66 days to change: Going cold turkey

When I decided I wanted to get healthy, I got the look. Healthier, eh?  The fitness trainer who juices spinach,


When I decided I wanted to get healthy, I got the look. Healthier, eh?  The fitness trainer who juices spinach, eats organic, stocks up on superfoods, and always orders the side salad? Piss off (quoth my English friends). But I knew my vices needed reigning in. Especially after a raging case of Candida hit ‘ right in the middle of my Christmas Bake-A-Thon. An emergency trip to the dentist revealed oral thrush’an infection of the mouth. ‘Have you been eating a lot of sugar?’ my dentist asked. I’m amazed at how my kind dentist can make me feel so guilty.

It was ‘Christmas Tin Time.’ Yes, I was eating a fair bit of sugar.

I’m known for my ‘Christmas Tins’: In December I make several trips to the bulk shop to stock up on pounds of sugar, seven different kinds of chocolate, dried fruits, coconut and a little magic. I make chocolate mint bars, lemon squares, Toblerone shortbread, cranberry macaroons’yummy, sugary morsels. What started out as a gift for family and friends has exploded with requests ‘ this year I made 27 tins! I share my addiction with the world.

As evidenced by Exhibit A (pictured above) ‘ or what I’m calling the ‘Great Sugar Purge 2014’ ‘ what remains is but a snippet of what has been in my house. Now, as I go about my days sans sucre I realize how many places I was sneaking my fix: a little brown sugar on my oatmeal, coffee dates after school, sharing baked goods with the kids, dark chocolate covered almonds as a pick-me-up after spin class, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and then desserts several nights a week. I’m a statistic: On average, Canadians consume 26 teaspoons of sugar daily. Yikes.

Look at that, in Exhibit B (below): That’s what 26 teaspoons of sugar looks like. Gross.

The only way I’m breaking the habit is to give it up cold turkey. Undeniably, my love of wine and sugar go hand in hand, so this first mission ‘ 66 days without both ‘ is essential. I’ve had pithy comments from friends: ‘Give up wine ‘ that’s crazy talk.’ But if I can’t break the wine habit, there’s a place for me: a church basement, where people only know my first name.

And food for thought ‘ do you think one of the reasons diets in January fail is because of our addiction to sugar?

I’ve also started thinking about my next few habits. Getting seven hours a sleep a night is up next, along with revamping my diet. I’m going to talk to sports nutritionist Stefanie Senior on Friday to discuss food as fuel. I know a lot of you have resolved to get fitter in 2014 ‘ are you eating to support this? And what about your fitness goals ‘ I’d love to hear them. As a trainer, I can tell you the most important thing is to make your goals SMART. What are you specifically trying to achieve? How long are you going to work at it? Is it realistic? Can you do it? I have recognized that though I would like to run a marathon in 2014, it might not be realistic. That’s ok.

One of my students gave me a great idea: Last year, she created a ‘Fit Loonie Jar.’ Every time she did a fitness activity ‘ a spin class, golf game, yoga ‘ she put a loonie in the jar. At the end of 2013 she had $250 to spend, and fitness five days a week had become her new habit. Success!

How are you changing your habits?

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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.