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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 01, 2012

Finish Line: The 2012 Challenge

By Mark Sisson
57 Comments

Wow. When I first decided to revamp the annual Primal Challenge into the 21-day model, I knew we’d be looking at an intense, filled-to-the-brim three weeks. I had no idea. Every year I relish the Challenge, and this year was no exception. Congratulations to everyone out there who participated – whether it was your first foray into the Primal Blueprint or whether you’re a longtime adherent who tackled a new lifestyle dimension. A big thanks also to all who offered support, perspective, and feedback to fellow readers along the way. The Challenge never fails to highlight the truly awesome Primal community that inspires this blog. For me, it’s the ultimate reflection – and maybe celebration – of what living Primally is all about. It’s a testament, I think, to the power of a few key principles for healthier living – as well as the incredible inventiveness and individuality that folks bring to the Primal model.

The Challenge officially ended yesterday. Now that it’s all said and done, I want to hear your perceptions of it. It’s a good time to take stock of your experience while it’s still fresh. What exactly are you bringing away from the Challenge? More energy? A renewed optimism about your health? A new waist measurement? A more impressive mile time or VO2 max? A heftier deadlift max? Better sleep? Better confidence? I hope you’ll share your successes – and your stumbling blocks along the way. What worked for you? What didn’t? Did you follow the Action Items? What was most instrumental in the successes you experienced? No matter how dramatic or mixed the results, there’s so much to be gained from revisiting the overall venture. Reflection is an essential part of the process.

Let’s do a quick review of the highlights…

Primal Worthy Contests and Commentary

The competitive side of me loves the energy behind a good contest, and I’m glad so many of you share the enthusiasm. A big thanks to the companies who offered their products for the competitions this year. For the MDA community, it’s a great way to support the larger Primal and paleo business community, and I know readers love the chance to snag some truly extraordinary prizes that can help them live healthier. What’s more than the prizes themselves, however, is the incredible insight readers have shared in many of these contests. Whether it’s naming the apron, designing a poster, or suggesting Primal Woman book themes, your feedback has been invaluable and amazingly impressive. Thank you to everybody for sharing your time, talent, and perspectives. And stay tuned for the fruits of your contributions.

Phenomenal Reader Content

I can’t salute this enough. I know everybody looks forward to the Friday Success Stories, and so many of you have been following the 2012 Success Stories in the Making chronicles. The Challenge always takes the readers’ presence on MDA to a whole new level. Every year I relish the chance to see what readers design when I turn the reins over to their creativity. I’m amazed, frankly. I’m inspired. I think, “I wish I would’ve thought of that!” Now that I know, I’m going to waste no time getting some of that action – whether it’s a fantastic recipe or an exciting new workout. I love the images of everything from celebratory Grokfeasts to Primal family living. Readers, you rock! What’s better is you show how flexible and relevant the PB can be for absolutely everyone’s lifestyle. You make the PB your own, and thank you all for sharing your takes on Primal living with the rest of us.

In case you missed any of the action, here are links to your submissions:

Primal Blueprint Recipe Videos

Primal Blueprint Workout Videos

2012 Grokfeasts

You can view the winners and sponsors of this year’s contests here.

Primal Blueprint Key Concepts and Action Items

Then there’s the practical, commonsensical, back to basics focus of the Challenge. This year I incorporated the new, streamlined summary of Primal living – made simple – as I outlined it in The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation book. I invite you to revisit the posts on the 8 Key Concepts and 5 Action Items whenever you want a refresher or a bit of extra motivation. The posts now represent the blog version of a Primal primer for those beginning the journey or reviewing the fundamentals for healthier living.

There’s another angle to everyone’s experience that I want to throw out there. For all the talk about what each of us is taking away from the Challenge, there’s the flip side. It’s a less expected but nonetheless revealing question of what you brought to the 2012 Challenge. For first timers, what motivated you to give it a shot? What hope and history accompanied you on the 21-day journey? Are you new to MDA, or have you been observing from the periphery for a while? What shift made you finally take the plunge?

