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. This is a great plan. Thanks for letting people live while on a path to be healthier. I have cut out most carbs. I love the 21 day commitment plan – great way to get things started.

    Deanna wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. I am going to give these next 21 days my very best and see what wonderful changes arise in my life! Thanks for the kick and the structure!

    shell ledrew wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. Been paleo since beginning of 2013 but haven’t been totally committed these past few months, time to get back on track, heal my body and get strong! Can’t go wrong with good health and happiness! :)

    Courtney wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. Lately, I’ve been putting about 75% into maintaining my primal food choices. Its time to change that!

    Aaron H. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. Very excited to have this challenge! I did the Whole 30 for the month of August and have started to slide back into some bad habits. Good luck everyone!!!

    Liisa wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. It’s time to get this thing going for reals!

    Stacy Hargitt wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. I’m going to walk at least 30 minutes every day, lift some heavy things 2 times per week and sprint on Sunday. I’m not going to start hibernating even though its getting colder outside. Grok on my friends!

    The Beckster wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. Time to renounce my biggest enemy, the weekend Beer, and focus on that 8 hours. Maybe pick up the exercise a notch.

    Eliza wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. I’m in!

    Stella wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. I cannot wait for the 21 day challenge! I’ve been “dabbling” in primal for a long while, but it’s time to finally give it a go!

    Katie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. Two and a half months primal and down 20 pounds! My ADHD-like symptoms are more under control than they’ve ever been in my adult life. This year’s challange is perfect timing. It was my wife’s birthday party yesterday and she said her goodbyes to cake and ice cream! This is the incentive that she needed to go primal with me. Good luck everybody!

    Katzenmuku wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. I am ready for a challenge to keep me focused.

    Robi wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. Here we go…I’ve been eating exclusively primally for a week now and am ready to try the rest of the plan–the primal living part!

    Christy wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. Committing to the 21 Day Challenge!!

    Steven Shepard wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. I’ll be working on the 8 hours of sleep.

    Maureen wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. Here we go! My goal is simply to commit fully for the 21 days, track each day in a journal, and see what happens!

    Laura wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. Newly engaged and marrying the love of my life next year so the timing of this challenge is perfect!!! Looking forward to forming a new healthy lifestyle and living a long happy life together!!!! and looking fantastic in the wedding pics 😉

    Lee Frederickson wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. I am in!

    Eric S. wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. Shared on Facebook. Coming up on 3 years Primal. Have added trail running into my repertoire and love it.

    Steve wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. I’ve been lurking and flirting around (the primal ways) for a while but for some reason didn’t really commit. This 21 day challenge might just be the right time to flip the switch. I need to lose a small sheep worth of fat and gain a small dog worth of muscle. That’s me not wanting to talk numbers :)
    Good luck and great success to everyone!!

    Daniela wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. Perfect timing for this challenge. I’m just getting back on track after letting myself slide back into unhealthy. I felt awful! After a full week of no grains I’m feeling so much better but the cravings are strong. So a 21 day challenge? I’m in!

    LO wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. Hoping to finally take the leap and stick with it! Tired of feeling bad all the time!

    Joshua wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. That infographic is fantastic! My husband and I reached out to all our facebook friends and created a group in order to share Primal resources/challenges/recipes… two friends from that group are now joining us on the 21-Day Challenge.

    We’ve been Primal for 7 weeks now and I’ve already lost 9 pounds without really trying, so I’m using the Challenge to really step up exercise/movement, get better sleep (this is a huge thing for me as I tend to suffer from nightmares), kick-start my further weight-loss by staying in the lowest range of carbs… and to finally settle into a 100% Primal lifestyle.

    I’m so excited! Thank you, Mark, for this challenge, and for all the resources you provide on a daily basis… I always find energy and inspiration here!!

    Loren wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. So excited for this year’s challenge! I had a great time cleaning up my diet last year, and this year I’m looking forward to focusing on getting good sleep. As a college student this is definitely a challenge sometimes!

    Steph wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. I’m going to try to incorporate more play (not so easy for a Ph.D. student during the academic year).

    Algebra Grok wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. I’ve known about the primal blueprint for over 3 years now and i want to get back on track like i was last year this time. My goal is to get in shape for tennis season, get rid of my acne, and just feel overall better than i am with junk food!

    Toni wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. I need to eat less sugar!

    Erin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. I’m so excited to start this with my partner, A. Goals: lift 3x’s/week, work out 3x’s week (whether it be shooting hoops, weight lifting, biking, etc), and completely cut out gluten! In general I am around 70/30 primal but on weekends I do squeeze in a burger or pasta so I’d like to cut it out for 21 days, yay! I’m excited to see what I can push myself to do.

    JOY wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. Shared on Facebook and Twitter!

    I had planned to refocus and recommit to Primal starting yesterday so this is PERFECT timing!

    Sonya wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. I am committed. I will be traveling during most of this time, so it will be an extra challenge :)

    Jessica Talbert wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. Want to cut out dairy as I think it inflames me. I can do this!

    Diane wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. Can’t wait to get started!

    Amanda wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. After over a year of living the primal life, it’s time this machine gets a tune up. Posted the challenge on instagram and will update as I have epiphanies. Going to focus on increasing the slow movement, being faithful about weekly sprints, and NOT cheating on the “healthy” processed foods (my vices: Larabars, Trader Joe’s Plantain Chips)!

    primal aly wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. Shared on both facebook AND pinterest – great challenge and great snapshot of the primal lifestyle – thanks! :)

    Corinna Mulligan wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. My first 21 day challenge; hoping for great success and boundless energy.

    Steve wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. Liked, shared, +1’d…
    I’m in. Been primal for over a year and this is my first time doing the challenge. Cant wait.

    Encino Man wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. I’ve tried LCHF, but now it’s time to go Primal!
    Need to get the stress level down, and hopefully my psoriasis and headaches will get better too.

    Halvard wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. I am going to work on getting 8 hours of sleep every night I do not work and staying on track with a low carb lifestyle.

    Karen H wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. Thanks for the challenge, need to get back on track…………

    Johnny S wrote on September 16th, 2013
  40. I’ve been thinking (scary for anyone that knows me!), and I think one of the things I really need to work on during this 21 day challenge is getting my sleeping sorted out.

    If I’m tired, grumpy and in a hurry then that’s going to send me SAD (even tho’ I’m in the UK – we have the same food issues here!)

    If I can get my sleep sorted out I’ve got a chance at getting the other things right, at least I would hope so

    Dianne wrote on September 16th, 2013

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