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Thursday, September 8, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

31 day primal challenge - conclusion

For the past 31 days I have stuck to a very strict version of primal or paleo eating. I have been following a primal lifestyle for a while, but I have recently started experimenting with some different approaches. Among the hacks I have tried is to add a weekly cheat day. This did not work out well for me and so I decided to start the 31 day no cheat primal challenge.

The rules I set up for myself were simple. No sugar or fast carbohydrates, no grains, no dairy (except homemade kefir), no artificial sweeteners or ingredients. Basically a no cheating completely clean month to see how moving from eating pretty good to eating very good.

I also committed to regular strength exercise and walking. What you eat is most of the battle when trying to get healthy, but strength training and modest stamina training only helps.

First of all, in the name of full disclosure. Did I manage to stick to my plan 100%? No, I did slip up with my foods once or twice. A shameful 'Good and Plenties' incident as well as a lunch sandwich from Subways. I also had a hamburger with the bun once. But all in all, these three transgressions were it. A far cry better than a normal month. I consider the slip ups to be so minor that they didn't impact my experiment i any significant way.

As far as exercise goes I was not able to work out as hard as I had hoped. I did manage to stick to a schedule of working out three times a week and add significant amount of walking. Unfortunately I trained a muscle in my back picking up a very heavy TV which kept me from working out and moving as much as I would have liked. Still, I was able to stick to a regular work out schedule.

So, with the full disclosure of how my month has gone. Here are the results:

I started the challenge at an even 240 pounds. I weight in this morning at 221. That is a weight loss of 19 pounds which I am extremely happy about. Especially considering that I have made progress in my weight training. I have added muscle mass while still being able to drop almost 20 pounds.

My second goal was to be able to do one pull up. I consider a pull up to be pulling my chin above the bar from a starting position with arms fully extended. According to this definition I failed to reach my goal. I am however much closer to achieving this milestone. In fact, I can do a pull up from a start with slightly bent elbows. I would have liked to be able to do a proper pull up, but I don't think I will have to wait much longer before I have it.

So that is my update. 31 days of rejecting (almost) all temptation and going strictly primal. In my mind the results have been phenomenal. The experience has opened my eyes to how easy it is to slip into a 'almostyou good enough' mindset. It has also refirmed my belief in the benefits of eating clean natural foods and moving  your body a lot.

I know that many primal and paleo practitioners look to the 80/20 principle as their guideline. I suggest going for the 95/5 rule. At least to me, following the rules all day every day had a great impact.



  1. Fantastic results! Seriously fantastic. You should be proud of yourself.

  1. Awesome! Now you can be motivated to continue past the 31 days and see more results! I follow the 95/5 rule. I'm currently on day 4 of my own 30 day challenge to be 95/5 after about a month of inconsistent eating, which was really unusual for me especially after 8 months of being 90+% paleo.

  1. @Erin I am very proud of being able to stick with my plan so faithfully for 31 days. I am ecstatic about the results. Thank you for your comment.

  1. @paleoadventure I am very motivated to continue. I've been eating paleo for a while before, but I have been more lenient with the cheats. Recently I decided to try the cheat day concept after reading 'The 4 Hour Body'. It didn't work well for me so I decided to go in the opposite direction.

    Eliminating cheating has been much more effective than I could have imagined.

  1. seems like our bodies have the same programming...Tim Ferris' recommendations were disasterous in my opinion and when I go 95/5 the weight just melts off although the number on the scale doesn't reflect it.
    i recently did a whole 30 and literally the day after i was done the compliments started pouring in.
    regarding the chin ups...it was a huge stain on my weightlifting capabilities that I couldn't do a single pull/chin up before my primal journey and just the other day i was able to do 3 sets of 3...that was a very proud moment for me

  1. @Abu Jaden congratulations on the excellent results! Weight lifting is good for building single muscles, but it doesn't develop all the small supporting muscles that defines real strength. The only way to get a strong body is to move the whole body. Congratulations again on the massive improvement in your pull-up-ability!

    Interesting that you would mention Tim Ferris. This challenge was a direct response to my 6 weeks of going with the 4 hour body concept. It didn't work for me at all. People are just different.

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