I’ve finished this experiment and actually kept up the habit of reduced or eliminated mirror gawking beyond the original 30 days. The interesting part of this whole thing is how natural it felt once it gained a bit of steam. Not mirror gawking produced a few interesting things for me:
- I was mostly correct in that by not looking in the mirror all the time to critique my physique (Check out my mad rhymes!), I started to really notice and appreciate some of the nuances of being in this skin.
- My workouts automatically gravitated back toward a slow/HIT/Smart Strength-type of training. If you don’t perceiving any external some such is JUST. NOT. PROGRESSING. FAST. ENOUGH. you’re less likely to jump all over from routine to routine. You stick to a routine and learn to exercise better, which is a very intrinsic process. Besides, muscle gain is really, really, slow and no routine changes that fact.
- Stemming from that, you start to pay attention to the subtler cues of whether you’re actually recovered versus the “need” to train because of the angst discussed above. I took 14 days off from training a bit early this year. I lost no strength, no weight, no definition. I asked myself, “Why the hell do I worry about the optimal training frequency?” The interplay between emotion and rational thinking can very easily be tipped toward silly emotion. Just think about how many people doing really well with their new eating plan weigh themselves too much and as a freak out about transient water gains? For some people, myself included as I learned, mirror gawking will screw the pooch of an otherwise productive program because things aren’t happening fast enough and then you may go down the spiral of “more.” Often more everything. To steal a quote from my friend Doug McGuff:
My favorite mantra is….”Don’t just do something, stand there!”. We must always be cautious about intervening when mother nature is not taking her course as fast as we would like it.
- When I was a teenager, I rarely wore more clothing than underwear while at home. Saturday morning was spent watching MST3K in my underwear while eating a tub of cream cheese with pretzel sticks (yeah yeah, I know). I noticed spontaneously how I started doing this again since the experiment began because it feels so nice. It sounds a bit crunchy, but there were no mirrors for most of our existence. You had to trust friends or family to point out things that were “wrong” and wrong was most certainly not, “Bro, you gotta bring up those bis.” Wrong was normally “That gaping hole isn’t a flesh wound.” I summed it up the other day on Twitter: Aprons were invented for nude sauteing in the heat of the summer.And then my friend Melissa Hartwig posted this, further driving home the point:
You might never want to do this, but I suggest you give it a try. We see way too much of ourselves anyway and make really incorrect inferences about our self worth as a result. The best advice I can give if you’re looking to keep from yo-yoing, mentally and physically, in this lifetime of health is:
- Ditch the scale
- Cut way, way back on the mirror
If you did try, I’d love to hear your thoughts.