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. I plan to get the last remnants of the crap out of my diet, and as I’ve started cycling to and from work I want to keep it up and add in a sprint session a week and get focussed on my primal movements!

    I don’t know if I’m unusual but I’ve been trying to be primal for over 6 months and haven’t yet seen any real weight loss (I’ve about 50lbs to lose)… I do feel better within myself, but I’ve done every conventional diet on the planet over the last 20+ years and have fluctuated between 168 at my lightest and 252 – I have never been anywhere near where I want to be at around 140 (I’m 5′ 7″)

    Dianne wrote on July 18th, 2013
  2. Well, I am a total newbie to this, but my sister has been my most awesome cheerleader and supporter. I have a lot of weight to lose (100+), and I need to get healthy. For the rest of summer, my main goal is to eat healthier, move more, pay attention to my body, and keep learning more and more about this lifestyle. I know that I need to change my entire outlook and my entire lifestyle to make this happen, and I am beginning my journey to health today. Thank you, Kodi Bird, for pushing me and supporting me. Here we go! :)

    Misty wrote on July 18th, 2013
    • Yay Misty! You can do it! I’m here, and this community is here to give you all the support you need.

      Kodi wrote on July 18th, 2013
    • Oh yeah- ill post my 6 weeks too so we can support each other!

      For the next 6 weeks I will focus on what I CAN do with my injury not what I can’t do. (Being positive!) I will work on increasing my squat and DL PR’s, and getting pistols.

      I will find tune my diet. Increase veggies and stick to 80/20 instead of the 60/40 it seems like I’ve been doing.

      Kodi wrote on July 18th, 2013
      • Yay, Kodi! :) We are going to do this together! Woo Hoo!! Thank you for being my awesome inspiration and for being the best sister ever! :)

        Misty wrote on July 18th, 2013
  3. My goal is to finally recover once and for all from adrenal fatigue. I first got it at 16, and again at age 25. I’m done with it, so I’m going to pursue the dreams I have instead of being stuck in a stressful life that doesn’t make me happy and drains my energy.
    So far, I signed myself up for a new education, started doing yoga and am listening to my body more than I ever have. Most of all, I’m learning to navigate my life towards happiness instead of pushing myself towards where I think I’m expected to go to.

    Marinka wrote on July 18th, 2013
    • That’s great! I’m also working on my adrenal fatigue. It’s hard especially has a Type A person.

      megan wrote on July 18th, 2013
  4. What perfect timing! This week I decided I really needed to get serious about kicking the grain and sugar. I’ve made it through one full day and I’m a little over half way through the second. My goal is to give it my all through Labor Day weekend and see where I’m at.

    Em wrote on July 18th, 2013
  5. My goal is to develop a stretching routine and do it every single day. I tell all my patients that they NEED to stretch to keep their muscles in good condition, but I very rarely do it myself. I am going to change that.
    I do a job that is very hard on the body, I should look after it better.

    salixisme wrote on July 18th, 2013
    • I have started doing this… I have even written a blog post about my routine…

      salixisme wrote on July 23rd, 2013
  6. I have a couple of goals…
    1. I had an issue with my achilles tendon that made me pull out of my last 2 half-marathons. I am finally not in any pain, so my goal is to transition (slowly) into Vibrams.
    2. I am currently doing a Whole 30 for July, and have been feeling good. I would like to continue to weed out the foods that cause me to bloat and not feel good. My plan is to take a few days “off” in early August, then do another Whole 30.

    Heather wrote on July 18th, 2013
  7. I AM COMMITTED TO BYCYCLING TWICE A DAY. Once for my dog and twice for me! Thank You Mark and all the other paleo dudes and dudessess, Im down 56 lbs, and great energy and have thrown my canes away! Wanna know more about how i did it, well , pat yourself on the back and take a bow, MR. Paleo, without you and the wisdom you have imparted im back in the saddle again!

    Teri wrote on July 18th, 2013
  8. I’m committing to 3 sessions of hot yoga a week – it always makes me feel awesome, and I already bought a session package, so there is simply no excuse to not take advantage.

    Thank you Mark for giving me the motivation to make this happen!

