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

Contest: What’s Your 20?

UPDATE: This contest is closed. Visit the 30 Day Challenge Contest Page to find out which contests are still open, and to view winners.

The Prize:

It’s Sensible Vice time…

Chocolate. The Malibu farmers’ market sets up shop about a half block from my office every Sunday, and one of the regular, irresistible booths is Choco Vivo. Organic, fair trade, fermented less than 3 days – this is chocolate for people who like cacao, not chocolate for people who like candy bars. Winner receives an assortment of 100%, 85%, 75%, raw nibs, and the cherry, almond, peppercorn blend. For those outside the LaLa Land farmers’ market circuit, you can find ChocoVivo here.

Coconut Juice. Today’s second sensible vice comes with or without pulp (or with a hint of lime). In the pursuit of all things coconut, the winner will receive two mixed cases of coconut juice, courtesy of Amy & Brian Naturals. That’s over a gallon and a half of liquid. For all the athletes out there trying to bridge the gap between ideal Primal living and endurance training, this is good stuff for the days when you clock the extra mileage. And to clarify, coconut juice and coconut water are the same thing.

Miracle Fruit. Say what, now? No, it won’t cause rapid weight loss. No, it won’t cure cancer. No, it won’t make the Giants fumble on the last down of the game. But it will make a lemon taste like candy, a Guinness taste like a chocolate milk shake, and a blueberry taste like God pouring heaven’s manna down your throat. It’s a fruit that plays a delightful game of chaos with your taste buds. And ThinkGeek, the folks who donated the Homo Sapiens kitchen tool last year, are offering up a packet of miracle fruit this year.

The Contest:

For those unfamiliar with the 80/20 rule, I’ll discuss it in depth later today, but in brief: if you align your life with the Primal Blueprint principles 80% of the time, consider yourself on course. While you should strive to be Primal 100% of the time, 20% happens. And today it’s time to share 20% stories…

So, what’s your 20? Mine is beer. And I’m not talking about Bud Light Lime. I like a beer dark enough to make motor oil jealous. An no, beer is not made from meat and veggies. Despite Michelob Ultra’s ad campaign, beer will not improve your performance time. It’s made from wheat and barley. My 20 is an Old Viscosity Ale from Port Brewing Company. While I very rarely imbibe, I never have regrets when I do.

Now it’s time to tell me yours. Today’s contest isn’t designed to celebrate the bad or knock all the beginners off the Primal wagon. It should serve as a reminder that even the most Primal of us have unPrimal moments, and that when we do, we shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed about those moments. We should simply recognize them for what they are – that 20% – and keep on striving to live Primal the next day. So share your moment. Your best (or worst) 20% moment. Do so in 150 words or less in the comments section of this post.

We’re not just picking a winner at random this time. The Worker Bees and I will pick our favorite moments and then hold a poll next Sunday where you’ll pick the winner. A good moment is one that either shows excellent use of sensible vices, or a moment that exemplifies how you can pick yourself up and keep going Primal after a moment (or crazy night) of vices that are anything but sensible.

The Deadline:

September 16, 9:00 am. Only one day!

Who is Eligible:

As with most of the other perishable prizes, this stuff ain’t crossing borders. A substitute prize of equal value will be offered to an international winner. Sorry, Swedish readers. Next year I’ll have a Swedish prize just for Swedes.

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. Eating the biscuits that came with my omelet after a 6 hour mountain bike race, rather than my usual insistance that they stay in the kitchen.

    Lindsay wrote on September 15th, 2010
  2. oh golly I love all carbs but don’t indulge most of the time. My husband is stationed in Las Vegas and once a week we have to go down to the strip and get a fat tuesday and dinner and people watch on a sugar high with booze! Also beer (good beer) is a must, and every once in a while ben and jerry’s is just necessary for a fulfilled life (well that might be a TINY stretch) :)!

    Lauren Beggs wrote on September 15th, 2010
  3. Beer .. I have a local beer place that has 500 bottles and 40 taps of the most wonderful micro-brew beers . . I even have a loyalty card. I usually go fill up on some pork or brisket and head over for a pint or two. Good think fat helps with hangovers . . . . .

    Russell wrote on September 15th, 2010
  4. One of the things I adore (yes, I said *adore*) about being Primal is that nowhere does it say I MUST NOT EVER INDULGE in my personal favorite of vices. My 20? Red wine, definitely. The drier the better, a nice California Cabernet or a Super-Tuscan, yum. If there’s a bottle around, you can be sure I’ll be having some. And now, I don’t even have to feel bad about it.

