The tip of the iceberg.

It's a popular saying.  When I was growing up, it was just a meaningless expression.  Oh, I knew the connotation.  I knew it meant that there was more to the subject, but it was kind of like the term "elbow grease."  It had no literal meaning, only the figurative one. 

One day while listening to an audio clip from Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the phrase took on new meaning to me.  He stated it in a way I'd never heard before.  He said, "like the great mass of the iceberg that lies beneath the surface of the water ..."  Suddenly, I knew that my understanding of the phrase "the tip of the iceberg" had been just -- well -- the tip of the iceberg!

Dr. Covey used the analogy to describe the difference between chronic issues and acute issues.

Normally we hear these words used only in medical terms, like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Acute Myocardial Infarction, but in terms of life, we never hear them much.  Let's start with the definitions (for those of you who already know these terms, bear with me).

Acute means sudden, in the moment, urgent.

It also refers to something being large in scale.  Chronic, then, would be something that develops over time.  Maybe you can't even sense the existence of chronic issues, but they're there.  Dr. Covey went on to talk about the difference between urgent and important, and how the events in your life can be both, one or the other, or neither.  Things that are both important and urgent can be described as acute.  Things that are important, but not urgent are the chronic elements.  It is, of course, a good idea to balance the two.  Acute issues must be handled and they must be handled right now.  Chronic issues have the sense of procrastination.  We know they're important, but we put them off until later because we just worked so hard on our acute issues that

Being overweight, as you've no doubt heard about a million times, is not something that happened overnight, nor will it go away that quickly.

Carrying extra weight is, therefore, a chronic issue.  Many have tried to solve this chronic issue with an acute solution.  Surgeries, quick acting diets, electronic muscle stimulation doohickeys ... The problem is that none of these really attack the root of the problem.  To borrow a quote from Gordon Graham, "It's like putting paint on a dirty car.  It just doesn't work!"  The car may look pretty, but the first time that paint job is "tested," like in a heavy rain, the exterior will wash off, or crack, or something, but rest assured that dirty car will find a way to show through!

If we continue trying to solve being over weight with quick fix solutions, then every time we are "tested" we will fall back into our old habits.  The first stressful event will send us sprinting for the Oreos.  The first sign of resistance from a spouse about "going to the gym NOW" will cause us to cave in.  We have to take the time to change how we think about eating and exercise.  Otherwise, the exercise and healthy-eating "paint" will wash off after the first storm.