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Good girl, bad habits

Do you know this woman? She works hard to make a good life for everyone around her. She’s become accustomed to putting the needs of others above her own. She wants everyone to believe she’s a good wife, devoted mother, hard worker, and committed volunteer. Yeah, she’s me. And maybe you, too.

For years I so desperately wanted validation that I was good enough that I molded myself into what I thought that meant. To be a “good girl” I had to do everything right. Unfortunately, the price of that insecurity was my own health. And it’s not just me. Over and over again I see women fall into these traps.

Trying to be all things to all people. I’m a people-pleaser. I like to make those around me happy, and while this isn’t inherently a bad thing, it is destructive when you’re so concerned with how others perceive you that you constantly suppress your own needs and interests in order to accommodate everyone else. Also, like most women, I am a loving, caring person who finds real joy in supporting and nurturing other people. What I’ve learned is that I don’t always have to jump in and micromanage everyone else’s happiness, and that by pulling back a tiny bit I make a little more space to find my own.

Striving to be “perfect.” I always wanted to do everything “right.” Get good grades, go to the right college, marry the perfect guy, have a beautiful home. It was a Donna Reed sort of fantasy that I bought hook, line and sinker. Of course, it’s impossible to do everything perfectly and attempting to do so is futile. When it came to my weight, I’d commit to some new diet, tell myself I was going to do everything right this time, then have a few slip-ups and feel like a failure all over again. What I know now is that sometimes good enough is good enough. Perfection is overrated.

Defining myself as “bad” because I made a bad food choice. I spent so many years telling myself that I was weak because I couldn’t resist certain foods. You’re supposed to be able to eat “everything in moderation,” right? But I couldn’t. Two chocolate chip cookies became a dozen and one spoon dipped into the ice cream meant I’d eat the entire container. I berated myself with self-talk that would make a sailor blush. Now I set myself up for success by establishing a safe haven at home, where the only food choices to be made are good ones. I practice self-forgiveness, knowing that my mistakes don’t make me a bad person. In fact, learning from them gives me strength.

My weight loss transformation hasn’t turned everything in my life around. I still have those perfectionist tendencies, but I try not to let my inner “good girl” take over at the expense of having a healthy balance.


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