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There's a disconnect between knowing what's good for us and actually doing it, but why?

It's no secret that there are things we should be doing if we want to achieve a healthy, balanced life: taking time for self-care, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, nurturing our relationships with others. And yet, we struggle to actually do the things we know are good for us. We end up feeling unbalanced and unhealthy because one or more of our basic needs aren't being met. Here are three possible reasons why we work against our own well-being:

  1. Lack of awareness. It is common to engage in unhealthy habits without even knowing it. For example, if I have diabetes (or high blood sugar) and don't fully understand the connection between carbohydrate intake and blood sugar control then I may not be able to identify that my eating habits could improve my blood sugars. Talking with my doctor about my diabetes and meeting with a dietitian about my food choices will help increase my knowledge and awareness and ultimately improve my condition.
  2. Lack of permission. Our culture makes us aware of the healthy behaviors we should be engaging in (such as exercising, getting sufficient sleep, etc.), yet values practices that are unhealthy (like working long hours, not taking adequate time for ourselves, eating non-nutritious foods). Give yourself permission to take care of yourself first in order to engage in healthy behaviors and achieve the life you want. Prioritize the healthy behaviors that are important to you.
  3. Roadblocks or barriers. A common misconception is that we simply lack the willpower to achieve our goals; however, motivation and willpower aren't sufficient enough to actually make the changes. For example, instead of getting frustrated with the lack of willpower to get out of bed for that 5:30 a.m. exercise class, look more closely at why you kept pressing snooze on the alarm. Did you go to bed early enough to get sufficient sleep? Did you prep a quick snack to have before class, or have your workout clothes ready to go when the alarm goes off? Understanding your barriers and what you can do about them will help you be successful.

Thoroughly considering what changes you want to make, the reasons why you want to change, planning how you will make changes and identifying possible barriers/obstacles to making lifestyle changes can help bridge the gap between knowing what's good for us and actually making it happen.

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