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. Going to use these 21 days to be entirely Primal/Paleo. I’ve been doing pretty good for the last month but still couldn’t man up to completely leave dairy products out. It’s time to give it a try. At least for the next 21 days…

    CB wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. I’m in! I started on the primal path back in March of this year and lost 19 pounds, zero brain fog and lots of energy. Stress has taken it’s toll and I’m back to my sugar snarfing ways. Time to get back to feeling fantastic!

    Vicki H wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. I’ve dabbled with Primal, mostly going gluten free. but need to cut out all grains, sugar, and alcohol.

    Here we go!

    Mae wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. I’m so excited to go completely primal! I hope to inspire the rest of my family as well. Thanks for all the good information and making this so easy to follow.

    Robin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. I’m going for it

    Danah wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. Count me in! Looking forward to getting fit and lean over the next 3 weeks!

    Matt wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. I’m in!

    Greg Johnson wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. My challenge this month is to not only slow down eating, but refocus on having complete meals. Lately I’ve been doing so much panicked grazing because I don’t have meals ready, so I want to challenge myself to make more meals each week.

    Abby wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. I’ve watched a someone do very well with this, time to give it a go!

    Shea wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. I Tweeted (@Bake,Run,Live). I want to make a change to more Primal workouts. I’m ready to leave the chronic cardio behind for some heavy lifting!

    Heather wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. Perfect timing. Ready to get back on the bandwagon after a bit of late summer slacking.

    Gary Boston wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. I’m turning 30 in mid-October and want to do so feeling my best! Have been eating in alignment with primal principles for a little over a year, but summer has brought lots of travel and parties, meaning lots of opportunities to fall off the wagon. I plan to focus on reducing my alcohol intake, getting better sleep, and getting into a primal exercise/movement routine — in addition to better adherence to primal eating principles. Excited to join everyone in the challenge!

    Caitlin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. I’m so excited to try this 21-day challenge! I’ve been wanting to give primal/paleo a try and can’t wait to find out for myself the benefits of this lifestyle.

    Christy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. I’ve been primal over 3 years, but completely slacking lately.

    I’m in!

    Jenny wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. I am in, fell off the sabertooth and hit a McD’s on the way down time to catch up with that tiger.

    Stryder wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. waited for that kind of a challenge for quite a long time.
    great opportunity to get back to old routine
    let the fun begin

    Annie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. okee dokee!

    Karen wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. Great timing! I’m running my first Warrior Dash in about a month and was just thinking that I need to tighten up my eating & training. This is a great motivation!

    Cyndy G wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. I’m in!

    Barb wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. Looking forward to eating more alligator!

    Alyce wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. I have tried eating primal for a few days at a time and it really makes you feel great. Time to buckle down and make it a lifestyle. No excuses for birthdays, parties, or BBQ’s. It can all still be done within the lifestyle. Lets Go!!

    Bill Dozer wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • Alright man, let’s go! 😀

      Shae wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. I’ve been Primal for 4 years now and am in the best shape of my life, having lost 60lbs in the first year and kept it off this entire time. I’m going to use this 21 Day Challenge to move towards vainer goals – like actually getting that 6-pack!! It’s one of the reason Primal works for me.

    Dan wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. 21 day challenge:
    Been there, done that, doin’ it again!

    Thomasaurus Tex wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. Three weeks of Primal fine tuning coming up!

    Kara wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. Great timing for the challenge. Just got back from a long trip and wanted to refocus on my primal ways.

    Marshall wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. Let’s get it done and LGN!!!

    Michael Scofield wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. This is perfect timing to get me back on track! Thanks!

    Margot wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. Count me in

    Brad wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. Been looking for motivation to get back on the primal track. Timing is perfect for this. Day one started great!

    Ryryonline wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. Started going Primal on my birthday the end of april and have lost 45 pounds. I have not followed exactly and maybe this will get me on track.

    Dennis McDonald wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. This year I’m vowing to get up and move every 2 hours while at the office or sitting on my butt at home. I also want to try one new Primal dish each weekend.

    And I’m stoked about the new infographic–looks awesome! Pinned to my primal recipes board :)

    Charlayna wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. Love MDA and the Paleo/Primal way of life. I hope more and more people hop on board the Caveman bandwagon with the already sizable and faithful contingency we have here!

    Kieran Brennan wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. I’ve been primal for a few months, but I started eating grains again… At first it was just a little bit at a time, and I didn’t have any trouble so I thought maybe it’d be alright if I ate grains sometimes. Then one day I ended up eating grains with every meal (SAD for a day), and got the worst stomach pain I’ve ever had, plus my wrist ached horribly and could hardly function (only ached once before, after eating grains another time). That was the day before yesterday I think.
    So this 21 day challenge comes with perfect timing as I was trying to reinforce my primal diet, vowing to not eat grains. Maybe once a month? Once a year? (hard letting go, lol)
    I’m gonna do my best! Had a couple wonderful primal meals today already :)

    Shae wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. Looking forward to being able to “amaze” my diabetes care doctor with better controlled blood sugars and less diabetes medicine. He’s had me on the standard ADA diet for the last 3 months and I’ve gained back 40 pounds and have had to double the amount of meds I take daily to have normal blood sugar numbers.

    Found a new primary care doctor that is a lot more open minded and actually listens to me when I tell her something. Like I do way better on way less carbs!

    Joe Miles wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • I can’t wait for you to amaze her 😀

      Shae wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. Lose 6 lbs in 21 days following the guidelines of the primal blueprint challenge

    Robert wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. I am ordering a slack line and my goals are to work out every day and to give up beer for the next 21 days!

    Meg wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. Was introduced to this lifestyle almost 2 years ago and it did wonders for my health!! Felt better than I had in my entire life and I looked good naked. 😉

    For about 6 months now I’ve gotten off track. “Cheating” a little more each day. My body is unhealthy again and I need another challenge to bring me back.

    Mel Goss wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • Cheating a little more each day? That sounds like what I did. Did not end well, as one day I had full SAD meals… Apparently my body really doesn’t work with the stuff, lol.

      Shae wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. Count me in! I’ve been reading here for a few weeks now, and I’m ready to take the plunge. Day 1 is down – easier than I was expecting, despite the unexpected challenge of a sick kid.

    Tapetum wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. Great timing! 7 months till my 40th and just made one of my bucket list goals to submit a success story by my birthday.

    Elaine wrote on September 16th, 2013
  40. I’ve been trying out primal off and on for 3 years now and I HAVE to do it right this time. I’m a slow starter but my blood sugars are starting to rise out of the pre-diabetic range and into the diabetic range so it’s now or irreversible damage will be done. I started today and was primal excepting some coffee creamer and a tiny half serving of rice! YAY! I totally started the journey today with no knowledge of the international jumpstart this year and it happened to coincide. When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

    Dawn wrote on September 16th, 2013

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