Are You Ready? 8 Tools and Tips For Your Challenge Prep

How many of you will be joining us for the Challenge next week—and how many for the first time? (I’d love to see a show of hands in the comment section.)

The cool thing about the Challenge each year is this: everybody comes at it from a different place. Some folks are hundred pounds overweight and haven’t exercised in years. Some are at the top of their Primal game but love the community engagement and chance to encourage others. Most are at every stage in between.

Behind every participant across that spectrum is a fascinating story. Your story. The one in which you haven’t quite had the life you’d hoped lately—and the one in which you claim it back.

Today I’ve got some ideas and resources for you to consider. If you’re on the fence about joining us, maybe these can get you over the hump and get you committed. I sure would like to see you with us.

Shop For the Challenge the Weekend Before

Does your pantry and refrigerator reflect your Challenge intent? You have four days to dump or donate what you won’t be eating and to fill your kitchen with Primal fare. Here are some lists (for Primal and for keto) that can be of help.

Spend Time Choosing Primal Recipes

Here’s the catalog of every MDA recipe, but don’t forget to check out the goodies over at Primal Kitchen®’s recipe blog, too.

Prep To Track Your Day-To-Day Practices (and Progress)…If That’s Your Thing

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the “vastness” of a goal. Some of us benefit from seeing our accomplishments grow task by task. For those who are wired that way, keep a food/exercise/stress management journal or wear a tracker if you like gadgets. In addition to the actual tasks, make some observational notes on how you feel, what you’re able to accomplish, where you feel challenged. Looking back on your notes will give you a sense of how far you’ve come and how you stuck with your plan over time.

Work With Your Own Goal Style If You’re an Intuitive Type

I did a whole post on this (“Alternative Goal Setting: How Free Spirits and Slow Burners Can Achieve Their Health Visions”) during a Challenge last year, and I still get mail about this one. If you’re naturally skeptical of structure, take a look.

Check Out the WOW Workout Series

For anyone who needs guidance on how to fit in a workout each day without a gym membership or any special equipment, I’ve got dozens of ideas right here. Whether it’s The Grok Throwdown, The Cave Bear, Bringing Home the Kill, or the Couch Workout, you’re sure to find a favorite.

Divide and Conquer If You Need To

Sometimes it’s easier to tackle one aspect of a lifestyle than to attend to all of them at once. While the Challenge encompasses all of the areas, don’t worry if you need to focus to get the best result. Although all the elements of the Primal Blueprint work together (and can actually make other efforts easier), the most important point is to make the change you’re willing to make. Take on what you feel you’ll stick to. If you keep the rest in sight, chances are you’ll begin gravitating toward those other changes anyway. Healthy choices have an elegant way of begetting other healthy choices.

Make a Burn Pile of Your Past Excuses

Think of the excuses you’ve used in the past for not taking this next step—whatever it is you’d tackle on this particular Challenge. Write them all down on paper. Individual post-its if you want to get fancy about it. But then watch them all go up in flames. For 21 days, let them stay in the ashes. After three weeks, if you want them back you can have them.

Pick a Mantra You’ll Hang Onto

If excuses have derailed you in the past, come armed with something to fill that space instead. Choose a mantra you’ll turn to again and again throughout these three weeks. THIS will be your fallback when the going gets tough or you get tired. This will be your stepping stone back to your intention.

Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. The bees and I are getting next week set up for one awesome Challenge experience. I’ll have multiple announcements on Monday to kick us off and some tips for meal prep as well. In the meantime, let me know how you’re prepping for the 21-Day and how we can be of help.

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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18 thoughts on “Are You Ready? 8 Tools and Tips For Your Challenge Prep”

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  1. Cheering everyone on! And love this line-up!

    One of my favourite parts about the 21-Day Challenge is everyone gets to “make it their own.” Eating and living for health is a dynamic un-ended journey after all…and there’s ALWAYS another place to explore, experiment and fine-tune.

    For me (and my clients/patients), working with mantras is hugely supportive – love seeing it included here. Working with a Primal Health Coach (promo disclaimer: I am one;) can be a HUGE place of accountability and support too – the 21-Day Challenge would be a perfect time to sign on with one!

  2. Can you incorporate more of a keto diet in the challenge, or is this strictly a paleo type diet? I am looking into adopting more of a modified keto diet, and this looks like a good spot to start it off.

    1. Bryan, I’d encourage you to use the Challenge in a way that works for your goal. I know many here will be working with a keto objective, and we’ll have resources supporting that. Grok on – M

  3. I’ve been between 80-90% primal most of the time for a year or 2. This is the first time I’ll be joining a 21 day challenge though! I’m excited to be a part of it. I won’t be restocking my pantry (I hardly buy non-primal foods anyway), and I won’t be using any recipes either because that makes it far too complicated (& expensive) for me. Eating healthy has to be simple or I won’t stick to it, so for me it’s just whatever meat I can afford, eggs, and vegetables with a lot of spices. I like the mantra suggestion. My biggest problem is falling on chocolate when I’m stressed or sad, which I cut out over 2 weeks ago, and since then has been replaced with gluten free cookies… So I think my mantra should be somewhere along the lines of “sugar will not help me feel better” because really it never has… Good luck to all participating! 🙂

  4. And I just realized. It’s time to resurrect my 90 Day journal. I’m actually more motivated this time around. Thanks, Mark.

