66-days to change: Finding a happier, healthier me

Happy New Year! Happy New You. Though New Year’s was last week, I know many of you are starting your


Happy New Year! Happy New You.

Though New Year’s was last week, I know many of you are starting your resolutions this week. Welcome to a blog where we share our attempts to change.

Habits are an interesting subject this time of year. Everyone wants to make or break a habit ‘ hit the gym, lose weight, quit smoking. As a fitness trainer, I see it up close: In January, gyms are packed to the rafters; come March, there are a few ‘newbies’ still standing – most have returned to their couch.


What happens in those two months is a case in habit forming. Research from the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre found it takes, on average, 66 days to form a new habit. If you really want to make the gym your habit, you have to do it for 66 days and it will become ingrained. Want to swap coffee with green tea? Try it for 66 days. The good news is forming a habit is doable. The bad news is it is harder to break a habit ‘ but we’ll cross that bridge later.

A few things happened to me in 2013, but the biggest revelation came when my son turned two. Like any mom of young kids, I recognize I don’t take care of myself. And, I’ve developed bad habits.

I don’t get enough sleep. I don’t take care of my beauty regimen. I eat healthily, but don’t fuel my furnace: I am very active, but don’t eat to support this. I love sugar: when push comes to shove I reach for a cookie to pump me up, or a glass of wine to settle me down. And, where fitness is concerned, because I teach classes, I don’t always try new things. I get into ruts.

The biggest habit I lack is stillness. Gone are my days of morning meditation, replaced with a need for sleep. I seek stillness in other moments of the day, too: reading a book, taking a bath, walking to experience nature. Most people describe me as an energetic, if not frenetic person. When I lie in bed at night, the thoughts of today and tomorrow swirling, I wonder: Is quiet possible when my ‘natural’ state feels set to vibrate?

Can I become a calmer, healthier person? For my kids, and myself?

I found the research about it taking 66 days to form new habits a year ago. But I didn’t feel ready to place insurmountable tasks before me when I was barely making it through the day.

Now I’m ready. I have big goals and little goals. Are you ready? What are you going to change? I’ll be blogging here every Tuesday and Friday, and you can follow me on Twitter (@erinpp) for interesting health research and updates, and I’ll follow you to see how you’re doing. The fact is, I know we will do better if we swap stories ‘ research shows that when you are held accountable, you are more successful in achieving your goals. Let’s make a community of ‘Habit Seekers’ who want to Look Great, Get Healthy, Eat Well and Embrace Life.

On Friday we’ll dive into the first few habits. Here’s a clue: I’m off wine and sugar for the next 66 days.

Lord help my husband.

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.