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. Finally going to give this a try.

    John sweeney wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. Looking forward to enjoying food in new ways.

    Jayson wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. I’m in! Now my Facebook friends are all asking, “No beans? No grains? Aren’t they healthy?” Time to share. :)

    Lisa wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. My 21 day challenge: I commit to no added sugar and to start lifting heavy things (via Crossfit)

    Newbie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. Its been almost 2 years since I went primal. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Have learned so much and it’s great to be in charge of my own health. Totally awesome!!

    Rob wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. Here I go! 21 days to a better me! :-)

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

    Anya wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. Been trying to ease into a primal lifestyle for a few months now. This challenge is perfect to jump into it all out!

    David M wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. Long time reader, first time Challange-doer. I’m excited to use this to kick my gluten-free eating into fully primal eating!

    KT wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. I’ve been dabbling with the primal lifestyle for almost two years now…it’s especially tough for me to maintain because I am a pastry chef by profession. How do I justify this lifestyle for myself, but promote the opposite for others? All I know at this point is that this challenge has come at the exact right time. I was ready to re-commit, and now I’m definitely in! My goals are myriad, but the main focus for the time being is weight loss. Long term, I’m looking to become a lean, mean, primal athletic machine who lives life instead of merely surviving it.

    Angela wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. Excited to start! I spend a lot of time helping and coaching others. Now is the time to honor my own body and spirit!

    Stacyleigh wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. Let the fun begin…

    Serdar wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. I am excited to do this. I support and coach people to reach goals- now is the time to honor my spirit and body.

    Stacyleigh wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. I needed this. I’ve been Paleo for a bit over a year now, but I feel like I never embraced the whole thing, I just got the food bit down and made an effort to sleep more, but the exercise and the play have been beyond me. I am hoping to make it work this time.

    Lana wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. I’ll be focusing on better meal prep/planning. I’ve had the saying “Failure to plan is planning to fail” rattling around my head a bit too much lately. I’ve invited some friends and family to join the challenge, so here’s to hoping they seriously try and see some great changes.

    Ruth wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. I’m committing to start LHT and minimizing stress. I think the two go hand in hand, but minimizing stress is hard in my line of work. Wish me luck!

    I’m also going to do my best at staying away from the sugary treat jar down the hall 😉

    Kristin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. I am in. My husband and I are running this challenge together.

    Elishma wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. I’ve been in the 20 of the 80/20 zone lately, so it’s time to reboot my food choices. I have been upping the ante on play and primal movement in the last 2 weeks, so this is just fuel to keep on going. Rock climbing lesson on Friday, swimming on Saturday, hiking to the waterfall on Sunday… By Jove, I think I like this kind of exercise!

    Lori wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. Perfect timing. I’m ready and willing.

    Rachelle Lindsey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. Thanks Mark. Just when I thought that I was falling off track, by announcing this contest, you have pulled me back on line….

    Sriram wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. I am committed! Hopefully the hubby is too! I’ve told a few friends, also.. hopefully something will come of it!

    Sharon T wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. And the 21 days begin!

    Mr. Fancypants wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. I’ve been primal with varying levels of consistency for about a year and a half. Lost 30 pounds, husband came back from working away and I gained 5 back! This challenge comes at a perfect time since I’m a teacher and school just started again, so I’ve got a routine and structure again which helps keep me on track. Just got my husband and sister (new roommate!) on the primal train and they are doing the challenge too! My challenge is to add lifting heavy things and sprinting and hopefully lose another ten pounds.

    Sheena wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. Yay! I’m in. Hopefully this will be the inspiration I need… I need to stop using an uncooperative, non-paleo husband as an excuse for eating things that make me look and feel like crap.

    Jamie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. I’m in. I’ve been slacking lately, but this will help me get back in gear. I remember the transformation when I started the primal lifestyle, and am looking forward to the 21 day challenge helping me get back to where I want to be.

    Neil wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. I am so ready for this challenge!! Bring it on!!

    Roberta M wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. Just started a couple weeks ago. Not that good at this yet, but will give it a go. :)

    Sherry wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. I’ve read primal blueprint, subscribe to the blog, and have “dabbled” in paleo. I’m ready for a challenge!

    Shannon Curtis wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. I love a challenge to keep me focused and I have a short list of things I want to accomplish here. Game on!

    Kimberly Robinson wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. I’d like to get back on track after slipping off the wagon. But more importantly I’d like to lose the last 10kg that are hanging about. I think that I need to be 100% Primal and keep my carbs below 50g per day in order to shift this last bit of weight. This goal is a goal that keeps getting carried over year after year and I’d like to really go at it with all of my will power for my first 21 day challenge. No giving up on me!

    Debbie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. I’m here for the challenge! I have a myriad of health conditions and at least 30 to 40 lbs to lose! I’m ready!

    Ann wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. Love it! what a great season to start this more then 21 days till Canadian thanksgiving.

    Kelsey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. I’m in, too! Shared on my Facebook and over the phone, too.

    jean wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. Committed now more than ever! Love PB; it has made such a difference in my life. Goal is to lift harder than ever before!

    Paleomama wrote on September 17th, 2013
  35. ready to go!

    Adam C. wrote on September 17th, 2013
  36. I have gradually been working into the primal lifestyle over the past year. I have almost perfected the diet and am on track with the exercise. Over the next 21 day I am going to focus on the lifestyle aspects (sleep, sun, play etc.). Best of all, I have finally got my whole family involved! Can’t wait to see their reaction when they realise how good this way of life is!

    Ashleigh wrote on September 17th, 2013
  37. Time to add back more exercise now that my health is better from eating high quality healthy food.

    luvbirds wrote on September 17th, 2013
  38. What I really need to work on is getting back to exercising. Would love to get 8 hrs sleep but being menopausal that is an impossibility. Will make sure I am relaxed if not asleep for 8 hours.

    Vicki wrote on September 17th, 2013
  39. Starting the Primal plan a week ago and now I am ready for the Challenge!

    Katie C wrote on September 17th, 2013
  40. okay, but it’s going to be difficult to get 15 minutes of sun with the days getting shorter and the weather getting cooler.

    LynnA wrote on September 17th, 2013
    • Agreed, in the UK it’s going to be pretty much impossible. I think I’ll just aim to get out at lunchtimes for at least 15mins’ fresh air, rather than staying at my desk the whole day.

      Olivia wrote on September 17th, 2013

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