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Engage Your Brain

Today’s contest post will be published at 1 p.m. PST. It is a time urgent contest so you’ll have to move quickly. The first contestant to solve every brain teaser is the winner. Check back in a few hours for all the details.

As Tuesday’s post [1] noted, we’re now midway through our 30-day challenge [2]. I hope the second half of your adventure has gotten off on the right foot. What are your thoughts, reflections, questions since the halfway mark? What are you looking forward to in these last couple weeks? Where do you hope the experience will take you by month’s end? As we enter into the second half, two challenge points take center stage – points that call up powers of the mind more than the body. The Primal Blueprint [3] of course garners its foundation from evolutionary principle, but it’s delineated by good, old-fashioned common sense and a modern interest in overall wellness. There are guidelines, tools and even challenge points, but you direct your own practice from there. I tell people, it’s less about formula and more about experience. Specifically, an ongoing Primal practice hones your ability to read your own body’s signals. Because you’re eating [4], moving [5] and living [6] in accordance with your body’s natural, optimum functioning, you gain a new appreciation for living in tune with it, responding to its signs. Additionally, when you’re feeling healthy and taking control of your well-being, the process get you thinking about other means of wellness actualization. Pursuing better health, readers often tell me, leads to ultimately pursuing a fuller life for themselves.

First thing’s first though. Let’s check in with Challenge #9. Now that you’ve had time to experiment with new routines, new foods, and new activities, you’re probably learning what works best for you and what doesn’t totally hit the mark. You’re sensing what feels good and where you overreach. You’ve been getting your bearings, figuring out where you’re at in order to tailor how you’ll proceed. There’s nothing slow or underachieving about this approach. In fact, it’s just smart.

Challenge #9: Avoid Stupid Mistakes

Listen to your body: This is such a broad Primal Blueprint law the challenge could take many directions. For the purpose of this 30-day challenge, though, I’d like you to be particularly aware of what your body is telling you during each of the other challenges. Feel a sharp pain during a sprint? Be smart and end your sprint session. Skin turning pink while out in the sun? That’s a sign to seek shade and avoid a nasty burn. I want this to be a pain and injury free event, so pay particular attention to what your body is saying.

(This is just one of many challenges. Learn about all of the 30-Day Primal Blueprint Challenges here [7].)

Although it might seem obvious, #9 trips up more people than you think. Although I’m all for going whole hog – throwing full energy and enthusiasm into an endeavor, there’s a risk with such unbridled fervor. My experience is that people tend to get into trouble when they focus too much on an idea – a goal, a principle – rather than the implementation. It’s not just about the execution: it’s about the experience, too. How is your body handling the transition? Maybe it’s telling you that a full cup of nuts – soaked [8], they might be – is too much or that you could use a rest day from the weight room. Maybe your body’s telling you that it really digs the new yoga class, but take it a little slower on a few positions. Are you skimping on sleep [9] to fit in new Primal activities? Are you letting stress [10] distract you from proper exercise technique? Name one area where you could probably apply a little more caution? Think about it for yourself, and share it on our comment board.

The key to #9 is to go at your own pace. Ultimately, let your mind learn to be present with your body. It’s maybe the most important and abiding lesson some of us will take away from the Challenge.

The Cost of Perfection [11]

Why Skipping Meals and Workouts is Healthy [12]

Bodyweight Exercises and Injury Prevention [13]

The 7 Rules of Summer Safety [14]

10 Unnecessary, Worthless or Dangerous Exercises [15]

3 Ways to Keep Exercise Fun and Rewarding [16]

While you’ve got your brain engaged, think about giving it a little love this month. It works hard for you, too. As part of this month’s Challenge, you might have reworked your schedule to ad in some extra fitness or food prep time. Let me tell you, there are few investments as worthy as this. Nonetheless, there’s more to full well-being than physical health. We’re a species blessed with intellectual and creative ability. Exploration, experimentation, and reflection [17] run to the very core of our humanity. Although curiosity might have gotten Grok [18] and his clan in hot water once in a while, mostly it saved their skins – and likely our species at various points. Adaptation was crucial in the face of adversity, when brains mattered as much as brawn, endurance or speed. Beyond evolutionary survival, however, intellectual endeavor offers us plenty of benefit in the here and now.

Challenge #10: Use Your Brain

Challenge yourself intellectually: I won’t ask you to throw out your television or read War and Peace this month. But I will say that you are gifted with a huge brain, and you should flex it. We each have the power to solve difficult problems, be incredibly creative, and effect major change. And it all begins in our heads. This month I challenge you to identify one of the intellectually challenging things in your life you’ve been meaning to do and take the first steps to actually doing it. Apart from the pride and satisfaction you’ll derive from following through there are many health benefits conferred as a result. As the saying goes, use it or lose it.

(This is just one of many challenges. Learn about all of the 30-Day Primal Blueprint Challenges here [7].)

Earlier this summer I wrote about the power of an enriched environment [19]. Intellectual stimulation, research suggests, supercharges our immune system. We best thrive in a life that fully engages our physical and mental capacities. While feeding our brains might prolong our lives, it’s also about putting life in our years [20]. After all, we want to be healthy to have the energy and longevity to enjoy the people and activities that give us fulfillment.

Indulge your social self, your spiritual side. Your health will be better for it.

Social Wellness, or Why Friendship Should Be a Healthy Priority [21]

Spirituality and Health [22]

Compassion Meditation [23]

Benefits of Benevolence [24]

However, challenge yourself on a purely personal, intellectual front as well.

Pimp Your Brain: 8 Simple Tricks to Improve Cognition, Memory and Alertness [25]

The Fit Brain [26]

Cut out some noise from your life, and make the time and space for it.

Mired in Media [27]

Relaxation Response [28]

The Primal Blueprint for Busy People – Part 1: Sleep and Stress [29]

The Primal Blueprint for Busy People – Part 2: Social and Naturalistic Wellness [30]

Whether it’s taking up woodworking or an instrument, joining a book club [31] or learning a language, delve into something that feeds your noggin. Use your brain in a way that invests in your personal curiosity and passion. What’s that one thing you’ve wanted to do lately, been meaning to do for yourself? Think about it. I’d love it if you shared it on the board.

We all know the feeling of slipping into bed with a pleasantly exhausted body. Exercising your brain can leave you with a similar contentment and feeling of accomplishment when it’s lights out at the end of the day. You’ve taken the Challenge to a whole new level, and you have that much more reason to continue and see where it leads you.

Thanks for reading today. Let me know what’s on your mind at this point in the Challenge and what today’s post has inspired for you. Grok on! [32]