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. My goal is to keep up the core muscle workouts (especially stomach), as to generally get stronger and get rid of a flared rib.
    Another goal is to be able to get through a certain 6b+ climbing route and if possible through some 6c routes by the end of summer.

    And the last goal is to help a friend get as healthy as I can get her to be ^^

    uey111 wrote on July 18th, 2013
  2. My goal for the rest of the summer (and forever, really!) is to GET IN SHAPE once and for all and be the healthiest I can possibly be. Enough with the excuses, the laziness, etc.

    LibbyLou wrote on July 18th, 2013
  3. This Sunday will start my 6 Week Nerd Fitness Challenge. I will be utilizing the forums over there for the great community support while I work on the two goals I am setting for myself this time around.

    Goal 1: Eat 100% Paleo foods for 6 weeks, cutting out eggs and dairy for the first 21 days and re-introducing eggs in week 4 to test reactions and the same for dairy in week 5. I may have to cut back on these foods because I tend to over-eat them. This past month I fell off the wagon, gained weight, lost momentum and my body is a mess. I plan on fixing this by going completely clean for these 6 weeks.

    Goal 2: Get my workout routine back on track and going stronger. With vacation I let my martial arts slip and I need to work on improving my speed and power. I am going to do this in the next six weeks by starting and sticking with a routine to train what I need. Tuesdays is training for power with body weight circuits, plyometrics and indoor wall climbing. Thursday is my intensity (sprint) day with either my martial arts training, jump rope or hill sprints. Fridays will be balance work with yoga, Movnat or STrength circuits done with a balance ball. SUndays I’ll be traing agility by doing soccer/football drills, jump circuits (plyometrics) or some fun with frisbee, kayaking or soccer.

    Chrissa wrote on July 18th, 2013
  4. My goal is going to be learning how to transition from my 20’s to my 30’s by finding new ways of taking care of my body to rock my 30’s better than my 20’s!

    Liz wrote on July 18th, 2013
  5. I commit to eating grain-free(excluding rice) at every meal, and fill whatever hunger I have left with a more “paleo-friendly” carb like potatoes – sweet, purple, or white, rice, bananas, or apples. I am still attempting to eat 100 g carbs per day because I don’t have the funds to buy the good proteins and fats that I need to fill up on (broke college student) nor do I feel comfortable enough to go low-carb too quickly, so I’m phasing out of it. That, plus gluten products make my head foggy!

    I’ve gone about 4 days upholding this goal so far, and I am looking forward to see how much more second-nature it will feel by the end of 6 weeks :)

    Suzanne wrote on July 18th, 2013
  6. My challenge for the rest of the summer is to gain lean muscle mass and get up to a stable weight (I lost a lot of weight due to an autoimmune condition) The paleo/primal diet has helped me get on the track to health again!

    Kelly wrote on July 18th, 2013
  7. One full pull-up (chin over bar). Just bought one of those over-the-door thangs—woohoo!

    A.L. wrote on July 18th, 2013
  8. Completely read my mind. I guess it is that point in summer where you start to realize its time to get serious after a few weeks of slacking. Earlier this week I made that realization and re-committed myself to my goals, starting by tightening up my primal eating, giving up the weekend drinking habit, and consistently attending my crossfit classes 4 times per week. My ultimate goal, which I haven’t made much progress on since May, is -20 lbs of fat and -10% in body fat percentage. This will probably take me more than 6 weeks, but I expect to be well on my way by September. I’m encouraged by my small wins in this first week and feel relieved that I have fallen back in love with this positive lifestyle. Wish me luck and good luck to everyone else in your last six weeks of summer!

    Sandy C wrote on July 18th, 2013
  9. I am so excited about this challenge, I needed a reason to solidify a fitness goal and this is it!

    I am committing to 4 days a week of bodyweight training (squats, push-ups, sit-ups, anything I can find and do anywhere with my kids) and 1 day per week of sprints!!!

    I’ll be journaling it all down to ensure I keep up! Thanks for the challenge boost (I needed a little push).

    Carla wrote on July 18th, 2013
  10. I just got my blood test results today so I have measurable goals to attain.