    Anna wrote on July 18th, 2013
  9. Impeccable timing!

    My goal is to improve my sleeping habits and spend time meditating before I go to bed, or as I wake up. I am sick of waking up not feeling refreshed, and this challenge is perfect for pushing me to change.

    My other goal is to be an example of what it means to be primal, especially to my parents (I’m 16) since they were a little wary of my diet/lifestyle change. I don’t want there to be a reason for my dad (doctor) to tell me to lay off the saturated fat! :)

    Froggy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  10. I endeavor to stress less and be more mindful in everything I do. My job has caused me a great deal of anxiety in the last year and has actually started negatively affecting my health–essentially counteracting much of the good work I’ve done by switching to the Primal lifestyle. Therefore, I challenge myself to truly realize that my job is only one facet of my life and that it does not control me. I will concentrate my efforts on being more present in my life outside of work – in my relationships with my wife, family and friends, in my workouts, etc. I will not allow my job to break me down physically or mentally. Instead I will embrace the blessings I have all around me and do so in a manner that would make Grok proud.

    Scott N. wrote on July 18th, 2013
  11. You have a way of reading Minds Mark!
    For the rest of summer starting today:

    1) Walking, even a short distance twice a day, preferred morning and night before breakfast and after supper
    2) Muscle training Minimum once a week
    3) Sprint barefoot in the backyard once a week
    4) Playing volleyball with friends or some type of play (Frisbee, hacky-sack, rock climbing)
    5)Trying to kick all forms of processed sugars 3 day minimum


    Maria wrote on July 18th, 2013
  12. My goals are to accomplish the challenge (hopefully my knees won’t give out like last time) and to keep all added sugars out of my diet until my hypoglycemia is back under control. Time to get creative because I’m craving those sweet things!

    Carisska wrote on July 18th, 2013
  13. I’m going to become mobile enough in my calves and ankles to do a full pistol squat. Strength is there, range of motion is not.

    mack wrote on July 18th, 2013
  14. I’m new to MDA, but everything here makes so much sense, and in just a few weeks of following an 75% primal diet, I’m already noticing differences in how I feel. I’ll be switching over to a new challenging job in the next week, which might pose some challenges so this is a perfect time for me to establish some goals

    -Follow a Primal diet at least 5 days a week
    -Make sleep / recovery a priority
    -Continue crossfit workouts a minimum 3/week


    Tom S wrote on July 18th, 2013
  15. I want to challenge myself to do 3 sets of 10, then 15, then 20 burpees 4-5 times a week with 90 sec planks in between sets.

    firetiger wrote on July 18th, 2013
  16. My goal is to push myself to do a strict 30-day paleo challenge. I havent stuck with it long enough to see all of the benefits I could see. I really need to cut out my sugar. That’s my biggest weakness. So goal…WAY less sugar, no dairy and no grains (obviously). Good luck everyone else with their goals too! :]

    Aylia wrote on July 18th, 2013
  17. My end of summer goals.

    1. Sleep more
    2. Make better food choices overall.
    3. Take time to be creative and appreciative outside for at least an hour a day.
    4. Practice yoga daily, even if just for 5 mins.

    Yasmin Maher wrote on July 18th, 2013
  18. Echoing the remarks of others- what a perfectly timed post!
    I am doing a bootcamp challenge 5k at the end of September and I keep telling myself “the training program in only 8 weeks long so you can start tomorrow”. I’ve been saying that for about 3 weeks.
    I am also going to start riding my bike to work. In the Midwest it’s been HOT so I keep using that as a excuse. But I will run and ride for the next 6 weeks!

    Sampson wrote on July 18th, 2013
  19. I just love fitness goals! I think they’re a huge part of moving forward and always keep things interesting. The more specific, the better.

    Goal #1: Hit an out of the park homerun in my slow pitch softball league. I’ve been doing pushups with perfect form to get stronger, and have seen amazing results. The season ends in about 6 weeks so, bam, perfect timing!

    Goal #2: Sprint weekly. Sprints are the one primal movement that I don’t work into my week consistently, so for the next six weeks I’m committing to doing a sprint workout once a week.

