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Diets don't work-healthy lifelong habits are what will get you weight loss, weight maintenance, and good health. Celebrate National Healthy Weight Week (January 20 to 26) by dropping the diet and picking up a few healthy habits instead.

The concept behind Healthy Weight Week is that dieting is harmful to your self-esteem. You diet because you view yourself as overweight. Then the punishment, deprivation, restricting calories, and avoiding happy hour starts. But if you are always hungry or feel deprived and view yourself as "fat," then packing on the pounds is easy.

So what exactly is a "healthy" weight? Uncontrollable elements that affect weight are height, bone density, body type (endomorph, mesomorph, ectomorph), and body composition (the innate ratio of body muscle to fat). Muscle & Strength explains the different body types (shown below) and variations in exercise routine for body type.


If you are a mesomorph and have more muscles than an ectomorph, you may weigh more but are not overweight. And while most female models are ectomorphs, many women aren't-yet they set weight goals based on a cover girl's body frame. This is unrealistic. A realistic weight goal is one that is unique for each individual and attainable. If you are working out at the gym and you look and feel good, is it really important to lose those last few pounds? After all, weight, like age, is just a number.

RELATED: Instead of dieting, follow these 12 healthy weight-loss tips from real women. They worked for them and they'll work for you too!

During Healthy Weight Week, setting a weight goal and sticking to a set number of calories does not take first priority. For example, if you are part of the "clean your plate club" and are having difficulty losing weight, instead of concentrating on counting calories, use a smaller plate. You will eat the same food you always enjoy, finish the food on your plate, and lose weight. A simple change makes weight loss easy.

Positive body image and establishing a healthy relationship with food is what counts and can help you reach weight goals. Stanford University School of Medicine found that 63 percent of participants in a study who had a positive body image were more successful at losing and maintaining weight for a year compared to a 26 percent success rate for those who were discontent with their bodies.

During Healthy Weight Week, hide your scale, do not peek at a height and weight chart, and avoid body mass index (BMI) calculations. Love yourself, love your body. Change your thinking and focus on these goals:

  • Accept your weight and embrace who you are.
  • Set realistic health guidelines for yourself.
  • Focus on positive lifestyle changes.
  • Appreciate yourself. Create positive relationships with family, friends, and food.
  • Change your thoughts: Erase negative thoughts and begin positive self-talk: "I am beautiful."
  • Enjoy your eating experience by eating a variety of foods. Do not diet or obsess on food, weight, or calories. Eat when hungry, stop when full.
  • Move your body. Enjoy a hobby or turn up the tunes and dance.
  • Relax. Take time out for yourself.

If you enjoy Healthy Weight Week, don't stop at one week, make lasting lifestyle changes forever!

Nationally known as an expert in weight loss, integrative nutrition, blood sugar, and health management, Valerie Berkowitz, M.S., R.D., C.D.E. is co-author of The Stubborn Fat Fix, director of nutrition at The Center for Balanced Health, and consultant for Complete Wellness in NYC. She is a woman who strives for internal peace, happiness and lots of laughs. Visit Valerie's Voice: for the Health of It or @nutritionnohow.