailyburn.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/primals-wouldnt-live-here/

Trotter
Trotter
6 years 6 months ago

I’m 11 Days in and I feel like a million bucks. I’ve lost 12 lbs., I’m sleeping better, and I just feel better. A friend of mine turned me on to the book and I had my doubts, but I promised him I’d give it a shot. Not only am I finding it great for my health, but it’s very easy to follow the rules.

Grok On, I know I will!

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[…] is easier to replace habits with good ones instead of just stopping.  so, i have decided to do the primal blueprint “as if” challenge.  i will also make infusions 5 days on, 2 off.  also, i will adopt the power of less habit of the […]

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6 years 1 month ago

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Heaz
Heaz
5 years 3 months ago

I’m totally three years late, but I’m gonna challenge myself to do this.

After all, I was an acting major 😛

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Heather
Heather
4 years 7 months ago

I just stumbled across this old challenge, and after a month of Paleo/little-bit-of-crossfit (and a 16 pound loss!) I’m going to take this challenge starting tomorrow for the month of Feb! I’m ready!

Dawn
4 years 7 months ago

I went Primal 3 weeks ago and have lost 12 pounds (183 – 172) and dropped one pant size. Woohoo!! Absolutely no grains. Still eating some dairy. I think it’s time to kick it up a notch and cut out the dairy as well. Thoughts?

So, why not? Begin today.

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4 years 6 months ago

[…] Diet I’ll be following: 30 Day Primal Eating Challenge. […]

Stacey
Stacey
4 years 5 months ago

I just found this challenge! I’ve been toying with Primal for two weeks. I am a carb and dairy addict….I need to do this challenge.I have been doing well. I had a few days of headache, and one day of intense chocolate cravings( I really could have eaten any and all chocolate in sight if I found it!),but I am good now.

Tomorrow will be Day 1 of 100% Primal

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Andee Kyle
1 year 6 months ago

I am going to do this for one year.

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