18 Ways to Set Yourself Up to Succeed in Your 21-Day Challenge

SuccessFor some people, facing and surmounting a challenge is as simple as just doing it. These are the lucky few who can decide to accomplish something and immediately begin accomplishing it. Want to write a book? They sit down and begin writing. Get the girl? They go up and talk to her. Most people aren’t like this. Most people need tips, tricks, tools, and concrete strategies. They require more than the simple inspiration that lies within to get moving and actively pursue the goal – whatever it may be.

That’s why I’ve compiled 18 ways to set yourself up for success in the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge. Because I know that feeling. While I’m lucky enough to do the things I want to do and hardworking enough to often succeed at them, it doesn’t come easy. It’s not as simple as “just doing it.” We all need a little help getting started.

Don’t think you need to employ all 21 strategies, though. In fact, definitely don’t do that. That’ll only overwhelm you and gum up the gears of progress. You might need five, six, just one, or even none! Use what works, what’s applicable to your personal struggles, and discard the rest.


1. Enlist a friend to join you.

It’s one thing to stay accountable to yourself – not the greatest motivator for some people, because failing to follow through means the only person you’re offending or letting down is yourself. But when failing means failing a trusted, loving friend or relative who has pledged to also complete a challenge at your side, failure hits harder. You know how your folks could always make you feel really bad by saying they “weren’t mad as much as disappointed in you”? Failing a friend is kind of like that. It hurts, and in order to avoid the pain, you’ll probably stick with the challenge.

2. Make your challenge public.

Has anyone watched the mid 2000s HBO show Rome? Ian McNeice played the town crier who would announce news and political developments, basically serving as an expository vehicle to keep viewers up to date on the show’s complex storyline. I’ve got to imagine that he’d also be a great way to hold people accountable for their challenges by letting their social circles in on it. We don’t really have town criers anymore (unfortunately), but we can make our challenges public through Facebook, Twitter, or good ol’ fashioned face to face contact.

3. Reward yourself for incremental successes.

We aren’t dogs, but we do respond to conditioning. Every time you succeed along your journey, give yourself a little reward. Not Hershey’s Kisses, not a cronut, not McDonald’s fries, mind you. Contribute a few bucks to a vacation fund. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show. Take a couple hours to go for a hike. Eat a slice or two of bacon. Reward your animal side with something you enjoy (as long as it doesn’t conflict with the spirit and intent of your challenge) to establish a positive association with hard work.

4. Print out a calendar and plan your challenge, day by day.

21 days might seem like a long time, but it’ll go faster than you think. Don’t let it get away from you. Get ahead of it from the very start by planning – meticulously or loosely – your approach for the challenge. Fill out the calendar and tick each day off as you complete it – but only if you stick to the schedule! Hey, it worked for Seinfeld.

5. Start with a small win.

Big wins start small. When I’m sitting down to write a book, I don’t measure success by drafts, chapters, or even pages. If I can get a solid paragraph down, I’m happy. That’s a win. It’s not the win (I’m not sure such a thing even exists, to be honest) and it doesn’t mean I’m finished, but it’s a start. Break your goals up into little winnable bites, and then crush them. And make sure to celebrate those wins. You don’t need to bust out the confetti, but you should acknowledge the small win (and give yourself one of those rewards mentioned earlier).

6. Test your mettle.

During the course of the 21-day challenge, your instinct may be to avoid temptation. To avoid eating out at lunch, to skip happy hour with friends, to disconnect your cable, to bow out of that surprise party. And while that kind of diligent avoidance at all costs might work for some, I submit that placing yourself in compromising situations where your personal commitments to the challenge are directly tested will help you rise to the challenge and come out victorious – arguably more victorious than the person who just avoided everything all three weeks. And it’s a much more realistic long-term strategy.

7. Don’t overreach. Focus.

Because the Primal Blueprint is such a holistic, overarching way of life and not just a way of eating, I was torn on this one. Should you guys try to address all the Primal lifestyle factors or just focus on one? I worried that a narrow focus might take away from the power of the PB, which depends in large part on its broad vision. Ultimately, I think a focused approach is the best way to tackle this challenge. And anyway, whether your challenge focuses on Primal eating or sleeping better or moving more or spending more time in nature, by accomplishing any one of those goals the rest of Primal living will tend to fall into place. It’s all designed to work in concert, after all.

