This is a story of a mediocre girl trying to become healthier, one fad at a time. The fad in question? The apple cider vinegar challenge.

^ ^ ^ Me every time I open a bottle of apple cider vinegar.

So why did I decide to try the drink apple cider vinegar challenge? My mother. She parades the bottle around like a small show dog, allowing its black cap to peer out the top. Its liquid insides slosh around as she walks as if barking at its surroundings. She has the apple cider vinegar disease. It is no secret that she wants me to catch it, too.

"Disease" might be an over-exaggeration, but like most of social media, my mother is obsessed with the new fad diet. Drinking apple cider vinegar. My timelines are all plastered with fitness gurus, celebrities and now family members, praising the murky drink for its health benefits. Each post promises the drink helps with weight loss, clear skin, better sleep, more energy and a faster metabolism. What is this, Jesus in a bottle? The promises seemed empty, much like my mom’s fourth bottle of apple cider vinegar.

I decided to investigate this for myself.

For 30 days I forced the acidic drink down my throat, in hopes of either benefiting from its promises or revealing it as a fraud. Eager to contribute to my experiment, my mom immediately attacked me with recipe recommendations. She hoisted up her wine glass full of the brown vinegar and suggested I mix the drink with a cup of water and two teaspoons of the vinegary acid, or else take two shots of the vinegar straight.

The second option appealed to me the most because unlike her, I did not plan on savoring the daily drink. Oh no. I planned on ripping it off like a band-aid.

One benefit was already guaranteed from this challenge. More pantry space. Months ago my mom surprised me with “my very own” bottle of apple cider vinegar, and it has lingered in the back of my pantry since. Untouched, but not forgotten.

Now it was time to confront its looming presence. I brushed off a light coat of dust blanketing the bottle and untwisted its plastic cap. It let out an unwelcoming hiss. The sour smells immediately invaded my nose, causing it to scrunch up in disagreement. With steady hands, I confidently poured my two shots. No turning back now.

Eyes clenched, I threw it back, hoping the liquid would dodge my taste buds. My efforts were unsuccessful. The cold cider managed to scorch my insides with its acidic power as it rushed through me, burning any unwanted bacteria. Triumphantly, I slammed the shot glass down on the table. I could not help but cough uncontrollably, my body rejecting the poison. I felt like a frat boy throwing back a shot at a tailgate.

Without hesitation, I took the second shot. Forcing myself to swallow the bitter drink, I shook my head as if trying to shake the taste out of me. Its stinging warmth lingered in my stomach as I gripped the side of the kitchen table. It felt like I just swallowed fire. I was sure there was no way I could do this 29 more times.

Each day I procrastinated my meeting with the drink. Just thinking about my daily double shot of vinegar forced the corners of my mouth to frown. Mental preparation before each shot became a chore. My eternal war was like debating with a toddler. The thought of skipping out on the shots crept into my mind every time my eyes landed on the bottle, but I knew I had to take it. I usually took the drink at night, holding it off as long as possible. Before taking the shots, I squinted while examining the bottle’s reddish-brown containments. The label shouted “Made with delicious apples!” but no amount of false advertising masked the drink’s sour taste.

After gathering the courage to stay committed to my challenge, I gulped down the vinegar. This was followed by a desperate fumble for my water bottle. As I laid down for bed I heard the liquids sway inside my stomach. Drifting into sleep, the liquid festered inside my stomach like hot coals. As its fire died out, I felt my eyelids grow heavy. This became my nightly routine.

Though I am pessimistic, I notice the drink fulfilling its promises. Looking closely into the mirror with wide, inspecting eyes, I was surprised to find clear, glowing skin. Something I was never blessed with. Also, I began sleeping through the whole night and waking up full of energy. This was the complete opposite of my regular restless nights that were followed by exhausted mornings.

Of course, my mom attributed my improved appearance to her vinegary sidekick. She swore it was because of the drink’s “magic powers” that I finally looked well-rested and free from blemishes. She even insisted that I looked thinner due to her apple cider advice. At first, the compliments were toward me but then ended in more acclamation to the drink. She praised it like it was the overachieving daughter she never had, but I did not mind because of my new clear skin and the energy boost the drink gave me. I felt as if I was starting to see the light at the end of the bottle.

I judged too soon. Halfway through my 30 days, I woke up feeling like a train ran over me. For the first time in years, I was sick. Overwhelmed by disappointment, I glared at the bottle perched on my nightstand, laughing at me. The drink stopped fulfilling its health promises, tempting me to stick it back into the back pantry.

So, that is what I did, but only for the three days. With a long weekend approaching, I packed for vacation in Austin, TX, and I did not want the vinegar to intrude. Plus, there was no room for the bulky, glass bottle in my bag. Driving away from my apartment I tried lying to myself, acting as if I accidentally forgot the bottle. I knew it was no accident.

My long weekend away set me back on my challenge. A toxic combination of eating Taco Bell twice and not bearing the bitter drink for four consecutive days, an obvious toll was taken on my body. I physically felt grimy, like an old rusty machine. My energy was back to being drained and my skin looked lifeless, accurately portraying how I felt. I became significantly less hydrated, my complexion suffered and my sleeping patterns were back to terrible.

I needed the bottle back.

The second I returned home and opened my front door, I ran to my pantry. I quickly unscrewed the lid and took two huge swigs straight from the bottle. It burned especially bad this time but I did not care. I imagined the fiery vinegar igniting my organs back to life, I vowed to not cheat on the challenge again. I noticed my tight, desperate grip on the bottle. This was startling. Am I becoming depended on this? Am I turning into my mother? These thoughts gave me more goosebumps than the apple cider vinegar.

The new fad diet does work wonders. I do not place it on as high of a pedestal that my mom or other fanatics do, but I understand their obsession. Though my 30-day sentence is up, I continue to take my daily double shots. Mainly just because my mom eagerly bought me two new bottles and I refuse to allow them to live in my pantry for untouched months.