For those of you who have done the Challenge before or have been Primal for a while but who took on the Challenge for more in depth work, how were you different coming to the Challenge this year – your life, your motivation, your interest? Believe it or not, I do the Challenge myself every year. In the midst of being engrossed in the content and contests of the Challenge, I use the focus of these weeks to tackle some new area of life. Sure, I’ve had the basics down for years, but I never fail to uncover some new wrinkle that refreshes or deepens my own Primal experience. Life is somehow different every year. I find I’m different, too, as my work, family, and general life continue to shift and unfold.

Anyone who’s re-read a long favorite book only to find themselves getting something totally new out of it knows what I mean. Yes, the Primal principles themselves are pretty constant – rooted in age-old patterns of course. Nonetheless, through the course of life and change, we ourselves are constantly changing – bringing something different to our health undertakings. Repeating the Challenge – whether during the official MDA month or on your own during the year (maybe with the help of the 21-Day Total Body Transformation to boot?) can let you see the Primal Blueprint through a new lens. The light of a year’s life experiences can shift our emotional engagement and show us new depths or angles that seemed less relevant before. That’s part of what makes the PB a rewarding lifelong journey. It’s not a regimen that gets stale over time. It’s a model that you can continually revisit and adapt as your life and interests change.

The logical extension of all this is to reflect on what vision (not just results) you’re bringing now to life post-Challenge. What’s the next Primal chapter for you? What are your priorities? What do you want to tackle, hone, or simply enjoy moving forward? What resources, activities, choices, or experiments will serve you now in this next chapter? Finally, what are you looking for from MDA that could help you chart your course these next few months? The Challenge might be over, but I’m still here ready to support you in your ongoing Primal journey.

Thank you again, everyone, for another amazing, energizing Primal Challenge! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And stay tuned. I’ve got plenty of new resources, posts, and news to come in the next several weeks, and we’ll be getting back to the regular schedule starting with a “Dear Mark” post tomorrow. Have a great week, everybody.

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57 Comments on "Finish Line: The 2012 Challenge"

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lockard
lockard
3 years 11 months ago

enjoyed going back to basics. sometimes the overdone needs done again. thankx for re-re-doing simple concepts.

lockard
lockard
3 years 11 months ago

also went to bed earlier and lost 5-6lbs

Craig
Craig
3 years 11 months ago

5-6 = -1, so you gained a pound 🙂

Selene
Selene
3 years 11 months ago

Lost 9 pounds in three weeks with complete satisfaction of what I was eating (a first for me). Feel so much better, healthier and happier. Bought smaller, cuter clothes and boots. Received complements on my appearance from other women. Received many compliments from my husband – he is very impressed and proud. Making a commitment to keep to keep wheat out of my diet. I just feel amazing and am so very happy and proud. Thanks, Mark!

Luciana
3 years 11 months ago

Congrats! Your feedback is inspiring!

Evan Pavan
3 years 11 months ago

Cut out the remaining HFCS in my diet and now and I no longer crave it. I ate a piece of cake in celebration and 2 bites in I wasn’t enjoying it. Success!

Mimulus
Mimulus
3 years 11 months ago

One of my action items of slowing life down was spending less time in front of my computer moniter.
Sadly, I did not have time to sit thru every reader recipe…… and they all sounded so good! Is it possible to have the submitters sent in print recipes? Otherwise, this 21 day was a great shot in the arm. and I am not sure what I loved more…tuna tanaka or Nacho himself!

Tasha
3 years 11 months ago

Fitness is still my “newest” Primal focus. I stuck to my at least twice weekly moderate strength training routines (kettlebell and bodyweight). I actually ended up surpassing those sessions every single week! I did not stick to my 2x weekly biking session due to weather. Overall, I feel like this year’s Challenge helped to reinforce some new exercise habits (new as in I have never been able to stick to exercise routines for my 24 yrs of life so far!).

Charlayna
3 years 11 months ago
Same! This challenge helped me get in a few extra hours of slow movement by standing at my desk, walking around the office, and riding to and from work. While I wasn’t able to go a full 24 hours of fasting, I did incorporate 12-16 hour daily fasts into my routine, which have helped my energy levels soar. I too was unable to ride to work everyday because of the 40+ inches of rain we got this September, but I did go all out during my workouts these past 3 weeks, pushing myself hard in order to gain strength, flexibility,… Read more »
Lars T.
Lars T.
3 years 11 months ago

No alcohol since 9/1/2012.. and it feels great. A few lbs lost, much more clarity and motivation gained!
This is a big lifestyle change for me, and I learned I can still enjoy life without craving a drink to augment it.

