66 days to change: It takes time

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

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), but maybe next year. As my instructor said ‘ yoga is a lifelong practice.

To be truthful, I haven’t embraced stillness the way I need to. If I’m honest, I’m afraid because I believe I’m going to fail. How often do we avoid change, or going after our 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.

You and I both know ‘ being healthy takes time. Our dependence on ready-made meals ‘ full of sugar and salt, the two things killing us ‘ has risen exponentially with how busy we are in our lives. I happen to love cooking, but not everyone is in my camp. As much as I love it, I feel as though I’m always cooking.

You can cut corners with – there are some great tips from this website for eating healthy if you plan ahead. A tip from me: on Sunday make a big pot of quinoa, rice. Throw the healthy grains in soups and salads. Prewash days worth of lettuce, spinach and kale. Cut up carrots, celery, peppers, cucumber and put them in a tub with a squeeze of lemon. Roast a couple of butternut squashes ‘ chop up one and add it to salads ‘ delish with feta, arugula and lemon – and take the other and make a soup out of it. If you are always shopping the same aisles for the same products, switch it up by navigating the store for healthy choices. Yes, you have to read labels.

The biggest eye-opener for me is sugar. I have become a ridiculously boring label reader. It’s everywhere. Is sugar addictive? Research from Princeton says it is: Lab rats denied sugar for periods of time worked harder to get it when it was reintroduced. And, they consumed more sugar than they had before. This suggests that sugar leads to cravings and relapses ‘ similar to drugs. And another study showed how rats found Oreos as pleasing as cocaine. Yes, they ate the middle first.

So, chocolate. One of my friends took Lily and I out for her 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-tiers 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 had possessed me, suddenly the spoon in the pot du chocolat was in my mouth, and I was having a little taste. Then another. One little 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.’ 66 days isn’t long enough. Are you done?

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.