    Goal #3: Run a 5k without stopping. There’s a race here in Anchorage at the end of August with a 5k, half, and full marathon. I’ve never ran a 5k without stopping and would love to be able to do that, and improve on my time from last year!

    Good luck to everyone and remember, one day at a time! =D

    Stacie wrote on July 18th, 2013
  20. My goals for the rest of the summer is to keep up the Paleo diet (yay 6 weeks on so far) and continue my lifting heavy things. About 2 weeks ago I started my lifting heavy things and boxing, and am still trying to get my form right. I want to make sure I keep up the good behavior and stop having cravings for mexican food and mac cheese. I’m worried about the finite will power and giving in to those.

    Py wrote on July 18th, 2013
  21. Starting now, my goal is to be mindful about what nourishment a food will provide my body before I eat it. If the answer is none, then it’s not passing these lips. I am also going to lose this 5 lbs I’ve gained over summer by tightening up my portions and getting cheats back down to 20% or less.

    Recommitted! wrote on July 18th, 2013
  22. My goal is to look better naked in six weeks. I’m using this goal as I don’t think the scales tell the full story & it can sometimes be soul destroying. To achieve this I’m going to:
    * lift heavier weights – push myself
    * play more soccer with my daughter – it’s so much fun it never feels like exercise
    * do more plyometric exercises
    * pack picnics and take the family for trail walks
    * start getting more creative with my paleo recipe repertoire

    Ally wrote on July 18th, 2013
  23. I’m really digging this too! For me its to continue doing the Stronglifts 5X5 I started a few weeks ago, and cut back on the booze. I find I’m not so good at just 1 drink and after a few I tend to snack a little too much. Thanks for the extra bit of focus Mark.

    Nick wrote on July 18th, 2013
  24. My Goals are to:
    1.) Cut back a bit more on alcohol, and
    2.) Not stress about missed “gym” workouts when I feel more like going outside to jump, sprint, crawl, climb, or play golf (walking obviously). My strength will not go far if I simply stay active.

    Much better for my state of mind, and Vitamin D levels.

    Andy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  25. A couple of different goals for me in a couple of different areas:
    -Successfully complete Air Assault School
    (and do so with a positive attitude and stay as primal as possible)

    -Continue to read the Bible everyday
    -Continue to walk 10k each day

    -Squat and Deadlift 2x my body weight (with proper form)
    -Bench and OH Press 1.25x my body weight (with proper form)

    -Start back up my Kombucha batch
    -Use bone broth more often

    Andrew wrote on July 18th, 2013
  26. I’m committed to going Primal again. I started Monday. I had been completely primal about 3 years ago, lost 90lbs! It was the first time i ever had success with weight loss and kept it off for almost 2 years. I then went thru a divorce and had to work overnights to support my kids by myself and let it creep back on, i justified it as I was :going thru a bad time” Not anymore! I’m taking ownership and starting over!

    Danielle wrote on July 18th, 2013
  27. I just posted this yesterday! :

    Okay folks, I’ve put this off for far too long. Going primal tomorrow and staying primal for 30 days. (Hopefully just keep going after that.) Give me some encouragement!

    My goals are to avoid any poisons (grains, sugar, alcohol, smoke, heavily processed foods), 2 Primal Essential Movements workouts a week, plus one sprint session. Lots of sun, exploring the nature reserves around the area with lots of hiking, an keeping up with my family and friends. And of course continuing hunting and gathering vinyl and exploring new music. :) Oh, and as much reading as possible.
    Good luck everyone!!
    Hitting up the grocery store tonight, one of my favorite days of the week.

    Quentin wrote on July 18th, 2013
  28. My goal is to lose those last pesky 5lbs

    Andy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  29. After a mild attack of exercise induced rhabdomyolysis about a month ago, I am finally ready to return back to exercise. But my goals have changed now. Instead of as many days of crossfit I could fit in a week, I plan to include at least one yoga class per week and some long walks and drop some of the crossfit classes I have been attending, and learn to listen to my body and not push beyond fatigue. It’s been a tough lesson to learn but a valuable one. I realized the rhapdo hit me because I wasn’t resting my body when needed and I was simply doing too much. I plan to play more with my kids, plan less in my days and learn to relax more. It’s a fine balance.