    Current Stats:
    M, age 51, Height 6’3″, weight 211
    Triglycerides 122
    HDL cholesterol 62
    LDL cholesterol 162
    Hemoglobin A1C 5.9 %

    Goals for 6 weeks
    Weight <205
    Triglycerides 62
    LDL cholesterol <130
    Hemoglobin A1C < 5%

    Strategy: Walk 40 minutes at least 4 times a week. Elimate all potatotes, rice, wheat (already done), corn and dairy. Continue with 90 % paleo diet.

    Continue with swimming 3 times a week and Crossfit 3 times a week.

    Steve wrote on July 18th, 2013
  11. I commit to doing activity that improves the quality of my life. Yoga for my tight muscles, cycling because I love it and sleeping/resting because I dont do it enough.

    Shannon T wrote on July 18th, 2013
  12. My goal is to stay sober. I’m 50 days clean from speed and heroin. I also switched to paleo and my workouts are yielding results. My abs are becoming washboards. My energy levels continue to be higher than they ever were (consistently) as a speed user. Nothing can detract me from this path.

    thanks for the inspiring post.

    Sleeps with Bears wrote on July 18th, 2013
  13. Happy 60th Mark! (not sure of the exact day)

    Thanks for this (and every) post. My rest-of-summer goals are:

    – 2 strength workouts a week
    – 1 weekly interval run
    – walking and/or swimming and/or tennis, etc. every day.

    From someone slightly older…

    Susan B. wrote on July 18th, 2013
  14. Yes! I love this. I’ve met enough endurance goals this summer and am strictly on a “exercise for fun” schedule at the moment. BUT I would like to do more yoga…I live up north so have no access to classes but i do have 3 lessons on my laptop I do.

    My goal is to do yoga 3 x week!

    melissa wrote on July 18th, 2013
  15. My goal is to increase yoga to about 3 hours a week (and by the end of 6 weeks be able to touch my toes… average for some people but currently impossible for me!)

    I also want to go to the park at least 2 times a week and complete the Whole 30. I have completed 21 day challenge surding the beginning of the summer and since mantained about a 85/15 ratio, but due to weight loss goals I would like to try the more strict Whole 30 and then return to about an 85/15.

    Last but not least, I want to go surfing! I would like to surf at least 3 times before the end of the summer, good wanves or no waves I want to be out in the water.

    Christin wrote on July 18th, 2013
  16. I stumbled on this challenge at just the right time….I have just made a hard decision for myself to challenge myself at work and strive to move up the ranks….I also have been challenging myself to get healthier….I have watched the documentaries about food on netflix, and that has really opened my eyes, a few made me cry…..I really want one of your primal eating books to learn how to eat smart while still enjoying your favourite meals….so much stuff out there is marketed as healthy but quite the opposite….i find it can get really boring trying to eat healthy, i need ideas, so my husband will also benefit from my cooking! :) My challenge is to avoid all processed foods and weight/resistance train more often.

    Kristy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  17. I am new to the primal blueprint (only been two weeks so far) so my goal is to start working out like Grok! I’ve been an avid student of Conventional Wisdom when it comes to exercise and it will be a challenge to change my mindset.

    I also want to start meditating daily and play with my dog more!

    Jennifer wrote on July 18th, 2013
  18. I am going to 1. Get more consistent with my ketogenic eating, for my best mental health and energy levels 2. Get moving every day or so to help keep stress down, including Lifting heavy 2xs a week minimum, like I used to and 3. Get my weight back to the lower 140’s and maintain until this time next year, as I am tentatively planning a much needed diastisis recti repair and abdominoplasty.

    Kati wrote on July 18th, 2013
  19. My goal is to pay attention to the detail. This doesn’t mean become self-involved. It means paying attention to not only what I eat, but why I eat. Pay attention to my fitness, not just to lift heavy, but to lift correct. Figure out why my stubborn belly fat hasn’t gone away. Perhaps its cortisol levels, lack of quality of sleep. Whatever it is it’s time to get down to the root cause of things.

