With yesterday’s launch of this year’s Primal Challenge, I hope you’re all feeling as pumped and excited as I am. Whatever your biggest goal coming into it (e.g. weight loss, stress management, fitness performance), you’re in great company. Thousands of readers every year find the annual Challenge a powerful catalyst for transforming their well-being. Having made the initial commitment, we’re now on the journey itself. This is where the rubber meets the road, folks. Rush turns to focus. Vision becomes reality one day at a time. For some readers, however, staring down the path might seem especially long and arduous. The road side, so to speak, might be littered with the psychological scraps of past disappointments, long-term illness, or emotional issues. Some folks can feel like they’re starting their journey from a formidable zero.
You might be in the worst shape of your life. You might be tipping the scale at an all-time high. You might be fighting a serious health condition you never dreamed you’d encounter. You may have battled disordered eating. You might not remember when/if you ever had a good self-image. My good readers, how many of you felt this way before going Primal? A good percentage of our Friday Success Stories tell this story. An inspiring number of our 2012 Success Stories in the Making reflect the same.
In all my years talking with clients and readers, I’ve heard people often say they’re starting from zero, from rock bottom, with no baseline at all. I understand where they were coming from. Everyone is beginning this journey with a different level of fitness and health. I get that. Yet, I have never in my entire career met anyone starting with nothing. The concept defies physiological reality.
You might get winded walking up half a flight of stairs. You may have lost significant muscle mass. You might struggle to simply sit with (let alone carry) around the extra 50, 75, or 100+ pounds you’ve put on. However, your body is still made to move. It still craves it. I ran across a quote recently “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” I’d second that. It’s feels harder to train at times, but – make no mistake – living and breathing within you is that pure physical force, that Primal Grok, that evolutionary extraordinaire. Choosing to live Primally – with the right fuel, the expected movement, the necessary sleep and sun – simply allows you to live out the full measure of that vital potential.
And let me say something else about one’s “baseline.” When beginning a journey like this, baseline is about much more than VO2 max, mile time, bench press weight, or lipid profile. Numbers don’t tell your story, and they don’t determine your prospects for success. Think for a minute about what else you bring to the Challenge. What about the motivational power? What about the emotional stamina? What about the social strength of friends, family, and Primal community? What about the force of full-on personal investment or raw will? Those count for something. In fact, those often count for everything. Your physical baseline determines the particular level you start from, but it doesn’t define the trajectory of your journey or the fulfillment of your experience along the way.
Along these lines, let me offer a few suggestions and invite each and every one of our readers to give their own perspective and encouragement.
Invest in Support
As you begin the Challenge, make sure you’re taking full advantage of the support system you have. Not everyone in your life is on board with the Primal Blueprint, it’s true. Regardless, look to those in your life who bring a Primally sympathetic or just open mindset. Some friends, even if they can’t understand why you’re eating so much fat, will support you because they want to simply celebrate any investment you make in your health and happiness. Embrace that. Open yourself to the support of folks in this community. Participate in the comment boards, join the forum, and you’ll see what I mean. Finally, if you feel like past issues like disordered eating still have a grip on you, enlist the professional help you need and deserve.
Develop Big Picture Perspective
Sometimes people get caught up in a particular goal and lose sight of the full process. Embrace daily Primal living and not just specific Challenge goals. (For some people, this might be an important Challenge focus itself.) Going Primal will get you to the destination you have in mind, but it’s not the deprivation-focused, white-knuckle experience you might be used to. Use the Challenge to transform your life as well as you physiology. Relish the myriad of benefits going Primal offers. It’s more than the weight loss and lean muscle mass. Notice the better quality sleep, the more even mood, the sharper focus, the more consistent energy in your day. On that note…
Prioritize Feeling Good (Primally Speaking) Every Day
You’re making a point of eating real, ancestral-worthy food, of adding an exercise regimen. Rest assured, you’re remaking your physiology in the process. You will absolutely reap the benefits long before this Challenge is over. But also make a point of doing something (or several things) that make you feel good today. These healthy “indulgences” can help get you through a rough day of low carb flu or unexpected stress. Relax in the sun. Relish turning in early for a full night’s sleep. (Remember what that feels like?) Share a walk with a good friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Play. Enjoy an old hobby. Take a personal retreat. Make a masterpiece dinner and savor it in real ambiance. In other words, let yourself enjoy the process. Make the Challenge an indulgence as well as an investment in yourself. And make sure you have good Primal fun every day.
Grokkers, please chime in – whether you identify with the “starting from zero” or want to support those who do. What perspective and advice do you have? Thanks for reading today, everyone. Check back tomorrow for the 8 Key Concepts you need to understand for a successful Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge.
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.