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

Key to 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. And even if that internal motivation exists, the tools and tips can still help activate and enable it.

That’s why I’ve compiled 20 ways (some of which were originally published in 2013) to set yourself up for success in the impending 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 always come easy. There’s a lot that comes before “just doing it.” We all need a little help getting started.

Don’t think you need to employ all 20 strategies, though. In fact, trying to might just overwhelm you and impede your 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, forums, apps, 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, like the aforementioned cronut) 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 today, before it starts, 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. As you approach the Challenge, break your goals up into little winnable bites, and then prepare to 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. Plus, it’ll prepare you for real Primal life outside of the context of the Challenge, where temptation predominates.

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 the upcoming Challenge. And anyway, whether your personal journey 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, and it’s hard to deny the rest when one particular aspect feels so right.

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.

If you haven’t read this post about approaching the Challenge with an abundance mindset, do so now. Long story short, instead of thinking about the “deprivation” of giving up foods and behaviors and habits you’ve grown accustomed to, imagine the beneficial changes you’ll be making. Stop fretting over the food you won’t be eating and imagine all the delicious and nutritious food the Challenge will inspire you to eat. Don’t think of how unpleasant the workouts will be; imagine the energy and strength and vitality you’ll feel as you incorporate regular physical activity into your life. Don’t imagine how hard going Primal will be. Think of how good you’ll feel.

10. Download the 21-Day Challenge app.

All those recommendations I just mentioned in the previous nine entries are built-in to the Challenge app. If you want a community of people to compare journeys and track progress, get the app. If you want daily challenges that test your mettle, get the app. If you want to focus on specific goals, use the app to drill down on what really matters to you. If you want small wins that lead to big wins, you’ll see them immortalized in the app. If you need a calendar, the app breaks the entire challenge down, day by day. If you want to make your challenge public, there’s a whole community waiting to see what you’re made of. And if you want to invite friends, that’s a feature of the app. It’s free, so why not sign up? Just be sure to join the app Challenge by Jan. 12th. Joining mid-Challenge is prohibited.


11. 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.

12. 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 won’t be about losing weight, seeing the cool stuff you’re encouraged to eat throughout this challenge will inspire and motivate you to keep eating the right 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 or so?


13. 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 to be active and fit, but it certainly doesn’t hurt and it seems to help. So go on – grab that Lycra bodysuit you eye 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.

14. 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, Fitwall session, or any other fitness-related course or class that you’ve been considering for awhile and sign up. Quickly, before you get cold feet and back out. The Challenge is coming soon and you need to commit to something.

15. 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.

16. 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. Get your account ready before the Challenge begins.

17. Peruse Craigslist for used fitness equipment.

Craigslist is a treasure trove of misfit kettlebells, barbells, bumper plates, power racks, weight vests, Schwinn Airdynes, bicycles, surf boards, snowboards, and weight benches. Whether you plan on pledging 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 and get you moving on Craigslist. Get on and get inspired without breaking the bank.

Other Stuff

18. 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:

19. 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 require to close the Challenge out strong.

20. Pick a 21-Day Transformation Package.

These packages were expressly designed to optimize your performance and results throughout the 21-Day Challenge. Optimal isn’t necessary, of course, but it sure is nice. With the introductory Digital Package, you get all the books, recipes, daily email tips, and published content you’ll need to make the changes to your lifestyle and meet the challenges. With the Fuel Package, you get all that stuff plus a bag of Primal Fuel, a Primal Fuel recipe book, and a Primal Fuel blender bottle — everything you need to whip up a quick, nutrient-dense Primal meal on a moment’s notice. And then there’s the Essentials Package, a collection of everything in the Fuel and Digital Packages with bottles of each of my essential supplements included: Vital Omegas, our high-quality fish oil; Primal Calm, our herbal stress-fighting blend; and Vitamin D, the nutrient that almost no one gets enough of.

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 ourselves. 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 as you approach the Challenge.

Now it’s time for a little preliminary contest:

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a few tips about preparing for the upcoming Challenge. There’s always something — you know? With that said, I’d like to hear from you guys: Do you have any specific tips for people getting ready to take on the Challenge? Divulge your best tips in the comment section! One comment will be selected at random, and the lucky winner will be the recipient of a free canister of Damage Control Master Formula. This mini-contest ends at midnight tonight.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

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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90 thoughts on “20 Ways to Set Yourself Up to Succeed in Your 21-Day Challenge”

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  1. I think recipes, planning/prep and support are the biggest things for success with these challenges. Great advice and info for people making big changes this month!

  2. Should we eat all the food that will be forbidden now, in one final feast?

  3. I signed up for the challenge yesterday and downloaded the Vimify app. Everything was working fine yesterday, but for some reason the app isn’t opening today. Anyone else have this problem or know a fix?

        1. I was able to fix it by going into my settings, opening the Vimify app settings and switching the Allow Notifications to on. That solved my issue. I am using a iPad, just for reference.

  4. My first big challenge was figuring out what to do because we have nothing to use for a pull-up bar. We are renting so don’t want to install anything. This morning, I bit the bullet and ordered a stand-alone bar on amazon.com. Now I have no excuse for not trying pull-ups!

    Btw, my non-primal carb/sugar loving daughter saw Mark’s video and decided to give the challenge a try! I watched it once myself, then with her, and then with my husband. I have a question that burned more with every viewing: Mark, did they EAT the pizza once the camera stopped filming?

  5. This is EXACTLY what I needed. I am committed to taking the dive into this new & improved lifestyle. Thanks so very much for the wealth of information you offer rookies like myself. Everything is so simply spelled out, and with the addition of the app, there are absolutely no excuses! Thanks again

  6. Accept that being different is a good thing. Bring primal leftovers for lunch when coworkers are chowing down on sandwiches or going out. Order a salad when everyone else gets junky bar food. Order a Burger Sans bun extra bacon and guac, you get the idea. People will comment on your food/lifestyle exercise program etc., sometimes in a negative way, because people hate to see others doing things to better themselves. That is how you know you’re doing it right!

    Once you understand this, you will come to appreciate, enjoy and even look for the comments and be proud of the fact you are doing something “different.” And then the real payoff is, when you are standing there fit as F**k and looking around at all those “normal” people who felt the need to weigh in on your plan and they are just as tired, sick and overweight as ever. That is when you know you are winning at life!

    1. +1
      I quit caring what anyone else thought about my lifestyle a long time ago.

  7. Cleaning out the junk in the pantry and shopping from a list always gets me motivated to eat right and cook more homemade meals.

  8. All great tips! I think putting your money where you mouth is (registering for a fitness course) is always a great motivator for me.

  9. +1 for Ryan’s tip!

    Also, read-ahead on what the specific challenges are for each day for the upcoming week. That was helpful for me because my schedule varies so much it allowed me the flexibility to move around workouts or food challenges without missing the goal entirely because I couldn’t fit it in on the exact day.

  10. I have not had any problems with the app today (or ever). I think the best advice comes right from the app. It instructs you to purge your pantry of all SAD foods and then go on a primal shopping spree, so that you have everything you need easily available. Another step I want to take is to plan some meals – not plan every single day what I’m going to eat and at what time – but, I want to come up with some simple meal ideas that I can make easily and often and also some bigger more complex meals (yay leftovers!) to make when I have extra time.

  11. My strategy tip is to plan your meals: if you can’t plan for the week plan for the next day, if you can’t plan the whole next day plan the next meal. Always be thinking ahead. Going to a restaurant for example is so much easier if I already looked at the menu online and decided what to order. Having a plan takes the guess work out.

  12. I would suggest not binging on ALL the non-primal foods in the city. Pick and choose if you must splurge before hand because detox is a lot harder if you binge before!

  13. Carry emergency primal rations in your car or purse (or murse – we don’t judge here!). If this is your first time away from carbs you’re in the habit of grazing all day. Keep some grass-fed beef jerky and macadamias with you in case of cravings or the general urge to nosh. Now that it’s cold here in the Northeast I treat my car like a refrigerated produce stand – there’s always a head of broccoli or a couple of carrots kicking around in here to make sure my kids and I get our veggies in 😉

  14. If you’re a business traveler, scope out the menus of restaurants at your destination prior to taking the trip. Not doing this has been my biggest downfall. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll inevitably end up at a restaurant where non-primal is the only choice.

    1. Or you could ditch restaurants altogether except for maybe important meetings or social gatherings and just go grocery shopping and choose exactly what your meals consist of.

      1. My business travel primarily consists of a hotel room with (maybe) a mini-fridge and a microwave.

  15. ‘Being ok at not being 100%’ is a big one for me. Nobody is perfect, and faltering now and again shouldn’t be met with negativity, but as a learning tool and a desire to do better next time.

  16. If you have an iPhone, I love the app Breeze. It’s made by the team at Runkeeper, and it’s a simple lightweight pedometer app that sends you little nudges throughout the day to get you moving more. Best part is that it dynamically changes your step goal, so you don’t even notice it, but you’re moving more. Highly recommended.

