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. My first 21-Day challenge after hanging around MDA for 18 months! Perfect timing for this challenge, it will end with my half marathon and then I’ll have 2 weeks in Mexico getting primal in the Yucatan!

    I want to be stricter with grains & sugary treats, keep my lactose intake as low as possible, do more bodyweight exercise, and learn to play!

    Olivia wrote on September 17th, 2013
  2. My wife and I are both in! We have been loyal readers of the blog but not as loyal followers of the Grok way of life. We are now taking the challenge.

    Chris Cav wrote on September 17th, 2013
  3. My goal is to slow down and take some time clear my mind/meditate/enjoy the moment everyday! Shared this page on FB!

    Andrew wrote on September 17th, 2013
  4. Such good timing! My husband and I just did our first Primal day yesterday! We are in!

    Nathalie wrote on September 17th, 2013
  5. Threw the challenge up on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I’ve been trying to live more primal for a few months now but different hurdles always get in the way. It’s time to stop making excuses and buckle down and embrace a simpler way of doing things.

    Ravnos wrote on September 17th, 2013
  6. Great timing! I have let beer re-enter my diet over the last month or so, and along with has come a few other grains. Ready to knock it out and live to the fullest!

    Christin wrote on September 17th, 2013
  7. I’m in! Good luck everyone!

    Mikey wrote on September 17th, 2013
  8. Good encouragement here to get people to live healthily. It takes both proper training and a good diet to make it. Good luck to everyone participating.

    Dean Freeman wrote on September 17th, 2013
  9. What perfect timing indeed, I was only scouring the website for info re the 2013 challenge a couple of days ago! I’m in!

    Amy wrote on September 17th, 2013
  10. Great timing on challenge! Here are my goals:

    Add 3 morning workouts/week to current schedule.

    Eliminate sweets completely.

    Stay within 50-100g carb range and try to track my macros.

    No popcorn(my weakness).

    CP wrote on September 17th, 2013
  11. I’m in. Any advice for a pregnant lady? I know that I will tailor the exercise a bit; I’ve read over and over again not to start any intense new workout while pregnant.

    Amber wrote on September 17th, 2013
  12. I have been reading and sticking my toe in the water for 2 years. It is time to take control of my life again. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I lost a lot of weight with a gastric bypass but I’ve discovered that a lot of that weight was muscle and I need to rebuild my body and get rid of the paunch around my middle. I know this works but I have allowed myself to be distracted by others’ needs or wants. This time it’s for ME !! I want to be fit and healthy!

    Cheryl wrote on September 17th, 2013
  13. I’m going to get more serious about going primal. I’ve been reading and following very loosely for months, but With this 21 day challenge I’ll go at it for real.

    Charles wrote on September 17th, 2013
  14. i started yesterday, officially primal and doing the 21 day challenge.

    sarah m wrote on September 17th, 2013
  15. I’ve been slacking a bit in my college cafeteria lately, so this is just what I need right now to get back on track!

    Katie wrote on September 17th, 2013
  16. One day too late, blame it on different timezones 😉 I’m going for this challenge! Sunlight and slow moving are no problem, cycling plus 22 km per day to and back from work. Sleep and avoiding sugar are more difficult.

    Aukje wrote on September 17th, 2013
  17. Totally in!

    Kent H wrote on September 17th, 2013
  18. Better one day late than never. Back to first principles for 21 days.

    Renee wrote on September 17th, 2013
  19. I’m in! Great way to kick-off my 41st year!

    Amy wrote on September 17th, 2013
  20. I am in! :)

    pocketheather wrote on September 17th, 2013
  21. What a coincidence! I started with this last week, as far as the Primal Fitness is concerned, and the 16th is when I decided I’m going to go all out in terms of diet. I already eat gluten-free (I have Celiac), but my husband and I feel much more energized sticking to a mostly primal way of eating. I’m in!

    Michelle wrote on September 17th, 2013
  22. I sorta stumbled upon the site a day or two ago and noticed the challenge yesterday. I’m going to get myself on this whole primal eating thing and start learning all about it. I know I won’t be perfect right away, but maybe I can get myself eating a lot better over the next 20 days.

    Perry wrote on September 17th, 2013
  23. I’ve been slacking off with some “junky” low carb foods. Time to get off that processed stuff for good!

    SJ Erickson wrote on September 17th, 2013
  24. Extremely excited. Great to have something to keep me motivated!

    Shireen wrote on September 17th, 2013
  25. No internet access yesterday – definitely in. Need to improve the exercise now and start lifting heavy things again.

    Ali wrote on September 17th, 2013
  26. My family and I will be going ‘whole hog’ tomorrow! We have already enjoyed so many benefits of eating mostly primal but have yet to commit 100%. Our main focus for these 21 days will be play and stress reduction and cleaning up our diet (no dairy, soy, grains, legumes, vegetable oils or refined sugar).

    Penny wrote on September 17th, 2013
  27. Starting on Friday 20/09….

    Christo wrote on September 17th, 2013
  28. Goning get back to lifting heavy things more often!

    Ms Sally wrote on September 17th, 2013
  29. I started this yesterday, full-on, before I checked in with your site today! Perfect timing; guess it’s mean to be.

    Karyn wrote on September 17th, 2013
  30. I needed this challenge to some extra motivation to stick to my guns of primal living. Perfect timing!

    Perhaps it’s just the excuse I need to introduce the primal blueprint to my friend who is closely following the conventional wisdom paradigm for weight loss…

    Stephanie wrote on September 17th, 2013
  31. Thank you for provding a much more detailed look into the food pyramid, and its application to a variety of health benefits, not just for losing weight!

    ca1092 wrote on September 17th, 2013
  32. My goal is to stick to the 21 days for the ENTIRE 21 days. I also would like to find out what it feels like to live at my very best. I want to kick the vicious sugar cycle.

    Leanne wrote on September 17th, 2013
  33. Yes! The timing is perfect. Hoping to do this before I turn 60 next year.

    Patricia wrote on September 17th, 2013
  34. I’ve tweeted, and shared on Facebook and G+. Can’t back out now. To.much chance for public embarrassment. 😉

    Laura the Ringmistress wrote on September 17th, 2013
  35. I’m in!

    Michael Deibert wrote on September 18th, 2013
  36. Been doing Primal for two weeks now and will keep doing it for this 21 day challenge. Best lifestyle!

    Jon Oldham wrote on September 18th, 2013
  37. I’ve been about 90% there for the past couple months – I’m ready to get in the deep end!

    Tom wrote on September 18th, 2013
  38. Good timing and thankfully I ate a paleo breakfast of a Big Ass Salad so guess I’m starting today!

    Teri wrote on September 18th, 2013

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