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Good Girl/Bad Girl Phenomenon: Why I Never, Ever Diet

I like to be slim and wear cute outfits. Sure, it’s good to be healthy, but the honest truth is that I work hard at maintaining my weight because I don’t want to look fat.

There’s one strategy I never have in my weight goal repertoire, however, and that’s dieting.

The reason I’m opposed to dieting is not idealogical or nutritional – it’s purely psychological.

Good Girl Pokes Bad Girl

For most of us, trying too hard to be good wakes the part of us that wants to be bad.

Call it the shadow self a la Jung, call it our homeostatic physiological systems, call it our perverse natures.

Geneen Roth calls it the fourth law of the universe: For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge.

I call it the Good Girl/Bad Girl phenomenon. You can call it whatevs, but it’s powerful.

Every time I try to not do something, I want to do it more. I could have zero interest in it before, but once it becomes forbidden, I become obsessive.

I would never be able to give up carbs because then, every time I looked at you, your head would appear as a lovely large loaf of freshly baked sourdough. Over time this may erode our friendship, especially if I started biting your head off. Literally.

If you’ve ever been on a diet or tried to give up a particular food group, then you know what I’m talking about. You know how powerfully you want that forbidden fruit. The serpent is in your head.

And it gets worse.

We feel like a failure for not sticking with the diet. We loathe ourselves for our lack of willpower. What is wrong with us.

Our misery makes us seek comfort in the arms of a good looking tub of ice cream. It’s a vicious, if delicious, cycle.

At some level we know it’s not just about calories. We know we can’t talk about food without talking about psychology. We know can never achieve weight loss goals if we ignore the ways our minds work.

So for many of us, Good Girl/Bad Girl phenomenon is the reason why we should abandon diets for good.

Meet Moderate Girl

There are more psychologically smart approaches, more moderate, long-term strategies (are you seriously yawning at me now?), which I’ll talk about in future posts.

In essence, though, a better solution than the endless Good Girl/Bad Girl diet battle is to start making friends with Moderate Girl.

Moderate Girl says stuff like this:

  • I can have it now if if really feel like it. Do I really feel like it?
  • I don’t feel like it now but I can have it later if I really feel like it later.
  • I can have anything I really want, but I don’t really want that.
  • I can take it or leave it, so I’ll leave it.

If you’ve struggled with the Good Girl/Bad Girl diet/binge cycle, then maybe it’s time to ditch those two bitches. And be wary of anyone who taunts them and guilts you for not sticking to a diet. They aren’t helping.

Instead, get to know Moderate Girl. She could be your new BFF.

One Response to Good Girl/Bad Girl Phenomenon: Why I Never, Ever Diet

  1. Marion 2014.24.10 at 11:55 pm #

    Agree 100%. People always say with the hours I put in at the gym, if I dieted I’d be so skinny. But I know diets aren’t long-term solutions. So I eat what I want, put in the work at the gym, and maintain my weight, while my body is toning up. I’m not skinny, but I’m toned, and I eat whatever I want, so I’m happy.

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