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September 13, 2023

Shutterbean Weight Loss

My Everyday Life Week 33 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

Shutterbean Weight Loss! 

I only made that the name of this post Shutterbean Weight Loss because I have seen that it has been googled a gazillion times. SEO, do your thing! 

So, let’s talk about my weight loss. If this kind of thing is triggering for you, I advise you to stop here.

I do have to let you know that I am still very much on this journey, I am by no means an expert. 

As Ina says:

Well this is what I do - Ina Garten - lettered Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean

Ha! The journey hasn’t been fun. It’s been hard and my hard work has paid off.

If you want to hear about how I decided that I am worth the effort and was tired of making excuses, let’s gooooo.

This is me now. Strongest I’ve ever been!

My Everyday Life Week 36 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

This is what I looked like 55lbs. ago. This is June 2022.

 

How to Stay Organized in the Kitchen- Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean shares her tips & tricks.

My overalls were getting tight and my yoga pants were STRETCHED tf out.

My Everyday Life Week 50 of 2021- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

There was more of me to love.

My Everyday Life Week 34 of 2021- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com 

This is me now…feeling comfortable showing my whole body, dancing! 

My Everyday Life Week 34 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

Feeling good in my body! 

My Everyday Life Week 35 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

I fit in my wedding dress (from 2006!) better than when I did back then!

My Everyday Life Week 11 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

What caused me to lose weight?

I felt tired all the time and was sick of losing and gaining the same 10+ pounds repeatedly.

I couldn’t hike up a hill without feeling winded.

A lot of my clothes didn’t fit and I didn’t want to buy new ones.

With grief and COVID quarantine times (read: sourdough bread/pizza obsession), I weighed 40lbs. over what I weighed before my Mom died (in late 2017). I was living (read: struggling) with the extra weight of grief.  It was heavy and I was sick and tired of carrying it around the past few years.  I didn’t recognize who I was and wanted to find myself again. I knew I felt better when I was moving regularly but I couldn’t commit to a practice because it was hard for me to do it on my own.  After about 5 years of putting in half of the effort, finding discipline & accountability in a workout routine jumpstarted the process of shedding lbs. 

My Everyday Life Week 43 of 2021- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

To be clear, my intention on this journey was to build a workout routine. I didn’t have a goal weight in mind.  I still don’t!  My goal was to make exercise a habit. It was one part of the process that started a domino effect.

Let’s break it down! 

What helped me on my weight loss journey:

  • Food journaling
  • Podcasting with Benjamin Russack
  • Workout Routine
  • Eating Meeting
  • Food Adjustments/nourishment

My Everyday Life Week 30 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

Food journaling:

When my Mom died, my relationship with food became complicated. I didn’t want to cook. For a big chunk of time, I was working on it not being fair that I was the only one left in the family that entertained and cooked. I had to feed all the men in my life but nobody nourished me and I got really bitter about that. 

It messed up my relationship with this blog too. My mom was my writing muse and with her gone, I lost the magic that came in being creative with food. My focus switched from food to time and I leaned heavily into journaling/handwriting. 

In an effort to create a stream of income, lose weight, and practice my handwriting, I created my first food journal in 2018. My life/work fell apart after my Mom died and this was my attempt to reboot it. I’m so glad my food journal has helped so many people in the process! 

Each food journal has enough pages to track 12 weeks of daily eating. After going through about 9 of them, I REALLY realized what my patterns with food were.  I also figured out what foods made me feel bad/messed up my digestion.

I would do really well with checking in with myself throughout the week with this food journaling practice and then abandon it on Friday.  Two drinks on a Friday night led to me overeating and I got off track with nourishment for days…and sometimes weeks. My problem with drinking is that I sometimes do it to eat.  Alcohol makes me compulsively eat and when I am around other people who eating and drinking, I keep up the pace of eating (especially if there’s a binge involved!) and cannot say no.  

You can read more about my food journaling experience here. 

Look, Just Tell Me What To Do. on Apple Podcasts

Podcast Episodes 

My conversations with my friend Benjamin gave me valuable insight into my relationship with food.  After my Mom died, I really lost my way with food. I ate to numb. I ate to grieve. I stuffed down a lot of feelings and overindulged my family with rich foods because I knew that I could easily show my love for them when I was in the deepest pits of depression. Also, I am the only female left in my family so eating around men (who eat fast & with volume) reinforced bad habits of binging and compulsive eating. 

