GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- It's February, which generally means that New Year's resolution to lose weight with the latest fad diet has come and gone; according to nutritionist Marie Crites, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"Fad diets are just that - fads," said Crites. "In order to successfully lose or maintain a healthy weight, you have to change your perception of diet and exercise."

To make this process easier, Crites holds a free basic nutrition class on Fridays, alternating between the Grafenwoehr and Rose Barracks physical fitness centers. She starts off the classes by debunking many diet myths: There is no magic pill she says. But the class focuses more on overall health than weight.

"We have to stop looking at our health in pounds," said Crites. "A diet is a change in food that implies an end; nutrition is a change in overall behavior."

Crites talks candidly about the dangers of processed foods and artificial flavoring, and our body's inability to process certain preservatives. She is a proponent of home cooking where proportion and ingredients are more controlled, and she stresses the importance of daily activity.

When it comes to exercise, however, much of what Crites teaches may surprise students in the class. Take Soldiers for example: Crites stated that many Soldiers believe they live an active lifestyle by participating in PT five days a week. Not so. This type of exercise regimen places them in the "moderately active" category. Those who work out three times a week are considered sedentary. (Yikes!) The key is to consume the appropriate amount of calories that coincides with the current activity level.

Crites covers examples and attainable goals designed for each individual during her class. Some are easy (Read the labels. If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it), while others are a bit more involved (Count every last calorie).

"We really are what we eat," said Crites. "As a society, we have to be mindful of what we put into our bodies and how active we are, especially when all of the information is out there."

Crites wants participants of her class to make good decisions when it comes to their health -- the goal is to turn that conscious decision into an unconscious habit.

"Our health is in our hands," she said.

For more information, or to sign up for the Basic Nutrition Management class, contact your local physical fitness center.