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

The 2012 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Begins Now

If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, reduce stress, increase energy or just generally look and feel healthier you’ve come to the right place. Oh, and you can win lots of cool Primal gear, too. That’s right, it’s the annual Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge!

Before we get to all the details, let’s kick things off with a simple contest. Share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email by using one of the icons at the bottom of this post AND leave a comment in the comment board below that finishes this sentence: “My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is…”. (Example: “My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to completely eliminate grains from my diet, and to lose 5 lbs of body fat.”) That’s it! Help spread the word about this year’s challenge and publicly commit to achieving your own health goals, and you’ll be entered to win a $200 gift certificate to

This contest ends at midnight (PDT) tonight, Sep. 10. A winner will be selected at random and everyone around the world is eligible.

Now, on to the challenge details…

What Is the 21-Day Challenge and Who Is It For?

What’s the challenge? To get Primal, of course! I hold this 21-Day Challenge every year to encourage Primal beginners to give this way of eating, moving and living a try because I know it works, I know how empowering it is, and I know it changes lives.

I also do it to motivate those that have been dabbling with the Primal lifestyle for a while, but haven’t fully committed or still have some room for improvement (myself included!), to go all in and resolve to finally tackle whatever it is they want to address in their lives.

There’s something here for Primal veterans, too. It’s a good idea to revisit the basics from time to time. And hey, the chance to win free stuff isn’t half bad either.

The actual challenge itself is pretty straightforward. The details can be found in the image below. I recommend downloading the 21-Day Challenge flyer here, and clicking on the links to learn more about each of the topics. (And maybe print a few copies to hand out to friends!)

No sign-up required. Anyone can participate. Just commit to the challenge, and check back every day for motivation and guidance. Articles over the next two weeks will be about taking steps to align your lifestyle with the Primal Blueprint. The third and final week of the challenge will be entirely comprised of reader-created content. That’s right, MDA readers (you!) will be running the show. Stay tuned.

Above and beyond the challenge as outlined below, I encourage you to make your own personal challenges. Whether it’s eliminating or adding a certain food to your diet, losing weight, playing more often, getting better sleep, or anything else, customize your goals to fit your needs and commit to 21 days starting now.

Why 21 Days?

You may have noticed that this year’s challenge is a departure from the 30 day format of previous challenges. Why? After many years of training clients and interacting with hundreds of thousands of Mark’s Daily Apple readers, my team and I have found that 21 days is the sweet spot for eliminating old habits and replacing them with new ones. It’s long enough to make legitimate progress toward reversing years of adverse lifestyle habits, long enough for most people to get past the low carb flu (if you experience it at all), and long enough to give the Primal Blueprint a fair shake, but not so long as to be seen as a daunting undertaking. In other words, anyone, including you, can give this a go for three measly weeks, and in that time you are bound to see results. If you have weight to lose, it’s reasonable to expect a reduction of three to seven pounds of excess body fat during this period, and to continue at that rate safely until you reach your ideal body composition.

I’m confident that you can transform your life in just 21 days with the Primal Blueprint. So confident that I wrote an entire book about it…

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation

This 21-day Challenge perfectly complements The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation. The Total Body Transformation is all about making Primal living easy – distilling the philosophy of The Primal Blueprint (detailed in the 2009 hardcover volume) into 8 Key Concepts, 5 Action Items, and a lively 21-Day Challenge of daily endeavors in the areas of Diet, Exercise, and Lifestyle – with corresponding journal exercises. You’ll be shown exactly what to do and when to do it – eliminating any guesswork – to get and stay Primal for life.

If you can spare an hour a day for just 21 days, I guarantee that you will reprogram your genes and transform your life with this guidebook.

Order a copy today to enhance this year’s challenge, and for added guidance and direction.

The 21-Day Challenge Contests

The main challenge itself isn’t competitive, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some friendly contests along they way!

Over the course of the next three weeks Mark’s Daily Apple and sponsors will be giving away thousands of dollars in prizes.

