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. YAY!!! I hope I can fine tune what I have been learning. Time to go for a walk!

    Yoli wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. I am in! I’m hoping to use this challenge to finally make these practices a habitual part of my lifestyle.

    Stephanie I wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. I’ve got the primal eating down pat. I love all of the new recipes I’ve been trying since January of this year. I’ve lost 20 pounds without a lot of physical effort. Starting today, I stop the inconsistent workout schedule and start doing it right! It’ll be a bigger challenge with a major audit and some weekend travel thrown into the 21 days, but I’m up for it! Time to get toned!!

    Donna wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. Thanks Mark! Keep up the great work!

    Jm wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. I have been following The Primal Blueprint for nearly a year. I am at a healthy weight and participate in primal-style strength training twice per week but I want to re-up and work on some other aspects of my engagement with the primal lifestyle.

    Jae Donnelly wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. I have been cleaning up my diet for a month now thanks to MDA and Whole30. I would like to incorporate exercise and outdoor/play time in the next 21 days.

    Chelse wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. Need to get back on track. Was feeling great following the plan, but since I have slacked, my cycles are out of whack, my arthritis feels worse, and the weight is slowly creeping back on. I know this works, and was excited to see this challenge starting up. Good motivation to start back NOW!

    Heather wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. I turned 39 back in April, and I promised myself I wouldn’t be fat when I turned 40. After a false start, I got serious about going primal on Memorial Day and lost 20 pounds in 2.5 months, was feeling terrific, and very happy. Since then, I’ve maintained the weight loss, but have been “cheating” more than I should. So for me, this 21-Day Challenge is a great way to get back to the basics of going primal. It’s going to be fun!

    Jeff V. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. I’m mostly there, just need to take the final steps…I’m in!

    lpabf wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. I am so excited about doing this challenge. I’ve been lurking here for a couple years and I am finally going to do this. Thank you for telling it like it is!
    I shared to my fb, twitter and pinterest. Going to go and publicly commit on my blog now!

    Sherry M. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. I commit to being Primal (plus dairy) for the 21 days. My only goal is to feel better at the end of it.

    Nicola wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. Time to recommit! I’ve been doing well but need to push through the plateau I’m on. Grok on!

    Chuck wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. Perfect timing. I’m going to work on healing some autoimmune issues, and the 21 day commitment is just what I need.

    Lee wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. 21 days? How hard can it be :-)

    arch macaulay wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. I am in. Hoping to use this as an opportunity to get back on track after traveling.

    YvonneJean wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. Ya, I’m in. I need to get really on-board and stop dabbling.

    Ruth wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. I have a very long way to go. But I am going to kick it off with my commitment to the 21 day challenge!

    Danny Gallego wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. I’M ALL IN! I’m very excited. I’ve been following the PB for about 3 months now, and I just this last weekend got bored and cranky and slipped a bit. This is just what I need to recommit!

    My goals are to lose another 20 pounds, keep carbs under 50g a day, and not spend all day in the house playing World of Warcraft… WOO HOO!

    Casey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. Wellness Gangsters are excited to be on board with this challenge. Just threw up a Facebook post and tweet. May even have a link on our website. We look forward to growing healthier with you all. If you’re on Instagram, hashtag #wellnessgangsters and we can see one another’s progress in this challenge.

    Good luck and thanks Mark!

    Wellness Gangsters wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. I have been slacking a bit recently. Time to clean up, I guess!

    Sam wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. Goals: weight loss, cutting out sugar

    Looking forward to this years challenge!

    Lisa Herndon wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. I’ve been dabbling with a paleo diet on and off for about 7 months and am ready to make this a permanent way of life. I’m all in, lets start this party!!

    Heidi wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. Last year’s challenge was a turning point for me in my health and fitness. This year, I will focus on the essential movements (more attempted pullups!) and ensuring that I get adequate play.

    Lisa wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. Count me in! I’m going to use this as a way to get more of my friends and family to try going primal. I’ve been at it for a year now and it has changed my life!

    Emily wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. Sounds like fun!

    Kimmie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. Been reading this stuff for most of the year. I’m committed.

    Joseph wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. I’m all in, time to walk the talk!

    Bev wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. So excited! Ive been wanting to do this and this is just the challenge I need to get started. Now the hard part will be sticking to it during vacation!

    Sherry wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. This year I will take on the challenge of playing more frequently.

    Holly Miller wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. I’m pretty good at following the Primal Blueprint, but I’m going to try extra hard during these 21 days to eliminate all high-fructose corn syrup and replace things like bottled salad dressing with better options.

    Paul wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. Facebook/twitter/etc, etc only contests are lame. It excludes those of us who exist on the physical plane the majority of the time :-)

    Graham wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. Been primal for over a year and love it! I’m ready to get a good refresh on all of the concepts.

    Michele wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. My wife and I cleansed the house of SAD foods last friday. I am so ready for this!

    Nathan wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. I’m in. Back yard outings and the beach = increased adult beverages. More pull ups and sprinting too.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. Ready to get back on track with this 21 day challenge

    Mike Hawthorne wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. Yeah, a good idea coming off a lot of work-related travel recently… need to get back on the tracks.

    meg wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. Count me in. No weight goals to speak of but more overall health and fitness. Been overindulging in cider and slacking off on the veg and now that the kids are back in school I can feel my body fighting harder to avoid getting sick(er).

    I can do 21 days. :-) Now, back to my Thai beef crockpot soup that I’m making for supper. :-)

    crunchymama wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • What I can’t seem to do, though, is successfully embed the infographic on my blog, or leave comments on it. That’s OK in the grand scheme of things – but I’d love to boost the signal, even if it’s just a little bit.! :-)

      crunchymama wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. I, too, haven’t jumped all in! Going to focus on movement and simple food.:)

    Tracy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. Also using this challenge to help focus more on my music!

    sam wrote on September 16th, 2013
  40. I’m in!

    Kate wrote on September 16th, 2013

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