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

Midpoint Check-In: The Power of Community (Plus a Simple Comment Contest)

CommunityWith all the action around here, it’s amazing to me we’re already at the midpoint of the 21-Day Challenge! The flood of feedback, comments and contest participation has been awesome, and it’s all a reminder of how great a community this is. It never ceases to amaze me actually just how positive a group we have. Seriously, in all the blogosphere, I’ve never stumbled upon anything like it, and I have people tell me as much all the time. Sure, the growth and engagement that all the web number crunchers measure are stellar, but I’m talking deeper than that. I mean the genuine support that is shared here.

From day one of this blog (hands for how many of you were with us way back in 2006!), it’s been the case. People want to help people. There’s great conversation and healthy challenge on the boards, but the spirit of exchange is impressively constructive. Readers themselves have told me how much that collective energy impacts them – how they’ve tapped into it to get them through rough patches or to help motivate them toward bigger visions of thriving and transformation.

The fact is, it’s all too easy to isolate and live with the misguided view that we have to do it all alone – that we should do it all independently. Sure, maybe some of us can conceivably get to our goal without the support, guidance, sharing, etc. But why would we? What are we trying to prove to ourselves? Some people find it noble, but I think it’s just unnecessary. There’s something small and surrendered about the self-contained approach. The fact is, when you open yourself and your process to others, your view of that process and your vision of what’s possible become more expansive.

Likewise, when you’re feeling discouraged because of a setback or crisis of confidence, others can hold that promise for you. They can be the mirror for you. You may not be able to envision great progress on certain days, but seeing it in others – and imagining it for others as you encourage fellow readers on their paths – makes your own possibility of success feel less remote. A community holds optimism – and wisdom – collectively.

On that note, how goes the journey? What is everyone up to – trying, cooking, lifting, feeling, enjoying etc.? I want to encourage each and every one of you out there to interact today (and every day would be cool, too) on the comment board. In fact, it’s the focus of today’s Contest….

Epic BarsThe Prize:

The EPIC bar is a 100% grass fed animal based protein bar. It’s paleo friendly, gluten free, and low in sugar. The names of their bars alone leave the mouth watering: How about a Bison Bacon Cranberry bar, a Beef Habanero Cherry bar, or a Turkey Almond Cranberry bar? Yes, please. To all three, thank you very much.

Catch EPIC bar on Facebook.

The lucky winner of this contest will win 3 boxes of EPIC bars plus an EPIC bar t-shirt. Retail value: $125.

BONUS: Use the code EPICHEARTSMARK at and get free shipping on your order. Valid for five days.

The Contest:

Leave a comment on the board about what you’ve struggled with lately in the Challenge, and/or give your advice to others. Share your anecdotes, stumbles, questions and successes. Share the totally random and nagging craving you’re having, the annoying vestiges of low-carb flu, the odd sleep disturbances or dream patterns (not unheard of), the strangest comments you’ve gotten from various people, the hardest part in the process so far.

Likewise, offer your suggestions and encouragement to others. What strategies did you use to kick cravings? How did you motivate yourself to exercise on days you were tired and it was raining buckets outside? What did you tell naysayers that seemed to get them off your back? If another reader has a struggle or a question and you have an answer–go for it! A winner will be randomly selected from all the comments.

So, there you go! Throw in your questions and responses, and see the support of the MDA community at full throttle! I’m looking forward to reading how everyone is doing and what comes of all the great community feedback. Thanks for stopping in today, everybody. Here’s to an even more amazing and successful second half of the Challenge!

The Deadline:

September 26, midnight PDT.

Who is Eligible:

U.S. residents only for this one. Sorry international readers!

How the Winner Will Be Determined:

A winner will be randomly selected.

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 have issue, like a lot of people. My problem has never been weight, I’m pretty thin, and most people who look at me think I’m in pretty darn good shape. I still have the sense that I’m underachieving. Sleep eludes me a good bit, and so energy gets shot up. Some changes I’ve made recently: I’m eating a ton more leafy greens. It helps. I haven’t done any super heavy workouts, as I suspect at some point I was overtraining and goofed up my hormones to some extent. I’m a little fragile, and prone to anxiety (maybe because of childhood and in utero trauma). Anyway, I think maybe for me, I just have to be even more strict than most folks, because going to bed early (computers are so addicting though) and eating tons of leafy greens has helped noticeably, even though I’m still not having the energy and oomph I know is inside me somewhere.

    So, advice? (Though I haven’t been super detailed) And to those struggling still, I’m with you, don’t give up, don’t overdo it, persevere, but intelligently.

    Jacob wrote on September 26th, 2013
    • Great insights Jacob, I feel almost exactly the same way! I totally get what you are saying about the vague sense of underachieving, and I have the same problem about going to bed early enough. I appreciate your advice!

