Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
18 Jul

Begin Your Summer Self-Challenge Now! (plus a Chance to Win a Free Copy of Primal Cravings)

Challenge YourselfEver since I was a kid in Northern New England, mid-July always had a foreboding kind of association. Sure, the black flies were good and gone by then. We were contentedly settled back into our routines of freedom and mayhem. It felt in some ways like summer had just begun! The calendar, however, said differently. Not only were we beyond the longest days of sunlight already, but we were moving into the waning half of summer itself. In a few short weeks, we’d be back in school, already plotting the following summer’s exploits. Though we can definitely take mid-July from a “half empty” kind of perspective, these days I prefer to see the time as an effective kick in the pants – a salient reminder that “hey, time to get going on all the remaining goals and schemes.” Seize the season, I guess you could say. With six weeks left in summer, who’s up for a self-challenge?

Lately I’ve been writing a fair amount about the psychological – even emotional – side of getting healthy. The fact is, knowing what to do/not do is only a small portion of the battle. From there, we too often get in our own way. In my decades of personal training, I’ve found it’s the inner dialogue that truly makes or breaks it for most people. It’s the inner guilt we stoke, the excuses we make, the laziness we justify, the fear we hide, the anxiety we attempt to contain. When they go unchecked, they usually end up containing us. If we can shine some awareness on the psychological hurdles we create for ourselves or if we can create an effective redirect away from our old habits toward better kick-start practices, we can break out of that containment. We can become the best possible versions of ourselves.

The key is to believe you deserve better. Deep, down-to-the-bones believe that you, yourself, the one sitting in front of this screen, the one you see in the bathroom mirror each morning deserve to know what it feels like to live your physical potential. In this one life you get, will you choose that experience? Will you give yourself the chance to know what you’re capable of? Ask yourself: would you be willing to make that chance happen now – in these next six weeks?

We can start by being honest with ourselves – about our “stuff” and do what we need to do to not let old emotional messages determine our future course. Then it’s time to invest in ourselves – to put ourselves right out there on the line with a hard and fast commitment. No nebulous, fuzzy, indeterminate aspirations need apply. Make it a clear cut vision – an event that you either finish or not, a set of numbers in your workouts you either make or don’t, a class you either take or don’t. There’s a reason for the concrete here. Not only will you feel more impetus to follow through, but you’ll reap the decisive rewards. Research has shown that depressed people tend to make more generalized goals. This vaguer focus, Dr. Joanne Dickson of the University of Liverpool and researcher in this area explains, results in “making it more difficult to achieve [the goals] and therefore creating a downward cycle of negative thoughts.” It’s probably not too much of a stretch to say vague intentions don’t do anyone’s self-esteem or self-efficacy any favors.

Every day we can cross off another day on the calendar. We can tell ourselves it just wasn’t meant to happen this day, this week, this month, this year. As the saying goes, “You said ‘tomorrow’ yesterday.” With the last half of summer, we can take advantage of that nagging sense of urgency. For most people, summer is the easiest time to take on a health goal. Longer daylight, better weather, fewer clothing hassles, more vacation time (for many people) means more opportunity and fewer excuses for getting in a genuine fitness routine – or bumping up what you have going.

This peak of summer is the time – your time. Take the first step toward a better life, a stronger and healthier and happier you. Drop the excuses at the curb. Take on the anxiety. Leave the guilt or undercutting self-concept behind. Get in the game, and make a clear, concrete commitment to yourself. Maybe it’s signing up for a 5K or joining a local sports team. Maybe it’s achieving a PR in OH squats or cleans. Perhaps it’s signing up for a dance class or biking a certain extended trail. Whatever it is, make it focused and measurable.

Primal CravingsSo, who’s up for making a “self-challenge” to finish out the summer? Are you on board? Got a goal that’s just itching to be scratched? List your fitness challenge that you’re committing to for the rest of summer in the comment section for the chance to win a copy of the new Primal Cravings book. (Because a good goal deserves great fuel…) Of course, making any intention truly public is an important aspect of succeeding. It gets you on the path, accountable from the start. Don’t let down your fellow MDA readers! I’ll be checking back come September around the time the 30-Day Challenge begins! Own this challenge – and snowball your success over the next six weeks into even bigger and better things. Isn’t that the way you want to begin your fall?

UPDATE: Congratulations to Jamie for being the randomly selected winner of this contest, and the lucky recipient of a copy of the new Primal Blueprint Publishing book Primal Cravings.

Share your Summer Self-Challenge, and good luck, everyone! The contest ends and a winner will be chosen at random at 5 PM PST, Thursday, July 18. Thanks for reading today, everybody.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. About 2 years ago, I stopped doing Crossfit and any kind of Primal-inspired workouts. Had a big life change (end of 11-year relationship) that really drained a lot of my energy and motivation.

