FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Typically weight-loss programs last about three months. This is how long it can take to make a habit stick. If we are lucky, we end up with including exercise and healthier eating into our lifestyle. At the same time, three months can be a bit overwhelming and many abandon the effort before they even get started. People not only want, but love a shortcut, especially if it ends with results.

But really, can you reach noticeable goals in a healthier lifestyle in fewer than 90 days? Most information points to "no" as the answer. Time is what makes the difference and the more time we spend getting our health under control, the more it is controlled.

In honor of the many who jumped on the band wagon of health, Jan. 20-26 was declared "Healthy Weight Week." This celebration has been around for 20 years. Healthy Weight Week is a time to celebrate healthy lifestyle habits that last a lifetime and prevent overeating and weight problems.

Healthy Weight Week does not focus on the fad; instead the reality of where we are on this road of wellness is assessed by each of us as we come to terms with getting on the good path one step at a time, one day at a time.

Healthy Weight Week is not about hurrying to lose weight. It is about acceptance and the realistic approach we each must take in order for healthy change to stick. Shortcuts such as diet pills, shakes, shots, wraps, gadgets, gizmos, etc. are not the long-term look of healthy living, but the frustrated temporary look -- a look that requires you to keep drinking shakes and taking diet pills to maintain results gained.

This look often is void of physical fitness. Exercise is often viewed as negative, and people don't want to spend time on their bodies -- yet they each crave a greater looking body. Drinks and pills may drop weight from the body, but it will never tighten and tone. It will never lift and shift. Those medals are earned at the gym.

Healthy Weight Week encourages each of us to accept where we are and just keep changing for the healthier and fitter. It is a process that takes time, but as I always state -- embrace the journey, not the destination. Living healthier is a great reward, a blessing that deserves applause.

Healthy Weight Week also sheds light on eating disorders. These approaches to getting thin not only affect older woman, but teenage girls as well. Almost half of third- to sixth-grade girls yearn to be thinner, and about 50 percent of teen girls develop significant eating disturbances at some point in their adolescence, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

This brings about a weight fear, and often these girls eat in ways detrimental to their health and well being. Healthy Weight Week celebrates non-diet lifestyles that can prevent unhealthy eating and weight problems. Healthy Weight Week shows us that we do not have to starve in order to obtain an image that makes us are comfortable and proud.

During this week, people are encouraged to get their health under control in lasting ways -- to eat well, live actively and feel good about themselves and others. We must take the focus off failed weightloss efforts and encourage health at our natural, realistic, obtainable sizes.

Healthy living breathes life into our lives. The choices we make to eat better and exercise more reward our bodies and our minds. I am pleased to know that an awareness holiday exist to celebrate natural efforts that yield lasting results.

For more information on fitness-related topics, visit the health and fitness lectures at the Thomas Lee Hall Library every Friday at noon.