66 days to change: Cutting out sugar and wine

Can I confess? I nearly cracked. When I approached Best Health with the idea to blog about the changes I’d


Can I confess? I nearly cracked.

When I approached Best Health with the idea to blog about the changes I’d be making in my life over the next 66 days I had several goals ‘ big and little.  Researchers and motivational experts suggest that if you want to change habits, you have to tackle them slowly. I knew I wanted to make big changes, and I wanted to tackle them in four areas, that fell within the pillars of the magazine. But I decided to start with wine and sugar. Because, I’m a masochist.

Oi vey. No wine for 66 days. I haven’t done that since I was pregnant. Sugar? I’ve done it for a couple of weeks at a time, never 66 days.

The New Year feels like the right time to be healthier ‘ especially after holiday indulgences. Since the launch of this blog readers chimed in with their own resolutions ‘ procrastinate less (me too), cut out gluten, cut back on alcohol, drink more water. I’m glad I’m not alone.

Oh wine, oh sugar. Why do I love you so? It’s obvious. Wine is social, delicious and fun, and sugar is just delicious. Why wouldn’t I love you both? Given that I’ve recently been on holiday with my family in England – the land of pubs, where wine is available at the grocery store and giant bars of Cadbury’s chocolate loom at every corner – it has been tricky. Eyebrows raise and ask, ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’ ‘I’m on a mission to be healthier,’ I say. Insert eye rolls.

I know that I’ve got an issue with both sugar and wine. I love unwinding with a glass of wine or two at the weekend. But Thursday became the ‘New Friday’ before Christmas, and Wednesday became the ‘New Thursday’ ‘ you get my drift.

And let’s talk sugar, because we have to. We know that it is a major cause of disease and the obesity epidemic could be partially resolved if governments did more about added sugar in food and drinks. While I agree, I know you have to own up to your own sweet tooth, and I’ve had one my whole life. Sugar affects everything in your body’ and I’ll go into that a little more next week. The less refined and added sugar you have in your diet, the better. So bye-bye sugar. I will be looking at the substitutions available and consulting with a naturopath and holistic nutritionist.

I don’t think this kind of life mission should be void of joy and happiness. I happen to love kale smoothies. But I am searching for clarity, and the kind of high you get from clean living. I’ve done it before ‘ cut out sugar, gluten, dairy and alcohol ‘ for two weeks at a time, and felt amazing afterwards. But I’ve never done it for 66 days. There might be stumbles. I’m human, after all.

To recap, here are my big and small goals for the next few months. I’m aiming to conquer 1-2 things each week for 66 days:

My Look Great goal is to take charge of my skin, hair and beauty. I wash, tone and moisturize, but don’t know what I’m doing. Wrinkles ‘ I have to get on top of those things. Unless I go on holiday, I never bother to wax. And, my hairstyle is arbitrary. To be blunt: the picture on this blog required professional help.

My Get Healthy goal is to get out of my fitness ruts, achieve balance and get in great shape. I am in good shape ‘ I teach fitness and run half-marathons. But I don’t do enough yoga, and I don’t try new things, and I want to be able to do a pull-up.

My Eat Well goal is to give up sugar, wheat and most dairy. My family has a history of intolerance with wheat, dairy can be inflammatory, and too much sugar is extremely unhealthy. And, let’s not shy away from the big one: 66 days without alcohol.

My Embrace Life goal is to find stillness. I plan to start the day with it, and end with a ‘regeneration hour,” meaning I will turn off all media one hour before bed. I already write in a gratitude journal, something I started before the holidays. But I’m usually cramming in my feelings of gratitude before passing out on my pillow.

Within these goals are a bunch of smaller things I plan to tackle over the next 3-6 months:
– Start the day with a glass of lemon water ‘ a great detoxifier. I have been doing this for 10 days it feels great!
– Drink 2 cups of green tea each day.
– Floss every day ‘ not simply tell my dentist that I do.
– Stop picking at my pimples. I do it. There, I’ve said it.
– Get 6-7 hours sleep a night. Yes, 8 would be ideal. But it’s unlikely at this point in my life.
– Do one fun fitness activity with my family each week.
– Try one new fitness activity each week.
– Meditate ‘ I’ll aim for daily, but I’m setting that goal for February.
– Live in the moment.

And, in the grand scheme of things, I want to stop procrastinating. Life is about making changes, not thinking about them. I have a great life. I could have a tremendous one. Couldn’t we all?

It all has to happen one step at a time. To quote an inspirational poem I gave my mum as a child, ‘Just for today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life’s problems at once.’

Today, sugar and wine. Next week: sleep. And I’m going to a yoga class.


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.