Here are some rules and answers to FAQ:

  • There will be new contests every day for the first two weeks (through Sep. 23) of the 21-Day Challenge, so check back daily!
  • All contest prizes relate in some way to the Primal lifestyle. You won’t find any miracle weight loss pills, tummy crunching sling-a-ma-doo-dads, or whole wheat health blast jazzer snackers.
  • Some contests will require a bit of leg work while others will require something as simple as commenting on a blog post.
  • There is no limit to how many contests you can participate in.
  • The duration of any one contest depends on the nature of the contest. Some will last a couple weeks (to give you time to complete the contest task) while others will be as short as one day. All deadlines are Pacific Standard Time.
  • Contest prizes will be awarded either by a random drawing, by reader voting/polling or by an executive decision (who I think should win!).
  • Some prizes will only be available to United States residents. If you live outside the U.S. and win a prize that can’t be shipped internationally an alternate prize of equal value will be awarded.
  • I’m not being paid by any company for being featured in a 21-Day Challenge contest.

To track all the contests visit the 2012 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Contest Page for daily updates.

New to the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple?

If you are new to the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple and don’t know where to begin, here are some resources to get you started:

1. Not sure what it means to “Go Primal”? Check out these articles for the basics:

2. The Primal Blueprint 101 Page

3. The Forum – I highly encourage you to use the forum during the challenge. In it you can start a “Primal Challenge Journal” to publicly state your goals and track your progress. Create a journal to receive positive feedback, advice and help along the way from the Mark’s Daily Apple community.

4. The Books

5. What to eat? – Primal Blueprint Recipes on MDA, The Primal Blueprint Cookbook and Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals

6. The Newsletter – Sign up on this page to get 6 free eBooks, a 7-day course on the fundamentals of lifelong health, and more.

7. Have a question? – Contact Me

Tell your friends and family about the challenge so they can get Primal too! And don’t forget. Click the icons below to share this post, and leave a comment telling the world what you are committing to do over the next 21 days, for a chance to win a $200 gift certificate to

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 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to eat less carne asada burritos, measure what I currently eat, and adjust my prescribed zone blocks to better accommodate my training and CrossFit competition schedule (and grow a longer beard).

    Sean Turner wrote on September 13th, 2012
  2. Oh! Finally thought of my 21 day challenge goal! I want to go shirtless for Halloween! There, I said it. In public.

    Although, that does give me more than 21 days. What’s that saying? The work expands to fill the time allotted? Anyway, we’ll see what happens.

    Erok wrote on September 13th, 2012
  3. My goal is to actually put into action all of this fantastic information that Mark has shared. I’ve got this thing down in my head, now it’s time to make it happen in my real life!
    So, I’m turning this information into my transformation!
    (Well that’s my plan anyway ;))
    Good luck All!
    My hurdle will be no rice with my sushi…

    Mary OKay wrote on September 13th, 2012
  4. OK -I’ve been eating “primally” for a little over 60 days, and I feel great! No – AWESOME! So, my goal over the next 21 days is to get more sunshine (why did we start working indoors?), and to get more sleep. That should really graduate my weight-loss and up my happy quotient. Grok on!!

    Angela wrote on September 13th, 2012
  5. I started eating primal in early June as I noticed member comments about it reducing migraines (I used to average 1 every 7-10 days). I’ve had 3 migraines since, all after a non-primal binge. So yeah it’s working as long as I stick with it. Bonus has been 5kg weight loss. So my goal with the challenge is to keep up the primal eating and START the primal moving!

    RacyTracy wrote on September 13th, 2012
  6. I am going sugar & sweetener free! Morning coffee will be different. Should flatten my tummy too,

    Carly wrote on September 13th, 2012
  7. My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to elimate sugar and kick my sugar addiction for good. After falling of the wagon/rock during the summer (primal for 3 months before that, lost 25lbs.)No problem leaving grains behind. I look forward to feeling great and thinking great again.

    Misha wrote on September 13th, 2012
  8. My Primal Blueprint challenge is to go 100% grain/sugar free for these 21 days and not feel guilty about turning down food offered by other people. Also up my strength training and enjoy it!

    Avril wrote on September 13th, 2012
  9. My goal is to get with the primal excercise plan – especially LHT.

    One day I will be able to do pull ups!

    18 pounds lost so far, 25 to go!

    Primal V wrote on September 14th, 2012
  10. Oh yeah, I also want to ‘out’ myself to my family as Primal (I’ve hinted and got weird looks so far)

    Primal V wrote on September 14th, 2012
  11. I started dabbling in Primal 3 months ago and saw a 15 pound weight drop without even adding in any exercise! It felt amazingly easy and as long as I was eating on my own or around supportive friends it didn’t feel hard at all.

