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Are you more confused than ever about carbs and protein? Are you sick of spending a fortune on supplements? Are you looking for easy ways to eat more healthfully and manage your weight at the same time? Would you like to reduce your risk for stroke and heart disease without giving up the foods you love to eat?

If any of these nutrition questions are on your mind, please join me for an educational seminar at Deaconess Billings Clinic on May 21 at noon. This free event is part of the DBC StrokeSense Lunch and Learn program, and it includes a healthy lunch from Subway. Call 255-8440 or (800) 252-1246 to register or for more information.

If you are unable to attend this session, just keep reading this column. Every week, we discuss the latest research on easy ways to get "fit and healthy, anytime, anywhere."

Here is some information from popular columns in the past on current weight guidelines and 10 tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for life.

Healthy weight guidelines Current weight guidelines have shifted from the old height-weight tables to the concept of Body Mass Index. In 1998, an expert panel from the National Institutes of Health chose BMI as a reliable and inexpensive way to classify the health risk of being overweight. A BMI table and information about BMI to your health can be found at There is also a BMI calculator available at:

It is important to realize that BMI is just one measure of health. Having a BMI in the "healthy" range is not a guarantee of good health, nor does it guarantee that you are at a low risk for stroke and heart disease. Your lifestyle (e.g., eating, drinking, smoking and activity patterns) and your family history are also important.

Looking beyond BMI Some people have a very difficult time losing weight — based on genetics, age and dieting history. The older you are and the more you have dieted, the more difficult it may be to lose weight. This is especially true if you have a family history of obesity and if you became overweight as a child.

Research shows that people can significantly improve their health and reduce their risk factors by eating better and being more active, whether or not they lose weight. In reality, healthy people come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and weights. With a healthy lifestyle, every body can feel better today and be fitter tomorrow.

Many health professionals are using a more holistic definition of healthy weight — one that shifts the focus from weight loss to lifestyle behaviors. Here are some thoughts from experts who think beyond BMI when looking at weight management.

A healthy weight is:

- Determined by your lifestyle, not by numbers on a scale or the BMI chart.

- A weight where you can have food be part of your life, but not all of your life.

- The weight that one's body settles into with a balanced lifestyle, healthful eating and regular physical activity.

- A weight that is attainable and maintainable within a reasonably stable range without having to resort to heroic efforts of restricting caloric intake or excessively exaggerating caloric expenditure.

- A weight range that a person settles into while respecting natural appetites for food, movement, and rest; without using restrictive eating patterns, compulsive exercise, medications or supplements to manage their weight.

10 tips for a healthy weight 1. Get started today.

Waiting for next Monday, next week or any time in the future delays the time that you will start to feel better. Commit to your health right now and make only those changes that you are willing to sustain for the rest of your life. Most traditional diets fail over the long haul because people are unwilling to eat that restrictively forever.

2. Do it for yourself.

Trying to change for someone else usually ends in no change at all. The strongest reasons are ones that are important to you, not to a parent, spouse, child or friend. The most lasting changes are ones that have both short-term and long-term benefits for you, such as having more energy today and maintaining a healthy weight in the future.

3. Make health a priority.

No time to eat right or be active? Not really. All of us have time; it's a question of how we spend it. It's all about priorities. If you move health up on your priority list, you'll have more energy for everything else you want to do. As is often said, good health makes life worth living. Lose your health and very little is left.

4. Set realistic goals.

Getting a model-perfect body, buns of steel or a six-pack stomach aren't realistic for most of us (despite what the ads say). Set yourself up for success with achievable goals and you'll stick with the program longer. Losing as little as 10 pounds can make a big difference in your health, and you are much more likely to lose 10 than 40 or 50.

5. Make small changes.

Small changes work better than giant leaps and, over time, they make a big difference. Break behaviors down into small "bites" and work on them one at a time. If you are a confirmed couch potato, getting 30 minutes of physical activity a day can be a difficult change. So, start with just 10 to 15 minutes a day and increase gradually.

6. Expect to be successful.

Plan for success rather than failure. Positive self-talk and an enthusiastic approach are often self-fulfilling prophecies. Focusing on your past failures is a recipe for disaster, as is trying the same thing that you have tried a million times before. Try a new, realistic approach with a new, positive attitude and you are more than half way there already.

7. Ask for support.

Supportive people can help you stay with your plan. You can take a class, join a group, or just hook up with a good friend or family member who also wants to make a change. Support works best when you find people who have similar goals, interests and lifestyles. Remember, support is very different that asking someone to "police" your behavior.

8. Consult an expert.

The right "coach" can make all the difference in your attitude and progress. Go to a registered dietitian for nutrition help and a certified trainer or instructor for fitness help. Check with your health care provider if you need a referral and avoid untrained salespeople who want you to buy a bunch of unproven supplements.

9. Track your progress.

Research shows that tracking behavior change is a real motivator. Choose a convenient place to write down how you're doing, like notes on a calendar or in your computer scheduler. Pick one change to track, like minutes of physical activity or number of fruits and veggies eaten. Keep it simple and you'll be more like to keep it up.

10. Celebrate every success.

Rewards and positive feedback work for kids and adults, too. Choose several ways to give yourself pats on the back, like saving for a massage or spending time with a friend. Remember getting gold stars when you were a kid? They can work for adults, too.

Registered dietitian Dayle Hayes is a nutritionist and consultant to Deaconess Billings Clinic and Eat Right Montana. You can contact her at 655-9082 or Hayes' past Gazette columns are available at: