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. Back on the horse! Lost 25 lbs this past spring, now 25 more to go! Hoping I can -not- go back to my carb addiction this time around.

    Faon Grandinetti wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. I started primal blueprint at the end of july. Go there slowly but steadily and with a lot of commitment !
    This challenge will help me to go further into the whole programme, got above all to improve exercices.
    Thank you for this site and the help I can find here

    Muriel wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. I am committed to become fit and healthy #21daychallenge

    Rod wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. Whoa! Didn’t know this was coming today, but I’m in! Halfway through the 21 day challenge book, but today is as good a day to start as any!

    Ken Wilkens wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. i just got the 90 day journal book, so perfect timing to commit to the 21 day as well.

    Nicholas Smith wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. I will take that challenge! I have mentioned the Primal Lifestyle to my wife several times, but she has very little interest. Any helpful advice on how to successfully convert your significant other would be greatly appreciated???

    Joe wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. I’m about to have my 3rd child (EDD Oct 3) and really want to be off grains, sugars, and fake sugars before baby arrives. I know everything will be easier if I can do that plus baby and I will both be healthier too. Stress sugar eating will be the hardest to eliminate.

    Patricia Arav wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. Totally went of the reservation for about a week, so this is perfect to get me back to clean and healthy living! (Just in time for Vegas – uhoh!)

    candidar wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. This will be my second 21-day challenge. This year I need to focus more on moving more, getting better sleep, and being consistent with my eating. I get stressed (working on my Master’s lots of sitting and writing papers) and tend to not eat which plummets my energy. Looking forward to this! Thanks for the wealth of information and encouragement Mark and Grok community!!

    Elisa wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. 21 days, here I come! Food rules, no problem. My challenge is to get enough sleep and to move more. I want to be swinging from the tree tops by winter!

    Sara wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. All in ! Love a good contest that I totally 100% believe in !

    Brian wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. I am in for the next 21 days!

    Lori wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. Turns out my “slight” slip-up of a summer of wine, crisps and ice cream hasn’t done wonders for my health, waistline or mental state. The primal challenge has come at just the right time. I don’t want to set any goals beyond Feeling Better :)

    Natalie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. I’ve been eating somewhat paleo/primal since May of this year and have lost 15 pounds without exercising. However, I have yet to commit to a strict 21 or 30 day regimen. But this is it! I want to loose another 25 pounds and will use this as a stepping stone to help me get to my goal.

    Jennifer wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. I’ve always eaten pretty “healthy”, but I’ve never felt as good as when I started eating Primal, two weeks ago! Now let’s see how *living* Primal goes in wintery Wisconsin…

    Sam wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. Count me in!

    I actually have a pretty primal lifestyle. My only 2 bad spots are sugar (2 tspns in the evening) and peanuts (because of the energy for running).

    Should I cut them cold turkey?

    Morex wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. I commit to 21 days of tracking of what I eat on MyFitnessPal so I can align my carb intake with my weight goal.

    Shannon wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. I have been following this blog and looking for a jumpstart. I will commit to following the 21 Day Plan.

    CM wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. I started Primal eating in January and I’ve been really good with the food that I eat but I don’t always follow through with playing, sprinting, and exercise as I should. I am going to use this 21-day challenge to focus on getting outside and being more active!

    Marlayna wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. $200 for Primal stuff?! I’m in! Mark don’t forget to post the question I asked you!

    Dave B. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. I’m going to use this as a time to buckle down and improve my sleep. I’ve made a lot of improvements in this area but could do better (less screen time before bed, etc).

    Rob wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. Let’s do this. Been slacking, but it’s time to get back on track!

    Jimmy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. Yep, time to get back on track and no better time to start than with this challenge.

    Ctiz wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. Let’s do this Mark! Third straight year of the challenge. Very psyched. Love the primal lifestyle.

    Kevin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. I am taking the challenge!!!

    Shelly wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. Challenge Accepted! I am in!!

    cyndeeLA wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. count me in. going in for the full 21, hoping to lose fat and gain muscle

    WairimuM wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. I could definitely use some fine-tuning. I’m in!

    Griffin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. This is the start of my third week, eating just vegetables, fat and protein, but I need to cut out the vodka on the weekend! I’m going to start sprinting and tracking my hours of slow movement (I usually just do what feels natural, but have no idea how much that really is).


    Kim wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. Primal for a year now. In this 21 day challenge I’m going to focus on reducing the primal treats and see what it does for body comp.

    Eric wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. Thanks Mark – I’ll help spread the word. I’ve lost 20 lbs in the last three weeks but especially looking forward to my blood tests coming up this week. . . they will be the true test of health benefits from primal.

    Sean O. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. This is such good timing… some old (nasty) habits have been creeping back in, sister in law is a real nuisance.

    This will help me re-focus and give me the support I sometimes need to resist! :)

    Dianne wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. Good timing. My commitment is to get through the next three weeks making the right food and lifestyle choices, where there are potentially dangerous and challenging items on the agenda: some night-shifts at work, quite a few stressful meetings, an anniversary and a birthday to celebrate, a meal out with a vegetarian, rainy days in general etc etc. And finally to get into the habit of doing more primal exercises!

    JED wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. I’ve been thinking about going primal for a while but never stuck on for more than a few days. Would love to try this challenge and see how the 21 days go.

    Bee wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. I need to get back on! I’ve been off for exactly a year unfortunately.

    JC wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. This sounds great! I’m in!

    Bridget wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. I tend to fall into a rut and eat the same few meals over and over. While that lack of choice helped me to make primal choices a habit, I think it’s time to get out of my comfort zone. I plan to not eat the same thing twice for the next 21 days. Staples like olive oil and grass fed butter wouldn’t count, but I will not repeat a protien or veg. That will get me to use the grass fed beef and lamb liver, tongue, kidney, heart etc… that have been in the freezer. Plus hit Wholefoods and try one of every seafood option there.
    I also will not snack the next 21 days. There is really no need for it, it’s such an idle, dumb thing that I want to curb. And I will try to IF twice a week, I always feel so good when I do. Nothing to it but to do it!

    april wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. I am SO excited. This could not have come at a better time :).

    dlkempt wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. This is a great motivator! I’m already eating primal 90% of the time, but I’m taking the challenge to sleep 8 hours every night and add primal exercise to my routine. Grok on!

    Therese wrote on September 16th, 2013

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