How To Achieve Your Goal Weight Without Even Trying

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Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

You know what weight I mean — that number on the scale that you’re convinced you should be able to maintain, no matter how much your body resists. It may be a number you got from an Ideal Weight Calculator you found on the internet, or it may be the one you reached at some point in high school or two days before your wedding.

If you have actually attained that number in the past, especially if you’ve gotten there more than once, it’s now fixed in your mind as your secret benchmark of worthiness. Double down on that if your romantic interest at the time complimented you on your figure.

Never mind that for almost every day of your adult life, that number remains devilishly elusive, requiring as it does a level of self-denial that would make an ascetic monk weep, along with devoting more time to exercise than you do to your family. Your inability to weigh what you think you should, way down deep inside your flagrant flesh, is a constant whisper in your head, assuring you of your failure and your lack of self-control.

Even though the standards keep changing over the years, usually based on what is most difficult to achieve. In times of famine, generous flesh is celebrated, while in times of caloric plenty (regardless of those calories’ nutritional quality), thinness is revered. But all your life, you have been left in no doubt as to where, on the scale of acceptability, you fit in.

The sad fact is, you don’t. For at least the last 60 years, the recent body positivity movement notwithstanding, the message you’ve most likely gotten is that you have more mass than you have any right to lay claim to.

If you were only smaller, if you showcased your fashion by demanding no more from it than does a clothes hanger — if your belly was flat and if your thighs never met — ah, then you would be fine. You would be in accord with the many examples offered to you so relentlessly by media and advertising.

You would be happy. You would be desired. Famished and fatigued? Never mind. It’s worth a lot to be loved, isn’t it?

And yet, you hunger. Your body insists on asserting its demands.

Because I have walked, for decades, in your pinching shoes. I have done my level best to mute my appetite, my stubborn desire for satiety. Name a diet, I’ve probably been on it: low carb, low fat, low calorie, and primarily, low food.

All of them have been a struggle until I hit on the one strategy that removes all effort. It turns out there is a weight control method that requires no measuring, tracking, counting, or effort. All it requires is catastrophe.

It’s so simple: you just need to have your life upended by a devastating loss, or financial ruin, or a health crisis, or a recognition of abuse. Your choice of trauma is up to you (well, not really). The point is, with your psychic rug violently wrenched from under your feet, you’ll almost certainly find your appetite — normally so shamefully hearty — suppressed below perception.

Within weeks, months at the most, you will discover your body has dwindled down to that magic number quite without ever calculating a calorie.

Granted, I’ve only tested this a few times in my life. And the necessary conditions — the sudden death of a spouse, major surgery, health crises, and other life upheavals — are difficult to replicate. But the effectiveness rate is 100%.

When you’re bludgeoned by grief or trauma, with your nervous system buzzing like a high-tension wire, and your digestive system in escrow while your entire organism reels from the blow and steels itself against the possibility of another one, you can forget about your keto regimen or your point system. The pounds will simply melt away.

Your life or your health may be a wreck, but you’ll be able to slink right inside those jeans that you haven’t been able to wear since the last setback. Friends and coworkers will exclaim at the weight you’ve lost, and plead with you to take care of yourself. You’ll acknowledge their concern, but assuming your weight loss isn’t due to something terminal, there will be a wedge of your ego that is secretly gratified.

Things have gone to hell in your world, but you have a thigh gap!

Your dearly-bought svelte state may last a fairly long time. It could be months or even years. In my experience, duration seems to track with the severity of the causal disaster. But eventually, as you recover whatever it is you need to — your health, security, trust, or interest in life — your metabolism-hyping, chronic stress will begin to wear away.

Sooner or later, with encoaching inner peace and contentment comes encroaching flesh. Your body will go back to insisting on satisfaction, and unless you wage an unending war with its signals, you’ll be shoving those tiny jeans to the back of your closet again.

If you ingested body shaming and judgment with your earliest meals — as so many of us have, especially women — those messages reverberate in your psyche with relentless durability, whether or not you consciously agree with them.

But should you become a follower of the Trauma Diet, it will only take you a couple of rounds before you experience a breakthrough. Maybe, if you’re lucky and resolute, you’ll only need to go through it once.

What I’m referring to is a small, quiet, powerful epiphany. One which would seem obvious to anyone who hasn’t struggled with weight or self-image, but to you, it will be revolutionary.

This will be when you realize that, if that’s what it takes to get to that magic number on the scale, the problem isn’t you.

It’s the scale.

Welcome to your freedom. Have fun making friends with your body, at long last.

Written by

Writer & educator. The Startup, Writing Cooperative, P.S. I Love You, The Ascent, more. Award-winning short fiction. Visit me at

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