8. Start a challenge journal in the MDA forum.

Participating in the PB Journal forum is a powerful way to publicize your challenge (and hold yourself accountable to all the MDA readers), plan your challenge (by immortalizing it in writing), and reward yourself for and acknowledge the small wins (by receiving encouragement from other readers).

9. Approach the challenge with an abundance mindset.

You’re still fresh off of yesterday’s post, but it just might be the most important strategy for success and bears repeating.


10. Get a Primal cookbook.

If you’re the type to whip up fantastic meals without measuring or reading anything, disregard this tip. Then again, if that describes you, you’ve probably got this Primal eating thing down pat and your personal challenge has nothing to do with food. For the more hesitant among us, a Primal cookbook provides a culinary roadmap as we navigate the challenge. A cookbook won’t tell you what and when to eat, but it is a helpful resource that removes additional guesswork and allows you to focus on what and when you should be eating to succeed. Alternately, check out Primal recipe aggregators like Foodee or Chowstalker.

11. Track your food intake.

Not your calorie intake. Your food intake. Write down all the amazing meats, vegetables, fish, fruit, seeds, nuts, and fats you’ve been eating. Research suggests that the simple act of writing down what you eat can speed up weight loss and promote better food choices by forcing you to confront – in plain writing – what you’ve been eating. And even if your personal challenge isn’t about losing weight, seeing the cool stuff you’re encouraged to eat throughout this challenge will inspire and motivate you to keep eating this way. Mind you, I’m not suggestion you write down everything you eat forever, just that it can be a useful exercise in the short term, like, say, 21 days.


12. Get new workout clothes.

I’ll admit that I’m a gear fiend. I love having the latest Vibrams, the best standup paddle board, the high tech moisture wicking hiking shirts, and so on. It makes me want to get out and move. I know I don’t need that stuff, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. So go on – grab that lycra bodysuit you pass every time you’re in the mall. Outfit yourself in neon spandex. Stock up on Karate Kid headbands. Bring back leg-warmers. Buy whatever it takes to get you motivated to move.

13. Without thinking too hard about it, commit to and pay in full for a fitness course you’ve been eying.

Right this instant, click over to that MovNat workshopPRIMALity playshop, yoga class, CrossFit beginner class, Olympic lifting workshop, True Nature Training course, Fitwall session, or any other fitness-related course that you’ve been considering for awhile and sign up. Quickly, before you get cold feet and back out.

14. Get a movement tracker.

My rule of thumb is “three to five hours of dedicated slow moving per week” at a bare minimum, with even more being better, because when you also include the trivial movements we do around our houses, to and from the car, while shopping, and so on, it usually adds up to 10,000 steps a day. Counting hours is easier to track than counting steps in your head or calculating distance – unless you get a movement tracker like a FitBit or a Jawbone or a free pedometer app. These devices allow greater precision when tracking your progress. Going fast and loose is usually good enough as long as you’re Primal, but knowing exactly how much you’re moving can be extremely motivating.

15. Join Fitocracy.

Fitocracy turns exercise into a role playing game with points, level-ups, and social acclaim, transforming even the most grueling workout regimen into an opportunity for play. With over a million users, they must be doing something right. Sign up and start playing.

16. Peruse Craigslist for used fitness equipment.

Craigslist is a treasure trove of misfit kettlebells, barbells, bumper plates, power racks, and weight vests. Whether you’ve pledged to lift heavy things more frequently or integrate fitness into your daily life or even just take up a new sport, you will find something fun and relevant to play with on Craigslist. Get on and get inspired without breaking the bank.

Other Stuff

17. Get a sleep tracker.

Sleep-focused challenges generally boil down to “get more and better sleep.” Beyond just going to bed at a reasonable time, limiting (or mitigating) artificial light at night, and doing all the other standard Primal sleep techniques, the sleep tracker might be a difference maker in such a challenge. Sleep tracker apps and devices monitor your movement during the night and use the data to evaluate the quality of your sleep so you can figure out what’s working, what isn’t, and what might be causing the poor (or good) sleep. Check this top five list of trackers for a lead on the more promising options, and note that both the FitBit and Jawbone movement trackers do sleep tracking, too.