  17. Incorporate movement into daily tasks. Squat while unloading the dryer, take two steps at a time up the stairs, do really slow pushups against the kitchen counter while waiting for water to boil, or do them on the floor, squat while using a short brush to sweep floor into dustpan, etc.

    1. I’m such a believer in this practice! Aside from fitting in more overall movement, it creates good-habit cues. I like to do yoga balance poses, calf raises & various kicks while brushing teeth, chopping vegetables, making morning coffee & so on. It feels strange NOT to after a while!

  18. Tip #1: Have an open mind. What held me back for so long was thinking I knew things that I didn’t.

    Tip #2: Make your lunch the night before.

    1. Trent that’s the best tip for those that work away from the home. So many friends ‘fail’ because they don’t plan for lunch.

      It’s so easy to get lunch together for tomorrow whilst cooking dinner today, and that goes also for prepping breakfast whilst dinner is cooking. If all the veggies are chopped up and ready in the fridge throwing them into a frying pan with the eggs takes seconds in the morning.

    2. For me, that is really important. Equally helpful is making breakfast for the week on one morning then just reheating it on the next few mornings. It really helps me be more relaxed about it.

  19. I think the sharing aspect of this is awesome. It can be a big motivator. I wish good luck to everyone. It is worth it beyond what you can even imagine. I’m a past MDA success story. Now at 165. Started at 285 a year and half ago.

    But the weight isn’t the thing. The health, the vitality, the joy, the mental clarity, the energy are. I tell people absolutely no kidding, give me a billion dollars and the way I used to eat and I’d turn it down literally in a second.

    You might not know this now, but going Primal is literally better and more awesome than winning a lottery. Any lottery. So yes stick with it for 21-days.

    So worth it. Grok on everyone.

  20. For me, it’s more than just putting something in my calendar. Whether it’s working out, meditation, reading an educational article, praying, taking a walk, food prep etc.. I change the mindset…it’s ‘personal development’ time.

  21. Above all, don’t let yourself become more and more of a perfectionist! 21 days is doable for anything, but be wary of obsessing, especially if you already know you can get that way.

    So: be a person, not a machine.

  22. I just signed up today, Looking forward to trying this out. I downloaded the Windows app because I have an Android phone. It looks pretty cool. I am going on the Spree next week due to financial issues, but I can start eating and moving well without that for now. I wish everyone healthy success.

  23. Here’s a tip:
    Don’t plan for your challenge to end after 21 days.

    1. I’ve been primal for 3 years now – when I first started, I did about 4 rotations of the 21-day challenge, back-to-back. It gave me a really solid foundation to work from. Even now, 3 years later, I still circle back to the challenge when I need a reset.

  24. To go along with being open minded, learn something new everyday about what you are doing or wanting to do. The information you learn will help get you down the right path. Plus, what you learn today could help you (or another person) in the future!

  25. Keep it simple, savages.
    A lot of meal ideas floating around here seem quite elaborate. I recommend going simple and basic with your meals for the challenge.
    Don’t fancy them up.
    Limit the ingredients.
    Don’t be too concerned with variety (too much food variety could cause gut flora chaos). It’s better to figure out your favourite staples as a foundation and work from there.
    Follow food combining rules if your digestion is not pristine. Even if it is, I think you should anyway.
    It’s been working for me for years.

    1. +1
      So many people want tons a variety. To me it is really not that important. I can eat a protein and veggies every night for dinner.
      It can be fun to tackle complicated recipes but it can be overwhelming to try and come up with something cool/new everyday.

      1. Agree. Utility vs Pleasure.Keeping most meals (breakfast and lunch for me) basically the same every day, saves time, money and makes it easy to stay on plan. Dinners for me is where we spend a little more time coming up with creative and delicious primal meals.

        One other thought- Don’t sacrifice the good for for the perfect. All foods exist on a spectrum. Don’t let your whole plan go off the rails because you cant keep it 1000% perfectly primal because of location, monetary reasons or anything else. Mark has a nice post about eating on the spectrum here…


    1. Mike, please make sure that your password is the right length. If you’re still running into issues please email me directly at [email protected] and I’ll help you out personally.

  26. I think the best thing that has worked for me is cooking and preping as much food as I can for the week. That way when I wake up all I have to do is load up my containers with baked frittatas for breakfast and whatever veggies and meats I plan on having for lunch. It may limit your daily choices by only cooking once a week but I never have to worry about not having food ready for me when I get home from work too tired to cook.

    I am so excited this challenge is starting right now. I was already planning on beginning one on the 5th but this is even better.

  27. What I want to do with this challenge is focus on 1 thing, and after 21 days start with a new 1 thing to tackle.
    For instance, my biggest issue is my leaky gut and thus severe inflammation. So, since I do not really need help with Primal foods, I will focus on getting the right supplements to heal. After that, my plan is to focus for 21 days on improving sleep patterns. Then I want to start walking more. After that, I want to buy a standing desk, etc.
    By doing this one thing at a time gets done properly and these things accumulate through routine over the upcoming months.

  28. Understand that this is an investment in yourself, for your health and happiness. All investments require resources, in this case extra food costs and food preparation time. You can find a way to accommodate the investment comfortably into your current situation if you take the time to think about it. Plan meals ahead of time for the week, and make sure you purchase all necessary items in one trip to the grocery store. Cook enough for dinner that you have leftovers for lunch. Have a few go-to lunch spots and afternoon snacks if necessary. Precook items for the week over the weekend. Any obstacles can be overcome with thought and planning.

  29. In the same spirit as the Whole30, focus on how you *feel* during the challenge; don’t focus on an arbitrary number on the scale. Sure, weigh yourself the day the challenge starts, but then put the scale away for 21 days and don’t let weight be determining factor of success during the challenge. I used to be a chronic weigher until my first whole30 and didn’t realize how much it impacted my mindset until I didn’t weigh myself for 30 days.

    Good luck everyone! It’s totally worth it!

  30. 1.) Put it in Sharpie on your calendar where you (and others) can see it.
    2.) Tell someone you love, so they can call you out when you start to eat the chips…or reece cups… Or both
    3.) Pack a change of workout clothes and shoes in your car- no excuses. Even if all you have energy for after work is a walk- do it!
    4.) Tell yourself: “I deserve to be vibrant”
    Things don’t stay shiny on their own- they clean the statue of liberty everyday
    Why do we stop dojng the same to our bodies?
    Best wishes to all!

  31. Get whomever you share your home with involved. Get them on the challenge if possible. But explain this to them carefully and how important it is to you; you need their support at a minimum. Life will be much more difficult if you are preparing your meals for the week while someone is gobbling up a pizza!

  32. Gather a group of people who will support you even if they are not following the primal lifestyle. Sometimes you just need to talk about the positive changes you are making in your life and have someone to get excited with to keep you motivated.

  33. Two main things: accountability and small steps. I learned those from a year in Precision Nutrition Lean Eating coaching, and I’m going to keep applying them through the 21-day challenge. I’m planning ahead and writing out my small steps to meet the challenge for each day, like a check-list, so I can check off my progress and see how accountable I’ve been each day. And I’m getting my sister to do it with me so we can hold each other accountable.

    Also, I’m identifying a couple of mini-experiments that I will commit to for all 3 weeks of the challenge to improve my body awareness and resilience: I.F. a couple days each week, and cold showers or cold walks each day to remind my metabolism that it can burn the fuel that’s on me to stay alive, and remind my mind that I don’t have to eat every few hours or wrap myself in 80 degree warmth to continue to thrive.

  34. Approach your tasks with a “WWGD?” mindset. Walk instead of ride when possible. Ditch a few labor saving devices if time permits. Enjoy time spent just thinking…no media required.

  35. My downfall is the food. With our busy lives it is so important to have the food prepared and ready to eat. So my tip is to plan, plan and plan. When I am being good, I start with a menu for the week which leads to a grocery list and ends with cooking on Sunday for the following week.

  36. Tip: Do A Little Research

    If something in the challenge is physically impossible for you, google an alternative. Dont sit out of a challenge because you can’t do it. Change the challenge to fit your needs.

  37. Let’s do this! Recruiting my wife to be my partner. Been following the site for a few years, but this will be the first time doing the challenge.

  38. My favorite tip in today’s encouragement-fest was the, whatever fitness class/investment you’ve been considering, invest in yourself and DO IT. I avoided Yoga classes for close to a decade because I misassumed they wouldn’t be beginniner-friendly (OK, I had some self-esteem stuff to work out, too 🙂 ) I am a couple years’ into living (mostly) Primal, now, and deeply enjoy the group boot camp-y bodyweight classes I now look forward to 2 – 3x a week … a format my less-healthy self wouldn’t have even considered. Be brave and try some new moves on!

