Reader Success Story

How long-time CE reader Tonette Raber overcame a decade-long battle with anxiety, depression and divorce, and turned it all around by returning to clean eating and losing 30 pounds.

“In 2009, I was featured in Clean Eating magazine as a “Success Story.” Of course, I had no idea then what would come next. In the decade that followed, severe depression and medication controlled my life to the point where my 23-year marriage fell apart and I felt like I would never have hope again. In January, I returned to my love of fitness and my passion for clean eating. Without counting calories or sweating menu planning, I innately used the principles I learned from CE! The pounds melted away. My energy returned and actually sky-rocketed. The woman who took antidepressants for 25+ years is now medication-free and living mindfully. There is hope and I want to spread the word to the world. Thank you Clean Eating.”

A Q&A with our Success Story Tonette Raber

Tonette Raber Before

CE: What brought you back to your love of eating clean and fitness this past January? 

Tonette: Collapsing from stress and the heartache of a divorce brought me back to not only my love of eating clean and fitness, but it also brought me back to my small hometown of Cochran, Georgia.

CE: What principles did you apply if not counting calories? 

T: I stopped eating out, shopped only the “outer parameters” of the grocery stores such as the produce, dairy, and meat sections, and I cooked or food-prepped all of my meals each day.  

CE: How did you eat? 

T: I ate approximately three meals and snacks each day, but was not rigid. Sometimes I ate the forbidden “late dinner” if I wasn’t hungry and I even fried a few things on occasion in good old-fashioned butter, but only if it was in healthy small portions. I incorporated lots of fresh spinach, carrots, olive oils, avocados, and lean meats into my diet. 

CE: What did you focus on and what did you stop eating/drinking? 

T: I focused on flavor. I made it a “hobby” to try to make my presentation of restaurant quality and held myself to “gourmet” standards as if I were cooking for a food critic. I also took pictures of all of my meals and shared many on social media.

CE: Why is eating clean so important to you? 

T: Mental health and mood are key! When I eat clean and exercise my mind is sharp and my body fires on all cylinders. I can bike, walk, swim and sleep.

CE: Does eating clean have an impact on your depression or mood? 

T: YES! Immense changes in depression. I was on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications for over 15-years and am now off of ALL! I have never had more energy or felt so ALIVE!

CE: Favorite Clean Eating recipe? 

T: White chicken avocado chili 

Tonette Raber After

CE: How much weight did you lose when you restarted your health journey? 

T: 30lbs.

CE: What other positive effects did it have? 

T: I learned to appreciate the little things in life again. I stopped to feel the crisp breeze of early spring and even picked a few roses for the kitchen table. Of course, I stopped to “smell” them, too (laughs).

What do you tell your friends and family about changing their eating habits? I don’t. I don’t offer them advice unless they ask me. They’re always a bit skeptical and think eating clean is much more difficult and strict than it is in real life. However, when I post a pic on Social Media or take an entree to a party, they always ask how I made a dish, and I reply, “Oh, this is my favorite clean eating chicken chili, and it’s super healthy.” That always opens up a door for conversation and for sharing the recipe which is built on clean eating. I then share the name of the magazine and links to recipes online.

CE: Why is eating clean sustainable in your mind? 

T: When I hit rock bottom in my life this past year, I was basically financially limited to cooking at home and that forced me to cut out a lot of junk foods and preservatives. I basically automatically began “cooking clean” to suit my budget and the sustainability became natural. It’s just a way of life now, and I love it!