And finally:

18. Create a “Check Mark’s Daily Apple” alarm.

Most of you don’t need this (I see the site metrics!). But just in case you need an extra shot of inspiration, information, or reference materials, set an alarm to remind you to check in at MDA every single day. Words have power, words change lives, and you might just happen across a collection of words arranged just so that provides the kick in the pants you required to close the challenge out strong.

It’d be great if everyone could simply snap their fingers and overhaul their entire lives in a positive way. That’s never going to happen, because we’re humans. We dither and hesitate and procrastinate and doubt. And we need to lean on each other sometimes, or use tools to move things along, or trick ourselves into doing the right thing. Hopefully the preceding tips prove useful to you. They certainly have for me.

Now I’d like to hear from you guys. Do you have any specific tips for people attempting play, sun, or nature-related challenges? As a mini-contest, let everyone know in the comment section! One comment will be selected at random, and the lucky winner will be the recipient of a free Primal Blueprint Starter Kit. This mini-contest ends at midnight tonight.

Thanks for reading, and happy Primal Blueprint 21- Day Challenge!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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76 thoughts on “18 Ways to Set Yourself Up to Succeed in Your 21-Day Challenge”

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  1. I’ve been setting house cleaning goals each night. If I sit down when I get home from work, I lose my motivation. One night my jobs may be fold a load of towels and vacuum the living room. The next night may be to clean the toilets. Doing a little bit every night keeps me active, and there’s less to do on the weekend. More time for Saturday morning hiking and laying in the sun with a good book!

    1. I do exactly the same thing!! It is so nice to have those “extra hours” on the weekend 🙂 I just put on some music and get cleaning!

  2. These are so great! My favorite is rewarding yourself for incremental successes- not in the form of food. treats dont have to be food related… in fact the best ones aren’t. and also, yes- leg warmers need to come back 🙂 my tip for people attempting to play/sun/ nature-related challenges – turn the activity into a fun date idea and do it with your significant other or that cute guy/girl you wanted to talk to!

  3. Honestly, follow the NIKE slogan…and just DO IT! start small, keep it manageable, but when the doubts arise, or the never ending list of chores re-surfaces, turn it off in your mind and get outside (you can think about it out there if you really need to)!

  4. Put that primal planning to good use! Nothing is better than bringing a packed lunch to work and using that thirty minute lunch break to get outside. Even if your version of a park is a few trees off the side of a busy road or an empty courtyard, there is something exciting about incorporating nature into your schedule and breaking up your daily routine. It is a lot more challenge-friendly than the company cafeteria and maybe if you invite a few co-workers it could become the new routine.

  5. Schedule your exercise on your calendar and write your goals down on the calendar as well. When it’s on the schedule, you dedicate that time in advance and seeing your goals reinforces things.

  6. This challenge seems great. I’m gonna do my own little challenge, not implementing all of the aspects of PB. I’ve been focused on eating and sleeping well for about 3 months. I’m gonna challenge myself to walking atleast 30 minutes a day, and eat fully primal for 21 days. That’s all I can overcome right now 🙂

  7. Thank goodness for this site. Every day I am glad I tuned in. I feel positive and rebalanced again! There was an anxious voice in my head telling me I wasn’t doing enough but then I read no. 7 : Don’t overreach: Focus. It helps my overwrought mind realise what I really need to achieve : I will concentrate on moving more and cutting out the chocolate! (the milky kind!).

  8. Don’t make a big deal about failure. If you make a misstep just correct and get back on course. Everybody is bound to make mistakes but that shouldn’t stop anyone from working towards positive changes.

    1. When I started making big changes in the way I ate/lived, I found it really helpful to not dwell on failure but to reflect on it in a positive way. It helped me a LOT to really think about why I did x, y, or z, how it made me feel, and if it was worth it. This really helped me learn from my mistakes, and I was better prepared for similar situations in the future.

  9. Non-food rewards? How about dancing? Check out tutorials on YouTube for flash mob dances, like Michael Jackson’s Thriller – retro and hard NOT have fun dancing like a zombie!

    Other rewards – download new music.