  39. My tip for those who are not fit, hate exercise and suck at it, is to focus on mastering the easiest forms of the 4 primal movements and improve from there. There’s no need to shy away from the exercises altogether, there’s an alternative that is a reasonable challenge for your fitness level.

    I can’t do even 1 pull-up; my arms are not strong enough, I weigh 100kg, and most of my weight is in my lower limbs. I always admired women who could do it, but resigned myself to my ‘fate’.

    Today I saw the pull-up progression on the Vimify app and nearly skipped it, but decided to watch anyway. It nagged at me until I thought I would give the bench pull-up a try. I tried it using a stool and window railings, well I could do 5 reps. I’m hoping to improve on it and also to get a proper pull up bar eventually.

  40. Enthusiasm is great, but make sure the challenge is doable. For example, since this is all new to me I don’t think I can expect to revamp food, activity, sleep etc. all in 3 weeks but will have to identify some achievable goals for myself so I don’t set myself up for failure

  41. I know a few people have already mentioned this, but for me planning my meals a week in advance is crucial to staying on the plan. I plan about 4 or 5 meals, make a grocery list based on those recipes, and then shop on Sundays for all the ingredients. If I have time, I try to prep all the veggies for the week. With leftovers (and the typical eggs w/ veggies for breakfast), that gets me and my husband through the week. It makes a huge difference. If I don’t plan meals, we end up eating out, and even when you TRY to eat good at a restaurant (salads/protein), you never really know what the restaurants are putting in there!

  42. For anyone going into this challenge who is new to Primal, I would recommend going gluten-free a few days before the official start and before you start dramatically reducing carbs if you are coming from SAD. It makes the carb flu experience a little less intense and doesn’t overwhelm your system and psyche so much. For many of us who have an undiscovered intolerance or allergy to gluten-bearing grains, the addiction to those particular carbs is far more difficult to overcome than the craving for carbs in general. Once I had been gluten-free for a couple of weeks, giving up grains was an easy no-brainer.

  43. I like to have primal indulgences on hand. It makes it easier to stick to primal when I keep a bit of dark chocolate, baked sweet potato, or crispy bacon around for when a craving strikes!

  44. If you find yourself waiting until everyone else has left the room, walking into the kitchen, then jumping five feet in the air with your hackles up in defense like a startled cat: put the cookie down and walk away. Now do some more of those jumps.

    But seriously, if you feel like you need to sneak around to eat something so others won’t see, that’s a sign that you probably shouldn’t eat whatever it is. This is something I’ve found myself doing.

    1. Darn I left out a crucial detail – you jumped because you heard a noise and though someone was there.

  45. I agree with everyone who suggested making meals ahead. In fact I think a flat or two of pint mason jars with bands and lids should be on the shopping list. Primal soups and stews take long to cook so make 12 servings and can them for later use. I will be living off of pint servings of, chicken with root vegetables, green chill pork, primal wedding soup, lamb curried kabocha and Thai seafood chowder during the challenge. I’ll would appreciate some votes for which recipe to post for the video challenge

    1. Jack, that’s a great idea, but if you are new to canning, please google canning safety– canned meals can be very dangerous if not prepared & stored properly. It’s not just a question of popping the extra in jars. Sorry, you probably know this, but I would hate it if anyone got sick!

      1. Great point Paleocurious. I have a background in microbiology and sterile process so my techniques are unconventional. I do not pressure can, I use a mild bleach solution on my work surfaces and 180-185 degree immersion for my jars and lids, funnel and ladle. My concoctions go directly from stockpot to jar to refrigeration. I store all jars refrigerated with the bands off. I consume most of what I make in the space of a 21 day challenge and I have never had a bad anaerobe. I know what most of the common ones smell like. Perhaps it would be more responsible of me to have provided a better resource like: http://www.freshpreserving.com Thanks for the note and agree, I would hope anyones first canning experience would be positive.

    2. I’m going with the lamb curried kabocha just because I love lamb chops, though usually I try to avoid mixing proteins and carbs.

  46. I like to improvise dinner during the week, depending on what I’m in the mood for. So my advice is to prepare lots of meat on the weekend. I will make a large beef or pork roast on Saturday and a bunch of steak or chicken on Sunday. Nothing fancy, so that when I walk up to the fridge during the week I have several choices of pre-cooked meat to throw together with veggies in any style I feel like that night. Makes fixing dinner much faster and easy to eat a wide variety!

  47. My tip(s):
    Advance planning and know yourself. My food downfall is salty and crunchy. I plan on making very thinly sliced salt/pepper and chili flake dried beef jerky, (not the chewy kind sold in stores) using our dehydrator. Who needs potato chips with these?