  5. Hi All, I’ll be doing this for the first time! Very excited indeed. I’m a veggie, and intend to stick that way, but really excited to have something to focus my mind towards for 3 weeks. Good luck to you all!

  6. I’m looking forward to the reset! I’ve been eating primal for a while, but fell off the wagon with some gluten free/grain based treats. I’ve already been doing some intermittent fasting, but don’t think I’ve been kept adapted. Should I follow the reset as written and go back to eating a big protein breakfast for a week or two and save the IF for the Keto phase?

  7. I’m in! Been flirting with keto for a few weeks but an illness derailed me. Good time to get back on track.

  8. I’m in! Perfect timing – am psyched to start a 6-week keto experiment, and am good to go by the numbers (love the midterm exam idea). But I would like to upgrade my exercise first, and I’ve always thrived on a structured 21 days, or 30.

    Pantry is always ship shape; can’t function otherwise. We will focus on sleep (really really time to block that street light from sneaking in the window). Next priorities are adding sprints 3-4x/month, and getting back the pullup I finally mastered last summer!

    Thanks, Mark and team.

  9. I am doing the challenge for the first time. I’ve bounced between Paleo/Primal and not for years. I have cleared out my pantry already and I’m working on getting the kids switched over as well. My oldest has already informed me that she’s almost out of all her snacks and I need to get more. When I reminded her that she wanted to eat healthy with me and stop eating them, she pouted but agreed.

  10. Who? What have I missed? I’m about to finish the 21 Day Challenge (finishes Sunday) (the book is amazing and so helpful), and v pleased with how it’s gone (apart from this final week, which is down to hormones, which is reviving my sugar cravings and giving me migraines… And it sucks big time, so although I’ve fallen down on the exercise thing, I’m absolutely on the diet stuff…). I can do it again? Brilliant. Count me in! It’ll be a cool way of keeping myself going. I’m now super motivated and gradually watching the body fat % slide down below 45% for the first time in forever… Yay!

  11. I’m doing it, but I tend to follow a rollercoaster of on-again/off-again that I just haven’t broken in 5+ years of trying. My biggest challenge is that my family isn’t interested in eating this way, so the house is never “purged.” I try to make it work by having my own pantry space, which helps. But, when they decide to bake a fresh baguette with their dinner, or my daughter makes cookies, it can be very difficult to resist. The more I stay on my plan, the easier it gets to ignore what they are doing, but I just always wind up derailing after a few months and then after a month or two of poor eating, I claw my way back to try again.

  12. My 21 day Keto reset book has arrived on my doorstep this week and I’m devouring it. (Is paper paleo?) I’ve been paleo for 6 years and it’s transformed my health and my weight. I’m at a point now where I need to fine tune and commit to permanent changes, AA style, one day at a time to avoid slipping into periods of over indulgence and cycles of weight gain and loss. I’m keen especially to take on board the lifestyle advice and make changes there. While I’m on my feet all day, I rarely raise my heart beat and I’m on my phone right now, a few minutes past midnight….
    Always inspired by your work and help, I’m excited to take this next step!
    Oh, and I’m a pastry chef and cake designer by trade. Surrounded by cake, buttercream, jam, and sugarpaste every day?

  13. Excited about the 21 Day Challenge. Turned 58 this week and been Primal in Canada for 2 years. Lots of buffalo and caves up here. Going to get more consistent with the IF, more sleep, more water and get outside more. Good luck everyone. Grok On!

  14. I’m in! I’m 57 with loads of stress (husband has early onset dementia (he’s an alcoholic sadly), our residential construction business landed in my lap 100%, a previous investment wiped us out, recently sold the house and moved into a friend’s garage apartment…).

    I’ve been primal for over 3 years thanks to my Marine son, but haven’t had great success in weight loss. The good news I’m not putting on weight. Did CrossFit for 1 year with no weight loss or going down in clothes size but some fat loss. I truly believe in the science behind all this and those fabulous Friday Stories. It would be good if I moved more.

    For me, my guess is the stress is so high (acid reflux, rosacea, and dermatographism…) that these autoimmune symptoms are telling me I’ve got to keep working on this till my body gets inline. Truly need to turn off the electronics way earlier at night so I can get the needed sleep my body and mind need. Thanks for putting this on!!

  15. Thanks, Mark, for sharing 8 vital tips that help people to sharpen their preparation for the challenge. It’s one of the best ways to motivate people about their health and fitness.