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

The 2013 Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Begins Now

21Day Challenge Graphic

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. Click on over to this page and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+ by using one of the icons on the left side of the page, AND leave a comment in the comment board below with your commitment to this year’s challenge. That’s it! Help spread the word about this year’s challenge and leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a $200 gift certificate to

This contest ends at midnight (PDT) tonight, Sep. 16. 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?

What’s the challenge? To get Primal, of course! As you’ve already seen if you clicked the link above, this year I’ve put together a nifty infographic that summarizes the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge. Click here or the image below to see the full version. (I encourage any bloggers out there to share this infographic using the html I’ve included below it.) Additionally, you can dig deeper into each section of the infographic by visiting this more detailed Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge page.

The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge Infographic

In brief, this is the Challenge. Do it for just 21 days and the results will speak for themselves.

  1. Eat real food.
  2. Avoid sugar, grains, unhealthy fats, beans/legumes.
  3. Align your carb intake with your weight goals and activity levels.
  4. Move frequently at a slow pace: Get between 2-5 hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise.
  5. Lift heavy things: Conduct 1-3 brief, intense sessions of full-body functional movements.
  6. Sprint: Go “all out” once a week.
  7. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
  8. Get 15 minutes of direct sun exposure each day.
  9. Play! Find time to let go, disconnect, unwind and have fun each day.

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 above, I encourage you to make your own personal challenges. Whether it’s eliminating or adding a certain food to your diet, losing weight, going barefoot more often, getting better sleep, or anything else, customize your goals to fit your needs and commit to 21 days starting now.

Who Is the 21-Day Challenge For?

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 take control of their health.

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.

Why 21 Days?

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 on Mark’s Daily Apple every day for the first two weeks (through Sep. 29) of the 21-Day Challenge, so check back daily!
  • New to this year, there will also be contests held exclusively in the Mark’s Daily Apple newsletter, the Forum, and on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe, create an account, or follow today for chances to win.
  • 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 Daylight 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 2013 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. Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge page – On this page you’ll be introduced to the basics of the Primal Blueprint and can follow numerous links to learn more.

2. 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.

3. The Books

4. What to eat? – Primal Blueprint Recipes on MDA, The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals, Primal Blueprint Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings

5. The Newsletter – Sign up on this page to get 9 free eBooks, a 7-day course on the fundamentals of lifelong health, and more.

6. Have a question? – Contact Me

Tell your friends and family about the challenge so they can get Primal too! And don’t forget. Share this infographic across social media by using one of the icons on the left side of the page, AND leave a comment for a chance to win a $200 gift certificate to

Best wishes and good luck on your first day of the Challenge. Check back tomorrow for a new contest and an article on going into the Challenge with the right frame of mind. Grok on!

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. Time to get back on track! Been slacking a little too much recently.

    Adam wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • +1!

      Colleen wrote on September 16th, 2013
      • I’m in!

        Sophia wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • Agreed! I’m in with you!

      TWoods wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • This is great timing for me! I’ve been playing with the idea of Primal for a while but haven’t made the full commitment. I know I can stick with it for 21 days! Let’s do it!!

      Christy George-Bell wrote on September 16th, 2013
      • Yes, I do need this! It’s time to really settle into this way of living.

        Kik wrote on September 18th, 2013
    • +1

      Emilina wrote on September 17th, 2013
    • After 14 months of dedicating to Primal, the latter half of it has been a half-hearted effort. My 21-day challenge is to finish reading and then implement wholeheartedly, the elements of Primal Connections.

      Guam.INK wrote on September 17th, 2013
    • I’m in!

      Cat wrote on September 17th, 2013
    • All ready to get 100% on track again. It’s amazing how straying a bit here and there makes a big difference.

      Penelope wrote on September 18th, 2013
    • In!

      Matt Harris wrote on September 19th, 2013
  2. Been Primal for a while, but will use this 21-day challenge to be 100% dairy free and help heal my gut!

    katieCHI wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. I am super excited! I recently got some achillies tendonitis and i am looking forward to slowing things down, taking it easy, eating right, exercising what i can and recovering FAST!

    Nate Walters wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • Back to the basics!!! Lets do this!!!

      Ashlyn slater wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. Just what I needed to get back into the swing of things, time to refocus and kick it up a notch……..Let’s go!

    Vettech wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. Perfect timing! My fiancée and I we’re talking about his health last night and I actually convinced him to do this with me. I still can’t believe he agreed to give up beer. Should get me to finally string more than 3 primal days together at a time!

    Nicole wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • *fiance

      Nicole wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. I am excited to start my first 21-day challenge! I am hoping to heal my gut and get healthier.

    Cheri wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. I’ve been Primal since March. For the next 21 days I’m going to focus on getting 8 hours of sleep. It’s been tough with a toddler.

    Sarah Kim wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • Great idea! The challenge can be for anyone. Just find an area you would like to improve and go from there. I will be focusing on incorporating more sprints and “all out efforts”.

      Taylor Rearick wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • 8 hours is tough with kids, I feel your pain. I have a 2 year old (who sleeps) and a 7 month pregnant wife (who does not sleep). Two months until my regular sleep ends.

      Tom T. wrote on September 17th, 2013
  8. I wish the “What to Eat” chart was hanging on every person’s refrigerator / wall and the Challenge list is a great template to live by. #7 is my big challenge.

    George wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. My birthday is coming up in a couple of months so I plan to use this 21 day challenge to finally drop those last few pounds and get my strength training up!

    Karen wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. This is such a perfect time to get people on board or back on track. Going into the holiday season feeling great mentally and physically, and knowing it is largely from the choices in nutrition that you’ve made; will certainly help to avoid the holiday weight gain issues that so many of us succumb to.