    And write as a reward. Put all of your to-do’s, anxieties and frustrations on paper and then watch success happen. See Julia Cameron’s “The Writing Diet” for reference.

  10. This July I received the key to our city vegetable garden. It’s a win-win-win-win! I go there about 2-3 times a week to attend to it and be in nature, I get some exercise done (also by walking to the garden) by pulling out weeds and using my tools and I have a vast supply of vegetables every time I go there. Including A LOT of leafy greens! This fall I’m also planting berry bushes for next summer. And I’m poking around in all this dirt. It has to be beneficial to my health. It comes with some responsibility, which is also a good motivation to keep at it.

    About once a week, when my boyfriend is not too busy, he even comes with me and we have some extra quality time! Even though he really dislikes gardening…

    Next to changing to grass-fed animals, this has been the best feature of my primal journey and I enjoy my garden everytime!

  11. We started a fibit challenge at work. If I get home from work and I do not have the number of steps I have set for myself, I grab my husband and go for a walk.

  12. Schedule play/sun/nature in between work and home. During the challenge, I am meeting my husband at a local park right after work for pull ups, planks, squats, push ups and sprinting. We plan on being there 10 – 30 minutes each day. Once we are home, there are too many other things competing for our time.

  13. I keep a swimming suit and towel in my trunk. That way I can go straight to the beach if it’s a nice day rather than running home and losing motivation.

    The same goes for a set of workout clothes, gym shoes, and a yoga mat or two.

  14. That last one has been more helpful than I would’ve thought. I don’t have any friends that eat this way and logging onto MDA during lunch helps me come back to all the reasons eating primal is worth it. You can see/feel the effects but when you’re on a budget and have to choose/prepare food so carefully you need some outside motivation once in awhile.

    1. Years back I took an art class, drawing specifically, to meet girls. It worked but that is not the point. The first night we drew a chair on drawing paper with black charcoal. Tada! One crappily drawn chair. Using the same chair we then had to draw/shade the area that surrounded the chair, but not the chair (a negative). That really changed my perspective. So did the old nude models 6 weeks later we had to paint. Different story.

      Flash forward a few years later. I came across a World War II story. The Germans were heavily tooling on British fighter planes and the Brits were desparate for solutions that would improve their aerial survival rates and thus, military success. The fighter planes that made it back were looked over by engineers and scientists. The damaged areas were obvious. The consensus was to add more armor and beef up the obviously damaged areas. Then an engineer made a case to not beef up the damaged areas, but to fortify the areas that were not damaged. Future plane survival rates improved greatly.

      The power of changing perspective and inverting thinking is a great tool. Lunchtime MDA was where I started too. MDA is an online oasis in the Conventional Wisdom desert. The naysayers, the non-thinkers, the negative Nancies in daily life can grind you down, just as a small stream can erode rock overtime. Don’t let it. Lean on MDA when you need to.

      When MDA is not there, let all the unhealthy looking people you encounter daily be your motivation for good food choices. Look at what they eat. Food affects mood. Listen how they speak. Are they a drain or a source? Look at how they move, carry, and present themselves. I know large people with grace as well as fit a-holes and skinny, bummy slobs. The latter being hipsters… Sorry, a hipster co-worker walked by, aka the “office lumberjack”, and yes, he has a fixie. Apparently I have issues with single gear bicycles. I digress.

      Align yourself with “sources” and next time you feel your motivation fading and MDA is not around, draw on your surroundings. Invert the energy and ideas if need be, become a source.

      1. I forgot to write that by becoming a source, people will gravitate to you. Refer them to MDA and talk about posts. Co-workers are good people to start with. At least this has been my experience. A few will change their eating habits permanently. Some will dabble and fail. A few is better than none.

        1. That is my perspective on sharing the PB. I know a lot of people who were very enthusiastic about it at first, then eventually stop sharing because they grow tired of the negative reactions. My thought is if I can help just one person gain control of their health, then it’s worth all the negative comments I might get from the others.

  15. Many of us sit (or stand!) in front of computers for most of our day, so what I do is keep a running excel file open with tracking for all those “small” wins. Did I take my morning vitamins? Did I get an activity in before work? How many liters of water did I drink? How many grams of carbohydrates did I eat?