    Kelly wrote on September 15th, 2010
  5. My girlfriend and I recently went on a canoe/hiking trip on Isle Royale National Park. Over 75 miles by land and sea for 8 days. We carried the weight of 8 days worth of 100% primal food on our backs, in addition to the rest of our gear. Food weighed about 26 lbs. It was delicious! But something about 8 days without even the OPTION to cheat … when we finally hit the general store in the harbor, something broke in us. All of our grit, our strength, our primal determination melted away the moment we saw the middle shelf. There was an odd harmony at the sound of her saying “OREOS,” as I simultaneously said “CHIPS.” We had barely released the bills to the clerk before our arms were elbow-deep in plastic packaging and in a blur, knuckle-deep in our mouths. Our “20%” cheat was 100% bliss.

    Tyler wrote on September 15th, 2010
  6. Let me start by saying Jacksonville, Fl is no Malibu, Ca. Our weather is hot and humid, the water at the beach is brown, there is no real surf to speak of (with the exception of the impending hurricane swell on its way), and our Farmer’s markets certainly don’t have fine dark chocolate. Segue into our football team: the Jacksonville Jaguars and Primal Jacksonvillians have a reason to COMPLETELY indulge into the 20% rule! Well, I had the privilege of attending the first game of the season this past Sunday and needless to say, the only way I made it through the 100+ degree temps inside the stadium, wheelin’ and dealin’ ticket scalpers and, dodging Jaguar fans comments to my friend’s wife for wearing Denver Broncos gear, was to simply OVER-hydrate with copious amounts of Dogfish Head 60 IPA and carb up with homemade pizza and Talenti’s Caribbean Coconut Gelato.

    Steven wrote on September 15th, 2010
  7. Cheesecake, seriously. I can resist most other desserts, but I love myself a rich, creamy, expensive cheesecake. I eat it whenever I feel the need to indulge, and I enjoy every bit of it. Afterward, I’ll drink some raw kombucha tea, and I’ll go for a brisk walk. I don’t feel any guilt about doing this, since it’s so infrequent, and I eat so healthily the majority of the time.

    Tarek wrote on September 15th, 2010
  8. my 20% is a daily vice. I love coffee with cream and sugar in the morning. My husband and I savor it every morning and dare I say jump out of bed for it?? It makes the mornings so exciting. I love picking a new variety of beans and the smell of coffee through the house is such a great thing to wake up to. What a great way to start the day! I will probably never give it up because I feel like the joy derived from such a simple pleasure is made up in the other 80% of my diet :). Oh, we love beer too…but it is hard to enjoy a beer and care for an infant. The beer puts me in a nice sleep :)

    meg wrote on September 15th, 2010
  9. Tim Horton’s Tim Bits

    At my office which has many nationalities at once a month for a couple days people celebrate a national cultural or religious Day or Period.
    When your being generous but also having to buy bulk to feed 40 people you go for the best bang for the buck.

    If your in Canada try a box of 10 assorted Tim Bits. These are not high quality snob treats, just 15 cents a bite. Just sweet enough and impossible to eat just one.

    Chris Covert wrote on September 15th, 2010
    • +1!!! I love the chocolate and the sour cream glazed. I haven’t had a Tim’s donut in 10 years but man, whenever someone brings in timbits, I can’t help myself!

      unchatenfrance wrote on September 15th, 2010
  10. My 20% can be anything – I call it my “free-gan” day. Being a college student, I have learned that turning down free food is a no-no, so about once a week when I get the opportunity for free food, I do not turn down. Most of the time it’s bread for sandwiches, but it has been ice cream, cookies, or something sweet (I still had least try to have limits – it’s 20% not 50% :) ).

    Danielle wrote on September 15th, 2010
  11. Primal living has really changed my tastebuds. What I used to consider a good chocolate bar now tastes awful & sickly sweet to me. I love dark, dark chocolate. I read the label and I think those 80% bars must be technically a health food! So I consider my afternoon in the sunshine reading and eating blueberries and chocolate part of my 80%. It’s my antioxidant moment.
    My 20% is for spinach enchiladas in homemade corn tortillas from my favorite taco truck, cake at family gatherings, drinks with friends.

    fitmom wrote on September 15th, 2010
  12. Every year, in February, Denver has 5280 restaurant week, in which some 200 restaurants offer the chance to sample their food for $52.80 per couple (rather cheaper than normal for most places that participate). My favorite restaurant is The Melting Pot.
    A salad with viniagrette, a cheese course with veggies, these are both primal. But, come the main course, I love their oil. One of God’s perfect foods is to stuff a mushroom cap with green goddess cheese blend, dip it in batter and deep fry it. It explodes in your mouth with fried batter, melted cheese and firm mushroom…
    The chocolate fondue desert is not to be missed.
    I eat there once per year, and eat with relish and enthusiasm most reserve for religious experiences. No waffling. No regrets. Just joy.

    Melody wrote on September 15th, 2010
  13. What a perfect day to talk about this! I just returned from a weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I grew up. My first job there when I was about 14 years old was working at a small apple farm/country store called Rouster’s Apple House. I have never tasted a better apple cider in my life. And believe, me, I have tried. They make an un-pasteurized, additive-free cider that is TO DIE FOR. And I’m telling you, their apples aren’t half-bad either. :) So, in the spirit of the fall, I returned with half-gallon of the amazing nectar that is their cider, a jar of cherry/apple butter, and a 5# bag of honeycrisp apples. I just eat small bits of my treasure at a time. Do I regret it? Not one bit.

    Sarah wrote on September 15th, 2010
  14. My 20(+!) is any comfort food. Giving up starchy stuff was easy relative to supressing cravings when coming down off a stressful period (which happens still too often). The current list includes dark chocolate (Green&Black 85%, Endangered Species 72%), coconut ice cream (Luna & Larry’s), and overdosing on berries (like eating 16oz of strawberries in a sitting). Wish I could come up with a way to throttle the impulse.

    Paul R wrote on September 15th, 2010
  15. My boyfriend once made me an amazing dessert because he knows I love chocolate by my stomach doesn’t love gluten or a lot of dairy. It was a gluten free dark chocolate lava cake brownie. Soft, moist, and extremely chocolately. Needless to say he can do no wrong in my eyes now!

    Meaghan wrote on September 15th, 2010
  16. I feel like I am cheating since mine is beer as well. However I love tasty microbrews, in fact I brew beer myself. The process of starting from scratch and creating a delicious beer is fun and and exciting.
    I know that Miller lite and others might be better in a Primal sense but I have a hard time giving up both a hobby and a tasty drink. Knowing this I strive to live my life as close as possible to 100% primal. So when I do indulge in that satisfying homebrew I can enjoy it guilt free.

    Tim wrote on September 15th, 2010
  17. 80/20 makes living Primally, for me, realistic. I don’t need my “20” but when I do, no guilt, no guilt, no guilt.
    For me, my “20” has been either Peanut M&Ms (sigh) or Cool Ranch Doritos (and, to be honest, sometimes, both at the same time with a Diet Coke)!

    I know. I know. But when life happens, when my “20” happens (and it has), Peanut M&Ms and Cool Ranch Doritos make it worth it.
    Yet I remain strong on my “80”, even after 5 months of Primal. I never anticipated this journey but here I am.

    Thank you “80” but thank you “20”, as well.

    Bea wrote on September 15th, 2010
  18. Beer….delicious Pilsener. The beer of my People. Liquid Heaven. I love beer…it loves me (but it’s a fickle lover if I have more than one or two.)

    Alternatively…my Inner Pirate occasionally demands a mug of the darkest rum, preferably one which still has chunks of cane still floating around :) Ayyyyyy, but rum can be a harsh mistress indeed; so it is reserved for those most special of times.

    kuno1chi wrote on September 15th, 2010
  19. For a girl who never liked coffee (except the heavenly aroma…mmmmmm), my 20% is a surprise, even to me. I would give up everything I used to enjoy (think carbs and sweets!) in order to have a grande carmel mocha with extra whip. Iced, “frapped”, or hot…any way you serve it – delicious and worth the wait!

    Sherilin wrote on September 15th, 2010
  20. Every year our town has a Street Fair. It’s a pretty big deal to us small-towners and almost everyone comes home for it (I did too when I was in college). We wander up and down the same street for four days, eating over-priced fried everything, running into people you haven’t seen since high school and even your parents high school friends who, no matter how old you get, tell you, “you look just like your mom!” That Street Fair starts tonight. I can already hear steak-on-a-stick, fried veggies and funnel cakes calling to me. When I get home, I’ll be able to smell them, and shortly thereafter, I will be enjoying them and the Street Fair atmosphere that nothing else has.

    Jordan wrote on September 15th, 2010
  21. I, too, place my 20 solidly in the beer camp. As a homebrewer for 16 years, and the founder/president of a beer appreciation/brewing club, it’s hard to get the stuff out of my life. I even worked in the beer industry for a while!

    Although it’s likely that I consume too much of it, even after nearly 2 years of Primal living, there’s never regret, only enjoyment. Having ditched 40 pounds and gotten stronger while still being able to have a few weekly visits with insanely delicious beers strongly reinforces the wisdom fo the 80/20 rule.

