Whenever the end of a Primal Challenge month rolls around, certain reader questions tend to flood my inbox. “When’s the next one?” is a popular one, as is “Did I win?” Still others concern the same basic content as regular questions, only delivered with a bit more enthusiasm and a touch more desperation (I guess immersing yourself in a formal challenge will do that). And finally, the most common question I’ve been getting is this:
If you’re new to the PB but well versed with the dieting world, this question is completely natural. So many of the fad diets are diets rather than lifestyle changes, and a big part of making an ultra restrictive, ultra low-calorie regimen “attractive” is telling their adherents that the diets are only temporary – that they can go back to eating like they used to as long as they exercise moderation. Hmm. Unlimited access to moderate amounts of fries, chips, and cookies (all eaten with the blessing of “insert feel-good eating guru here”)? I dunno about you, but I somehow envision that scenario escalating until the weight returns (“and in greater numbers”).
You see, eating nothing but low-fat wheat thins and Special K only sounds feasible if you operate under the assumption that it only lasts a month with the “benefits” lasting a lifetime. But we know this isn’t the case. CW knows this isn’t the case, too (how often do we hear the “diets don’t work because you just gain the weight back once you stop” refrain trumpeted in the media?). Hell, anyone should know that temporarily shifting one’s diet will only have temporary, fleeting results – and isn’t that why you’ve decided to give the PB a shot?
Most of you already know that the Primal Blueprint is a lifestyle, rather than a mere eating pattern. It encompasses fitness, sleep, stress management, mental health, as well as nutrition. You can pick and choose and you’ll still see results, but the best transformations occur when you incorporate each element into your life.
Yesterday in my video post I touched on a few things you can do to build upon the momentum you’ve created as a result of the Primal Blueprint Health Challenge. Let’s take a look at a few additional ways to stick with the changes you’ve made.
Take a look back at your experience. Did you fall short of your goals? It happens to the best of us. The important thing is to redouble your efforts, armed with knowledge that the effects of the PB can be swift or gradual – just don’t be disheartened. Did you exceed your expectations? Awesome – now imagine how good it’ll get after a year of this! Were the changes a bit subtler than expected? Sometimes, gradual is better than drastic, because it allows for better acclimation and more realistic expectations.
Write down what worked and what failed. One’s personal history – failures and success alike – makes a good model for future endeavors.
Now, for last month’s challenge, many of you attacked a specific area of the Primal pantheon that you felt was lagging behind. Maybe you were trying to get to twenty pull-ups, or maybe you were trying to eat 100% Primal for a month. If you successfully undertook a personal challenge that focused on a single aspect of the PB, why not build off that success and expand your focus? You’ve reached a personal best on squats; how about getting those eight hours of sleep every night? You’ve tossed all the pastas, beans, and packaged foods to complete the Primal Pantry conversion; how about making a point to visit the farmers’ market every weekend?
Build and expand, but be sure you don’t neglect the basic foundation.
Set goals. Have a plan. Write it down. When it comes to making lasting lifestyle changes, this is all good advice. I intended the challenge as a springboard to further challenges, except I can’t outline them all for you every time – which is why for this challenge you were tasked with creating your own. Thirty days is usually enough to see some drastic results in most people. Just imagine what an entire lifetime of weekly, monthly, yearly challenges might bring! Keep pushing yourself, maintain that Primal Blueprint Health Challenge journal (and start one if you haven’t!), get specific with your goals (“I want to lose ten pounds in six weeks”), and treat these challenges as sacrosanct as the original set.
I wish I could offer you prizes for every challenge, but total body transformation and optimum health is a pretty decent compromise.
MDA is quickly becoming a full-fledged community. In addition to the constant flood of nutrition articles, fitness posts, recipes, advice, tips, and tricks that show up every single day, there’s also the forum. Keep in touch! Read the posts and discuss them (or any other issues of interest) with your fellow members. I pledge to do my part to inform and inspire you; with active participation and engagement with the material (geez, I sound like a college professor), you round out the other half. Once you get personally involved and get in a rhythm of keeping up with the blog, I think you’ll find putting the Primal pieces into place becomes easier and easier.
There are a number of highly educated, well-informed, erudite forum posters that I’m thankful to have expanding on the material in the blog – I suggest you take advantage of them (or count yourself among their numbers!). And as long as I still have readers, I’ll keep pumping out the encouragement as best I can.
Apathy is the enemy of progress. Don’t get bored. If eating the same food each day isn’t your thing, don’t think you have to keep it up just to maintain some notion of Primal purity. Try new recipes and restaurants. Don’t eat the same foods you always eat. Try new exercises. Varying intensity, duration, and movement is good for your body and for your resolve. If you’re sick of sprinting on the track, go for an intense swim, or try the Grok crawl instead.
The key is keeping yourself busy and your mind active. If you’re merely going through the motions, alter those motions. Force yourself to do something differently. The human mind is powerful and fickle, and you’ve got to entice it with new challenges – constantly – or it’ll get away from you and revert and relapse.
Your genes, your instinctual urges, and the MDA community are on your side. The challenge has only just begun.
Let’s stay Primal!