    My plan is to take a log of everything I eat for 4 weeks straight, workout 5-6x a week, and pay attention to technique (hopefully get a Deadlift PB in there), and focus on quality of sleep and lowering my stress levels through daily mindfulness.

    Miranda Love wrote on July 18th, 2013
  20. My fitness challenge is to take the family on two day trips to a state park in the area and enjoy a hike or two together! The post is a little bittersweet, thinking about the end of summer, but a great challenge to get out and enjoy it!

    Maggie wrote on July 18th, 2013
  21. I just discovered MDA/Primal Blueprint and am currently reading…err…intellectually devouring Mark’s book. My goals for the remainder of the summer are:

    – Walk my dog twice a day: A brief one in the a.m. before work and a more substantial stroll after dinner. It will not only make for a happier pup, but will help fulfill my Primal Fitness Rx.

    – Get off of night shifts! I am a RN and have been working 12 hour nights for the past year. I have noticed my mental sharpness and health decrease over that time. I have decided that it is enough. I have an interview for a more “primal” scheduled position next week!

    – Implement and cultivate the Primal lifestyle more fully. Continue to frequent my local H.S. track once a week and SPRINT!….Enjoy the bounty of the Farmer’s Market in summer….Slow down, disconnect in order to reconnect.

    Jason wrote on July 18th, 2013
  22. For the next 6 weeks my goal is to eat 100% Primal/Paleo clean and get in some kind of extra physical activity (even just walking the dog) 4-5 days a week.

    Alicia wrote on July 18th, 2013
  23. Wow! What timing! At work today, three of us went to lunch together. Two of us went back to work. The third one left the restaurant on a stretcher and went in an ambulance to the hospital. The diagnosis: stress and dehydration.

    As I left work, I committed to myself to start doing some of the things I’ve been pondering. Therefore, I will:

    Locate and purchase one or two more pair of water shoes (I can’t bring myself to go barefoot, but I did buy a pair of water shoes two years ago and wore them out. They are the only shoes I’ve had in the last decade or two that I didn’t take off immediately when I got home.) Time: Not later than one week from today.

    Get my bench and dumbbells out, dust off the cobwebs and locate them on my back deck. Time: Tomorrow

    Start using the dumbbells according to a schedule I already have on my computer. Time: Tomorrow evening when it cools down.

    Print out the schedule. Time: As soon as I post this.

    Mark – Thanks for the help on getting my new resolve activated. You’re the best! And I look forward to hearing about the success others are making on their goals.

    P.S. I already have a copy of Primal Cravings, but I need another copy for our local library.

    W. J. Purifoy wrote on July 18th, 2013
  24. My goals are to exercise 5-6 times a week and get my primal eating closer to 80/20 than it’s current 50/50.

    Thank you for the mental kick in the pants, Mark! It really is a bit scary making my goals “public” and in writing! :)

    Rachael wrote on July 18th, 2013
  25. I agree with others who think this is perfect timing. I’ve been feeling sort of blech. My biggest goal is to strengthen my back and core and suffer less from debilitating back pain. I’d like to lose the ten pounds from winter I still have yet to shed. Hiking and yoga are my favorite fitness outlets, so my challenge will be to spend at least 4 days a week doing one of them. I love me a good challenge.

    kristen wrote on July 18th, 2013
  26. I’m new to the Paleo world and this challenge is perfect to get me off my butt and to the grocery store for Paleo foods! I’m making a supreme effort this time around to lose the weight (23 so far, 50 to go) and the Paleo lifestyle makes so much sense that I’m going for it! So my goals for the next 6 weeks:

    1. Transition over to a Paleo diet and be 80/20 Paleo by the end of August.

    2. Training for a 5K in early September in which I hope to be under 40 min.

    3. Lose another 10 pounds!

    Thank you, Mark, for all of the great knowledge and daily insights you share with us!

    Laura wrote on July 18th, 2013
  27. Ok so lifting heavy things doesn’t come easy to me, so I signed up for crossfit and am committing to going 3x a week to get that element into my primal lifestyle. I think that is the biggest thing I want to work on for the rest of the summer.

    stephanie r wrote on July 18th, 2013
  28. My goal is to quit energy drinks !