    And sure, there are times when I cut beer out entirely, times when perhaps I indulge too much, but the enjoyment derived from the near-infinite combinations of malt, hops, yeast, and water (without even getting into spices, fruits, etc.) is more than worth the small chips in the Primal armor.

    Andy wrote on September 15th, 2010
  22. Deep fried turkey on Thanksgiving and a cold beer!!! 😉

    John wrote on September 15th, 2010
  23. Deep fried turkey on Thanksgiving—ALL of it—and a cold beer!!! 😉

    John wrote on September 15th, 2010
  24. I have only just begun my primal journey so I am avoiding most of the things I crave just to get on the right track and learn new habits. I do however put 5 croutons broken in half over my salads….I cannot bring myself to enjoy a salad without that crunch…but I have added other crunchy veggies to try to get used to it. But another splurge would be Marble Slab Icecream or Kaluah chocolate cake and icecream…wow…just saying it tastes good!

    Tanya Pierce wrote on September 15th, 2010
  25. My vice is ice cream– specifically homemade fruit sorbets. A few weeks ago, I made a black cherry-Cabernet sorbet with cherries I picked and pitted myself. (Climbing cherry trees makes my sugar-filled indulgence more primal, right?) I shared some of it with family, topped with shaved super-dark chocolate, and then polished the rest off before bed. A very special treat, indeed!

    Julia wrote on September 15th, 2010
  26. My 20 is definitely dark chocolate and wine. Especially when paired together…better than chocolate and peanut butter 😉

    Bryce wrote on September 15th, 2010
  27. Bacon, egg and cheese breakfast tacos on the weekends. My husband has fetched me tacos for weekend breakfasts for years, and he didn’t stop when i went primal. I also have to have my enchiladas Mexicanas periodically.

    After more than a year of primal living, I’ve met and maintained my weight and health goals despite indulging in the occasional tortilla.

    julietx wrote on September 15th, 2010
  28. Nothing is more primal than going camping with friends, but I do miss out on the modern custom of S’mores. So this past weekend around the campfire I happily indulged in a single toasty gooey marshmallow, with a bit of melted dark chocolate – and it was good.

    Amy P wrote on September 15th, 2010
  29. This past summer, my partner and I picked thirty pounds of organic blueberries at a friend’s patch. We could not resist making home-made blueberry ice cream, with really good cream from a pastured-cows dairy in Kentucky. It was the bomb. We gave some to all the neighbors and everybody raved about it.

    shannon wrote on September 15th, 2010
  30. Living in Germany, every once in awhile I’ve got to have a big pile of spaetzle smothered with gravy. Especially as a side to a venison goulash.

    And since it’s September and Oktoberfest is ramping up, a Friday night or two won’t be complete without a maß (pronounced “moss”) of dunkel hefeweizen, which is a dark wheat beer.

    BTW, a maß is a 1-liter mug. It’s amazing how fast they go down.

    Bill wrote on September 15th, 2010
  31. Indy 500 weekend. We have a huge cookout/party at our place in Indy before the race where friends and relatives join us from around the country. There is beer (plenty of), there are chips, there are banana cookies, there is meat (bbq beef, burgers, brats, pulled pork), there are no regrets.

    Adam wrote on September 15th, 2010
  32. Occasionally, after my son goes to sleep, my wife and I will cuddle up on a chair on the patio, look up at the night sky and enjoy some dark chocolate and a glass of wine while talking about…whatever. Is it primal? I’m not sure, but it sure as hell feels good!

    anzy wrote on September 15th, 2010
  33. During the 16 weeks of Primal life.. there have been just three ’20’moments, here they are:

    Slice of Tiramisu.. washed down with half coffee half kahlua..

    Smoothie made with mangoes, vanilla ice cream and rum

    Double thick Stout with raw banana chips fried in coconut oil..

    Resurgent wrote on September 15th, 2010
  34. This is a WEAK cheat (20) at best, but before I entered this challenge (staying 100% primal til Oct 6th), I would allow myself Fage Greek Full Fat Yogurt with Frozen Banana Slices and Strawberries! Sounds innocent until you see what that can do to your blood sugar.

    Never realized until recently that dairy and bananas (a LOT) were hampering my efforts to finally lean down.

    Alex wrote on September 15th, 2010
  35. One word: Pho. My Vietnamese husband introduced me to this culinary marvel on one of our first dates, and I’ve been addicted since day one. Teeny tiny rice noodles,fresh culantro, thai basil, jalapenos, and onion, raw beef sliced impossibly thin and gently steamed by spicy, cinnamon-y, beefy fragrant broth, and seasoned with a dash of chili and fish sauce. I can resist a lot of things, but this is one I feel zero guilt for being unable to give up.

