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. Great timing, great article! I just pulled my treadmill out of the utility room this morning as it has been stowed away while repairing my flooded basement. (Since May!) I will commit to 2 sprinting sessions each week, 5 long walks (with my dog), 1 strength, 1 flexibility. I will commit to giving the primal lifestyle 80/20 as the arthritis in my feet and knees is really getting to me.

    Meg wrote on July 18th, 2013
  2. My goal is to get my digestive health back in check by not eating foods I know don’t sit well with me. I want to try the paleo autoimmune plan for at least two weeks to see how I feel. I know it’ll be hard, but definitely worth it!

    Also working on keeping myself hydrated, sleeping more, and reducing blue screen time an hour before bed. Yes!

    Dana wrote on July 18th, 2013
  3. Now that is some timing. I committed myself today to get back on the wagon and do what I need to do in order to beat SIBO, candida and leaky gut. That means cutting out the alcohol, sugar and starchy carbs, in addition to sticking to my supplement routine (which is quite daunting at the moment!). I’ve had a hard time sticking to the protocol previously because I the only thing I knew I was dealing w/for sure was leaky gut, and I wasn’t seeing any improvement in symptoms from being strict for a month here or there. I’ve since had a test that diagnosed the other 2, and I’m ready to pull myself up by my boot straps and get serious. It’ll be more than a 6 week commitment, but I’ve gotta start with day 1 and then tackle it one day at a time.

    I at least have gotten my fitness dialed back in. I got back in the gym after Memorial Day (after a long hiatus due to knee surgery) and have been lifting heavy 3 days a week for the last 7 weeks and will continue!

    Beth wrote on July 18th, 2013
  4. This email could not have come at a better time. My goal is to walk more each day and add some sprints at least once a week. Also, it would be really cool if I could do more than 2 pushups that are not on my knees!

    Barb wrote on July 18th, 2013
  5. My goal is to reduce my coconut butter indulgences and reduce fat intake to promote some weight loss. I’m 100% primal but haven’t lost any weight, probably because I overdo it on all the delicious fats.

    Eric wrote on July 18th, 2013
  6. I blew out my knee last winter and after 6 weeks of physical therapy I was on my own. I’ve slacked off on the exercises since it got hot (dumb, since I do them inside!) but I’m going to commit to the regime so I can get back to walking home from work every day–until it snows, when I go back to taking the bus so I don’t slip on the ice again!

    Nanc in Ashland wrote on July 18th, 2013
  7. Perfect timing for this challenge! I am about to start eating primally & will begin a 30-day challenge next week to stick to the eating principles, so a fitness challenge goes along well with this!
    So for this fitness challenge, my goal is to consistently follow the principles of Primal Blueprint Fitness:
    LHT 2x/week
    move frequently at a slow pace for at least 2hrs/week.

    Helen wrote on July 18th, 2013
  8. My goal is to finally start and commit to primal eating for the next 6 weeks. Meaning NO refined sugar; I have been fighting this sugar addiction for years, and I truly believe I am not living up to my potential because of it. Surely 6 weeks without it will allow my body to make a dent in the healing process. I will keep up with my workouts, but my focus will be on solid primal nutrition during that time.

    trace357 wrote on July 18th, 2013
  9. I have two goals for the next six weeks:

    1) Meditate daily for at least 15 minutes (on busy days), optimally half an hour.
    2) Practice mindful eating. For me, this means listening to my body so that food can be a good source of fuel for my heavy training schedule — I’m doing my first Ironman at the end of August. It also means eating more attentively and savouring exceptions to the primal way of eating, rather than mindlessly choosing these for no good reason.

    Agnes wrote on July 18th, 2013
  10. I’ve been falling off the wagon quite a bit lately in terms of eating, so my goal is really to stick with non-processed foods and to cut out desserts. I also want to add walking to my exercise routine – I do pilates/trx/spinning 4-5 times per week, but the rest of my day is spent at a computer.

    Allison wrote on July 18th, 2013
  11. Well it’s actually the middle of winter down here, but I’m up for a challenge. My goal for the next 6 weeks is to clean up my diet – aiming for at least 80% primal (I’m at maybe 20% at the moment, and purely only because I’ve cut out most grains). Definitely cutting out sugar.