    So NOW, it’s time to get that focus back and get strong again so the self-love can shine through!

    I WILL:

    1. Crossfit 2x/wk
    2. Yoga 1x/wk
    (in addition to the hiking and biking I’m already doing)
    3. Reach the above goals VIA:
    a) In bed for 8-9 hrs/night
    b)eating/drinking out only Fri – Sat

    Julie wrote on July 18th, 2013
  2. I want to increase my vegetable intake.

    Charlayna wrote on July 18th, 2013
  3. My goal is to complete a half marathon scheduled for October 6th. I work in clinical cancer research and I am running and fundraising for the children’s cancer program at my hospital. Our team is hopeful of raising $35k for the kiddos and their families! I am combining running with HIIT and strength training with the overall goal of having my best race yet.

    Good luck to everyone with their goals!!

    Melinda wrote on July 18th, 2013
  4. Mark – thanks for the reminder that the summer is half started!

    My goals:
    1. Daily sun, when it’s shining.
    2. Sprint (bike or run) every 7-10 days.

    Over the past year and a half, I’ve done really well on weekly strength exercises – push ups, pull ups, and squats – using Jonathan Bailor’s eccentric contraction approach. But I have yet to work in the sprints on a regular basis.

    “Seize the summer” is my new mantra!

    Kevin wrote on July 18th, 2013
  5. I’ve been sugar free (doing a candida cleanse) four weeks and have already lost 11 pounds. My goal is to start exercising again- playing in ponds and the ocean with my boys, walking with my sisters and rowing while watching TV.

    Ruth wrote on July 18th, 2013
  6. 100 consecutive push ups- 150 consecutive dips- 200 sit ups- 200 squats- 25 pull ups. At least one day of free play every week.when I get it done I am buying me a Grok shirt, because I will finally “grok” Grok!

    John Snyder wrote on July 18th, 2013
  7. For the last six weeks of summer, only primal food will pass my lips (that’s why I need the book!)

    I will attend at least three yoga sessions per week in an attempt to regain enough flexibility so I can touch my toes (without bending my knees!)

    I think that’s more than enough, given where I’m in my primal quest right now.

    Cody wrote on July 18th, 2013
  8. Funny, I actually started working towards this goal 2 days ago because I thought I had been slacking so much in this Miami rainy weather.
    My fitness challenge is to continue on with my weight training while incorporating yoga back into my schedule. I’ve been a little crazy lately, probably because I’ve been skipping the meditation aspect of working out! Thanks for the reminder Mark :]

    Rachel M wrote on July 18th, 2013
  9. To start moving more and being creative with the movements I do. To inspire my 8 year old to move more so we can compete in a Family Mud Run in Sept.
    To quit making excuses that allow me to give up!

    Crystal Mullins wrote on July 18th, 2013
  10. To be able to do an aerial..I am getting the one arm cartwheel so doesn’t seem too impossible. Just need to grow some balls!!

    kat wrote on July 18th, 2013
  11. My goal is to stop making excuses that allow me to quit the things that are best for me. To move more and be more creative with those movements. To compete with my 8 year old in a Family Mud Run in Sept!

    Crystal Mullins wrote on July 18th, 2013
  12. I bought a car a year ago and, perhaps not surprisingly, my walking went down to practically zero. So recently I mapped out a couple of different 5- and 6- mile routes throughout my neighborhood and have been getting up earlier to walk them. I live in a hilly area, so it feels like an urban HIKE!

    I haven’t been consistent in getting up early enough, though, since I haven’t been great about getting to sleep on time, either. So my commitment is twofold: to go to bed early, and to wake up early enough to do these “hikes” every day!

    Then in the fall, I’ll come up with something more ambitious…:)

    Renee wrote on July 18th, 2013
  13. I’ve reached my most recent goal last month. The new one that I put on the ‘to-do’ list is to complete a Sprint Triathlon, and the last one of the year that’s close to me is on August 10th. I went on a 12 mile bike ride the other day….. I have some more work to do because I don’t think I could have run a 5k after that. Going for another bike ride tonight after work and going to go for a swim this weekend.

    Cheers everyone!!! And GO GET ‘EM!!!

    Bryan wrote on July 18th, 2013
  14. My challenge for the rest of summer is to make all of my scheduled training runs as I prepare for the Half Moon Bay Half Marathon.

    My other challenge is to get my family out the door and in to some sunlight!

