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!! let’s spread the word..and good health!!

    Amy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. First 21 day challenge – looking forward to it!

    A-dubs wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. I totally forgot this was coming and started my own 21 day challenge last week. I slipped up this weekend (even veterans make mistakes) and this is a perfect time to start anew.

    Good luck everyone!

    Mike G wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. It’s “go time!”

    Dawn wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. I’m 3 weeks in on the Primal lifestyle and already seen a huge change in my body. I’ve lost close to 20lbs and about 3 inches off my waist.
    Love this challenge and the New Food Pyramid image…printed it off to go on my Fridge. So looking forward to what my body will look like in another 21 days. I’ve almost got my wife to buyin and start hitting the program due to my success.
    Thanks Mark.

    Billy wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • I shared on FB, I don’t have accounts with the other things, but I have also shared with my coworkers! I have been on and off with Primal for the past year and a half. Now it’s time for me to get off the fence and fully commit to a lifestyle change that helps me to feel great! My goals for the next 21 days are to eliminate the sugars (real and fake) and walk every day. I am also hoping to positively influence my loved ones into making better health choices!

      Rae wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. I’m in.

    Jordon wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. Great re-boot for me, and a great start for my girlfriend!

    Neil S wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. Yay! I love the 21-day challenge!

    Melissa wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. I’m in! Thanks for a great challenge to inspire is to continue on a healthy lifestyle!

    Lisa O'D wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. Woohoo! Let’s do this!

    ninjainshadows wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. This is what I’ve been waiting for!

    Rob wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. My wife and I were just discussing getting back to some Primal basics, and sharing that possibility through Facebook and Google+ seems like another good thing to do!

    Aaron wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. Quit eating cheese. I want to say quit eating sugar, but I’m really chicken!

    Robin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. Thanks Mark for putting this challenge out there. Perfect timing for me. I have lost a total of 84 pounds over the last year and a half and would like to lose 16 more by my birthday in November. I’m up for the challenge! One hundred pounds down, here I come!

    Kathy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. I’ve been primal for just over a year, but I’ve definitely got room for improvement. With cold weather upon us, my ultimate frisbee league is done for the season, so I need to start a new ‘sprint’ routine. I picked up rock-climbing as a hobby, so there’s some heavy lifting and full-body strength training. Goals for these 21 days will be cracking down on diet, and working on getting better sleep!

    Amanda wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. I’ve posted on my Facebook feed – all my family and friends know I’m Primal, but it’s time to get really serious following a vacation with a few cheats!

    Cheri wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. burn fat and torch my brother during Ultimate! so pumped!

    Tag wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. I’m in this year. Time to get healthy

    Nathan wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. Ready to take on the challenge !!

    Ronine wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. I shared this on FB. And I will do the 21 day challenge. I eat almost primal, but now I aim for All the Way Primal for 21 days.

    Ulrike wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. I’m in too! I’ve been primal for a while now, but haven’t given up dairy. Now is the time to see if reducing/eliminating that will give me some weight loss. I currently have a stress fracture to my tibia, so any suggestions for exercise would be great!

    Grokesque wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. This contest always comes at JUST the right time, as we’re heading into winter and a more natural lifestyle becomes slightly more difficult! Thank you!

    Jamie Fellrath wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. I’ve tried doing strict Paleo for about 2 years now but have failed to stick to it for one reason or another. I’m 49 and I want to be about 8-10 lbs leaner, so TODAY IS IT: I am going to commit to this 21 day challenge. I can do it!! Good luck to me and everyone else.

    NeskaBaska wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. I’m ready!!

    Stacey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. I’ve been looking forward to this starting up again!! I’ve been keeping to primal eating, but I need to get my butt in gear with exercise again.

    & Thanks for the chance to win all the goodies!

    Meg wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. I’m committing to the 21-day challenge! I’ve been slipping a lot lately and being lazy about my eating. Today I start back at it, especially focusing on Sleep and Sugar!

    Randy Knapp wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. This is my first challenge and am excited to see what I can do in 21 days!

    Jaimie Amaya wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. Perfect timing! today makes 21 days smoke-free (after 40+ years). Now to learn other ways to deal with stress. Thanks, Mark!

    Jean Patrick wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. Looking to drop ten pounds, and this is the scaffold I’ll need.

    Robb wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. Good luck everyone! :)

    Carl wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. I commit to reading John Durant’s new book, The Paleo Manifesto, while doing squats and sprints.

    Kevin wrote on September 16th, 2013
    • Hey, I also want to work on my squats! Including a squat challenge…. squat for 10 minutes straight by the end of 21 days!

      Madeleine wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. I have been mostly paleo since January and have done well losing thirty pounds and gaining muscle mass. For 21 days I will not cut any paleo corners and see what happens.

    In2wildfire wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. My 21 day challenge is to eat exclusively from farmers’ market foods via Hometown Harvest, a farmers’ market delivery service. This way I can eat the best foods available to me and see what happens!

    Will Cook wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. I’ve been off the wagon too long! Time to get back on. I’ve slipped into bad habits again without even realizing it. I’m excited to be fully committed to the 21 day challenge! Starting now with my daily giant cup of green tea!

    Lee G. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. I’m jumping into the 21 Day Challenge again. I did this in 2011 and had such great results (weight loss, more energy, better moods, etc.) but slid back into my SAD habits during the holidays and have struggled to get back off the grain-sugar-processed cycle again. I’m not sure why it was so easy the first time and has been so hard ever since, especially when I’ve experienced the results firsthand. Jumping in again (and rebooting my Fridge Foragers blog in the process) with whole heart. Thanks Mark!

    Merlene wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. I am going to eat 100% primal 6 days a week and on the 7th still follow the 80/20 rule for the 21 days

    I will also strive to get 8 hours of solid rest

    lockard wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. Done done excited for this!:)

    Aubrey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. Thank you for doing this. I think this is exactly the kind of thing I need to kick my butt into gear and keep me accountable.

    Also, shared the graphic on bookface.

    Mike wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. Ready to kick off my paleo reboot with the 21 day challenge. Saving my 20% for pumpkin beers :)

    Devon Bowers wrote on September 16th, 2013
  40. I’m committed to getting more sleep, eating a primal diet, and getting in some movement everyday. Basically starting over. :-)

    Tricia wrote on September 16th, 2013

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