    Candi wrote on July 18th, 2013
  12. I’m keeping it very simple. Sweat for a minimum of 20 minutes everyday for 6 weeks. I’m talking a full-on, shirt soaking, sweat. Hopefully this will be accompanied by some muscle gain, fat loss, and improved cardio. Worst case, I will have completed a 6 week detoxifying body flush!

    Christopher Louis wrote on July 18th, 2013
  13. How very fitting for me. I just had my second baby a month ago, ending a pretty rough pregnancy. I’ve come out of it determined to take charge of my health. I’ve broken my goals down into steps to make it more possible. The first step was quitting sugar (which I’ve clung to since I have so many food intolerances), and I have two weeks of absolutely no sugar. However, I haven’t quit diet soda yet. I’ve also begun training for a century ride that happens in October. I’m training for that much more intelligently than I have in the past knowing that while I do want to do this one-off event, having strength is more important for me over the long term. So, I’m not just out there riding my bike 6 days a week.

    My goals for the next six weeks (aside from keeping to my training schedule) is to (1) stop diet soda completely, (2) find at least a few minutes everyday to de-stress by either sitting quietly, taking a walk, or reading a book (not the internet!), and (3) get in bed by 10:30 if both kids are asleep.

    Casey wrote on July 18th, 2013
  14. My current goal is to Deadlift 400lbs Press 200lbs, keep sprinting at least once a week and to MMA Spa with my friend a top coach, I keep promising but never get round to it! Grr

    Sam wrote on July 18th, 2013
  15. I am committing to hitting 185# on my hip thrust in 6 weeks. I’m currently at 155# x 8 for 3 sets.

    Becky wrote on July 18th, 2013
  16. My goal: 30 before 30.

    I turn 30 in exactly 20 weeks and 5 days. I used to be in great shape. I owned a very successful CrossFit affiliate. My new bride got into PA school 4.5 hours from our home, so it only made sense to go with her. We closed the gym, packed up the dogs and moved.

    I now have a desk job, which I do like. However, after 5 years of running a CF affiliate and WODing 5-6 days a week, I was burned out. I figured, “I can take a few months off from exercising and come back to it refreshed and excited.” Well, a few months has turned into about 14, plus 30 pounds.

    I’ve got 20 weeks to lose 30 pounds before I’m 30. As of this morning, I’m already down 4!

    Watch out, I’m coming back!

    By the end of summer, which is technically Labor Day, I should be down another 10 and back to WODs 2-3 days a week.

    Adam wrote on July 18th, 2013
  17. Two challenges that I actually began on Monday this week. No beer until the first regular season football game in September (and limit alcohol consumption otherwise to Friday and Saturday nights). Clean diet until then. Add one more day of Crossfit a week.

    One more challenge I came up with this week? Be able to consistently press and/or jerk 95 lbs.

    The goal? Have some sexy abdominals going on by the time I get to my friend’s San Diego wedding on the beach on September 28th. Off to a good start so far!

    Courtney H. wrote on July 18th, 2013
  18. My goals for the rest of the summer:

    1) Finish the 21-day transformation (I’m on day 11!)
    2) Progress to being able to do the real PEMs, especially pull-up!
    3) Keep making progress in my home and in my mind. Self love y’all!
    4) Keep up my primal cardio routine… no more chronic cardio!
    5) And to of course keep moving towards my ideal body weight :) which will hopefully be the happy by-product of the first 4 goals!

    Have a great rest of the summer everyone!!

    Katherine wrote on July 18th, 2013
  19. I am working to remove the remaining seed oils from our diet. That means making alternative toppings for salads, etc. And removing the last of the snacks–potato chips. That’s the main non-Paleo element of our diet now. I bought Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings for starters.

    Gail wrote on July 18th, 2013
  20. Great post! I am definitely one of those people who make vague general goals and excuses, but I am finally fed up with myself (even before I read this) and wrote down a list of goals to complete. Some by the end of summer and others by the end of the year.
    1. Go to crossift 5 times a week (currently go 2 – 3 times/week). Within that realm I have specific goals for movements like 40 double unders in a row, 10 pullups in a row and many others.
    2. Practice Yoga at least twice a week for mental health and physical mobility.
    These are very attainable goals and I can’t wait to see my results.

