66-days to change: Change takes time

I need more time. This is a lament for many of us’ we don’t have enough time. We don’t have


I need more time.

This is a lament for many of us’ we don’t have enough time. We don’t have time for work, family and being healthy. We don’t have time for all the activities we would like to do, or even to finish the laundry. We don’t even have time to go on vacation – nearly one-quarter of Canadians don’t take all their vacation days each year. That’s a bit depressing and somewhat Puritan.

And I don’t know about you, but it seems like we are jamming more into the time we have. We race from home to work, try to get to the gym, cart our kids to and from activities, fit in time with friends, or maybe even with our spouses. I stack my life like a Jenga tower and then am seemingly surprised when it topples.

Change takes time. 50 days ago, when I decided to change my habits, it seemed like a good idea: cut out sugar, alcohol and wheat, get more sleep, do yoga, drink lemon water and green tea, be calmer, write in a gratitude journal, make my skin and hair healthier, floss. Ha! I’m wondering if I’ve tried to do too much too soon ‘ like I do in other areas of my life. When we try to do too much, we crack. Or, we inhale chocolate. More on that in a second.

I’ve had triumphs and failures. What I’m learning is the process is long, and takes resilience. The 66-day research from the UK was spot on: Some habits are easier than others. I start every day with lemon water, and that appears to have stuck; I cut out sugar from my coffee and eat plain oatmeal. I’m virtually gluten-free, except when fresh bread magically appears. Then I’m a goner.

Yoga makes me happy and is humbling. I can’t do a headstand, and I’m certainly not going to be able to do one in a month (halfway through my 66 day challenge). This time next year, I might be able to do one. As my instructor said to me ‘ yoga is a lifelong practice.

To be truthful, I haven’t embraced stillness with a sense of urgency. I’m afraid of meditation because I believe I’m going to fail. How often do we avoid change, or going after our big dreams, because we don’t think we can do it? Watch for my blog next week: I’m going to a Zen Buddhist temple as the next step in the right direction.

Researching habits makes you discover people living healthy, clean lives. There are hundreds of blogs out there for inspiration, with great recipes and inspiring stories. People are cut from the same cloth ‘ it is our habits define us. What is the difference between the pack-a-day smoker and the marathoner? One reaches for a lighter, the other for running shoes.

The biggest eye-opener for me is my battle with sugar. If I’m going to persevere, it is going to take longer than 66 days. Sugar will not get the best of me.

Is sugar addictive? Research from Princeton says it is: Lab rats denied sugar for prolonged periods of time worked harder to get it when it was reintroduced. And, they consumed more sugar than they ever had before. This suggests that sugar leads to cravings and relapses ‘ similar to heroin or cocaine. With sugar, researchers found absence made the heart grow fonder.

So, the chocolate moment. One of my best friends took Lily and I out for Lily’s 5th birthday to a chocolate-inspired restaurant. Yes, we live in a world where there are chocolate inspired restaurants. There were vats of hot chocolate churning by the cash, and chocolate handprints on the walls. My daughter’s three-tiered presentation had chocolate milk, s’mores scones, Nutella sandwiches and a pot du chocolat with fruit for dipping.

I ordered a kale salad.

But then, as though something else had taken hold of me, suddenly the spoon in the pot du chocolat was in my mouth, and I was having a little taste. Then another. And another. One quiet voice in my head said, ‘You can’t have sugar.’ Another voice screamed loudly It’s ok!!! DO IT!!! Doesn’t it taste good? GO FOR IT!!! In the end, I had a headache and my daughter acted manically high from her smorgasbord.

So. I’m not ‘done’. Are you done? If you are trying to change a habit to be healthier, and you realize it is time consuming, don’t give up yet.

Follow me on Twitter @erinpp

Erin Phelan is a fitness trainer and mom of two. She’s a regular contributor to Best Health and will be blogging here every Tuesday and Friday for the next 66 days.