What’s next is to outline some long term goals around a primal life and fitness, and develop a plan to achieve them.

Vince
Vince
3 years 11 months ago

Finding this to be the final piece of the primal puzzle and the first one for enlightenment.

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 11 months ago

Nice work.

I have wondered about the link between craving a drink and malnutrition. Most heavy drinkers have poor diets and their adrenals are spent. Back when I imbibed too often my diet was poor, my sleep was poor, motivation was poor, etc. It was like being stuck in a downward spiral.

Lars
3 years 11 months ago

I think I have overactive adrenals.
Poor sleep has been an ongoing issue as of late, mostly due to stress. Dialed in my diet primal about two years ago, except for the excessive alcohol. Very excited to see what happens going forward .

Marcela
Marcela
3 years 11 months ago

Cut out all sugar, natural or otherwise, plus everything that comes in a package and stuck to primal 100%. Also moved a lot more and lifted heavy things while building a garden. Although my body didn’t change on the outside, I feel so much better mentally…all the crazy munchies and cravings are gone, I ate real food and felt very satiated the entire time.

Thomas
Thomas
3 years 11 months ago
Yes. I am so excited! Just completed my first 21-day challenge as a part of my yearlong commitment to health and wellness. I feel great! I have been walking 7 days a week and doing cross fit type training twice a week – for this first month I am only eating fat, meat, and vegetables and have not been hungry at all! I have lost 25 from 9/10 to today and looking forward to continuing the shed. My energy is increased, thinking is clearer and the back pain I have been dealing with since February is gone! Loving it and… Read more »
Cheryl Boswell
3 years 11 months ago

Wow that is absolutely super. Any cravings you have had to beat back Thomas?

Thomas
Thomas
3 years 11 months ago
Cheryl – It was actually kind of funny – seems like when I cut out the processed stuff and the sugar my cravings went away. When i was eating carbs, it seemed like i never was fully satisfied. Cutting out the excessive cardio also keeps the cravings down. My 1st 30 days ends on 10/9. After which, i start adding foods in to test my sensitivity. I am starting with coconut milk and fresh coconut – I am looking forward to some homemade coconut ice cream sweetened only with yacon and stevia. I have been a big chocolate person. I… Read more »
Barbara
Barbara
3 years 11 months ago

How did you lose so much weight? I too have lost the cravings but weight loss has stagnated

Sharon
Sharon
3 years 11 months ago

He is a guy. Seems like the weight falls off them easier than us females.

Thomas
Thomas
3 years 11 months ago
I find that there are some differences based on gender. However, it also depends on the amount of weight one needs to lose. The biggest differentiator is your diet. It really is 80-85% of it. I have strictly been doing fat, meat, eggs, and vegetables. I have been very strict. I also have been keeping my carbs at 75 g or below – most days are 25-50 g. I believe the ketosis made the difference. That has also enabled me to do intermittent fasting since my cravings are pretty much gone. I really have not changed my workouts. I walk… Read more »
Primal Toad
3 years 11 months ago

I was sick for the past 7 days and am finally just about 100% better. So my focus is now shifting to living more slowly and getting lots of sleep and rest!

DFrazzled
DFrazzled
3 years 11 months ago
I did read Primal Blueprint and I did talk to my husband about making the switch. He is still not interested, but he understands what I’m doing and why. I also turned off my alarm clock and wake up naturally every day–usually around the time I need to anyway. I got in five weight training type workouts and several walks. I did NOT get the cold that my daughter brought home from school. I know I have lost some weight too, because my pants are loose! These are all great accomplishments for me. I may never have the six-pack abs… Read more »
Luciana
3 years 11 months ago
This is such an amazing community! Thank you for sharing your experiences!The most important results of the primal diet for me are a much clearer brain, more energy, and almost no mood swings. I cannot emphasize enough the joy of a clearer brain. The fog has lifted. I run my own business and having energy and a clear mind makes a huge difference in my life. I do not crave any grains or legumes. I fell in love with my fruits and veggies. And have been enjoying eggs and meat like never before. Don’t have to eat as soon as… Read more »
Arcticnomster
3 years 11 months ago

Couldn’t agree more with you! Hah, I just wish i’d started this earlier so i could’ve had better results in my finals! 😀

Mike G
Mike G
3 years 11 months ago

Three weeks of no dairy. My body is much better off without it.

