This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ashmeeta Mehendiratta. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

No More Excuses: What I Did To (Finally) Start Living A Healthy Life

More from Ashmeeta Mehendiratta

By Ashmeeta Mehendiratta:

I know, waking up early in the morning would be good for me and I will get more time to work on myself. I know, meditation will have great effects on my mental health and will make me stable and more at peace with myself. I know, if I take that gym membership, I’ve been thinking about, I’d be able to get those abs and the thigh gap, I’ve always had a fascination for. Good things can happen to me, only if I stop resisting them!

I have these internal debates with myself as I start my day, but my wellness always loses and my laziness wins. To get to a point where I can do great things for myself is a psychological mission! Hence, I decided to find out, what makes me love myself, a little less.

I Know It’s Good For Me

We see a father coughing his lungs out and ‘Mukesh‘ dying in every ‘no smoking’ advertisement, yet nothing impacts us to take that first step to quit smoking! We have almost become immune to it.

We know, if we exercise every day or quit smoking, it will impact our health positively and would see good changes in our body and feel good about ourselves. So if we know it’s good for us, why don’t we do it?

While we have figured out the part, that a particular habit is really good for us, we also need to understand what is preventing us from adopting this good habit.

Resistance To Change

When I want to build a good habit, like meditating every morning – I feel a resistance. A resistance to change and change can be scary. Change leads to uncertainty and we prefer living in the four walls of our comfort zone, even if it doesn’t make us happy. We are so comfortable with the way we live, it’s almost addictive.

There is this instinctive side of me which stops me. It tells my brain — “Just five minutes more! I do not have the energy to get up and exercise, I can sleep for one more hour.” My brain is always ready with excuses even though a part of it knows; I will feel amazing all through the day if I motivate myself enough to get to that treadmill. But no, it’s painful, it’s difficult, it’s too much work!

Two Different Thinking Systems

According to the dual process theory, System 1, is the instinctive, fast, automatic method of thinking and System 2 is the slow, calculated, logic-based method of thinking which relies on rationality and logical reasoning. System 1, is the one that we use to take most of the actions and System 2, is consulted from time-to-time when we need to make more thoughtful decisions.

System 2 (our conscious side) knows, exercising every day is good for me but my instinctive side decides whether I should go ahead with it or not. The only way, I can go ahead and do those squats to get that thigh gap, is by allowing my conscious side to win over my instinctive side.

Let’s pause for a moment.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment.

What if I told you to pause reading this article and start with exercising right away or start with meditation or pursue the good habit you’ve been wanting to, right away!

Notice what goes through your mind. One side of your brain wants to do it. The other side stops you. List down these excuses you’ve been giving yourself.

This is what I do to make my instinctive side win:

I don’t promise myself to wake up by 5 am tomorrow morning, meditate for 30 minutes, go for a run in the park, do 30 squats and drink 8 glasses of water.

I can only dream to do something like that. Hah!

So I set extremely small goals for myself, which my mind says I can easily do, even my instinctive mind. For example, for tomorrow, my goal is to wake up and drink two glasses of water, jump 5 times and spend just 5 minutes mindfully breathing.

Scale Up — Slow And Steady

Slowly, I will increase 5 jumps to 10, make sure I drink 8 glasses a day, meditate for 10 minutes and go for run after I come back from work (not in the morning, yet).

As I take these small steps, I’ll feel good about myself and evidence in my instinctive side will start becoming more positive and eventually change. The idea is to use, little willpower while starting, giving feedback to my mind and building up evidence for my instinctive mind to use. So the next time, my mind wouldn’t find it painful or difficult.

Building A Sustainable Habit

When we are successful in building a habit our instinctive and conscious mind will be in line with each other raising no conflict. We will be pursuing those good habits automatically and we will be able to feel great every day!

The following are things I do to be able to build a good habit:

  • Make a list of excuses I make to myself every day and try to break free of them day-by-day.
  • Set extremely small goals for myself : Get up half hour early, drink two glasses of water as soon as I wake up, jump 5 times, do mindful breathing for 5 minutes, listen to guided meditation on YouTube for 5 minutes and go for a run after I come back from office.
  • Keep doing the same for 2-3 days or even a week.
  • Slowly scale up and raise my goals: From half hour to one hour, from 5 five minutes to 7 and so on.


You must be to comment.

More from Ashmeeta Mehendiratta

Similar Posts

By Rohit Malik

By Hariaksh Kamal

By Pranidhi M

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below