      Jennifer wrote on September 26th, 2013
  2. My problem has been constant exhaustion, especially when walking (I by necessity walk a few miles a day). I have been Primal for a while, but while other problems are dissipating this one remains. Should I up carb intake? I eat mostly eggs and cabbage and leafy greens and broccoli and meat and fat. So I only get carbs a couple times a week as a sweet potato. Should I up fat intake? Ride it out? Walk more?

    Mallory wrote on September 26th, 2013
  3. Being able to interact with other Primal Lifestylers or interested people in my area is so motivating to me! About a year ago I helped start a Paleo meetup group in my city (Cincinnati, OH) and we have 92 members now!

    Jennifer wrote on September 26th, 2013
  4. My difficulty has been cooking! I am accustomed to cooking. But I’m not accustomed to cooking everything that goes in my mouth…all day, everyday. A few “sugary” take-out salads made me realize that eating out isn’t easy to do eating primal. Sometimes it makes me prepare something new (I roasted my first whole chicken; I made homemade mayo). And that’s cool. But sometimes its like…dear God. Do I have to cook again? And wash more dishes? And buy more food?

    I know it will get easier as I get into a routine. But I’m not there yet. So its still a challenge.

    tatiana wrote on September 26th, 2013
  5. Those Epic bars are great! Our local natural foods market started carrying them about a month ago.

    So my biggest challenge is getting 8 hours of sleep. I have a toddler and I need to be sleeping an hour after he goes to bed to get 8 hours in before he wakes up. I find this so difficult because that time after he goes to sleep is my only time for cleaning up around the house, reading, exercising, showering, blogging. I don’t try to do all those things every evening, but there always seems to be something keeping me awake just a little longer.

    Anyone have advise for getting enough sleep when you have a young child? Perhaps this is something you just wait out? I know in a few years I’ll be the one waking him up! :)

    Sarah Kim wrote on September 26th, 2013
  6. I tell ya, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get visible abs. I have a low bodyfat percentage, and can sit up, with my back rigid (like Dracula), while hanging from my feet, but a six-pack has alluded me for years.
    And for others just leaving SAD behind; Remember, our bodies are not all exactly the same. Once you have made the switch from perpetual glucosis, to a more natural, primarily fat-burning metabolic state, you may well have to play around with your carbohydrate intake. The right amount will be where you feel the best (just make sure that you don’t accidentally hop back on the insulin cycle).

    D'Aviator wrote on September 26th, 2013
  7. My biggest challenge is my stomach! I’m not over weight and I am very active but I have a roll that will not disappear! I read Mark’s post about how he never does stomach exercises but I’m not having much luck. Anyone have any ideas? I do sit-ups, yoga, and concentrate on my posture etc. Also I have been eating primal for about 7 months. The easiest part of the challenge is the cooking ~ I love to cook from scratch! The new recipes have been fun and delicious.

    Meg wrote on September 26th, 2013
    • Hi Meg, I have an issue with belly fat too. From what I’ve read, female belly fat (I think you are female, sorry if I am wrong) is mostly due to stress. I thought this was a good site to read about it:

      Jennifer wrote on September 27th, 2013
      • Recently on the forum there were a few posts on women and belly fat in the “Motivation Picture” thread. One poster commented that women should have some belly fat because it helps protect the womb. Makes sense to me.

        Even better are the inspiration pics! Go read it.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 27th, 2013
  8. Pasta! I don’t know why but spaghetti squash isn’t quite covering it. I’ll fast from all other carbs for the day and maybe up the ante a tad on the workout whenever I splurge.

    Ike wrote on September 26th, 2013
  9. I noticed today that I had a lot of energy and no bloated feeling! I’ve recommitted to eating paleo since the challenge started, and it feels good!
    I also love reading all the comments and getting new insights. Thanks, all!
    My biggest challenge is getting exercise! I clean houses three days a week, and tell myself that is a lot of moving, but I know I could lift more heavy things. Right now I’m sticking with the healthy food– and getting my 8 hours of sleep!

    Julia wrote on September 27th, 2013
  10. Has anyone had the experience where you absolutely love your mum,but somehow within 3 min of being on the phone with her ,you find yourself needing to do something or be somewhere? Well since turning my 73 year old mother paleo 2 months ago ,things have changed for the better, I now no longer have to hear about all the health complaints as they’ve all but gone and we have paleo food in common and I can stay on the phone until she’s ready to hang up. I also have an 80 year old father who has converted too and is loving it.

    K DOGGY wrote on September 27th, 2013
  11. I’ve been Primal for about four months and the biggest challenge just came up last week. I am pregnant! So I find myself panicking that my midwife (whose judgement and knowledge I highly respect) is going to ask me to change my diet. I am almost paranoid about what I eat and my exercise levels out of fear. I hate it! That kind of stress does not make things fun.
    Any ideas, o lovely MDA readers? BTW, ya’ll have been great support in this. Even my 2 Mt. Dew/day husband is on board!

