The Power of a Kick-Off Plan: What Elimination Programs, Total Resets, and Community Challenges Can Do for You

Inline_The_Power_of_a_Kickoff_PlanYou’re already quite Primal.

You know your way around a grocery store. I mean “around” literally: you know to shop the perimeter.

You’ve struck up relationships with vendors at the farmer’s market. The beet guy had Thanksgiving dinner at your house (being frank, the mashed beets were a bit much).

You read this blog every day, so you’re aware there’s another Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge kicking off next week. If not, read yesterday’s posts in which I give a heads up and ask what 2017 will mean for your life. But if you’re already a devoted Primal adherent, what’s in it for you?

Why You Might Consider a Kick-Start…

1. Everyone falters.

No one’s perfect. Folks slip up. The vast majority of people on a Primal eating plan (or any healthy diet and lifestyle) stray from time to time. Food they’d given up begins reappearing. Old health issues they thought had resolved resurface. Niggling pains, once gone, return to niggle again. People regress toward the mean.

When that happens, something’s gone wrong. But instead of combing through your past to figure out where you went astray, and making a lot of trial and errors in the process, why not start over? That’s where the hard reset comes in. That’s when an elimination program makes perfect sense.

2. Everyone knows less than they think.

No one believes me, but I always use this time of year to participate in the 21-Day Challenge. I do so quietly, without fanfare, but I do it, because I always learn something about myself and the Primal way of living. Me? The guy who wrote the book(s)? Yep. The same holds true for everyone reading this. You know less than you think you do. Believe me.

Participating in a Primal community challenge, elimination program, and/or total reset can—and will—get you back on track by bringing you back to the start of the journey. When you start over and relinquish the story of your supposed expertise, you discover all the things you always needed to learn.

3. Everyone needs someone.

It gets lonely out there. While some people have converted their friends and family to the Primal way or found a group of likeminded individuals, not everyone has Primal “people.” Heck, some people don’t even have a workout buddy.

Contributing to the lack of community is the fact that it’s a busy world out there and folks just don’t have—or make—the time to commiserate in meatspace anymore. Busyness has become a virtue, a status signal. People pride themselves on being too “busy lately” to make plans.

But we need to socialize. We need to bounce ideas off each other. We need to push each other, to congratulate each other, to challenge each other. We need to simply revel in the joy of being in the presence of others. While it’s not quite the same as living in a small village with your extended family or facing down a braying animal with your tribe, participating in a community health challenge like the PB 21-Day gives us similar benefits.

A Kick-Start Can Take Many Forms

You can try an elimination program. The Whole 30 is a famous (and rightly so) example of a Primal-aligned elimination program. Participants pare everything down to the basics to discover how their diet is affecting them, eliminating any potentially problematic foods and then slowly reintroducing them while noting the effects. This equips you with valuable feedback that will assist you going forward. If you’re interested in knowing your food sensitivities, intolerances, or stumbling blocks with any detail, the Whole 30 is probably your best bet.

You can try the total reset. This means starting over from square one, acting like a total newbie. That’s not really acting, either. Because, let’s face it: we’re all newbies in this thing called life. Beginner’s mind, as some would say. No one really knows what they’re doing. Some are stumbling their way through with more grace and aplomb than others, but we all have something to learn.

You can try a community challenge, like the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge. These are my favorite. I think all resets or elimination programs should include some sort of community participation, simply because we’re social animals who respond best to social pressures. It’s why CrossFit is so successful pairing sound technique and exercise programming with camaraderie.

That said, none of these are mutually exclusive. In fact, I’d suggest you incorporate all three at once for the duration of this challenge. The Whole 30 can be a touchstone for you throughout the PB 21-Day Challenge—and you can structure your entire challenge as a total and utter reset.

As the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge approaches, what form will it take in your life? What are you hoping to get out of it? What are you hoping to excise from (or add to) your current regimen?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care and Grok on!

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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12 thoughts on “The Power of a Kick-Off Plan: What Elimination Programs, Total Resets, and Community Challenges Can Do for You”

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  1. Hoping to continue to refine my use of the minimum effective dose that Mark wrote about a while back.
    What is the least amount of food and exercise I need to have great results. Can I finally cut back on coffee for good? Where else can I use this? Can I see the challenge through to the end without getting to hard on myself? Can I bring my clients along for the ride again?

  2. We’ve begun a total reset in our house. We’ve been Primal now for almost 7 years, but it’s nice once and while to get rid of those things that creep back, whether it food, or maybe staying awake to late at night plastered to ones phone, not getting up and moving during the day, etc….feels good to give it a fresh new perspective, but keeping a intuitive nature to it, making sure to remember that the whole “New Year, New You” thing is just a “diet” gimmick that doesn’t work. Primal just enhances who we have been all along, and helps us feel amazing and shine bright as the amazing folks we are!! Another great way for those of us who have been Primal for some time to reset is to read Mark’s latest update the the Primal Blueprint book, its packed with awesome info and lots of new stuff too. Very uplifting and motivating!!

  3. Yup! I’m on the Whole30 bandwagon starting Monday. Looking forward to getting back on track and starting fresh 🙂

    1. Me too! My first Whole 30 was a big eye-opener — had no idea how grains affected me! (joint issues, for one — when I eat bread etc. my hands get stiff) When people say you need to make a “lifestyle change” it is so true!

  4. I had it marked on my calendar: “Check for free 21-Day on Vimify” for January 2. But I found it was posted sooner than that so quickly joined for, like, the 4th time

    But with every new year, an opportunity arises for assessment and modification as needed. To stagnate is, well, to stagnate. You may quote me of course.

    What I like about the 21 Day versus the Whole30 (though they’re both fantastic ways of resetting one’s mind and body) is 1) it’s 21 days and 2) it’s very task based. So for those who like to check off “to-do” items, the Challenge on Vimify is a really great way. And if you don’t want to do it online, the book is fine and is task-based as well.

    Just accomplishing the tasks each day for 21 days is a major lift in my own self-perception of what I can do, what I have the will to do.

    So get on board everybody….woo hoooooooo!

  5. This is me. “not everyone has Primal “people.” Heck, some people don’t even have a workout buddy.” I don’t even have people I can have this conversation with. It’s just one of the reasons I’ve appreciated this blog every day for the last five plus years; this is my only primal community. Most people I know don’t want to change anything to feel better. It is lonely out here.

    1. I’m with you. It’s barren and lifeless in my corner. Two plus years for me.

    2. Jen, I’m glad you’re here—among good company. I don’t think you’re alone in those sentiments. Community is what makes MDA run, and I’m grateful for everybody’s contributions here. Grok on!

  6. Timely as always Mark. The Total Reset is always a nice approach to take and can always be adopted no matter the time, year, location, job you find yourself in. Like you say we are newbies in life.

    Having an open mind and always being willing to explore new things has been a real game changer for me. To live life wanting to continuously learn and develop; adopting this newbie mindset gives us a fantastic foundation to this practice