    Martin wrote on July 18th, 2013
  29. Great idea. I have three things I’m going to be doing.
    1) Eliminate desserts, especially the kind I eat to stave off anxiety attacks.
    2) Daily physical activity of some kind. I need to log some physical exercise from a menu of primal friendly activities.
    3) Launch and write for my blog three times weekly.

    Laura C. wrote on July 18th, 2013
  30. I am committed to lifting heavy things three days a week. Thanks to primal living, I have lost the excess fat (and three dress sizes) in just three months. Now to lose the flab and get strong!

    Deana wrote on July 18th, 2013
  31. I am going to start rock climbing. I’ve always dreamed of joining a local rock climbing gym and enjoying myself while getting in better shape along the way but I am finally going to do it! I cant wait to get out enjoy nature and have it just be me and the mountain. I’m going “grok” climbing!

    Chris Armstrong wrote on July 18th, 2013
  32. I plan to kick the insomnia that’s been ruining the quality of my life. I currently get about 3-4 hours of sleep a night and if I get more, it’s during the day when I need to be doing other things. My goal is to be getting least 7 hours of quality sleep each night by September. I also aim to be 10 pounds lighter (225).

    Nicholas wrote on July 18th, 2013
  33. I am going to go for a walk outside every day, no matter how hot it is.

    Jenny wrote on July 18th, 2013
  34. I am starting a weight program on monday and my goal is 3 times a week every week for 6 weeks.

    Adelyn wrote on July 18th, 2013
  35. I’m in my first year living primal, and it’s been a huge journey for me. I think this topic has come around at just the right time for me! My eating habits have improved hugely, but now I need to kick out the CW in my fitness regime.

    I live in Sydney, Australia, so it’s the slow upward climb from the chill of Winter to Spring. I can feel it happening today! So rather than use the daylight hours of summer to finish that warm weather goal, I’m going to tackle something my summer body will thank me for….the dreaded pushups!

    I’ve struggled to get proper, core working pushups for years. I can do what I call ‘girly knee’ pushups. But I want to be able to do them off the toes. So I’m setting a specific daily goal – 5 proper pushups per day, for a week, then adding 5 every week. Right now my arms are giving out on me part way through, though my core is set well – at least I think it is! I’ll probably also do some reading in the fitness section on the forum for some advice.

    Wish me luck! :)

    Lauren wrote on July 18th, 2013
  36. I’ve just cleaned up my eating, not that it was very bad. So now it’s time to double down and get serious about exercise. Since my local pool is closed this summer, it’s a good time to get into the weight room and Lift Heavy Things. Also do some squats and lunges, no excuses!

    Siobhan wrote on July 18th, 2013
  37. I would love to lose another 10 pounds before I go back to college on August 15 (I’ve been out for summer break).

    I’d also really like to get into CrossFit this fall, but I feel like I have a lot more work to do as far as getting my fitness up to the level where I *might* survive it. My goal is to stick to doing PEMs 3 times a week, and throwing in a cardio day at least once a week (doing easy things like walking with my dog, hiking at the local state park, etc.).

    Jessie wrote on July 18th, 2013
  38. I needed this post to get me going. I have not moved much this spring or summer and need to get back at it. My busy schedule had me relaxing on off days too much. My goal is to move my body every day! Of the couch and out to the road. Walk and use my muscles. And track my food. I eat well but still too much.

    Rachel wrote on July 18th, 2013
  39. My goal over next 6 weeks is get my workout routine per primal blueprint configured and established and cut out my excess cardio….

    Bbqscotty wrote on July 18th, 2013
  40. I am almost 39 (August 9) and I must change my life. I’ve made every excuse in the book on being fat and I’m sick of myself. I’ve been mulling something like this over in my head, so when I read this today, it spoke to me. So, my goals: go Primal. I’ve been doing somethings and not others, but I must do it all the way. And to do couch to 5k.
    I started a blog over a year ago to keep me accountable, but that hasn’t been all I needed. I need to believe in me.

    Shelley wrote on July 18th, 2013

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