Carved In Stone

You know the sentiment–you can change your mind or revise your plans because “it’s not carved in stone.” But recently we learned that even being carved in stone doesn’t make something unchangeable.

In early 2011, a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was finalized and dedicated in Washington, D.C. There has been some controversy over the words carved into the base of the statue of Dr. King. The words paraphrase a quote, and some think the paraphrasing changes the meaning and makes Dr. King look “arrogant.”

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On the eve of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior ordered the National Park Service to come up with a plan to fix the inscription. Even words that literally are carved in stone can be changed.

A recent story in the New York Times might make some people think that their weight problems are carved in stone. In “The Fat Trap” (New York Times, December 28, 2011), author Tara Parker-Pope reports on the problem that even “motivated” people have maintaining any significant weight loss. The article discusses a recent study that has been interpreted as providing scientific evidence that “once we become fat, most of us, despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat.”

There very well may be physiological reactions to weight loss. Hormonal responses may slow our metabolism and/or increase our appetite in a misguided fight for survival. But that doesn’t carve that number on the scale into stone, and I hope that “The Fat Trap” and other articles like it don’t make people give up on losing weight and adopting healthier lifestyles.

I was overweight for as long as I can remember. I lost weight briefly during college and several times after that, but not by making healthy food choices or committing to an exercise program, so the weight always came back on quickly.  It wasn’t until I had graduated from law school even heavier than I’d started that I finally got serious about taking care of myself.

My experience agrees with “The Fat Trap” in one respect–losing 40+ pounds was much easier than figuring out how to keep it off. But I stuck with it, learned to make permanent changes to my diet, worked to make exercise part of my daily routine, and adopted healthier coping mechanisms than stress eating. Now, more than 10 years after reaching my “goal” weight, I am happily, healthily still fitting into my skinny jeans.

Being overweight for 30-plus years didn’t carve my weight issues into stone. While it took hard work, trial and error, and dusting myself off after numerous stumbles, I was able to sand blast them away.

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4 Responses to Carved In Stone

  1. FindingMyHappyPace says:

    I think it's really up to a person to decide, "am I going to DO this?" If they can't change their mind, their behaviors, their habits, then they're trapped, in my opinion. Though I think there are some cases where a medical problem prevents it too.

  2. Jeff Lorow (@Another says:

    The clinic that they use in that article is a poor example – no one can live on 550 calories a day for their entire lives! Of course their body thought they were starving – they were! Fitness isn't about losing weight – it's about a long-term healthy lifestyle. Parker-Pope does a disservice to overweight people – giving them one more faulty excuse to not try. 🙁

  3. What a crappy article …that could be so unmotivating to someone who is struggling at the moment in their journey! My weight/measurements are NOT ever going to be carved in stone! I will reach my goals and maintain them! Why, because I know I can do it !

  4. I read that same article and had many of the same thoughts. While I still feel like I fluctuate in the last 10 pounds I lost, I also feel like I'm getting a grip on what I need to do to stay healthy. I do think that I can gain weight pretty quickly and can quickly find myself thinking to 'throw in the towel' about the whole thing. I agree with Jeff that the author is just giving overweight people another excuse. It's about a lifestyle change – not a diet.

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