This year, I decided to start my year off by doing a mirror fast. In case you’ve never heard of one, a mirror fast is when you cover all of the mirrors in your home and go about your life without looking at yourself. You can change the specifics to fit your life. Obviously, I still can look in the rearview mirror when I’m driving, and the mirrors at the gym are hard to avoid (especially when I’m teaching a group exercise class), but my goal is to look no more than is absolutely necessary. I can’t look in a mirror bigger than my rearview intentionally, and I can’t stop and look at myself in reflective surfaces like big windows. I know this sounds super extra, but it’s actually my second time doing a mirror fast, and the first time was so eye-opening and refreshing.
I last did a mirror fast about a year ago. I had just started seeing a therapist on a regular basis, unloading all of my insecurities and anxieties on her, as one does. One topic that kept coming up in our sessions was my body image and, in turn, my body scrutiny. I told her that I had a hard time walking by a mirror or anything that showed my reflection without stopping to assess how I look at that particular moment. Sometimes I’m thrilled with what I see, sometimes it can ruin my mood. When I told her about that, she commented on how my self-image seems to drive so much of my day-to-day, and suggested I try covering my mirrors up at home for a week or two, just to see if it improved my mood. I was skeptical, but I decided to really give it an earnest try. I went home and hung bedsheets over every mirror in the house. When I went to the gym, I averted my eyes from the mirror unless absolutely necessary. I didn’t linger in front of big glass doors. No body scrutiny allowed.
It changed everything. I was more relaxed, more peaceful. I still had anxiety – that took medication to change – but that was one less thing to stress out about. Whether this skin fold was there yesterday, how far my stomach was protruding at 6 PM vs. how flat it was at 6 AM, searching for flaws that I needed to “target” in the gym the next day. The thoughts weren’t all-consuming anymore. It was a breath of fresh air, and while it certainly didn’t cure my body anxiety, it did give me a moment of reprieve from it. Eventually, I took the bedsheets down. The one or two weeks that my therapist suggested turned into about a month. I think I decided James had suffered enough not being able to look at himself for a whole month without moving the sheets out of the way. They’ve been down ever since – until now.
I decided to start off 2020 with another mirror fast. If you guys remember, I spent most of the first half of 2019 getting ready to compete in a fitness show (which I never got to do, due to an untimely freak injury). I got to my lowest adult weight ever and got completely ripped. Once that was over, and I could breathe, eat more junk food, and miss a workout or two, I was relieved at first, but I felt the anxiety start to ramp up again when I started putting a few of those pounds back on. Now, we’re coming off of the holidays, where I had my share of dessert and cheesy carbs and fried things, and my abs are in winter hibernation. I’m working to feel okay about that, and I know one thing that will help is starting a mirror fast. The bedsheets are going back up, and I’m excited about it. There’s so many more incredible things going on in my life to focus on than trying to figure out how my body looks from every possible angle, and I’m taking this time to enjoy them.