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. We have been pretty “pure” paleo for a couple years, but I love when I see you doing challenges like this inspiring others to really try this life altering paradigm on for size!!

    Korrine Fraser wrote on September 18th, 2013
  2. I have been reading up on Primal the last couple of weeks and really like what I am reading. This sounds like a perfect time to dive in 100%! Last W-Th-Fri I was Primal and all of this week so far. My big issue will be alcohol. I am a stress drinker. So, if i control my stress then I control the alcohol! Also, is anyone doing one of the Beachbody programs? I started Asylum on Monday. Looking forward to a great journey! Best of luck to all!!


    Christopher wrote on September 18th, 2013
  3. I’m using this to recommit to cleaning up my diet and lifestyle. Finding time for the exercise is the most difficult, but I can do it!

    Robyn wrote on September 18th, 2013
  4. I’m in. I’m going to hold the Aussie flag high and proud:))


    1. Reach 90kg (currently 98kg already lost 11kg)
    2. Increase body movements
    3 I’m prove general well being.

    Peter walls wrote on September 18th, 2013
  5. Starting late, bit I’m in. Been 80% compliant with my primal eating and need to get closer to 100%. Weight loss has slowed dramatically and I need a kick start. I hope this does the trick.

    Phyllis wrote on September 18th, 2013
  6. I started last year with great results, but with moving and stress let it all slip away and now I am heavier and more physically/mentally slow than ever. Now is a good a time as any to start back and make a commitment to changing my life. I hope to get my mom and sister on board as well.

    Melissa wrote on September 18th, 2013
  7. I mostly do everything except the sprinting and going all out…so I am in!

    Kara wrote on September 18th, 2013
  8. Been looking for a challenge to keep me going. Excited to get started.

    Pamelann wrote on September 18th, 2013
  9. Yes, this is exactly what those of us who kinda sorta slowly somehow fell off the wagon need.

    alena wrote on September 18th, 2013
  10. Been cooking and eating organic but need to take it to the next level!

    Judy Moody wrote on September 18th, 2013
  11. Yes, I’m up for it!! Just finished a Whole30 about 20 days and already bad habits are creeping back in. This will re-focus me I think. Looking forward to it.

    Jayne wrote on September 18th, 2013
  12. So doing this 😀

    Vicky wrote on September 18th, 2013
  13. Well…better late than never! My 21 day challenge starts TODAY! I have been swaying off track lately…this will rev me back up! Back to Primal way of eating…and back on my daily 5 km walk + work outs. No excuses!

    Kim McFadden wrote on September 18th, 2013
  14. I am three days late, but I am going to start tomorrow. Best of luck to you all and me.

    KC wrote on September 18th, 2013
    • I’m starting tomorrow too!

      Donna wrote on September 18th, 2013
  15. Ready to get started!!!

    Kelly wrote on September 18th, 2013
  16. I only heard about Primal a few months ago and have been working on adopting it, but this seems like just the thing to get me over any last humps…
    I’m in!

    El Rossman wrote on September 18th, 2013
  17. P.S. I clicked over to the Challenge page, but I don’t have any icons on the left of the page to share it. :/ I’ve +1ed this post, though, to G+.

    El Rossman wrote on September 18th, 2013
  18. Whee! I’m in. As always I missed the first couple days. It always seems to start right in the middle of a crazy week for me and I don’t get to my computer to find out that the challenge has started! Every time! Oh well. I start and I’ll just stretch my challenge a bit on the other end! :)

    Noctiluca wrote on September 18th, 2013
  19. I’m in although I have missed the first few days due to being on holiday last week in sunny Queensland (Australia) and only just getting time to catch on all thing primal! Things are going to change and I can’t wait to see what what and where they are! Totally excited and inspired! :)

    Sharon Butler wrote on September 18th, 2013
  20. Perfect timing for me to get fit again after pregnancy. No grains, legumes or dairy and primal exercise. Unfortunately, I can’t do the eight hours of sleep with a three month old daughter.

    Cat wrote on September 18th, 2013
  21. I’ve been sitting on the 21 day transformation book for a while, so this is as good a time as any. I’m in! I’m lifting heavy and eating *mostly* primal so I’ll be focusing on tightening up my eating and integrating daily walks.

    Joe Blanton wrote on September 18th, 2013
  22. Yes I am ready to do the challenge, I am 74 had 3 knee replacements and both hips replaced and it’s time to get my rear in gear.

    Linda Rouse wrote on September 18th, 2013
  23. I’m in! My goal is to do more daily exercises..

    Nadine wrote on September 18th, 2013
  24. Only learnt of your challenge this morning! And am TOTALLY game!!! I’m on day 25 of my Whole30 – so think I’m prepared for the 21 day challenge in conjunction with this! Quite amped to improve my lifestyle and quality of life! I’ve seen some SERIOUS changes in my body since starting the Whole30 – including the carb – flu! hahaha.

    Is it ok for me to do the two in conjunction with each other, or should I rather finish my Whole30 before starting the 21 day challenge?

    Adri wrote on September 19th, 2013
  25. I’m doing this thing!

    Dianne wrote on September 19th, 2013
  26. I’m trying to lose the 20 extra pounds of baby weight! 21 day challenge, here I come!

    Alicia wrote on September 19th, 2013
  27. I’m ready for 21 days of transformation!!! Thank you!!!

    KathyG wrote on September 19th, 2013
  28. I’m extremely excited for the challenge! My focus is to play and do more leisurely, active activities (hiking, biking, kayaking, etc). Excited to have this community behind me!

    Christine wrote on September 19th, 2013
  29. I’m in! Ready to do this

    cely wrote on September 19th, 2013
  30. Gonna rock this year’s 21-Day Primal Challenge! The hardest part now is parting with the peanut butter. And getting more sleep and relaxation time. Good luck everyone!

    Ian Connel wrote on September 19th, 2013
  31. It looks like I am getting in on this a few days late, but the good news is that I started eating like this again about 2 days ago, so I’m really not that late after all. I am committed to make a change and morph my body into a lean effective fat-burning machine!

    Lia King wrote on September 19th, 2013
  32. Trying out this upon recommendation by a friend. Stoked! :)

    Rachie wrote on September 19th, 2013
  33. I’ll give it a try

    B wrote on September 19th, 2013
  34. I love you Mark! I’m IN! I’m good with the eating portion of the plan, but am LOUSY at the exercise. That’s my goal this challenge, is to meet the exercise portion of the plan! Yeah!

    Susan Campbell wrote on September 20th, 2013
  35. So excited about this!! I just found MDA 6 months ago and am loving all the great information, advice and comments. I’m going to use the 21-day challenge to implement a few more primal elements into my life. I will try a new primal recipe each week, work on increasing my pullups, and add more PLAY! I’m going to engage in some form of play each day, even if it is just for a short period of time.

    Sophia wrote on September 20th, 2013
  36. Kind of excited to do this! I need to focus on no sugar, which means going through my teas and weeding out the ones with sugared fruits in them.

    Kris wrote on September 21st, 2013
  37. I commenced my Paleo journey February this year under the guidance of my hot yoga chiros here in Queensland, Australia. I have lost around 5 or 6 kilos but I won’t undermine myself by constantly weighing myself as my focus is to feel strong, healthy and happy. I have learned so much, love my new lifestyle and feel for the first time in decades as if I am finally healthy (so happy). It’s now time to take the next step and incorporate Mark’s exercise recommendations. I am so excited to be part of this challenge.

    Christine Downes wrote on September 22nd, 2013
  38. I am ready. Been going 80% for a few months but I am up to a challenge

    Jennifer wrote on September 22nd, 2013

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