    And as long as I’m there, I may as well have a couple spring rolls dunked in peanut sauce, right? 😀

    Tara wrote on September 15th, 2010
    • Yes, Pho and Bahn-Mi’s (Viet Sandwiches with a sweet butter and fix-ins on French Bread). Amazing!

      Alex wrote on September 15th, 2010
      • Yes, those too! The Vietnamese really have it right…everything is better with sriracha and a fried egg.

        Tara wrote on September 15th, 2010
  36. sigh… I will have to say that I LOVE to make fun martinis on the weekends…It’s just something about the shaker! haha so I not only get a few shots of alcohol but also all those sugary juices. And! definitely a good grilled cheese sandwich on Trader Joe’s Cracked Wheat Sourdough with lots of butter and cheese. They are so very, very yummy… :)

    Kimberly wrote on September 15th, 2010
  37. One of my best 20s happened spontaneously last week while on vacation – on the one night dining out. The experience: a lovely glass of red wine, a scrumptious roasted half chicken with asparagus (the 80 ends here), a heap of mashed potatoes AND gravy. Not so crazy…until I asked my friend if he needed help with his battered french fries. Fighting off heartburn he said yes. One word…orgasmic. I even dipped them in sugary ketchup. He stared as I inhaled every last fry crumb. Before getting up to catch my breath, he asks “I know you are not going to have any dessert, but, if you were what would it be?” The hot fudge brownie sundae, of course. I get back from my stroll feeling a little better and in the center of the table is a humongous hot fudge brownie sundae with four spoons. What’s a girl to do?

    Mark, I’ve been a following your blog, your advice, for almost a year now. This is the first time I’ve posted. Thank you for lighting the way. My life is so much better for it.

    Trish wrote on September 15th, 2010
  38. I discovered MDA soon after discovering the best ice cream I’ve ever had – Herrell’s Ice Cream at Harvard Square. It was a delicious mouth-watering frozen delectable treat. Their chocolate buttercream ice cream could be the answer to peace in the Middle East. A few months into being Primal, word spread that Herrell’s was closing their doors and turning into a pub. I lamented my ill fortune and rushed over to Harvard Square a few days before The Closing. I ordered the largest size they had and 4 different flavors and went to town and back on them. Slept that night like a drunk baby. Woke up the next day, fasted till dinner, then had a steak. I’ve been pretty strict since then (except for chocolate) but rumor is that Herrell’s is coming back to Boston. I shall ready my battle-spoon for war.

    GtrBMart wrote on September 15th, 2010
    • Herrell’s is still open! I went there about on month ago. Chocolate Pudding flavors the richest, darkest I’ve ever tried.

      Stay strong though. I make Chocolate Pudding pops out of coconut milk, 100% cacao, and ray honey. Great stuff.. and not too bad, paleo-wise.

      Alex wrote on September 15th, 2010
      • The one in Northhampton is still there but the one in Harvard Square definitely closed… Unless it’s already reopened in the same location (though I read that wouldn’t be happening). I haven’t trudged over to Harvard Square in a while so who knows.

        GtrBMart wrote on September 15th, 2010
  39. My best 20% “unPrimal Moment” is a cake called Tres Leches ( ) I asked for a whole cake for my birthday just for me. Then I ate it all. I even told my kids that they couldn’t have any. Damn is it good.

    My worst 20% “unPrimal moment” is pizza. If I am really hungry after a workout, I have been know to eat a whole large meatlovers pizza. I know that all that dough and crust is horrible for me but I just keep eating it! Gotta stop doing that!


    David Grim wrote on September 15th, 2010
  40. My 20% isn’t dark chocolate – that’s always been my favorite sweet, so I don’t use it as a crutch now.

    My 20% isn’t delicious, delicious stouts or ipas or a couple of fingers of bourbon – I know I have to avoid those now because it is a huge detriment to me losing the fat I really need to shed, mostly because it mentally derails me.

    My 20% isn’t chicken wings…I’ve discovered a rub that pretty much perfectly transforms regular barbequed wings into amazing, delicious Buffalo Wings (and I’m FROM Buffalo!).

    My 20% is Mexican food. Oh, delicious Mexican food, made of flour tortillas and rice and beans and chips and assorted other badness, I love you so. Bursting with any type of protein, smothered in salsa verde, topped with avocado….no matter what I do, you are still full of bad…evil, evil bad! And I love you all the more for it. Delicious burrito, you will be mine.

    Erin wrote on September 15th, 2010

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