    I keep the tracker open all day, and check off the boxes as I complete the mini goals for the day, with automatic color coding as I go (the boxes turn green when I check them off–otherwise, they’re red). If I see all green at the end of the day, I can feel really good about my day!

    1. This is a really great idea. I think I’ll steal it.

  16. PB Journal Forum sounds like a great plan 🙂 That’s something I can do daily to help keep me on track 😉

  17. I recently adopted a shelter dog. I consider him my “personal trainer.” He has so much energy and needs a ton of exercise. If anyone wants more motivation to increase their activity level, get a dog!

    1. I walk my 2 rescue dogs for an hour every morning before work and at weekends. When my alarm dings at 6.00am I know I would roll over and go straight back to sleep if I didn’t have to walk them. Some mornings I’m cursing the little buggers to hell and back as I’m stumbling about trying to find my shoes but they are so excited to be going out, it’s impossible to stay grumpy for long. And nothing beats being out and about in the stillness of the morning while most people are still in their pits. I’ve recently added a couple more pooches to my posse for elderly neighbours so I have the added motivation to get up and out as well as feeling I’m doing someone a good turn. So if getting a dog isn’t practical for you, just borrow one!

  18. When my work day has been tough, I tend to skip cooking the dinner I’d planned in advance and instread, reach for fast food. To avoid this slip, I purchased an apron. When I get home, the apron goes on over the clothes I wore to work, and I cook right away, before the motivation slips away.

      1. I ruined the a shirt the other day with cooking grease. Very frustrating.

  19. Today I did I took 2 small cups of unsweetened cappuccino, not very primal but l guess it’s better than the sweet chocolate drink I was craving, it keeps me warm in this weather too. Well next time I’ll avoid cappuccino altogether. I just went back from my Zumba class, went to the gym and back home on a bike of course. I will log out here quickly, put in my 30 mins of French lessons on Duolingo, read a book then sleep early. Grok on! Good luck PB challengers!!

  20. I am making a concerted effort to get out in nature more. Even if “nature” just means being on my back patio breathing deeply and watching the squirrels frolic in the trees near my condo.

  21. Leave the car at home and start walking everywhere. Easy to get your exercise in then! Plus all the great time outdoors 🙂

  22. I do quite a few chores when I get home from work. Normally, I try to get through them quickly so I can spend time with my son. With this 21 day challenge, I have been trying to get my son involved and make it into a game to get us both moving. With laundry we put the clothes in one central location and one by one (or a few items at a time) we run, walk, skip, or dance to where it needs to go. O a different version would be depending on what item we grab, do some sort of movement to put it away. A sock would be skipping, a shirt would be dancing, etc. I am still working on some other ideas for other chores to turn work into play for me and my son!

  23. So many great ideas! I also just got a shelter dog and spend every morning playing catch with her before I go to work (and walking her when I get home). I try to use a standing workstation for most of the day, and right now, I am reading MDA while eating my fantastic lunch of veggies, avocado and tuna. I went out for lunch yesterday, on purpose, to test myself (as Mark suggested above) and was very proud of making good choices and ordering the chicken salad instead of burger and fries 🙂 Yes, yesterday was a good victory for me for not breaking down and getting yam fries, but having the satisfaction of being not deprived and truly enjoying my blackened chicken over an incredible veggie salad. Now I am off for a walk to get some sunshine…yes…it’s all coming together today 🙂

  24. Having a friend to harass you about something you’ve committed to really helps. I used to have a standing Thursday night cross-country ski date (during the winter and until the snow was completely gone) with a friend who never took no for an answer. “I’m tired, It’s snowing really hard, it’s windy out” etc. were never good excuses, and we ALWAYS went skiing. And guess what? I ALWAYS enjoyed it.

    So my advice is to be the harasser or find a person to harass you, and just GET OUT and do whatever it is you’re planning to do even if the weather is crappy (but not life-threatening) rather than making excuses not to. You’ll be glad you did.

  25. I have found that reading the success stories is a great way to keep motivated. Knowig that someone else had suffered the same problems as I do and that they have overcome them helps me to focus and not lose hope those days when everything seems harder than ever.

