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. Been Primal a little over a year now. I want to help use this challenge time to limit my intake of sweeter foods. I would also like to focus on the thoughts I have around food and cravings.

    Monique wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. Looking forward to the days ahead in this challenge.

    Matthew Babcock wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. Living Primal has been wonderful for me. 2.5 years so far and not going back but I’m looking forward to taking the challenge to tweek some areas I’m lagging in. Thanks Mark!

    Isaac wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. I can’t wait to feel better and be more healthy by eliminating grains and sugars from my diet. I also resolve to start to exercise daily to help reach my weight and health goals. Excited! :)

    Jennifer wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. I’m in, too. Although it’s fair to say this is how I live my life anyway, a little accountability never hurt anyone!

    torie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. I’ve been slowly dipping my feet into primal lifestyle and I think now is the time to go in 100%!

    Caroline Nystrom (Mrs. Tempered Sunshine) wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. I’ve researched and dabbled in Paleo/Primal for the last year. After a minor surgery 2 weeks ago, I decided I was going to be strict about my eating Primal. Lab results came back from my surgery. I have uterine cancer. Now I have a real motivation! I have been a sugar addict all my life. I believe this might have been a factor in my getting cancer. My goal this year? To have my surgery to remove my cancer, and remain cancer free forever by living the Primal lifestyle.

    April Graves wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. I have been mastering Primal nutrition in my diet for a year and a half now, but I would love for this 21 day challenge to give me the fitness boost I need to make a habit of it.

    Tate Barber wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. My goal is to build lean muscle and get rid of stress :)

    dlkempt wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. This is perfect timing for me. I have struggled with the heat this summer. Now to get back to moving

    Shirley wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. I am in!!!

    Trampas wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. Great timing.. Kick start to the busiest time of year for the family!

    3 Cross Country practices, 1 CC Meet, 4 basketball practices, 6 baseball games, 1 baseball practice, back to school night, orthodontist appts, and 2 physical therapy appts.

    Instead of eating crap out everyday, we are pre-making our meals and snacks!

    Thanks Mark for the constant motivation!

    The Crofoot Family

    Pat Crofoot wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. Looking forward to the 21 day challenge! It’s time to get back on track and retrain my decisions to living healthy.

    Andrew wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. Goals:
    1) more slow movement, measured by switching to a stand up desk in my office and getting out for a walk every day
    2) primal movements at least twice a week, shooting for 3 sets at the “primal mastery” level (though for pull ups I still have a ways to go), plus yoga 3 times a week
    3) continue working toward a full planche push up by improving tuck planche and l-sit hold times (shooting for 10s each)

    Jesse Barnes wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. My goals for this 21-day challenge: eliminate all grains, added sugar, and legumes. Also, drink one cup of bone broth a day. Can’t wait to kick start my health journey with this challenge!

    Primal Praxis wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. I’m on this! I’m using it as a final kick in the butt to get completely on board with the Autoimmune Protocol, since that works the best for me. So, I’m going to eat according to that (which definitely falls into the guidelines for this challenge) and also challenge myself to include offal into my diet at least once a week. I feel proud of myself that I am actually already meeting all the other aspects of this challenge outside of the diet, so I’m just going to keep that up!

    Casey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. Thank you for providing this great resource! I’ll be focussing on exercise and more imaginative meals – I’ve just signed up for the newsletter to get some ideas.

    Edmund Johnson wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. I’m in of course :) First 21 day challenge but not new to the primal life! Follow my journey via the blog^^ or on instagram at PrimalTeen! Good luck everyone

    Christy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. I’m in for the 2013 challenge! I’ve been busy at work he last few months and have let go of good habits–I want to use this challenge as a way to get back on track! Just returned from a great grocery store trip so my fridge will be stocked with all the good stuff! Here we go!

    Kaitlin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. This is EXACTLY what I need to get me back on track. Bring it, Mark! (:

    n3p3n7h3 wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. Yay! Thanks for this timely challenge! I’ve been flirting with Primal for a bit less than a year now, but never really committed to it. Now it’s a chance to feel a part of it and to get some accountability.