    Matt Heyduk wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. I was introduced to Mark’s Daily Apple and The 21-Day Total Transformation in January, 2013. It has been a total health transformation for me. It inspired me to “re-invent” myself and follow my passion for promoting real health and fitness!

    Denise Freund wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. Can’t wait to start a new challenge!

    FrankieB wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. I linked this on google+! I would love to win a gift certificate. :) I’m not sure I can participate, though, I’m going to a restaurant on Friday or Saturday. But I can try!

    Aria Dreamcatcher wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • No reason you can’t eat primal at a restaurant. Get a steak and veggies if you’re rich, Or a Cobb salad if you’re not. Who can argue with bacon, avocados, hard boiled eggs and greens all on one plate? If you’re. Worried about non primal salad dressings, salt and pepper does a pretty good job as long as the stuff in the salad has some flavor.

      hallations wrote on September 16th, 2013
      • Or you can bring your own dressing. I do it all the time in a small mason jar.

        Kimberly Robinson wrote on September 19th, 2013
  14. Perfect timing — just started a get-healthier-by-Thanksgiving challenge/competition at work, so this is a good opportunity to see if I have the willpower to make this latest attempt at breaking free of the SAD be a successful one.

    Mike wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. I’ve gained all the weight I lost “starving myself” for my wedding 3 years ago and then some with added health problems to boot (good ol’ pre-diabetes and crepitus++ that severely impedes my movement, one thing that will help is weight loss. Until I lose the weight, my physio won’t let me do squats as I can make my knee worse…I certainly can go no where near parallel.

    In 21 days I want to finally kick the sugar habit and hope to lose about 5lbs in the process and get into the habit of taking regular exercise, even with the impending London cold coming on!

    Mary-Rose Agius wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • *can’t

      Mary-Rose Agius wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. Perfect timing! I just finished read the 21 day challenge book and look forward to becoming primal.

    Jenny wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. I’m totally doing this!

    Kevin C wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. I’m committing to daily exercise, or play – I’ve been a bit lax in my intentional movement.

    Tomi wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. I’m in…Let’s do this!

    Rob from NJ wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. I’m hoping to improve my sleep patterns during this challenge. I also want to encourage my family to jump on board also.

    Dan K wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. Needed this to get me back on track!

    Sal DiStefano wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. I’m committed! Sprinting has never been something I’ve incorporated successfully in the past, so that’s a goal for me.

    Tasha wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. I have been 100% Paleo since April 1, 2013. Have hit a plateau. So frustrating. Here’s hoping the 21 day challenge will get things moving again! Good luck to everyone! 😀

    Valarie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. I have been dabbling, but failed to commit. I know I have to though (53 yrs old and 17kg too heavy) so today is it: I commit.

    Derek wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. I’m excited to do the challenge. I eat pretty well now but I would like to be more strict, and I need to up my activity. Thanks for being my guide Mark!

    Sunny wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. I am going to dominate!

    Steve62 wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. I go on and off primal (the diet at least). I’ll do 21 days.

    Matt wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. Thrilled to be part of another 21-day challenge! My focus this time around is getting a grip on my stress levels. Fall is particularly stressful for me – working full-time and then some, going to school part-time, and this year my husband just had major shoulder surgery so I’m doing a lot more for him right now that usual. I love everything I do, but there’s just SO MUCH of it! I need to find a way to take some time for me, so I can keep those stress levels in check.

    JennF wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. I am going to use the 21 day challenge to get back on the wagon! After the past 2 months of moving to a new city, starting grad school and a new job, I have been slipping and my body is definitely feeling it. Looking forward to getting back on track!

    Jenna wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. Pumped for this!

    Sarasonic wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. Shared on Facebook Captain! Going to finally sprint once a week! (and slackline everyday of course)

    Ham-bone wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. I’m stoked to be part of my first 21 day challenge! Let’s get this thing going!

    I have a weight goal I’ve been trying to reach, I know it’s not about the weight but about being healthy, for me it’s achieving the goal that means something.

    Primal-Loe wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. I really slacked off since my Whole30 2 months ago so this is the perfect challenge to get me back on track!

    Edie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. My first 21 day challenge!. In addition to this core challenge, I will take my probiotics and vitamins every day! Thank you for this ‘re-connect to primal lifestyle opportunity! :-)

    erica wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. I’ve slacked off on my Primal ways in the past year or so. This challenge is the perfect way to get me back on track. Goals for the next 21 days: Kick sugar, quit smoking, eat 100% Primal, lose some body fat (and weight), get into a regular movement routine, MAKE PRIMAL MY WAY OF LIFE!

    KrisC wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. Ridiculously Excited about doing this challenge! I’ve been dabbling on and off in the paleo/primal lifestyle for months, and this is just what I needed to fully commit myself. Nervous about doing it right before the good Halloween sweets come out, but I guess I will learn to live without them!

    Angela R wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. This is my 3rd year of the challenge. My Primal life began 9/12/11. I even had the great privilege of attending PrimalCon this year in Oxnard. What a great time!

    Jack Bridenstine wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. In August, I committed to 30 days of primal eating. Now, I’m ready to do 21 days of primal LIVING! I’m ready to lose weight so I can enjoy my life so much more. I live in the mountains, and hiking and fishing can take it all out of me because I’m carrying around an excess 80-100 pounds. I’m not going to lie, I’m also ready to lose this double chin!

    Dev wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. First 21 day challenge
    GOALS 1. lose 4 pounds body fat 2. keep carbs under 100g daily 3. practice intuitive eating.
    Ready to go with a kitchen full of the right foods. Hope every one has a great challenge! Don’t forget to play :)

    Kristen wrote on September 16th, 2013

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