We are full of good intentions, and for the most part, we try to practice what we preach. However, life is complicated, and many of us often fall short.Alas, that’s not so good for our overall health and wellbeing.Role models are important in our lives. It may be a teacher, a parent, a childcare provider or your boss, but chances are, you have looked up to someone before. And chances are that someone looks up to you.MORE: Six Tips on Being a Role ModelSince actions speak louder than words, you’ve probably noted what your role models have done, as well as what they’ve said. Practicing what we preach is difficult enough, and even harder when we don’t do ourselves what it is we are preaching!We have all heard countless times that we should not smoke (lung cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality for women in our country), and that we should exercise more, watch our salt intake, eat more fruits and vegetables, and limit our alcohol consumption. These five lifestyle recommendations are basic building blocks for health.And yet, we don’t always do as we’re told.We might skip the gym when we’re tired, grab carb-laden takeout when we’re busy, or drink a little too much when we’re stressed. After all, we’re only human.As a doctor, I know that even doctors don’t always live up to their own standards. Some of us exercise, some of us eat right, but many of us don’t. And just like our non-physician friends and colleagues, it’s sometimes difficult to ask others to do what we don’t always do ourselves. After all, who wants to be a hypocrite?Last week, Dr. Olivia Hung of Emory University presented a study1 surveying 1000 primary-care physicians’ lifestyle habits. Primary-care physicians make it their business, as a rule, to preach prevention, and thus healthy lifestyles are their bread and butter (or maybe olive oil).QUIZ: How Healthy is Your Lifestyle?Interestingly, 66.5 percent of these primary-care physicians reported making all five of these recommendations to their patients. But in their own lives, they didn’t always take their own advice. Only 27 percent exercised five or more times per week, and only 38 percent ate the recommended five or more cups of fruit/vegetables on five or more days per week.Even more noteworthy, those who followed the recommendations themselves were more likely to share the good advice with their patients. In other words, people pass on their own practices.You’re a role model to someone too, so think about how your actions affect them.For example, if you ask your child to eat breakfast today before school, be sure to eat breakfast yourself! They’re watching you, after all, to see what you do. If you want your parent to be healthier and are concerned that they’re not exercising enough, then be sure that you are exercising enough and that they know it. If they see that you can do it, chances are better that they’ll believe that they can do it, too.Mahatma Gandhi said it so eloquently: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” So this month, try to practice what you preach—you’ll feel better, and so will those around you.1Hung OY et al. Healthier personal habits of primary care physicians increase the likelihood of their recommending lifestyle modifications for their hypertensive patients that are consistent with the national guidelines. EPI|NPAM 2012; March 14, 2012; San Diego, CA.