 

Episode 1: A First Course 

 

Episode 2: The Main Course 

 

Episode 3: Dessert 

If you listen to these episodes, you can get a better understanding of my history with food.  I really got into it! 

 

Currently March 2023- -Currently Workbook by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

Workout Routine:

As I said, the discipline of a workout routine is what jumpstarted the weight loss. Tracking my workouts with my monthly calendar template really helped. 

Checking in with others (sharing my stats on my watch) really helped too. 

Creating a Workout Routine- Tracy Benjamin from Shutterbean shares how she created a workout routine!

You can read a little more about my workout routine.

I never had this discipline in my life and I am really proud of all of the work that I put in.  Dance became really important in my life. I loved dancing as a kid so it’s one of the best ways to do my inner child healing work! It helps me work through a lot of my feelings instead of eating them.

You can see some of my favorite dance workout videos here. 

I am strong and I want to be stronger // I LOVE LISTS artwork by Tracy Benjamin of the Handwriting Club & Shutterbean

YAY DANCE! 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Tracy Benjamin (@shutterbean)

 

My Everyday Life Week 29 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

Eating Meeting:

After my conversations about food on Look Just Tell Me What to Do, my friend Sam inspired me to check out a small/independent recovery group for overeaters. I’ve been attending it weekly since August 2022.  I refer to it as the Eating Meeting. We meet each week and share our struggles and triumphs with food. Most of the group is older and female so I feel incredibly blessed to have mentors and guides through this process.  Being able to talk about my relationship with food and gain perspective on that has been incredibly valuable on this journey. Yay accountability! 

My Everyday Life Week 1 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

Food Adjustments

The biggest adjustments I have made this past year include lowering the importance of alcohol in my life and taking out the foods that cause me to compulsively eat. 

I have been focusing on food being for NOURISHMENT, not for numbing. 

That’s my word for the year – NOURISH

My Everyday Life Week 1 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

The questions I want to be able to answer:

  • What is nourishing to/for me?
  • How do I nourish myself?
  • What is NOT nourishing?
  • What is necessary for growth and health? 

The foods that cause me to overeat include:

  • bread
  • crackers
  • chips
  • cereal

Whenever I ate those things (to excess!) I always felt bad about myself and it would start this whole rumination process of having to do penance or making it up at another meal.   My brain goes WILD when I’ve had bread, crackers, and chips. The easiest way I said no to all of that was just to go gluten-free.  I have experimented with bringing it back into my diet but I’m not sure it works with my body anymore. It causes inflammation and digestion issues. It also gives me brain fog. At this point I occasionally miss sandwiches, donuts and pizza but I’m fine without it. 

I focus on all of the things I CAN eat instead. 

Maybe I’ll make another post about that? 

I still eat rice and potatoes. I have cheese. I eat meat when I’m craving it.  I would say that my way of eating is kind of like WHOLE 30, but I have cheese and rice. 

As a result, I haven’t added as much food content here on my blog in the past year which kinda bums me out. My most popular recipes are usually desserts or really indulgent things which is not healthy for me long term.  What works best for me is eating the same things consistently. Having to come up with new recipes that fit in my new way of eating has been kind of challenging but now that I have made some lasting changes, I think I’m ready to get back to making new things. Meal prep has been super helpful as per usual. 

(I mapped out what I eat  in my binder system

Meal Prep Planning Pack from Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com- Find the printables on Etsy!

Here’s a post about what my GO-TO breakfasts are:

Gluten Free Breakfast Ideas - Tracy Benjamin shares her favorite savory and sweet gluten free breakfasts

Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas from Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com - see how many things you can have for lunch that don't include bread!

Gluten Free Lunch Ideas (what I eat for lunch!)

Gluten-Free Dinner Ideas from Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com - see how many things you can have for dinner that don't include bread!

Gluten-Free Dinner Ideas (my favorite dinners this year)

There was also a piece that I had to unpack- that I can’t eat like everyone else and that’s okay! 

The biggest lesson I have learned in this entire experience is this:

Don't hope more than you're willing to work // i love lists // shutterbean.com

 If your goal is to lose weight, have a workout routine, or nourish yourself, the bottom line is that you have to put the effort in.  You can’t hope your way into getting fit without doing the work. 

If you give yourself time to experience the discipline and magic in routine, you can get to where you want to be. Paying attention to how food makes you feel both mentally and physically is also super important. 

My Everyday Life Week 36 of 2023- a photography series by Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean.com

 I hope this inspires you to look at what small adjustments you can make towards a healthier version of yourself.