    And my exercise downfall is the dreary rain we have here in the Pacific Northwest. So I will plan a few indoor exercises ahead of time: Running the stairs, jumping jacks, pushing the couch across the living room a few times. Sounds crazy, but for me, doable.

    And Mark, my reward is not gadgets and gear, so a holey t-shirt from 9th grade gym class will be just fine, but I will check all the other comments for some daily reward suggestions…anyone?

      1. I like the crunch of kale chips! Also discovered cooking chicken skin down until it is crunchy and sprinkle it with a little sea salt.

  48. Most of all….have fun getting fit! That’s the way to be fit for life!

  49. Seriously, allocate time for additional sleep. I noticed I needed an extra hour once I started working out again – especially after an intense lifting/sprinting session. Also, I’m much more likely to crave carbs later in the day if I’m tired – and less likely to resist.

  50. I am two thirds of the way through the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification course and would like to help anybody who needs it with the 21-day Challenge. Is there any way I can sign up to be a coach?

  51. My suggestion for success is that as you plan your meals, don’t fear fat. My husband and I live on a lot of vegetables and some meat and we have found that fat is what creates satiety and sanity. This has been very self-reinforcing over almost three years.

  52. I have found Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed cookbook to be extremely helpful in making the transition to paleo cooking. Her ‘hot plates’ section consisting of protein and vegetable building blocks which can be combined and augmented to make all sorts of meals is perfect for weeknight dinners. Her advice gives you a great head start on the planning needed for this way of eating.

    As others have mentioned in the comments, I think the food planning part is quite an adjustment, especially for people who are used to just grabbing takeout on the way home or staring into the fridge at 5:30pm wondering what the heck to make for dinner. It is a lot like solving a puzzle, sitting down on Sundays and making a meal plan for the week and figuring out how to effectively use the ingredients you have in the fridge.

  53. Started on Monday, Day 3 for me. I will be going beyond the challenge…
    Release the Primal Beast with in me.

  54. These all fantastic ideas. In my journey, i have seen it’s about just starting and the habit will develop if you keep at it. Revolutionize your life now and start today. Thrive instead of just survive.

  55. My humble tip: Print out and stick on your fridge Primal bleuprint infographic or something similar that will remind you easily and repeatedly what to eat and what not to.

  56. This is great timing! I’m doing the NerdFitness.com 6 week challenge and one of my goals is to go that last bit towards primallity. The 21 day challenge aligns perfectly with my goals and should help.

    My tip if you enjoy gamification is to use habitrpg.com

    it turns your to do list into a game and helps a lot (A LOT at least for me) in building habits.

  57. I couldn’t agree with you more! Especially “Reward yourself for incremental successes”. I like to set smaller goals that will lead me to reaching my bigger goals. For example, rather than setting a goal to lose 15 pounds, I chose to set a goal to run 10 miles a week for one month. Then once I reach that goal I can be rewarded and know that I am that much closer to my bigger goals for the year. Thank you for the tips!!

  58. Keep it simple at first. Stick to the basics. Avoid trying to create lots of substitute foods. Enjoy lhe tastes of good, meats, fruits and veggies.

  59. Water. I am more successful in my Paleo/CrossFit/fat loss world when I am very well hydrated. Maybe for some it’s a no brainer, but for others who are new to a primal lifestyle, it may be confusing. Water. And non of that chemical-laden, artificially flavored crap. Pure water. Maybe a squeeze of citrus (from a real, whole fruit).

  60. Easiest way to accomplish one of these…. make Mark’s Daily Apple your homepage! I turn my computer on and i’m instantly greeted with primal information. Boom.

  61. I don’t have a pull up bar but I have resistance bands. Can I use these instead?

  62. Having issues with the app. When trying to sign up, it will only let me enter my first name, and the rest of the screen is blank. When I touch the screen, it shows the other fields, but will no let me enter anything in them.

    I tried removing the app and reinstalling it, but I continue to have the same issue.


  63. I signed up for the 21-Day Challenge using my computer yesterday (I was not certain my iPad Mini would work the same as an iPhone). No problems with the sign-up, and I went through all the preliminary steps and check-offs except the fitness one, which I planned on doing today after I watched the videos. Today I can’t seem to access anything except the signup page. I don’t want to register again.

    I see someone got around this by changing the notifications settings on their iPad, but mine is on my computer. Any more troubleshooting ideas? I would like to get this part behind me today, so I am ready to jump in on Monday.