    I mostly want to kick my binge eating habit and to prove myself I can live “clean” for more than a week. 21 days in an absolute dream in regards to that. Accessorily, I have a big high-mountain trek planned in 1 month, so I really want to get in a better shape by then.

    Looking forward to the daily updates, I suppose support will be very much appreciated.

    Thanks Mark & team for all your work!

    Irichou wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. 21-Days is an easy to stick to commitment. I will def be supporting this fully and involving myself. I’m sure after 21 Days it will become habit and bring forward a New! Healthier Chapter in my life.

    Primal Law wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. I’m going to use these next 21 days to refocus and re-energize my efforts and work on making sleep a priority :-)

    LaRissa wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. This comes at a perfect time for me! I have been letting a bit of sugar creep in, have dropped IF because of that, and need to get back to sprinting. Thanks, Mark, for making it a group activity!

    CaveWoman wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. I’ve been gradually becoming primal since last November…this is my first 21 day challenge.

    Since our diets are pretty much under control my husband and I will focus on getting 8 + hours of sleep (and sleeping earlier rather than later), blacking out our bedroom, limiting artificial light, getting some sun, getting all our exercise in, and having time for play!


    Christine H. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. I’m in

    Rachel wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. I’m in! Been mostly primal for some months now but I’ve had a couple of bad junk food days recently and it’s time to get back to it!

    Nicholas wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. I will use this challenge to learn to watch my hunger levels! Eat until I am satisfied, instead of past full. I will stick to my 90%+ Primal habits as usual!

    Kevin Martin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. Have been eating mostly Primal for more than 2 years now to aid in control of Blood Glucose levels ( I’m an insulin dependent diabetic). Now is the perfect time to concentrate on getting leaner and having some fun doing it!

    Tracy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. I slacked off all summer and this is a great chance to get back to where I was. I feel so much better when I am Primal. Time to get my grok on!

    Donna wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. I’m all in! 21 days of strict adherence is just what I need (I’m usually about 80%). My goals include: not even the occasional grain (no more organic corn chips!) or legumes (peanut butter or chick peas), go back off of coffee and drink more herbal teas, establish a better exercise routine of squats, push-ups, etc., and reduce stress.

    BABaker wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. My goal is to decrease my sugar and drop 5 pounds.

    Laura wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. I keep trying this and then failing and then trying again. I love cooking and have already done so many recipes on here that are delicious, that I don’t know why I still find it hard to stick to. I’m thinking having a community and the forum for support will help. Looking forward to improved overall health and feeling a little more satisfied with the picture in the mirror

    KirLee wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. I hope my share will get others to take this challenge too. This lifestyle has changed for much for myself and my husband. Thank you Mark!

    Stacey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. I’ve been primal since February, and have noticed some huge improvements. I’m looking foward to reigniting things during this 21 day challenge.

    Terry wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. Okay, so this gal needs to revisit (ahem) especially after all this tailgating (Lord help me get through football season). Let’s go primal!

    kate wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. My goal is to decrease carbs so I csn drop 5 pounds.

    Laura wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. I’m starting the challenge to loose the baby weight!

    Ivonnet wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. I shared on Twitter. My husband and I have been eating primal-ish for awhile now but I’m not seeing the results I would like. Excited to do a challenge and commit to the exercise part of it!

    Karissa Francis wrote on September 16th, 2013
  40. Thanks for all your efforts! In the past month I have: almost finished Primal Connection (already read PB), installed a slack line in the yard (which is way harder than you make it look in your YouTube), created a stand-up work station (love it) and bought my first pair of Vibrams (planning to do their two week foot strength training program and then run a 5K in them on September 28). I haven’t visited yet but that section in your book made me laugh out loud over and over! All these things bring looks and questions from poeple, so I tell them about your website and books and about being primal.

    Melissa Alberson wrote on September 16th, 2013

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