My $25-a-week clean eating experiment a year later

Over a year ago when I was a blogging neophyte, not quite 40, and determined to do something about my weight and health, I set out on a mission – an experiment really. It was my $25-a-week-good-food experiment, and I was determined to reshape the way I looked at food, health and weight loss. Here’s some of what I had to say about it back then…

For weeks now I’ve been seriously rethinking this obsession I have with food and my weight. Specifically it’s occurred to me that for almost all of the past decade, my obsession with controlling (unsuccessfully I might add) what I eat and don’t eat has centered primarily on weight loss. This focus on weight and not on health has caused me to become unhealthier. Yo-yo dieting, pre-packaged diet meals, low carb, low fat, sugarless…you get the idea. My quest to lose weight devolved into me eating man made substitutes for food and came at the expense of eating food the way it was intended to be eaten.

It’s time for a change, a real change – an “I’m about to turn forty so I’ve got to start taking this seriously” change. I’ve been heading in this direction for years now, but eating for health was far down on the list, somewhere behind carb and calorie counting and fat monitoring. And while I’ve never been a lover of junk food and have always preferred fresh fruits and vegetables over sugary desserts – when it comes to food, the choices I make every day are made unconsciously, out of habit, and with very little regard to health and where my food is coming from.

In a nutshell (pun intended), clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state or as close to it as possible. It means eliminating as much processed foods from your diet as possible, and it means being conscious of the source of your food and the impact its production has on the environment. Militaristic clean eaters might have an issue with my definition, but that’s the definition that sums it up for me.  The Gracious Pantry has a great resource page about clean eating that you can access here. The turning point for me came when I watched the documentary Food, Inc. I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone curious about the source of their food – you will not be the same after watching it.

A year after test-driving my clean eating experiment I can say that I’ve adopted clean eating as a way of life.  A way of life differs from a diet in that it’s not something you ever “get off of.” So, on the (now increasingly rare) occasions that I don’t eat clean I, 1) enjoy it a lot less and 2) don’t belittle myself or consider it a diet catastrophe.  It’s not just a healthier way to eat, it’s a healthier way to think. Really, it’s a return to to the way my parents and grandparents used to cook and eat, before advertising and big business began convincing people that they had it all wrong.

Although I haven’t stuck to the $25 budget, I have been more conscientious about how much I purchase and what I’m paying for things, and in the long run that’s helped my overall budget.

So, what’s left is the weight loss. The good news is, the number on the scale is lower. The bad news is, not by much. As a child and teen I struggled with compulsive and emotional eating, and as a 41 year old woman I still do.  Like any habit/compulsion/addiction, it’s been a hard one to shake. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor apparently 41 years. Thankfully, I am a work in progress, not regress, and as long as I’m able, I’ll approach each day with the determination to become a healthier version of the person I was the day before. Anyone care to join me?


WAF’s Summer Reading Series: Lysterium

Editor’s Note: This week’s book selection, Lysterium, is written by Bethany Shelhorn and tells the story of a successful newspaper editor, a mysterious stranger and a long-held family secret. It’s reviewed by WAF community member and creator of, Jeanette Harrietha. In her review Jeanette shares how she, as a woman on her own journey towards 40, connected with the novel’s protagonist, Liv Worthington…

Lysterium – Reviewed by Jeanette Harrietha

If you’re looking to escape real life for a few hours this summer, Bethany Shehorn’s fast-paced debut novel Lysterium offers just the place. While the plot moves almost too quickly at times, Shehorn weaves an interesting and intricately detailed story with the potential for a series of books with well developed characters and storytelling.

After a brief encounter with a handsome and mysterious stranger, Liv Worthington unwittingly sets out on an adventure that challenges reality as she knows it. Liv quickly discovers that the fairytales told to her by her grandmother were in fact true accounts of a magical land called Lysterium, a land Liv must defend against evil. Full of fantasy, intrigue, romance and action, Shehorn takes her reader along for the ride as we follow Liv through the complexities of Lysterium and her own journey of self-discovery.

What I found most interesting about Liv’s character was the fact that she had to first know her truth and face her fears before she could evolve into the woman she was destined to become. This created a point of connection for me, as a woman on my own journey – a journey towards 40.

Now I’m not suggesting that turning 40 provokes the same sort of fear as fighting off evil creatures in a bid to save a magical world (in fact, I’m quite looking forward to turning 40); rather, knowing that I’m turning 40 has motivated me to get better acquainted with myself and more importantly, to not let my fears stand in the way of embracing new opportunities and challenges. Liv’s character provided me with a gentle reminder that as women we don’t have to necessarily be fearless, but rather, by facing our fears we open ourselves up to the possibility of revealing our own inner heroine at any age.

Jeanette Harrietha is an educator and the founder of, an online social network that connects women for friendship. She loves to read, travel, create, and make life happen by embracing new experiences! You can pick up a copy of Lysterium on Amazon.