    Mab wrote on September 27th, 2013
    • Congrats on growing the new person inside you!
      It’s not easy for everyone to be assertive, sorry, I’d give you some of my “old ageness” if I could. The longer you live the less you worry about the judgment of others so it gets easier.
      Who knows, maybe she would be open to learning all the research you have done and be willing to see you go on your journey with her blessing?
      Internally (maybe tell your self while looking into your own eyes in the mirror) you can tell yourself you are going to transform your fear about this into (insert the word you’d rather have – like confidence, resolve, etc). You may have to do it a few times but it’s worth the transformation, try it. That little person growing inside will appreciate it too.

      2Rae wrote on September 27th, 2013
  12. My mother and grandmother have noticed that I have more energy and that I have been eating more fat lately. They told me to stop drinking so much coconut milk because I will have a heart attack. Well I argued a bit then stopped because I figured there was no use convincing a Registered Nurse with a background in nutrition. Can’t convince them all right?

    David Mares wrote on September 27th, 2013
  13. Blah! I have been struggling on all fronts with this challenge. I’ve realized that it’s going to take work at every meal and every day. But I also know it’s worth it.

    Noel wrote on September 27th, 2013
  14. I love that you are doing Paleo Challenges!! I have been living paleo since February and my bf since May. We have lost a combined 95 LBS!!! We love how much energy we have, we’re sleeping better, we look and feel better! This is such a great lifestyle!
    I think people’s opinions about everything can be one of the hardest to deal with. The pressure we get is crazy sometimes to eat something we aren’t interested in anymore or that will make us sick later! But it’s worth the hassle EVERY TIME!
    Your book got us into this lifestyle and we appreciate you every day!!

    Tanya Schloesser wrote on September 27th, 2013
  15. my biggest advice is to allow friends or family members to come to this lifestyle on their own time/terms…i have preached and tried to motivate many friends/family and most people are resistant at first, claiming “i can’t cut out bread!” but i think if you educate people and allow them to think about it and approach this way of life on their own terms rather than “you forcing them in to it” they will usually reach the same solution. i’ve been trying to get my brother to go primal/paleo for a year now due to digestive issues and he was always resistant. but he told me the other day that he’s been doing it for a month now and feels great! he started by first getting rid of dairy, then bread and then we worked on the nuances together :)

    Rebecca wrote on September 27th, 2013
  16. Struggling with avoiding soda. I know its bad for me but it helps me bridge the gap between meals! Ahh need to stop drinking it stat!

    BR0913 wrote on September 27th, 2013
    • You gotta ask yourself why you drink soda. Is it the sugar? Caffeine fix? The bubbles? Or all of the above?

      If it is sugar, try switching to coconut water. It is sweet and nature built in an overconsumption mechanism. Coconut water is high in magnesium, enough of it and it can act as a laxative. I buy mine on amazon. Breaks down to $2 per 16.9oz can. A 20oz soda at my work costs $1.50. I even use it in certain dishes I cook. One cannot say that for soda.

      If it is caffeine you need there are less sugary substitutes, like an espresso. One shot and down it. Even if you do not like coffee. Also can have a laxative affect. Or try a 5 hour energy. Personally I am not a fan of 5 hour energy or red bull, etc but Mark covered it in a past “is it primal” posts. I do coffee. Black. Like a real man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn.

      Bubbles is easy. Flavored seltzer water. Or even better, plain seltzer with a slice of citrus.

      Mixing coconut water with an espresso/coffee does not sound that bad. I would not add seltzer to it. Hope this helps in some way.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 27th, 2013
      • Paleo Bon, you can’t have grown up in the South or you’d know there are whole cookbooks full of soda-based recipes! (Ugh!!)

        However, your concoction of coconut coffee sounds scrumptious, & I might even try it with a splash of seltzer!

        Paleo-curious wrote on September 27th, 2013
        • No, not from the south. Soda in cooking. That helps to explain the obesity and “the sugar”.

          I eat my own cooking Paleo-curious, so Saturday morning I will make my morning coffee with a can of coconut water and will report on it.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 27th, 2013
        • This morning I used coconut water to make my coffee and it was good. Silky and sligthly sweet but still bitter. I still would not add seltzer to it because it would dilute the coffee. But if you have a CO2 injector and served it cold, that would be something.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 29th, 2013
  17. 1 more organ meat

    (since Lord Hubby does not ea any “strange food”, i.e., including most fish, meat with skin, bones, eyes or excessive fat. so it is even more difficult to prepare it myself)

    2. more vegetables (i frankly hate salad)

    3. more fermented veg. (see #2. i hate cold food & drink. actually i just hate being cold)

    4. more home meals

    5. sleep earlier

    6 less caffeine

    7 play piano more often (— conflict with #4)

    8 more sun (spend time outdoors, gardening, walking, swimming etc) (conflict with #4 & #7)

    9. don’t stress out about the “small stuff”

    above is not exhaustive (my work environment is very high stress)


    pam wrote on July 18th, 2014

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