    Kelly Howell wrote on July 18th, 2013
  21. Hike to the top of Mt. Whitney.

    Affe wrote on July 18th, 2013
  22. My goal is to start and finish C25K. I just started yesterday, and that will spill over in my more generalized weight loss goal, and my goal to run a faster mile.

    I think it will be good to have the program keep me accountable for skipping running days and the like.

    Mari Gavin wrote on July 18th, 2013
  23. I’ve never commented in a website before. I’m 69 years young (and getting younger and stronger every day due to Mark and Primal). I’ve been Primal since December 29, 2012 – about 90% of the time. I couldn’t lose weight and two weeks ago stopped all dairy and lost 5 pounds. In May I joined a health club (24-Hour Fitness) and connected with a personal trainer – she is wonderful. I train with her twice a week and go in by myself once a week. The first time she suggested I do a plank, I laughed — oh yeh, at my age? I now do 30-second planks front and on my sides.
    My goals for the next six weeks+ are:
    – 20 “real” pushups — doing knee pushups now, sort-a.
    – Increase my time on the planks.
    – Lose more weight – in 6 weeks another 6 pounds (I have an extra 30 lbs that need to disappear)
    – Learn to meditate. 15 minutes a day every other day.

    Margo from Denver wrote on July 18th, 2013
  24. Great Post!
    My summer challenge would be to walk 30 to 60 mins everyday for the next 6 weeks!

    Stephanie W wrote on July 18th, 2013
  25. Oh, I have two! :)

    1) Do one unassisted pull-up. I’ve been working on it for a month now, and I’m nearly there! Getting my strength up by doing negative pull-ups here and there when I pass my room.

    2) Learn the value of rest. I’ve been struggling with orthorexia and some crazy compulsive exercise disorder, so I’ve challenged myself to view rest as my most important workout. I’ve been doing fairly well with the resting…the orthorexia? It’s really hard. But I’m working on it…and will be all summer!

    Cassidy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  26. My fitness challenge and ultimate goal is to strike the perfect, harmonious balance:

    I definitely want to get my cycling shape back so that, on a moment’s notice, I can join my cycling buddies on a 50 mile ride without fear of failure (or worse, slowing everyone down!). I want the thrill of an epic ride up Mt. Baldy (nothing like it). I want to finish a century along the coast and feel the road on my worn out calves when finished. I want to run out to play in dirt on my mountain bike no matter how steep the hills (it really is okay to walk at times).

    However, I don’t want to live every weekend on a bike or spend every day worrying about when I will get my next chance to train. I don’t want my home to be in disarray because I don’t have time to organize, as I’ve got some ride on which I just have to join – gotta get them miles! I don’t want to turn down opportunities to go hiking in Malibu or to go walking along the beach at sunset. And every once in awhile, I’d really like to stay up and out past 9pm!

    I don’t want cycling to define me like it used to. I want it to be just yet another thrilling adventure to add in the mix.

    So, I’m striving this summer to find that balance and to simply enjoy every chance I get to be on the bike while savoring other experiences as well. There’s room for more than just one fitness passion and I’m going to create it.

    Second to that, my fitness goal has been walking 10k steps/day. I have my pedometer on as I type this.

    Mary wrote on July 18th, 2013
  27. My goal is to actually lift heavy things 3x per week. Cut down on the light beer and get my husband to cut down on the light beer. Because it’s light, we kinda justify it. I’ll have to try making this Kombucha stuff. Any good recipes out there?

    Hopefully the increase in exercise will help alleviate the tendonitis pains.
    It’s hell getting old and achy.

    Gypsykim wrote on July 18th, 2013
  28. My goal would be to take the current state of clutter in my life hopefully through organization and meditation find a better state of existence.

    Andrew H wrote on July 18th, 2013
  29. Well, thanks for asking, I’m working on getting to a Handstand Pushup and a 30 second l-sit by the end of summer!

    aub wrote on July 18th, 2013
  30. Great day to post this as I am eating a corndog and tater tots. My goal is to get back on the Paleo lifestyle because I felt so amazing when eating Paleo. My summer challenge is to train for a local marathon and get a PR.

