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. I love the 21 day challenge. I’ve been Primal for a couple of years now and I have slipped this summer with the “sensible indulgences.” This year it is exactly what I need to stay the heck out of the M&M bag…

    Bill McCroskey wrote on September 16th, 2013
  2. I am committing to getting off some of this baby weight! Sleep will be difficult with an 8 week old, though.

    Shannon wrote on September 16th, 2013
  3. I am planning on feeling miles better by following Mark’s dietary guidelines to reduce the amount of injected insulin I take, I can’t wait to have some energy, I’ve been 30 years without any! Good luck everyone:)

    Nici Balmain wrote on September 16th, 2013
  4. Tomorrow is my last day on my first full Whole30. Over the last month I’ve lost 12lbs. I don’t want to lose my momentum. Plus at this point eating paleo is starting to feel like second nature. I’m totally up for a 21 day challenge! Bring it on! I’m going to try to recruit my friends as well.

    Kimberley Knecht wrote on September 16th, 2013
  5. In it! 21 days is easy.

    Daniel wrote on September 16th, 2013
  6. Looking forward to completing my first 21 DAY CHALLENGE!!!

    Matt Barenie wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. I have been `almost primal’ for a few months now, lets see if we can take it up a level for the next 21 days!!

    Darlene Samek wrote on September 16th, 2013
  8. I’ve been playing around with the idea of going primal for a while now. No better time than now to give it a go! Looking forward to the challenge!

    Sara wrote on September 16th, 2013
  9. After chemo and surgery, my body isn’t cooperating with me. My doctor told me to go Primal. After toying with it a couple weeks, I’m noticing my body is communicating with me – it’s happier. This 21-day challenge is just what I need to go from play to proper-Primal.

    Erin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  10. Not looking to lose a lot of weight but ready to switch up my diet and see how much better I could feel.

    Craig wrote on September 16th, 2013
  11. 1-2-3-GO!

    Nanette wrote on September 16th, 2013
  12. Been pondering about starting the 21 day challenge for a while… No better time than now!

    Mark wrote on September 16th, 2013
  13. I have been living the Primal Lifestyle since January 1, 2013, at a 90/10 compliance rate. To date I have lost 55 pounds. I look forward to this 21 day challenge to go 100% Primal and enjoy more great eating and living!

    Mark wrote on September 16th, 2013
  14. Have had the book for a long time…this is a good time to implement it!

    Becky wrote on September 16th, 2013
  15. Lets go! Lets do this!

    Mark wrote on September 16th, 2013
  16. Wohoo, lets try this serious, I love challanges! ( as long as I can still do my 20 hours fasting every day im happy!)

    Anders Jonsson wrote on September 16th, 2013
  17. What a coincidence! I actually started trying to get back in line and eating better today! Really want to drop 20-30 pounds off and this will help motivate me.

    Biggest issue will probably be getting enough sleep since I have one 19 month old girl and 11 week old twin girls! LOL. Might have to make up the lost sleep time with lunch naps.

    Jacob wrote on September 16th, 2013
  18. Time to commit. I’ve been slacking lately!

    Richard wrote on September 16th, 2013
  19. I’m committed. Bring on the fun!

    Tammy Crosson wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. So happy to begin! I’ve been primal for 1 1/2 years, now it is time to kick it up!

    Siobhan wrote on September 16th, 2013
  21. Looking forward to this 21 day challenge, been trying Primal for about a year now without very much focus. It will be good to use these three weeks to finally get the focus that I need. I’m in…

    Chris wrote on September 16th, 2013
  22. I love the Primal lifestyle, but I find myself constantly pressured into non-Primal situations (i.e. dining out on sub par food, skipping workouts) and compromising on what I want! These 21 days will give me a reason to really stick to my guns and live completely Primally, sprints and all!