    Then a huge amount of life change happened – I accepted a new job with a paycut in order to mentally be happier, have to move out of my old jobs live-in apartment and am transitioning into moving into my boyfriends house (which also needs reno’s before I can officially get in), AND had a minor family crisis to help out with!

    Needless to say, I dove into comfort carbs from goodbye lunches, congratulation dinners and all out binging to manage emotions and “save time”. I started noticing that mornings were brutal battles with snooze again, day long sluggishness, and a general sense of frustration and quicker to anger than before. Just this morning I told myself to start a 21 day challenge and went to this site to get re-inspired and saw that the 21 Day challenge was already happening! Call it luck or the universe helping out but I’m excited to use this time to prove to myself that taking care of my whole self is important!

    Bmuffy wrote on September 14th, 2012
  12. My goal is to kick this sugar addiction at last!!

    Kelly wrote on September 14th, 2012
    • I missed the challenge start – but better late then never!!

      Kelly wrote on September 14th, 2012
  13. My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to re-commit to a primal eating regimen and to do two bodyweight strength training workouts twice per week. I’ve dabbled for too long and am excited to remind myself why primal/paleo’s the way to be! Started last week and already feeling infinitely better

    Meredith wrote on September 15th, 2012
  14. Just wanted to say that I’m in – my diet is squeaky clean (for me that’s no grains, legumes, or dairy), but I get caught unprepared and wind up grabbing potato chips (which I didn’t even like, pre-celiac and pre-Primal). I can do better! Also want to accelerate and intensify my exercise routine – so far, this has been a great week. My long-term goal is the almighty pullup, and my ‘now’ goal is to hit the workout station in our local park 3-4 days/week instead of 1-2, and to have 2 groups of exercises I can alternate.

    Sara in Brooklyn wrote on September 16th, 2012
  15. My 21 day primal challenge is get back into my favorite jeans, kick the dairy and ONLY eat the best grassfed beef, organic chicken and other happy animals

    Serena wrote on September 16th, 2012
  16. You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the paintings you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  17. My goal is to see if I can do this diet for 21 days! I’m not much of a dieter (I can go through spurts of being mindful of what I eat) and my friend has really talked up this diet to me, so I’m going to give it a try! I’d also like to lose my gut, and firm up my muscles!

    Harkibald wrote on September 18th, 2012
  18. My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to improve my overall health and regain a youthful vigor for life by cutting out ALL grains and exercise like a YOUNG sabretooth. ;^)

    Steve Powell wrote on September 21st, 2012
  19. My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to stick to it 100% for 21 days. Let’s do this!

    Erin wrote on September 26th, 2012
  20. My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to eliminate grains and unhealthy sugar, and to do two strength training workouts per week.

    Mary wrote on September 26th, 2012
  21. My Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge is to get stronger and more fit.

    Kimberly wrote on October 3rd, 2012
  22. I don’t know where you got your information for the backing of this “Challenge” (especially the information on the diet)…I’m not saying you are wrong, but you leave out some important information regarding the diet that makes this “challenge” another short-term and non-lasting way of losing weight and reaching fitness goals. You also make the common mistake of trying to generalize diet to many people. You don’t touch on Basal Metabolic Rate (in which carbs play a huge part…energy for the brain as well as the main source of energy for activity…also needed to BURN FAT), so far just sounds like another marketing ploy to get people to buy your book, which i have admittedly not read yet, and I hope you go over these things in the book if you are making people pay for it.

    YoureWrong wrote on October 4th, 2012
  23. I have been off the SAD diet for a while but I am still running into problems. I have already cut out grains, wheat and sugar out of my life(well not really all the sugar). My Challenge is that I need to:
    ~drink less wine 2 glasses a day is too much
    ~eat only when I’m hungry, (not bored or when I think I need to eat)with correct potion sizes
    ~Stop stressing out about work
    ~loose the 20 lbs I gained when I got married :/

    GO! :)

    Lesley wrote on October 7th, 2012
  24. My primal blueprint 21 day challenge is to get over eating pasta and to lose 5 lbs. I am pretty good about the rice and bread, but pasta is my achilles heel.

    Abbie N wrote on November 4th, 2012

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