    Corey wrote on July 18th, 2013
  15. I’m turning 50 in October and 10 years ago when I turned 40 I lost 86 pounds and was very physically fit. I want/need to get myself in shape again so that I can truly enjoy my life and be present to all the people in my life. I’m not aiming to be as thin as I was but to be in much better shape. So for the next 6 weeks I am keeping a food journal, exercising everyday (30-45 minutes one day walking, one day strength training) and a hike once a week. It’s very inspiring to read what others are doing! Good luck and a wish for all to have a beautiful six weeks ahead.

    Phylis wrote on July 18th, 2013
  16. Perfect timing for this post! I just recommitted myself last week to the final weeks of summer.

    I have to shed the last 12 pounds and I’m going to do it through a combination Primal eating/intermittent fasting.

    16/8 eating window

    Paleo eating 80/20

    I’ve added sprints twice a week, but no more than 1.5 miles a sprint.

    The one thing I’ve always been best at is lifting heavy things, so we’re good there.

    Rob wrote on July 18th, 2013
  17. I’ve been thinking I need this too!

    Here are my goals:
    Sleep of at LEAST 7 hours on 5 or more nights of the week.
    IF I buy a soda it needs to be the smallest size available and no more than 3 times a week (it’s become a bit of a habit lately).
    Cook my own food more.

    Along with this I’ll be continuing my twice daily walks with my dogs, crossfit 4 times a week (And I’ll pick some goals there too), and my ‘spend less money’ challenge that I have just started this week as well.

    Noctiluca wrote on July 18th, 2013
  18. I need to stop eating sugar. I am definitely addicted to it and can track weight gain and loss based on how much I eat. I am also very sensitive to it. Simple goal. No more sugar.

    I own Primal Cravings and was disappointed. While the recipes are primal and delicious, many are relatively high carb. If you pick the wrong ones, you can easily get to over 100g per day. For me, this does not work, since I don’t have a lot of time to exercise and burn the sugar (I lift heavy things infrequently and walk a mile or two a day, but..).

    Damien Gray wrote on July 18th, 2013
  19. The past few weeks have been full of dietary compromise. Pizza, ice cream, chips, etc. For the month of August I’m already committing to a no sweets after dinner plan (a huge weakness of mine) and naturally to also limit the amount of non-paleo food I eat during the regular week.

    Wish me luck!

    Joe wrote on July 18th, 2013
  20. My challenge for the rest of the summer is to Play (soccer with my son), Lift (P90X) and Run (twice a week) and Sprint (once a week).

    Rob wrote on July 18th, 2013
  21. This may sound easy for a lot of you, but I want double unders before the end of summer. I want to be able to string them together continuously, until I decide to stop. That’s the trick – when I decide to stop!

    Jen wrote on July 18th, 2013
  22. What a wonderful 6 weeks this will be!

    I want to tighten my diet as well, I have been at this a year and I think I am getting a little sloppy. Cut back on the fermented beverages as well, no need, more habit then anything. I would like to add a little more cardio to my workout routine. I lift 2 times a week and Pilates once, maybe adding a run would be a good idea. Walking the dog after dinner to help with digestion instead of before dinner… just a suggestion. Last but not least, I need a little more “play” in my life! Best wishes to us all!!

    Beth wrote on July 18th, 2013
  23. I am going to eat strictly paleo for the next 6 weeks and continue afterward. I will also only use my computer after I finish eating dinner because I figured out I get lazy when I’m on the computer and when I get lazy and hungry, I fall off the wagon. When I fall off the wagon, I fall HARD. I’m not going to let that happen this time.

    Ryan wrote on July 18th, 2013
  24. Adding in HIIT once a week. Lifting heavier, but backing off on the reps. Kick the soda habit, for good. I’m going to focus on 1 goal a week for the first 3 weeks, then fine tune for the other 3 weeks. I love a challenge!

    Melissa wrote on July 18th, 2013
  25. I am about to turn 62 and my general goal is to be healthier at 62 than I was at 61. My specific goals are:
    –Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator.
    –Walk the nature trail in my complex at least 3 times a week.
    –Do some light weight lifting 3 times a week.
    It doesn’t sound that ambitious, but these will be big changes for me.
    Oh, and try to stop obsessing over the scale. (Probably the hardest)

    Janey wrote on July 18th, 2013
  26. I will not have any cheat meals during this six week challenge!
    I will do 1x Body By Science workout per week!
    I will sprinkle in Yoga, Biking and Swimming throughout the week!
    I will practice Meditation and Piano Everyday!

    I’ve been planning on starting these projects all summer with stumbling blocks every couple days and eating stupid things because my brain talks myself into sabotage and I get nowhere.

    Adam wrote on July 18th, 2013
  27. I’m going to complete a round of P90X2. I love the way this workout challenges every single part of your body.