    Andria wrote on September 16th, 2013
  23. I am more excited for this year’s challenge than in previous years. My spouse, more family members, and more friends have started to shift to a primal way of living. Maybe we can take home the cow for this year’s primal feast.

    primalrob wrote on September 16th, 2013
  24. I just shared it on Pinterest…I think. I am too young to have technology issues like this! I did share the food pyramid infographic and looked up Tabata sprints…I may have to try them sometime this week. There is a park by my house that I can “fast walk” to and then sprint around.

    SB wrote on September 16th, 2013
  25. Ohh, I would love to participate, but I’m on my first pregnancy trimester so I don’t know if it’s a good idea to make big changes in my diet right now (although I’ve been on & off primal for some months already). But there are some guidelines that would definitely be good for me! So I guess I’m 50% in 😀

    Eliza wrote on September 16th, 2013
  26. I was following the PB earlier this year and feeling like I was successful about 60% of the time (and I was happy with that). In recent months I have ‘fallen off the wagon’ in a big way and I’m *really* noticing the impact it’s had on my weight, my health, my skin…
    I’ve been talking about getting back to being more Primal for a number of weeks now, and I think I’m ready – to take the challenge!! This isn’t going to be easy for me, as I am just *lousy* when it comes to willpower – but I’m going to give it a go! I will ready my pantry and start the challenge THIS WEEK.

    Oakangel wrote on September 16th, 2013
  27. Been Primal for 30 days and lost 12 lbs! Excited for the 21 day challenge to see what’s next and start incorporating IF.

    Melissa wrote on September 16th, 2013
  28. Already on day 14 at the moment, but this is a perfect opportunity to stay on track for the remaining week (and beyond).

    Tomas Lindahl wrote on September 16th, 2013
  29. I´m IN! And excited about it:). Thanks Mark, you´re the best!

    Josefin wrote on September 16th, 2013
  30. I’ve been eating MOSTLY primal for a few weeks now, but I am committed to go full-force for the next 21 days!!

    Shannon wrote on September 16th, 2013
  31. Pressing the restart button and looking forward to doing it with this group!

    Susan wrote on September 16th, 2013
  32. We’ve already been eating primally for months, but I think the challenge is just what we need to get serious about the primal exercise part of it before we go on vacation next month. Hubby and I are definitely in…even if he doesn’t quite know it yet. 😉

    Sydney Katt wrote on September 16th, 2013
  33. I shared because it was a great infographic before I knew it was part of the contest! I’ve been Primal for about 9 months now, but have been letting in little cheats (slipping to the top of the Primal food pyramid) more and more, so this is a great chance to refocus!

    Amy Dove wrote on September 16th, 2013
  34. I put in a treadmill desk over the weekend for this specifically. I lost 50 lbs last year, but have been not dong as well this year. This is my new kick off.

    Need to figure out where to do pullup attempts.

    Tom B wrote on September 16th, 2013
  35. Been dancing around the full commitment for some time. There is no time like the present. My wife is on-board for the first time as well. Time to get back to the basics! Thanks for issuing the challenge and I look forward to seeing everyone’s results.

    Clint Warren wrote on September 16th, 2013
  36. New to Primal!

    Krystal Chittenden wrote on September 16th, 2013
  37. I’m ready, ready, ready! Strarted Primal eating/living August 15th and feel great (in addition to losing 13lbs!). So I am looking forward to joining the challenge and working on a.) increasing sleep time, and most importantly b.) sit down to eat at least one meal a day with my teenage son!

    Katyq02 wrote on September 16th, 2013
  38. Man, this challenge could not have come soon enough! I have been slacking and eating like crap recently (just recently started back up at school). This is just what I need to get back on track!

    Andrew wrote on September 16th, 2013
  39. I’ve been dabbling in eating primal for a little while now, but I am ready to jump in completely!

    Shannon wrote on September 16th, 2013
  40. Using this challenge to go from about 90/10 to as close to 100% as possible. Try to cut out in between meal snacks and work on breaking my infatuation with peanut butter :-)

    Pam wrote on September 16th, 2013

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