    Amanda wrote on July 18th, 2013
  31. My goal is to be more consistent with my workouts. I’m looking for 2 new jobs, and moving at the end of this month, all while working 4 jobs where I am now, and get overwhelmed and tired, so I tend to skip a day, skip a few days, because I’m tired or I don’t “feel like it”

    Learn how to better manage anxiety. I can tell I’m wasting time on the internet or zoning out in front of TV when I’m feeling overwhelmed, but still having a hard time dealing with it in a productive way. That would help a lot! Sleep better, eat better, and have more energy and motivation for my goals. One step at a time, no more excuses, and no more feeling guilty if I “mess up” !

    Amy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  32. I am 5 1/2 months pregnant now so it is not right time for me for some big physical challenges. But I will try to:
    – walk or play with my twin girls for 1 hour at least 5 days per week
    – quit coffee, or at least limit it to 2-3 times per week as an indulgence
    – keep away from refined sugar (this will be the hardest)
    This will do good both for me and for my baby, so I must do my best.

    Sunce wrote on July 18th, 2013
  33. It may be a little past the 6 week mark, but I plan on running my first 1/2 marathon the first week in October. I also have plenty of those smaller, general goals, but that’s a big one I’m aiming for.

    I just turned 35, and i’m also looking for a good personal goal for the year. any suggestions?

    Rob wrote on July 18th, 2013
  34. This is perfect timing for a challenge! My goal is to walk 30 minutes five days a week and clean up my eating.

    Lisa wrote on July 18th, 2013
  35. My goal is to get my blood sugar numbers down to “normal” without medication.

    Heather wrote on July 18th, 2013
  36. I’m a new mom, but not new enough that I have an excuse anymore. I used to do crossfit. My superfit husband would create his WOD, and then (3 times per week) he’d create a modified version for me. I followed diligently. I was in the best shape I’d ever been in and I looked and felt great. Our diet wasn’t quite optimal, but getting there. Then I got pregnant. All I could do was lay on the floor during my “workouts”, I was so tired. Then I started having hip issues and couldn’t even go for walks or do yoga.

    20 months later, I have not gotten back into exercising. AT ALL. No walks (not even with my daughter). I haven’t done yoga in at least 2 years and I really used to enjoy it. And don’t even think about asking if I’ve done crossfit.

    I had some dietary restrictions during the first 18 months after my daughter was born. But now I’m free and I’m having trouble controlling myself. The only reason I haven’t eaten myself into 300 pounds is that my husband is an avid primal eater and we eat the same meals. I add (several) completely horrible snacks in between.

    I also have days where I feel completely exhausted. And I know that if I could just get a handle on my crap-food eating and start moving again, I would feel so much better, like myself again.

    My goal for the next 6 weeks is to get back on track. Plain and simple. I’d like to start exercising on a regular basis (with and without my daughter). And I’d like to cut the crap, food that is.

    Christina wrote on July 18th, 2013
  37. I work as an administrator at a summer camp in Maine. Ever since I moved from working directly with the kids to working behind the scenes, I’ve felt my energy flagging. One of my good friends and I have decided to dedicate ourselves to better eating (primal/paleo), playing more in the sun, and lifting on a regular schedule. I’m doing pretty well for 30 and can keep up with our younger staff, but I need to set the habits now that will let me keep up with them in another 30 years.

    EJ wrote on July 18th, 2013
  38. Nice! I just had a goal of running a whole 5k for July4th but I ended up running a couple of minutes…I would like to run the whole thing in the next 6 weeks!

    I also want to start sprinting and figure out my strenght training routine.

    Lea wrote on July 18th, 2013
    • Walking a couple of minutes, not running! I ran the rest (41min so very slowly :)

      Lea wrote on July 18th, 2013
  39. My goals during the next six weeks are to play at the crossfit gym 4 days per week, spend more time outside (at least an hour when i get home from work) and drop another pant size!

    Liz wrote on July 18th, 2013
  40. My goal for the next six weeks is to keep all grains out of my diet and eliminate dairy (in order to reintroduce it and gauge how my body reacts), and also to strength train twice a week. This will be quite a challenge, as my family and I are soon to embark on a three week road trip vacation from TX to Canada. So glad wine and cider come from fruit and not grain! 😛

    Jennifer wrote on July 18th, 2013
    • Wait, not that I’ll be drinking and driving! Just realized how that sounded lol

      Jennifer wrote on July 18th, 2013

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