A Happy Healthy Challenge

Even at first glance, there are two things about me that are quite obvious.

  1. I enjoy eating
  2. I don’t particularly enjoy that I enjoy eating

My Pail List and mental wish list and list taped to my wall and to-do list have long held the goal of me losing weight. Throughout my childhood and for many years I was under the impression that I needed to lose weight to conform to a certain ideal, and while I still have the desire to lose some of my puppy fat (though my puppy may have grown into a fully sized dog by now), I’ve come to recognize that I should focus first and foremost on fitness and health.

But when my unnatural love of peanut butter coincides with cold months and a lack of willpower, I find myself suddenly starring down at the Papa John’s menu more often than at my Zumba DVDs.

30 day challengeMy other blog (yes, I’m openly cheating), Happiness Through Health, is going to see me attempt to create a 30 Day Challenge revolving around losing weight, logging exercise hours, and blogging out our feelings for fabulous gifts and prizes (well, two averagely exciting prizes for the winner and runner up).

If you’re interested in joining me as I find a way to still enjoy pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce and stuffing in the midst of this challenge, just head over to the original post and mention that you’re interested. Bonus points if you provide a guilt-free pumpkin pie recipe or talk me out of this idea and just let me turn myself orange from pumpkin consumption.

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Vanity, Thy Name is Katy (Pt. 2)

One week ago, I decided to reject my reflection for a solid 7 days so as to break my horrid habit of a vanity so great that I do indeed think that song is about me.

so vain

I was fed up with constantly feeling the need to look at myself in the numerous and various reflection surfaces placed around my life in an effort to keep me continuously obsessing over the state of my hair. I had come to the conclusion that since looks were of such little importance the acknowledgement of those looks mattered just as little. I was already well aware of the struggles I would undoubtedly face while trying to use my phone without catching a glimpse of my technology-tinted profile.

Even then, I was not ready.

The week of this challenge was one of the longest weeks of my life. I actually believe that someone may have snuck in a good extra bit of hours, and this week was comprised of 9 or 10 equally unsatisfying days.

Throughout the challenge I felt nervous and agitated and upset at not being able to look in the mirror. I constantly felt the need to confirm my existence by looking at myself and being reassured that I hadn’t turned into a ghostly creature no longer capable of sustaining a physical form, I actually chose this limiting lifestyle. I even felt none of the love towards my body or my self that I assumed would come by denying my image, if anything it made me feel a bit worse, like I was so ugly that if I walked into a bank they’d turn off the cameras (ba dum tish). And even though I actively tried to avoid my reflection, I still caught glances of myself throughout the day which only fueled my anger; I would tease myself with a brief glimpse and then immediately turn away before my eyes could drink in that sorry sight of a crazy person (as only loons would attempt a challenge so ridiculous).

Here are my reasons why I will never attempt this challenge never ever never again:

  • It was frustrating and a tad painful not to be able to use the mirror to put my contacts in.
  • Hiding behind other people in Bodypump made exercising quite the chore. I want results after a workout, not to be denied looking at my awesome and newly fit body!
  • My neck hurt from looking down so much to avoid mirrors. Truthfully, I had to hide my eyes so often that it hurt.
  • No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t help but catch accidental glimpses of myself which was quite obnoxious.
  • Looking at my shadow was often the highlight of my day.
  • On the third day I had such a struggle putting in an earring that it took me an extra few minutes and a red ear before being ready for class.
  • I didn’t care as much about myself, and consequently ended up eating more and exercising a bit less.

Why I’m somewhat kind of maybe barely glad that I completed this challenge:

  • When Skyping I actually spent more time looking at the person I was having a conversation with than looking at myself in the little vanity cam they provide.
  • Getting ready in the morning was a breeze and I never really worried about outfits or jewelry choices (though I’m sure other people worried over the sake of my mental health; red shorts with a blue top, really?).
  • I look in the mirror less now, or at least think twice before I look.
  • Ummm, that’s it.