Sara in Brooklyn
Sara in Brooklyn
3 years 11 months ago
I’m working out, and enjoying it. I think there’s a pullup in my near future. A year and a half ago, I got so gluten-sick… since going grain/legume/dairy-free, I’ve had more energy, less joint pain, better sleep, headaches are virtually unheard of. I’ve really appreciated the 21 days, and wish I’d had more time to follow others’ adventures – and to post some of our best meat cupcake recipes! My weight is unchanged – for a year now! – but my clothes continue to get bigger 😉 I never, ever think about portions or calories – sometimes I feel like… Read more »
Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 11 months ago

+1 for the future pull ups. I started just by hanging for 10 seconds. Now I can do double digit pullups. Just keep at it.

Craig
Craig
3 years 11 months ago

How long do you wait between doing pullups? Is 1 day recovery enough?

Darren
3 years 11 months ago

You should also try using an assisted pull up machine. Most gyms should have them. It definitely helped me a lot. Oh and I am on a 3 day split so i usually wait 3 days between my back workouts. Not sure if others agree with that, but it works for me!

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
3 years 11 months ago

I do them daily. When I am too weak I hang and do leg lifts.

Charlayna
3 years 11 months ago

I lift heavy things 4x per week, but only do back exercises 1x per week… Not sure if that helps a ton though, since I can’t do pullups yet.

I would probably just try doing them, and see how sore you are the next day?

John
3 years 11 months ago

Great post and useful information. I have started my own challenge of getting on best shape ever this year.

Theodora
Theodora
3 years 11 months ago
I had lost sleep for years and now I spend whole nights under the sheets. I have no more joint pain, no more migraines, I have more energy and I’m always happy. My beloved says I’m not the same woman I was before going Primal. I didn’t eat dairy except butter. I began eating Primal 1 week earlier than the Challenge so in 1 month I lost 4 inches of waist, 1.6 inches for the hips, about 0.4-0.8 everywhere else and 13lbs of weight. My weight didn’t change since last week but my pants keep getting looser. Thank you all… Read more »
Nancy
Nancy
3 years 11 months ago

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to watch all the videos, and after checking in several times and only finding video content I just skipped the whole thing. I’m looking forward to regular blog posts again.

NMCynthia
NMCynthia
3 years 11 months ago

Since I don’t have unlimited bandwidth, I can’t watch all of the videos. I pray that all of the recipes submitted will eventually be put in print version. Please, please!!!!

CrazyCatLady
CrazyCatLady
3 years 11 months ago
I didn’t stick to this as well as I had hoped. (Fires and bad air quality made exercise very hard.) But, I have noticed some changes in the last couple of weeks. I am getting up regularly on my own, and not quiet so tired at night. The hip pain I have had most of the time since my now 7 year old was born is gone. The ganglion (or Bible Bump) on my wrist is gone. I did do a bunch of modified push ups, and can do one pull up now. A couple of picnics means that I… Read more »
Lexie : )
Lexie : )
3 years 11 months ago

Wish it woulda got rid of my ganglion cyst!!! Lucky you!

DarcieG
DarcieG
3 years 11 months ago

Wenatchee?

Kat
Kat
3 years 11 months ago

Is it possible to get the recipes in a print version? Cheers!

NMCynthia
NMCynthia
3 years 11 months ago

+1!!

Maxine
Maxine
3 years 11 months ago
I didn’t start my Primal journey as a part of the 21-day challenge, my start just happened to coincide with it. I read and followed the posts about it, though, along with the other articles on the site. I started college a month ago and I’m living away from home for the first time, which has given me the freedom to prepare my own meals and to be in control of what I eat. After reading a ton of articles on the site I went out to the store and bought Primal-approved foods and put away almost everything my parents… Read more »
Kitty =^..^=
Kitty =^..^=
3 years 11 months ago
At the beginning I vowed to cut out cheese, to get outside and move more and to lose 2kg. I cut both cheese and milk from my diet, bought a frisbee and dragged the nephews to the park a few times, tried tabata sprints (OMG, now I know what dying feels like but the high afterward is incredible!), and lost exactly 2kg. I also found a good source of free-range eggs and made friends with my local butcher (no mean feat for a social phobic such as myself). I enjoyed the reader submitted videos, they were funny, informative and immensely… Read more »
Siobhan
Siobhan
3 years 11 months ago

I started swimming and am having so much fun doing it that I don’t want to get out of the pool. Thanks for giving me the motivation boost to actually put on my suit and jump in. It is something I have been meaning to do for ages but the Challenge got me off my keister and into the water. Also lifting weights twice a week!