My Everyday Life Week 38 - Shutterbean

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need an extra boost. Finding other people who have the same goals is a game changer. We all need a cheerleader. My Mom was mine and I’m pretty sure she would be proud of me for taking good care of myself. 

Thanks for reading this post- about Shutterbean Weight Loss! 

  • Jamie

    You are amazing. Thank you for your honesty and insights. You look so happy and healthy in your pictures. xoxo

  • Ashley

    Wow, what a journey! You rock! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I would love to see some of your more nourishing meals/recipes – in fact I’m planning on making your chocolate banana avocado mousse ASAP!

  • Lulu

    Thank you for sharing

  • Alicia A

    Thank you for sharing that. It shows everyone that weight loss is a lifestyle change ,not just a quick few months of not eating certain foods. You are a big inspiration in my everyday life. Yes, what you do may not work for everyone else and it may take a longer time,
    but “you look Marvelous”.( Billy Crystal as Mario Lanza)

    • Tracy

      lol. I can totally hear Billy Crystal saying that.

      The lifestyle change is the key for sure! Slowly chipping away at it helps make it stick.

      I am so happy that my journey here inspires you. Thank you for your support!

  • Ashley

    I’m so grateful you took the time to share all of this with us. I’ve struggled with weight post-kids and am still trying to find a good routine (it’s so hard with 2 toddlers and a job) but I absolutely love your idea of starting with just 15 minutes. I’m feeling very inspired after reading about your journey. xo

    • Tracy

      Two toddlers is A FULL TIME JOB and then some. 15 mins is definitely doable. Doing it several days a week adds up! I miss those days when I spent a lot of time walking Cooper around in the stroller. I got a ton of steps in that way 😉

      Sending you some big hugs and some extra energy.

  • Karen

    Wow, you look amazing, Tracy! Way to go!! If you’re looking for more gluten free ideas (as well as grain free and dairy free), definitely check out all of Danielle Walker’s books. Her food is amazing!

  • Grace

    Have been reading Shutterbean forever! I’m not sure why I’m crying reading this post, but I truly resonate with your experience. I lost my grandfather in October and find myself on a similar journey of realizing my most authentic, well self. It’s so powerful, inspiring and hopeful to know that with loss we can truly be found. So happy for you – you glow ❤️

    • Tracy

      Oh Grace! I’m sorry to hear about your grandfather. You are definitely not alone in grief. Sending you BIG HUGS. I wish you love and peace on your wellness journey. I am so glad you’re here! xo

  • Katie

    Hey Tracy!

    Looonng time reader/follower/customer here! I’m glad you’re feeling so good. I’ve always thought you were so cute and stylish, and I still do!

    I’m also a therapist who specializes in binge eating behaviors, so I really appreciate your warning at the top. I also appreciate the compassion and gentleness you seem to be taking with your approach to caring for your body. It really seems that your focus is on managing your emotions, finding joy in movement, and improving how you feel. Interestingly enough, black-and-white thinking around food and over-focus on weight can actually be predictive of binge eating behaviors. So many of your approaches seem aligned with some principles of Intuitive Eating, such as gentle nutrition, joyful movement, expanding emotional coping tools beyond food. Intuitive Eating also has a strong focus on rejecting diet mentality and de-centering weight as the focus of healthy behavior. I use the IE principles in my work with clients who have eating issues. It might resonate with you!

    I also appreciate all of the content you’ve been putting out, whether it’s related to food or not! The dancing content I find to be really positive and encouraging.

    • Tracy

      Awww! Thanks so much, Katie!!! I appreciate your kind and encouraging words. You reminded me that I have an Intuitive Eating book that I never finished. It’s definitely helped me along my journey.

      I have definitely rejected the diet mentality and have made peace with my scale thanks to my eating meeting. I am so grateful for that and MOVEMENT!

      All the best to you! xo

  • Gaby Santillana

    Thanks for sharing your journey! I started mine the last weekend of June, and it’s been working. I have to say you have been a very positive influence when you shared you focus on eating in a way that nourishes I was like, yep let’s focus on that. And I also have a little card from purchasing your food journal that says, You are worth the effort, and that always helps me to refocus on my health specially when it comes to meal prepping on Sundays, so thanks Tracy!

  • Megan Wallace

    This was so therapeutic to read. I’m currently on a similar journey, although different, and reading about the foods that “trigger” your pitfall makes so much sense, and I definitely internalized it! Chips are seriously my kryptonite, and it always starts off a bad few days; always a weekend to feel like a “treat”.
    Your food prep inspires me. When I meal prep, I eat so much better! Especially living with 2 boys, I totally see where you are coming from. If I don’t prep, I go for snacks….. danger!
    Thanks for this post. Miss your recipes, but love your journey.
    Ps- I’m one of the freaks that prefers your savory recipes! Bean soup?! Orzo?! BALLER. Living the vegetarian life and making adjustments

  • Meredith

    This was so inspiring to read. It’s not too late to make positive changes and it’s okay to start small and work my way up to more. I know I didn’t put all this weight on overnight I know I can’t lose it that way either. Thank you for reminding us we are all worth the effort. Keep it up Tracy!

  • Meg

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Tracy. So much of your journey resonates with me. One year ago I had put on a lot of extra weight and felt like my eating patterns had just gotten out of hand, and just felt really bad about myself all around. I was no longer enjoying special meals, nice dinners out or desserts because I was consuming so much junk on a daily basis, I started to lose enjoyment in food all together. I’ve had to try really hard to reckon with how and why I eat, and it has been really hard to accept that I simply can’t eat the way that other people do without consequences. For me, it has also helped to have strict rules and guidelines, so I’ve been basically following paleo/Whole 30 for a year, along with increasing movement using Peloton. I’ve lost 30 pounds and feel so much better. I just want to say how much I appreciate you sharing this and talking about this in such a real way. I also wouldn’t mind seeing some of your “routine” recipes even if you think they might be boring!

    • Tracy

      YAY YOU!!!!! I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite meals soon. Stay tuned. Good job taking care of you!

  • Jane M

    I’m a long time follower. You look fantastic! I only just started observing your weight loss and didn’t want to say anything other than GREATJOB! So inspiring . Thank you for sharing.

  • Claire

    Thanks for sharing and being so open. I listened to your podcasts and found them really thoughtful. And FWIW – my fave recipe of yours has always been lemon chicken! Healthy-ish dinners all the way, no desserts needed!

  • Leslie

    THANK YOU for sharing, making it approachable, honest, and most of all realistic. YAY for your progress! Plus you are single handedly responsible for my new dance cardio / fitness marshall obsession!

  • Becca

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve been following you for years now and am rooting for you! Your posts remind me to take care of myself in many different ways.

  • Candice

    The last two lines made me teary! Thank you for sharing.

  • Rachel

    I loved reading this Tracy!

  • Kristin

    ❤️❤️

  • Lori White

    Nourish is such a great word! Thank you for sharing your personal stories, your dance energy, and hydration reminders. I appreciate you! <3

  • Diane

    Tracy, Been following you for at least 10 years and have always absolutely loved your photos and appreciate how you integrate art practice into your life.

    I have also gained weight during the past 3 years–25 lbs.–as a result of stress-related to grief and a terrible work situation with a tyrannical boss. Teaching during Covid was no joke. I’m on my own journey and I thank you for sharing yours with us.
    Lots of hugs to you.

    • Tracy

      I’ve had tyrannical bosses!! They’re the worst. I am so grateful for all of the teachers who taught during COVID. REAL HEROES. Sending you love on your journey.xoxox

  • Christie

    Hi Tracy! Thank you so much for sharing the path you are on, which sounds very similar to mine in regards to eating. My struggle is with my way of eating which sounds similar to yours, I’ve added back cheese, but not gluten, and found rice to be inflammatory for me, but what to serve my family that is nourishing to them as well but that they will actually eat! My husband will eat anything g I make for myself, but the kids need heartier meals and well, actually I sometimes want a hearty meal too but that stays within my limits. Anyway, I appreciate you sharing! Been following you since Cooper was maybe 3? Here for the long haul even if your page is evolving or changing. You are a special human and appreciate all you share!

    • Tracy

      Thanks so much Christie!!! I appreciate your continued support. I’m happy to hear we are on similiar paths. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stacey

    Thank you for your continued inspiration, since losing my mom suddenly last year and realizing you have also weathered that was such an a ha moment for me, like look, you’re doing it, maybe I can do it!? Now ~ to try your dance routines.

    • Tracy

      You can do it!! Make your mom and my Mom proud! Also: BIG HUGS!!! The first year is a doozy. xoxoxo

  • Maureen

    I implemented your calendar idea for logging exercise and it has helped keep me accountable and motivated. I want to be able to color in those little squares! I eagerly await your gluten-free recipes as I have been gluten free for awhile now and am always looking for new ideas. Congratulations on your successes, Tracy!