IMG_2728Honestly, I barely want to talk about this experience because I had such a negative time with it. One important thing I’ve learned is that vanity is perfectly healthy in small doses, and denying such self devotion only serves to turn you into an angry and grumpy person with funky looking hair. While it may not be so good as to pander to all of your vices, I’ve come to feel that vanity, while annoying in excess, is actually quite harmless.

Vanity, Thy Name is Katy

On average, I look in the mirror 18 times a day.

That’s not even counting the number of occasions when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in some shiny surface. Yeah, that’s not me puzzling over that artistic portrait as to fathom the creator’s intent, that’s me trying to get a glimpse of how my hair looks in a ponytail.

It’s puzzling as to why we as humans aren’t content until we’ve looked at ourselves up and down, in a full length mirror, from a side angle, with duck lips, and with a hat tipped jauntily on our heads until we realize that such a hat is too bold for our certain hair style. Do any other animals perform this ritual of self-interest? Do ducks float around on lakes so as to constantly view their watery profile? Has anyone really considered why it is birds fly into windows? Perhaps they’re simply overly anxious to confirm that their feathers are as preened as they should be. I’m also fairly certain that if you gave a monkey a camera the first thing they would do is take a selfie while hanging out in their tree house.

I opted for the scarf instead of the hat...whoopee!

I opted for the scarf instead of the hat…whoop de doo!

And then once we do give into temptation and look to our beautiful image, what do we see? Ourselves. Almost exactly as we were the last time we checked. What’s the point? What does it matter if I have a small bump in my hair? If my lips need more glossing will the world stop spinning? If I end up wearing that jauntily tipped hat would it really matter in the long run? Who cares what we look like?!

Well, apparently I care; based on the fact that I look at myself in the mirror around 18 times a day.

Maybe if I were prettier looking I’d understand. But seeing as I’m just regular old plain average normal Katy, what the heck is with my obsession with myself? For me to have two mirrors in my room is extravagant. To look at myself in the full length mirror in the hallway while leaving the dorm is outrageous. To go to the bathroom for any other reason than relieving oneself is simply silly; who wants to spend time in a restroom simply to enjoy the mirror? Even my phone cover can serve as a mirror. Just in case I’d like to ensure that I look my best while sending a text message (because the recipient of my message can just tell if my necklace is hanging crookedly around my neck).

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Why must I look so good in scarves?!

But to be fair to myself, I don’t always set out in search of a mirror. I don’t memorize the location of reflective objects around campus and take longer routes just to get a glimpse of myself. But the fact that my building has a full length mirror in the hallway should tell you something about the world. The fact that there are mirrors above almost every sink, that people carry around compacts just in case, that ever in our cars you can find mirrors above the front two seats, shows what an egoistical and vain society we really live in. I don’t necessarily want to look at my reflection so often, but the world is telling me that I must. They want me to be vain, and I’ve been all too happy to oblige.

Yet, when looking beyond my mundane exterior, you’ll find a rebel with a passion for stirring up adventure and intrigue (in addition to finding a fanatical cat lady). It is this nature that makes me not just question the role of mirrors in my life, but that also makes me desire to denounce them.

There have been many documented challenges of people swearing off the mirror for a month or two or twelve, but seeing as I’m too cheap to buy their books, I’ve decided to create a mirrorless lifestyle challenge of my own. I’ll take a guess that they’ve leaned the meaning of true beauty, internal happiness, styling hairdos without visual assistance, and societal influences on commonly accepted standards, but I’m just hoping to get a grip on reality and learn that survival is possible without knowing if I’m having a good hair day or not.

Starting today, I’m going to cover up the mirrors in my room, avoid my image while using the sink, stealthily avoid looking too closely at my phone cover, and give up admiring/critiquing my reflection altogether. I will do all of this for one week (because I’m weak). At the end of this experiment, I hope to appreciate myself and my body a little bit more and gain some real understanding as to why I can’t help but looking at myself in that glass door window at the gym.

Also, I must have looked at myself nearly 50 times today in anticipation of my mirror cleanse. Wow I’ve got some work to do.

Also also, let’s hope I last the week because I’ve just remembered the wall length mirrors in the gym’s aerobics studio…

Also also also, I’ve just put up construction paper to cover the mirrors in my room. It makes me nervous.

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