Carol
3 years 11 months ago

another request for print recipes. I skipped the videos. I prefer print content, but understand some enjoy the action. looking forward to the routine posts. appreciate all the info and inspiration I get from subscribing.

DarcieG
DarcieG
3 years 11 months ago

+1

Lars
3 years 11 months ago

I enjoyed reading the comments from the newbies undergoing their primal journeys.
Congrats to you all, and keep up the good work!

Audrey
Audrey
3 years 11 months ago

Yay! I didn’t touch chocolate the entire time (my number one out-of-control indulgence). I got back into some nice lifting of heavy things and my muscles are now used to it. Lost a little of the weight I gained over winter.

trackback
3 years 11 months ago

[…] Congratulations to everyone out there who participated – whether it was your first […] Mark’s Daily Apple Related Posts:The 2012 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Begins NowSuccess Stories in the Making: […]

Sharon
Sharon
3 years 11 months ago

My goal was to incorporate more exercise. Started out pretty good walking across town twice a day to feed my out of town son’s cat. Did some body weight exercises at the local playground.

Son came home and I fell off the exercise wagon again and got into food. Fermenting food in particular. A new adventure for me. I highly recommend it based on the ferments we have had so far.

We are about to install a veg garden so it will be ready to go next spring. I see heavy lifting in my near future.

Katie
3 years 11 months ago

This was the first time that I actually stuck to the challenge, and I ended up losing 7 pounds-all without counting calories or going hungry. Going for three weeks revealed to me how easy it was to go without processed food and sugar, and inspired me to keep going even though the challenge is over.

alexandra
3 years 11 months ago

Broke my plateau and lost 3 pounds with no effort;-)

Gretchen
Gretchen
3 years 11 months ago

I lost 10 pounds, cut the juggle around the middle, and stopped drinking Diet Coke.

I’m movitated to lose the remaining 30 (give or take).

Overall – a success!

Lexie : )
Lexie : )
3 years 11 months ago
I’m so excited to read how this 21 day challenge effected everyone! For me the first thing I noticed was a clearer thought process. I did notice the low-carb flu wich lasted 1.5-2 weeks, but afterwards have noticed more energy. I work a graveyard shift and have a hard time sleeping (usually 4-6 hrs tops). I now sleep 8-9 hours, no problem! And… I lost 5.5 lbs, an inch off my waist and 1.5 inches off my hips! I went completely off sugar and just had some ice cream after the challenge. I was pretty excited, but felt sick after… Read more »
Jeff L
Jeff L
3 years 11 months ago

Absolutely no wheat for the 3 weeks. Lost weight for 2 weeks then actually gained some back. I honestly cannot say I feel better after the 3 weeks. Do not have the carb cravings, but obviously I still ate a lot of something.

trackback

[…] finally back in the swing of things. Back to the regular programming. It’s good to shake things up now and then, but there’s really nothing quite like getting back into your normal groove. Last week, I […]

trackback

[…] the past few months, our weight started to creep back up. It wasn’t until I read your posts about the 21-Day Challenge that I realized why – we were doing great with the diet, but we were neglecting many of the […]

Barbara
Barbara
3 years 11 months ago
I’m so happy I finally decided to do this. My friend told me about PB 2 years ago but I kept telling him I wasn’t ready. I totally eliminated sugar, dairy, grains and processed foods. I HAD to do something drastic. I was feeling so horrible I would cry every morning just because I had to get out of bed and go to work. My entire body just hurt all the time, my mind was foggy, I couldn’t concentrate on my job and made a lot of mistakes every day. My co-workers were sick of hearing me complain about how… Read more »
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