    James wrote on July 18th, 2013
  28. I have read your blog almost every day over the last year and I’m always inspired, but I just haven’t gotten on board with the primal lifestyle yet. So my goal is to GET STARTED…thanks for the challenge.

    Stephanie wrote on July 18th, 2013
  29. As I get ready to turn 62, general goal is to be healthier than I was in my 50s. Specific goals for me are:
    1. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator
    2. In addition to my daily dog walks, walk the nature trail in my complex 3 times a week.
    3. Light weights 3 times a week.

    Janey wrote on July 18th, 2013
  30. Goals for the rest of the summer:
    -run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes
    -bike 50 miles in one go
    -perform at least 3 strict pull-ups
    -perform 70 push-ups in a row

    Jay Turner wrote on July 18th, 2013
  31. My goal is to squat 275x3x5, bench 185x3x5, and deadlift 300×5 by the end of summer and squat 315 for at least 3 before I turn 16 in September while getting 4000 primal calories/day.

    Blake wrote on July 18th, 2013
  32. My 6 week goal is to completely eliminate oatmeal and dairy products. I replaced dairy with nut alternatives such as almond milk and replaced oatmeal with sweet potatoes. I have lived almost 100% paleo except for these 2 faults and want to see the effects on my body. I took a before picture and have started the process. Good luck everyone. May you reach your goals and keep everyone informed on your progress.

    Hunter wrote on July 18th, 2013
  33. My summer challenge was to return to paleo and try to heal my inflammed (and therefore leaky) gut. I am on day 6 of a 21 day healing paleo challenge and plan to move on to a primal challenge after that. It’s so much easier for me this time around than last time because I now have more information on my own health to back up why I’m choosing to eat this way – so I can just say “no” more easily. Before it was to lose weight – now it’s to reduce inflammation, heal my gut and avoid another ER visit!

    Amy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  34. My 3 goals for the rest of the summer:

    1. Lose 10 lbs by avoiding refined carbs and sugar that I have let creep back in.
    2. Get 20 consecutive band assisted pull-ups.
    3. Lights out at 10 every night.

    TMB wrote on July 18th, 2013
  35. I am committing to getting back to my 10 minutes per day of yoga. I am great about regularly working out, but my daily yoga has suffered this summer!

    I am also committing to smaller potion sizes. I eat primal 90% of the time, but eat too much food for a little person!

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mark!

    Sarah wrote on July 18th, 2013
  36. My goal for the summer is to get outside more, take more time for walking and slow moving. I would like to visit and go hiking in a few state parks before summer is out.

    Rob wrote on July 18th, 2013
  37. My summer goal is to diminish overtraining! I say “diminish” as opposed to “stop” because being Type A – wound tight, morning person ready to conquer the world, full of energy – I go go go all day even when I’m sore all over or feel a slight pang in my foot/knee/neck. I want to begin to listen to the messenges my body sends me. I want to have more recovery days where I just walk my 3 dogs for an hour at a low intensity as opposed to feeling “guilty” because I didn’t pound the pavement or get under the heavy bar at the gym.
    Train SMARTER, not harder.

    Laura Santagaa wrote on July 18th, 2013
  38. The comments/commitments here are as inspiring to me as the original article.Thank you,everyone and good luck!

    DP wrote on July 18th, 2013
  39. My goal for the remainder of Summer is to stop worrying about WHEN I can work out and just DO it! I plan to make exercise a priority and schedule time into my day just like I would any other “appointment”.
    I also would like to have a more “primal” diet for myself and my family, and omit processed foods. Another end of Summer goal would be to plan meals ahead of time in order to prepare great paleo meals for the family!

    Stephanie wrote on July 18th, 2013
  40. I’m in the middle of a self-challenge– midsummer has always been a good time for me to tweak my health habits.

    My goals are small but they are adding up!

    Take the stairs two at a time unless I’m carrying an unsteady load.
    During my Pomodoro work breaks, do modified push-ups & pull-ups, bodyweight squats, hoop dance, or a few of the aforementioned stair flights. (This is in addition to my regular exercise sessions, & I’m loving what it is doing to my energy level & focus!)
    Tackle at least one HEAVY garden task per week.

    Drink more mineral water, cut out ALL caloric drinks except for occasional kombucha, & ELIMINATE artificial sweeteners forever!!! (I used to be an addict… have cut way down but still have the occasional urge.)
    Add gelatin to my daily diet to make up for less bone broth in Summer.
    LOSE the protein bar habit. (So far this has been the toughest, as it has been my time-crunch/no-gf-food-handy crutch for years.)

    Practice yoga daily & get to bed earlier!

    Paleo-curious wrote on July 18th, 2013

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