    Cathy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  30. My goal is to do two sets of twenty full push-ups.

    Mlt wrote on July 18th, 2013
  31. Two goals:
    1. keep running and build endurance. I also climb treadmill hills, but I added running back again about 8 weeks ago, taking it slow and running in intervals of varying lengths. Running makes a huge difference in how I feel. My moods are more stable, my body feels more my own.
    2. Ditch the sweet stuff, meaning sugar and stevia. I have such a hard time with this craviing for sweets. I quit artificial sweeteners a long time ago, but allow stevia, and I think that’s just keeping the sugar craving alive. I’d like to try life without putting this stuff into my body, and just see how it goes.

    Sylvie wrote on July 18th, 2013
  32. My goal for the rest of the summer is to have fun with my exercise instead of just going to the gym and doing the same old routine. I just purchased a SUP and I’m working up to taking it out at least three times a week. I’m enjoying walking outside…my goal is at least 5 days a week. My husband and I found some great strand cruiser at a garage sale for only $20! For the first time since I was a kid were riding bikes! This is to much fun to be good for me!

    Robbi wrote on July 18th, 2013
  33. My diet goal is to dial in my diet and eat less “fail-eo” foods like gluten free crackers. I also plan to only drink a moderate amount of wine on the weekends and not have a nightly glass.

    Fitness-wise I plan to keep up CrossFit schedule of 4 days and week and get a PR of a 200# back squat by 8/31. I’m sitting at 175# right now, so consistent WOD’ing, good eating, and quality sleep over the next few weeks will get me there.

    Jill wrote on July 18th, 2013
  34. Excellent
    Goal one…. Keep 100% primal
    Goal two…..not worry about what others think that I should be eating
    Goal three… long run and three speed sessions per week
    Goal four……to lose ten pounds
    Goal five……continue to attend lifeguard training once a week
    Goal six…..commit to three swim sessions per week
    Goal seven….. One long Bike per week and two shorter sessions

    Play play play with my girls on the beach

    Happy summer xx

    Diane wrote on July 18th, 2013
  35. My goal is to run again. I have MS and recently lost some function on the right side of my body, especially mobility of my foot.. I have 3 year old son and one day I tried to chase after him and realized I couldn’t run! I haven’t really needed to run, but I may need to in the future. With a 3 year old boy I need to be abe to run after him if necessary in case I need to get him out of danger. I don’t need to be able to run far, just far enough to save my little boy, or perhaps just play a game of tag.

    Shelby wrote on July 18th, 2013
  36. This is exactly what I needed! I’ve been waffling with this stuff for awhile, I always come back to the Apple! I just found out I am celiac, and this just seems the time! I’m pleading to being active every morning for an hour before work!

    Lindsay wrote on July 18th, 2013
  37. My goals are to work more on pull ups and harder on the rest of my workouts , I also need to clean up my diet. I still love sweets. Hopefully I will drop a few fat pounds and increase my lean muscle weight.

    Carla wrote on July 18th, 2013
  38. my challenge is to eat all real food (I have a cliff bar habit almost daily). And meditate for at least 10 min a day :)

    jen wrote on July 18th, 2013
  39. My goals for the next 6 weeks are as follows:

    1. Complete my 21-day transformation plan during the first 3 weeks (just bought the book!) and keep improving during the second 3 weeks.

    2. Lose 3 inches off my waistline and lose 15 pounds of fat overall.

    3. Increase standard push-ups to 2×40, chair-assisted pull-ups (2 legs) to 2×20, full squats to 2×40 and hand/feet planks to 90/45 seconds.

    4. Buy a standing pull-up bar.

    Chris wrote on July 18th, 2013
  40. Beat my PB for 5km, currently 22:03 set March 2011. Ideally want to get under 22 mins, have osteoarthritis in both hips but have realized that 6x 400metres once a week , run fast, is sufficient to improve my 5km time each week for the last 6 weeks .
    In another 6 weeks I aim to get 46 seconds quicker at least!

    CreakyPete wrote on July 18th, 2013

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