Project 40

Younger Next Week by Elisa Zied

When my kids were younger, it was easy to make excuses for my lack of self-care, like regular exercise or some mysterious thing I’d read about called “me time”. But as the kids get older (and I get older too) my stubborn refusal to put myself somewhere on my to-do list isn’t cutting it anymore. Entering my 40s, I vowed to do better (read: “Project 40“). But now, two years later, I haven’t made nearly enough progress.

That all became crystal clear when I got the new book by fellow dietitian Elisa Zied, Younger Next Week. Elisa, a mom of two boys who motivates 44,000+ people through her popular Twitter feed, says she wrote the book because she knew a lot of women who were letting the stress of everyday life get in the way of looking and feeling their best.

Yep, that sounds familiar.

Younger Next Week is my reminder that making healthy tweaks to my diet, incorporating relaxation techniques, and making fitness a priority aren’t optional if I want to look and feel younger than my 42 years. The book opens with a quiz to find out where you’re starting (my score showed definite room for improvement) then presents a 7-Day Vitality Plan that includes a meal plan and recipes, guidelines for exercise, and tips for handling stress.

Elisa calls her book “a permission slip” for women to prioritize taking care of of themselves.

Just what I need. How about you?

I’m hosting a giveaway of one copy of Younger Next Week.  To enter, leave a comment telling me why YOU need this book. For one additional entry, “like” Elisa on Facebook or follow her on Twitter, then leave me a comment telling me that you did. Giveaway ends Monday April 7th at noon Eastern Time. (US residents only, please.)

As a bonus, here’s a recipe from the book, Romaine Salad With Raspberries, which I tried and loved (I used mixed greens because that’s what I had).

Romaine Salad with Raspberries from Younger Next Week by Elisa Zied

5.0 from 1 reviews
Romaine Salad With Raspberries
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 7
  • Dressing:
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salad:
  • 5 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • ½ medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts
  1. Prepare the dressing by placing the raspberries in a fine sieve over a small bowl to catch the juice. Using a fork, mash the raspberries to extract their juice. Disard the pulp. Add the lemon juice, honey and mustard to the raspberry juice and whisk. Slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the dressing has emulsified. Stir in the salt and pepper and set the dressing aside.
  2. Place the romaine lettuce, onion and bell peppers in a large bowl. Add the whole raspberries and the dressing and toss gently.
  3. Spoon the salad onto individual plates and garnish with walnuts. Serve at once.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Younger Next Week.


When I embarked on the Two Week No (Added) Sugar Challenge, I thought it would be one of the hardest changes I’ve made.

Instead, it was one of the easiest. Easier than exercising every day. Easier than not eating at my computer.

So easy that when I hit the two week mark on Wednesday, I decided to keep going. Since I won’t wake up buff on my birthday (my knee pain has kept me from any intense exercise) I figured this was the best way to keep Project 40 going. After all, I was inspired to make changes before my 4-0 so I’d feel better. And not eating added sugar has, without a doubt, made me feel better.

What I’ve loved:

  • No more sugar crashes. No more headaches or sluggishness after eating sweets.
  • I don’t have to negotiate with Valentine’s Candy. Or leftover birthday cake. Or the dessert menu at restaurants.
  • I’m forced to think much harder about everything I eat. I’m not snacking between meals or grabbing random things–a handful of cereal here, a granola bar there–because so much of it has added sugar.
  • My kids are eating fewer sweets because there aren’t homemade goodies in the house.

What I’ve learned:

  • Avoiding added sugar is easy when you’re surrounded by good food at home–like my favorite smoothie, fresh fruit, and unsweetened dried fruit. But not so easy when you’re traveling. On a recent trip, I avoided so many things that I ended up going hungry.
  • Nuts and nut butters are delicious but dangerous. I have to work hard to limit myself to one serving a day–otherwise, I’d end up taking in 1,000 calories a day from Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter.
  • Sugar doesn’t have the pull on me that I thought it did. After two days, I didn’t crave it anymore. In these past two weeks, I’ve gone head-to-head with three cakes, warm molten lava brownies with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven, homemade apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies (not that anyone’s keeping track of course). Though I still want something sweet after a meal, that feeling is diminishing every day.

So I’m extending the challenge until March 24, the day of my 40th birthday. What happens then? For starters, birthday cake. Then hopefully, I can find a balance between no sugar and too much sugar (and that probably doesn’t involve candy corn).

Want to join me in March? Let me know! And follow along on the Real Mom Nutrition Facebook page.


The No (Added) Sugar Challenge Shocker!

February 20, 2012

This is not as hard as I thought it would be. Day one: Rough. Day two: One mammoth, splitting, day-long headache. The rest of the week: No problem. I even went out of town to a friend’s surprise birthday party, where I was faced with almond cake with buttercream frosting and molten-lava chocolate brownies with […]

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Project 40: My Two Week No-Sugar Challenge

February 7, 2012

I have a deep and abiding love for sugar. As a child, I passed up all manner of candy bars in favor of sticky-sweet Pixy Stix, SweeTarts, and Lik-M-Aid. I sneaked spoonfuls of powdered sugar when my mom was baking and sucked on Sour Patch Kids until my tongue felt numb. But lately, sugar has […]

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What I Learned from the Fitness Challenge

December 12, 2011

It is with a mixture of pride and embarrassment that I announce: I exercised 12 days in a row! Pride because I haven’t exercised 12 days in a row for about two years. Embarrassment because well, I haven’t exercised 12 days in a row for about two years. I started the 12 Days of Fitness […]

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Giveaway: Adjustable Resistance Band

December 11, 2011

You may remember that I once mocked the mere suggestion of exercising while doing mundane household chores (see that post here). But since starting the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge and struggling to find free moments in the day to work out, I’ve warmed up to the idea of that kind of multitasking. So when […]

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Recipe + Giveaway: MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better

December 5, 2011

Remember the Food Guide Pyramid? It’s, like, so last year. In its place, the government’s experts have given us MyPlate–which is basically what a lot of dietitians have been telling people for years: Fill half of your plate with fruit and vegetables and divide the other half between protein and grains. But of course it’s […]

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Fitness Challenge Giveaway: My (Second) Favorite Workout DVD

December 3, 2011

I am hopelessly devoted to Jillian Michaels’ exercise DVDs. It all began two years ago with the 30 Day Shred, which brought me back from the depths of a post-baby funk that I wrote about here. I love that workout because it’s fast (25 minutes!) and efficient, with circuits of strength training, cardio, and abs. Though […]

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Join the Project 40 Fitness Challenge!

November 29, 2011

I’m one-third of the way through Project 40, and one thing is crystal clear: I’m failing miserably at my exercise goals. I’ve all but stopped eating at the computer, and evening snacks barely tempt me anymore. But the exercise. Oh, the exercise. I’m not sure what my problem is. I’m busy, but I’ve been busy before. I’m tired, […]

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Project 40: October FAIL

November 7, 2011

I’m not gonna lie: Project 40 is off to a rocky start. The inaugural month started off strong. I successfully ran the 5K and raised $545 for Donna’s Good Things. A mammoth thank you to all who contributed! I made a chart with my goals and was checking off little boxes and taking names: I wasn’t […]

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