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Changing the way we eat or move can be difficult for many reasons. Our environment is filled with obstacles to healthy habits, from time constraints to financial considerations to social pressures. This art, from a Nike campaign, shows excuses where they live: in your head. Nike’s answer is to “Just do it,” but that’s not very helpful — many of us have legitimate constraints that make it hard to know exactly what to do, and how.

Another complication is that the “it” we should “just do” is a little bit different for everyone. For some people, processed food is the biggest issue, for others it’s portion size, and for still others it’s deeply ingrained sedentary habits. Sometimes the issues to stack up to the point that it’s hard to tell what the biggest one is. You can get clues from the excuses themselves. Excuses are hiding their solutions behind them.

Make your excuses work for you by nudging them out of the way with some brainstorming. If you don’t have time for the gym, look at ways to get some activity at home, maybe with the 7-minute workout or the Romance Novel Reader’s Workout. If you don’t have time to pack complete lunches to take to work all week, start by packing easy-storing snacks (like containers of chopped vegetables) to get you pointed in the right direction.

Healthy habits are a way of living. They don’t get built in a day, so don’t feel you have to race toward them. As long as you are consistent, over time you will be able to take different actions — and do more for your health. Sometimes your excuses will be genuine obstacles — it’s OK to be ready to do one thing rather than another. Just keep looking at them honestly, and pick off the easiest ones.

Do you have obstacles you’d like helping getting over? What are they?

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