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Finish Line: The 2012 Challenge

Wow. When I first decided to revamp the annual Primal Challenge [1] 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 [2] 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 [3] 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 [4] – and your stumbling blocks [5] along the way. What worked for you? What didn’t? Did you follow the Action Items [6]? 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 [7], designing a poster [8], or suggesting Primal Woman book themes [9], 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 [4], and so many of you have been following the 2012 Success Stories in the Making [10] 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 [75].

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 [76] book. I invite you to revisit the posts on the 8 Key Concepts [77] and 5 Action Items [78] 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 [76] 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 [79]” post tomorrow. Have a great week, everybody.