Hide your face, make a bucket list and know what you really want: Lessons for the next generation of Women at Forty

Earlier this month Reese Witherspoon, while accepting an MTV Movie Award, shared a few words of wisdom with young women who seem to think that nude cell phone pics and “leaked” home porno movies are now the quickest and best way to make it in Hollywood.

Witherspoon said, “I get it, girls, that it’s cool to be a bad girl. But it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed. And if you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face, people! Hide your face!”

Although Witherspoon is a little shy of being 40, I wondered what advice other WAF had for young women in their 20’s. I put the call out on Facebook and of course, the WAF community responded loud and clear. We’ve been there, done that and bought the T-shirt and while you’re out there celebrating your 20’s and 30’s (which you definitely should), take heed to some of what we’ve learned over the years…

“Remember to be respectful to yourself and other women, you to will be our age in 20 very short years.” – Kimberly

“Know what you want before making huge, expensive mistakes: do you REALLY want to go to grad school for that? Consider what that degree might or might not give you. And if someone (a tiger mother-ish person, perhaps) is pressuring you to go to grad school right after college, don’t do it unless it’s something crucial to your career (law school, medical school, CPA, etc).” – Clare

“1)Looks may attract a man, but character and confidence leaves him wanting more. 2)Be honest with yourself… fooling yourself into thinking you can handle certain situations will only leave you with regret. 3)Learn the difference between friends and buddies no one really has LOTS of friends. 4)Sex is meant to be special. It’s one of the most special gifts that you can give. If you were a millionaire, would you give a million dollars to someone just because they asked for it?”  – Tamika

“Make a bucket list in your 20s of all the things you want, places to go, people to see & check it off as the opportunity presents itself. When you get older there are obstacles that will hinder your list (job, small children, finances, etc) until you are older. You might feel like you are getting too old or cram everything in to the point where you don’t enjoy the journey.” – Tanya

“If you are ever on the fence about having or not having kids, babysit or better yet, foster first. Try it out before it’s too late. Also, Google “I hate being a Mom.” Don’t ever let anyone talk you into having kids unless YOU REALLY want to have them. I fostered thinking I wanted kids, and believe me, I’m so glad I was able to get out of taking care of a baby for 18 years. Even with a husband who was willing to share, it still fell on me as the primary caretaker, and I wasn’t the type. If you really want to have kids, that’s great – more power to you. But if you’re on the fence – BE CAREFUL!” – Liza
I got more great responses than I could possibly fit in one post, so there’ll probably be a part two. If you’ve got words of wisdom to share, leave a comment, email us (contribute (@) women at, or post it on our Facebook fan page.



Our summer reading series begins with…Annie Begins

AnnieBeginsEditor’s Note: Annie Begins, a novel by Michelle Toth, kicks off our summer reading series, and WAF reader Traci Delisser reviews the book and shares how she relates to a certain character who lives life, without apologies, on her own terms…

Annie Begins – Reviewed by Traci Delisser

I read a lot and usually I am dying for my lunch breaks and daily train rides to pull out my book of the day and find out what happens next. With this book, not so much! It was highly predictable with the typical girl (Annie) who likes an “unavailable” guy, who in turn likes her only as a friend; while his not so refined friend becomes her rock. There were no surprises.

That said; Annie was very relatable: a giver who is always taking care of others, a bit embarrassed by her working class family, unsuccessful in love, crushing on the wrong guy and a smart professional doing great work for little and inadequate compensation. Annie could easily be me. You cannot help but cheer when she stands up for herself, turns a rejected idea into a business and finally recognizes the jewel under the mullet hair.

Annie’s young sick cousin, April, however is why I like this book. She is a strong, wise old soul who reminded me throughout that there is nothing greater than family, embracing love and being open and available to the possibilities.

The other star of the book is Anne’s roommate, Elk with her strong sense of self, confidence and candor. She embodies the lesson I am now learning in my life – Live your life on your terms and don’t apologize for doing so.

Traci Delisser is a proud Jamaican now living in the City of Brotherly Love. An attorney in a previous life, Traci now works in real estate finance and is now searching for her next career for her 40s. Her favorite quote is “People treat you how you allow them to treat you”.

You can pick up a copy of Michelle Toth’s Annie Begins on Amazon.

Lysterium, literary tours and what we’re reading this summer…

Last week Kalin chronicled Literary Tours from around the globe.  In keeping with that theme, this month we’re launching our summer reading series.

Why a reading series? Well, you should already know how much I love to read. If not, read this.

I’ll wait…


Now you know why I love to read – and why I can enjoy reading almost anything (yes, even the Twilight series that I mercilessly mocked when a colleague started reading it a few years ago.) I’ll wait while you read that one too.

Can you think of a more relaxing summer day than kicking back with a great book (a real one if you’re old school like me, or a Kindle if you’ve considered/gone over to the other side – also like me?)  Reading, whether you’re sunning yourself on the Amalfi coast (my dream vacation) or fanning yourself in your one bedroom efficiency in 94 degree Atlanta, GA (my real vacation), is the best – legal – form of escapism there is. Continue reading Lysterium, literary tours and what we’re reading this summer…