  26. First time commenter and I’m among the “dabblers” in primal lifestyle. I have been looking forward to participating in this challenge after looking through the archives at last year’s challenge. Checking MDA daily will keep me focused (and accountable) to changing my life. My biggest struggles come from social drinking (and eating) which leads to poor choices (duh). If I am able to make a plan for these social outings, I am much more capable of sticking to it. Anyone else have strategies for dealing with social outings conflicting with primal lifestyle?

    Thanks again Mark and MDA!

    1. Planning always helped me. If I knew I was going out with friends, I could prepare, not only physically (eat before I go) but mentally. The mental part of it was huge. I would just take a few moments to remind myself of my goals and what I want out of this, and that those things far outweighed one beer or the chips/pretzels/fried things that would be around. Then I would make a plan. What would I order/say when the waitress came around? Would I be getting water or maybe (nursing) a whiskey, club soda, and lime beverage (it’s my go-to semi-primal friendly drink of choice). Having a concrete plan always helped me be successful when I was out with friends, as opposed to an ambiguous “oh I’m not going to drink/eat” kind of mentality.

      Also, it takes time, so don’t beat yourself up if/when you slip up. After a year and half of doing this (on and off mind you….completely “on” for the last 6 months), making those decisions is second nature and something I don’t have to think about anymore. But it took a loooong time and a lot of effort to break those old habits and mindsets.

      You’re here, doing this, so that’s already a step in the right direction. Keep it up, and good luck!

    2. Been there, done that, sometimes I revert back for social reasons. First choice is to have a water or club soda with a garnish. If you want a drink stick to a clear: gin and tonic, vodka and water. You have to know yourself and your limits. I do not like more than two drinks. Period. Come drink three I hit “the moment” and want to party. The next morning I eat something really fatty and spicy. I avoid all fruits and paleo treats for the next few days.

      Not drinking and offering to be a designated driver is great option too.

    3. Don’t know if this will help at all, but when I used to drink, I had a rule that in between every drink I would drink a glass of ice water. I had to sip it, no downing it. It instantly cut my drinking in half and made me feel physically better.

  27. Similar to a food journal, I like taking photos of my awesome meals and posting them to Instagram (and sometimes Facebook and Twitter). This does several things all at once: 1) I’m being accountable to others for my challenge, and for the Primal lifestyle as a whole; 2) I feel awesome when people comment about how great it looks, and I can honestly tell them that it IS good, and it’s super good FOR you; 3) I hope it motivates someone, somewhere, to look up the Primal Blueprint (because you know I’m hashtagging that) and give it a shot. Wins all around!

    1. Keeping a food journal has really helped me in the past. In fact, it brought me to paleo/primal living from semi-vegan. I noted my increased energy after eating eggs and how my daily porridge was doing bad stuff to my tummy. It’s always good to check in and record what you’re eating.
      I use a simple template from the Healthful Pursuit blog – where you also tick off your intake of types of food; fats, veg, fruit, proteins, as well as how it makes you feel.
      I don’t need a MDA bell, I visit every morning over my breakfast!

  28. I like the comment about how the PB really is a holistic lifestyle, but it’s good to focus on one or two things. My ultimate goal for this challenge is to be able to do a pull up by the end of it. Focusing on that goal, though, means I have to do a lot of other things that completely fall in line with the PB:

    1. I need to eat well to lose fat and build muscle. If I have less fat (aka. weigh less) then there’s less of me to pull up!

    2. I’ll need lift heavy things to build the muscle I need to eventually do a pull up

    3. I’ll need rest/sleep to help my muscles rebuild

    4. I have a modified pull up station set up in the basement of my office (I’m usually the only one that goes down there) so I get up about every hour to do a set…move a lot at a slow pace!

    There’s probably more but those are the top 4 I thought of instantly. Here’s to doing my first pull up!

  29. A tip for anyone with procrastination/scheduling/memory troubles like me – use an online calendar. If you’ve a web based email (e.g. gmail or hotmail) then there’ll be a free calendar there for you… and you can get it to email you reminders or pop up on your smart phone.

    I put everything in mine: exercise training plans so I can keep track, to dos to remind myself, holidays or play so I can see it an look forward to… very handy! And it’s saved me many a time from forgetting or double booking.

  30. When going Primal five weeks ago I decided that I would see this as a positive change not a deficit model. So instead of focussing on what I cannot have (wheat, dairy, sugar) I embrace what I can have (meat, bacon, good oil and fats with fresh produce). I have done the same with moving, not seeing it like exercise but of having joy in being able to move. I can go to my personal trainer twice a week who shows me how to lift heavy (and keeps it fun), I bought a slackline (and giggle every time I get on and fall off). I swim in the pool whilst cleaning it, rather than making it a chore.

    I am a 58 year old woman, weighing 230 lbs when I started. I don’t know how much weight I have lost, but I have gained feeling healthy and positive, being able to shop in my own wardrobe every morning for something old or new to be discovered that didn’t fit before.

    I don’t worry about what to eat, or how to lose. I am sleeping without medication for the first time in years. I look forward to my meals, my fun, my body being pushed, and to living longer.

    I keep it simple, and am still amazed that my 58 year old body is responding in a such a relatively short time to the nurturing I am giving it after many years of neglect.

    Think about what you can have not about what you cannot.

  31. “Outfit yourself in neon spandex.”

    I guess you ARE from California Mark. 🙂

    Just kidding, thanks for all of great things you do to help make the world a healthier place. Like you (we’re the same age) I enjoy what I do for a living, have been studying health and wellness for 40 years and I’m pretty much at an ideal weight and and body composition … but I’ve picked up some great tips from MDA none-the-less.

  32. Join a Meetup group that focuses in hiking, soccer, paleo, or any other outdoor, sport, or healthy food focused endeavors!

  33. For me eating is the hardest part of Primal living. I have to be prepared. I make meal plans every week and then go shopping. When I feel like being naughty and skipping my planned meal, I log on to MDA and start reading. It redirects me every time! My goal for this challenge is to get my kids more Primal, plus I get sick of cooking two meals every night.

    1. Also I bought a jogging stroller so I could take my 4 year old with me on walks, when it’s a nice day I get it out strap him in it and start walking. He usually falls asleep so I take that time to clear my head and just listen to the sounds around me. It’s my favorite time.

  34. I find playing and spending time in nature most enjoyable when I have an animal to do it with. Even though I don’t own a dog myself, I frequently offer to take friend’s dogs for a long walk, hike, or game of fetch and tug of war. They appreciate the added help, and I love having fun and getting out of my own head! (Something that can’t really be done when I go for a hike by myself).

  35. “Print out a calendar and plan your challenge, day by day.”

    Totally me. I always right down my daily plans and whatnot in my planner. Not just challenges, but things I did. How often are you able to recall what you did two Tuesdays ago? Usually, you can’t. Looking at what you did that day in your planner is an awesome reminder of what you’re doing with your life 😉

  36. I’m doing this challenge with my husband and my sister (just moved in while she’s in college) and to help make cooking more fun we’re taking turns cooking dinners using at least one new primal food. Yesterday was curry spaghetti squash (tasted more like Chinese food but still good!) and today is sweet potato fries with homemade chipotle mayonnaise. This way it’s not just me cooking, coming up with primal meals is a game instead of a chore, and we’re trying new things! I guess this only works if you’re doing the challenge with other people, so hopefully people are using the first tip!

  37. As fall comes upon us in western NY, a great fun and sun day is taking family and freinds to where the apples and pumpkins grow. Then home for a back yard camp fire. It’s a great time and very primal!

  38. As fall comes upon us in western NY, family and freinds head for apple and pumpkin picking. Than back home for a backyard camp fire. Its great fun and very primal!

  39. Drop Everything and Sun! It’s Fall in New England and these days it’s pretty chilly in the morning. By noon, its beautiful, crisp and sunny. Get a group of friends, neighbors, colleagues to agree that at the lunch hour, after eating,you’ll all drop everything and sun. Go outside for 15 minutes as a group and get your sun on! Walk, play a game, or nap- why not get a two-fer! Committing to doing it with others will help hold you accountable. Try it tomorrow- Drop Everything and Sun- nature’s vitamin D!

  40. capitalize on short snippets of time you didn’t realize you had…..walk around the block during work breaks, hop on your bike and pedal up and down your street while waiting for people/tasks….keep moving.

