Just like Primal eating flies in the face of any typical “diet,” so I think the 21-Day Challenge leaves most similar events in the primordial dust. Despite my penchant for boldness, why do I say this? For many reasons really. For one, because the Mark’s Daily Apple community never disappoints. Every year it blows the previous Challenge out of the water in terms of engagement, creativity and enthusiasm. But there’s something else – something more fundamental to the 21-Day Challenge – and the Primal Blueprint – themselves. Primal living doesn’t have need or patience for deprivation. It’s about enjoying the full measure of health, happiness and contentment. It’s about living the good life in every sense of the word – where your vision and values intersect with genuine well-being. The Challenge can be the ultimate kickstart to initiate or deepen or more fully personalize this possibility in your life. My vision for everyone: approach this 21-Day Challenge with an abundance mentality. Abundance? As in more than enough, plentiful, profuse, copious, bountiful, you ask? Yes to all of the above.
It can seem like a bit of a mind bender – a health endeavor centered on abundance rather than deprivation. After all, our culture tends to come at weight loss and health challenges with a white-knuckle, nose-to-the-grindstone mentality. While the montages of screaming, grunting and suffering in made-for-T.V. competitions represent the extreme, even the everyday run-of-the-mill challenges typically preach a rather meager picture of moderation.
Oftentimes the images and messages behind these challenges revolve around being conscientious, sacrificing and sensible. They play to what is assuredly our good sense of discipline and temperance. They flatter our sense of virtuosity. Am I the only one who cringes a little at this, who bristles against the insistence on temperance, who balks at the concept of “sensible”? Sensible to me suggests small. For instance, a sensible, measured existence feels like a small life to me. I don’t know about you, but I want a big life. And a big slab of grass-fed red meat for dinner.
Likewise, I’m not promoting a small, sensible Challenge here. Sensible is what people claim when they choose to eat a single piece of bacon. Personally, I call that a blatant and sad act of self-imposed scarcity. Scarcity. Let’s hack away at that notion like a hungry homo erectus on a wooly mammoth.
When we buy into the idea of scarcity, we allow ourselves to be taken in by the false promise of deprivation. By depriving ourselves, we believe, we can have what we want. The problem with the logic is this: we’ll never get to abundance by embracing the lack of it. There could be at least a hundred dozen great conversations around the concept of abundance alone. Suffice it to say here, abundance encompasses our grateful attitude toward what we have and our generous openness to what can come. When we seek control by parsing out the good of life – whether it be flavor, fat, time or joy, we trap ourselves in a myopic mental cul-de-sac. What’s worse, it can become a whole lens by which we see (or don’t see) every opportunity in life. We spend life looking through the wrong end of the telescope, and our vision (and self-concept) are distorted for it.
When you embrace the paradigm of abundance, however, the question becomes, “How good are you willing to let it get?” That’s the pertinent inquiry for this Challenge. That’s what I’d like everyone to ask about the aims and interests they’re bringing to these 21 days. How good are you willing to let it get? How good are your willing to feel? How much are you willing to enjoy? How much change, success and momentum are you willing to experience?
First, ferret out all manner of deprivation focused assumptions. Forget any diet or health and weight loss challenge you’ve done in the past. Let go of any and all thoughts of controlling your experience through self-imposed scarcity. Switch out your mentality. Use a new language. From the perspective of abundance, imagine what you *get* to try, what you get to do, what you get to eat, what you get to enjoy, what you get to rediscover. Tell yourself you’re taking on a grand life experiment – because you are. Tell yourself this is your time – because it is. Tell yourself you’re worth it – because too often we believe we’re not. Abundance doesn’t buy that.
Consider these suggestions for thinking abundantly this Challenge month…
Look in the mirror and love what you see. View yourself generously. Believe this body in front of you is worth nurturing.
Create daily menus with the best Primal food you can afford. Take time to make indulgent meals and snacks.
Dine as you eat these meals. Give them their due. Drop the rushed, I-don’t-have-time-to-enjoy-my-food fixation. Make time. Give up 15 minutes of T.V. or web surfing to do it.
Sleep luxuriously. Make your bedroom a clean, cool cave haven. Set your alarm to go to bed on time. Use your best sheets. Sleep naked. Do whatever feels luxurious to you.
Take time out for a favorite hobby. Carve out the “me” time that somehow got sucked away. For 21 days, you get that time back.
Create serenity in your life. Simplify a favorite space at home for relaxation. Commit to yoga, meditation and/or time in nature. Sign up for a class or schedule hours for it.
Keep a celebration book/board/blog. There’s something to celebrate every single day. I’d argue we could easily find dozens of things each day when we’re open to them. What made you laugh/smile? What did you accomplish?
Try something new every single day. Maybe it’s a new vegetable or piece of gym equipment, a meditation CD or a different hiking path.
Fill your life and newsfeed with humor and positivity. Ditch the scary cable news and downer Facebook/Twitter feeds.
Exercise and move every day in ways that inspire you. Have fun. Be spontaneous. Indulge in some training assistance. Meet up with friends to work out or play. Take a new fitness class. Dance. Run like you used to when you were seven.
Relish these last weeks of fall. Do more than sit in the backyard or rake. Design actual outdoor adventures for each weekend. Do one thing each weekend you always mean to do in the great outdoors.
In other words, act as if you’re worth living abundantly for 21 days and beyond. Guess what? You are. And, trust me on this one – you won’t regret it.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I want to hear and see how well you’re living, how much you’re thriving, how sumptuously you’re eating, how boisterously you’re playing, how extravagantly you’re relishing the Challenge to transform your health – and your life in these 21 Days.
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.