    1. The only motivation I need to change my ways is to really imagine where I’m headed if i don’t. I see examples of older people who seem to have lost all interest in their own health and it ain’t pretty. It’s sad. Ive told people about this site and about Mark and months later when I see them and asked if they checked it out they say things like, ‘oh yes, I must get around to looking that up’. It blows my mind.

  41. Tip that I’ve found works well is investing in tools that help you reach your goals.

    I bought a Philips wake up light to regulate my circadian rhythm. I got the model that also has a sunset feature, which puts me to sleep at bedtime like a charm.

    I bought glass food containers to bring a hot lunch (of leftovers) to work every day and not feel weird about microwaving the plastic containers.

    I bought a pedometer to make sure I’m moving enough.

    Finally, I got a programmable stop watch to make my sprints easier.

    Clearly none of these tools are necessary to reach any of those goals, but they sure make things easier in this modern life we live.

  42. I have been using a program called Zombie Run on my phone. Silly and fun and gets me out and moving.

  43. What’s helped me achieve a lot of the other goals has been limiting my technology time. Every time I’ve had a successful challenge one of my main goals has been to reduce time spent online and watching tv – not watching tv forces me to find more creative uses for that time, and typically it’s playing, cooking, or just getting outside!

  44. I set a “21-Day Challenge: Make Good Decisions” reminder on my phone to ring 30 minutes before I normally have a meal. It’s been a great help so far!

  45. I do lawn maintenance for a living and for me, it’s the perfect primal exercise program as well as a way to be in the sun and commune with nature. I’m always walking, pushing, pulling or lifting heavy things and just generally moving my body in all sorts of ways. I know a lot of people hate lawn work and gardening but it’s actually more like play for me. I frequently “stop to smell the roses” too. 🙂 Nature is full of treasures!

    So I’d suggest getting out and mowing some grass, raking some leaves, digging some holes and planting fall veggies…

  46. I started on day two by printing out my calendar and putting it on my bathroom mirror with 21 – 1 countdown numbers written in green felt tip pen, to remind me to stay on track, and as you said, will go by fast. NO candy for me is included.
    I suggest people take a hike on the trail close to the house they have not tried before. We live in San Diego and there are trails all over the place. Most have a parking lot at the trail head. Have fun, enjoy the sun.

  47. I started to ‘walk with a purpose’ at lunch time at work. I will go walk to run errands or pick up a few groceries at lunch time and carry them back. Everything is about .5 to 1 mile away. I get a power walk in and get some grocery shopping done at the same time. Score!

  48. Having a friend is crucial for me and for her as well. We are starting to grow our little tribe and expand our MDA circle. This is going to be an amazing journey.

  49. Minimize, de clutter your house, your thoughts and your actions.
    In doing so, you will be left with the absolute essentials which give you the joy and endorphins that we are all so desperately seeking.
    Less is almost always more, in my experience at least.

    Thanks again Mark, In the last 2 years, I have completely overhauled my life in every single department, and this tunnel focus on the bare essentials always leaves me satiated in every aspect of life. Having said that, I do have 2 jobs, work 7 days a week, have a wife (no kids yet), do all the house work including the cooking (always primal) and cleaning and formalities are pretty much all my department.


  50. Thanks for this list. #6, helped me get through a meal gathering with a win last night. Was able to eat clean. As soon as the breadsticks arrived at the table, there was a comment as I passed them on. Unfortunately I have begun where I was a couple of years ago. One grain-type poison led to another in the past. Next month will test my mettle with another weekend deal. Send good vibes.

  51. I ordered sweat pants for this winter. I am having company tonight and have planned an amazing paleo/primal dinner before we play cards. I’m also planning on getting outside for play in a bit. I have a raised bed garden that needs to be winterized. I did about 1/3 of it yesterday.

    I’m on day 1 of the challenge and am approaching it one day at a time. I know I’m not the only late starter!

  52. google “focus booster” , go there and down load the free timer/alarm clock for your computer that opens automatically whenever you boot up the computer. I have mine set to ring every 20 minutes. It is so easy to spend hours in front of the screen, now I just stand up and do a few jumping jacks, or squats or downward dog for a minute, then back to work.

    I always said I went get up and move twice an hour, but it never happened until I got this little widget for the computer.