    • Tracy

      YAY MAUREEN!!! I love that you also love coloring in the little squares. It’s such a good feeling. Keep up the good work!!

  • Gena

    Fabulous post & perfectly timed for my well-being! You’ve inspired me to start my own wellness journey. And while I’m in the infancy stages (just over a week), I feel this is the message to keep going and keep working! I the food journal and meal planning. And please continue to share your healthy recipes! Thank you for taking us in this journey. We will all be better for it!

  • LJ

    Thank you for continuing to share your journey. I’m finding my way back to prioritizing my health after the last three years and being a caregiver to my mother. It’s been hard to find a new routine and I’m interested to hear how you (or others) reset after your routine is disrupted or you’ve experienced binge eating. I feel I’m constantly starting over but striving to not be discouraged by the yo-yo weight loss and gain cycle.

    Thank you for all you share with us.

    • Tracy

      Being a caregiver is TOUGH WORK. I applaud you!
      When you focus on nourishing yourself, you can rewire your brain to stay on top of your hunger. I know that when I stay on top of my hunger or I am an advocate for myself (having a good snack before going to a party), I can make better decisions.

  • Erin

    I love, love, love that you have an eating meeting. Working a 12 step program of recovery for compulsive overeating has helped me shed over 130lbs so far. My life has drastically changed in so many ways beyond the food in recovery!

    • Tracy

      Yay! I love the ritual and the accountability of it. Plus I learn so much when I am able to see different perspectives. 130lbs is INCREDIBLE!! That’s fantastic!

  • Jen

    Thanks so much for sharing. You are always an inspiration.

  • Anne

    I love this post and your approach to making positive changes! I echo what an earlier commenter said, I’d love to hear how you approach feeding your immediate family who might eat heartier than you without making two separate meals. That is my challenge. If I only had to feed myself, life would be so easy! (Plus for me, I have one teen who is struggling with overeating and one who is struggling with under eating , so we are all over the map.) I appreciate this post and feel so inspired!

    • Tracy

      That was a popular question in my meal prep class! It’s so hard to have so many different variables when it comes to feeding a whole family. Making stuff I can eat/play with (during my meal prep sessions) can help in those tricky times.

  • Jessika

    Tracy,

    You’re amazing. Period. Thank you for the endless inspiration over the years.

    Jess

  • Ashley

    This is so inspiring, because, as per usual, you’re just being yourself. Your authenticity, vulnerability, and just plain being real makes this space so welcoming and encouraging.

  • Amanda

    This is so inspiring. It’s so reassuring to hear someone else going through similar struggles with life/family/food was able to make it out on the other side, better and stronger. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  • leslie

    You are an inspiration, friend. I am so proud of you♥️♥️

  • Biz

    I loved this post from beginning to end. For me my grief was after I lost my husband and I lost myself along the way. That was 2014.

    In 2022 I decided I had to find myself again and the first thing I did was ditch all my dieting “rules.” Lose 20 pounds by my birthday (which was just 13 weeks after the new year, drink a gallon of water a day, 10k steps, etc.

    So many balls up in the air but as soon as one of those balls dropped to the ground, I considered myself a failure and would eat like an aHole for days or weeks before getting “back on.”

    In 19 months I am down 31 pounds and I feel like myself. I love your word NOURISH because you have to nourish all aspects of your life, not just the food. So proud of you!!

    • Tracy

      I am so proud of you! Good job taking care of you. Grief takes a toll and I am glad you’re finding yourself again. Sending you well wishes on your journey!!!

  • Diane

    I love everything about this post. You look radiant! I’m trying to implement some strategies to take better care of myself and this has been very helpful. I purchased the Intentions of the week calendar back in May and it has been fun to track my progress there. Thanks for sharing your workout routine, I checked it out when you first posted it – LOVE the dancing workouts!!!

    • Tracy

      I’m so glad to hear you’re using the Intentions for the Week planner! That’s so exciting! Dance has been such a game changer for me. I am so happy to hear you’ve been inspired to dance too! 🙂

  • Colleen

    Atta gal! taking care of you

  • Elizabeth

    Tracy – I’ve followed this site for years – and you and your life are beautiful in so many ways. This post makes me so happy for you, and I appreciate the vulnerability and transparency with which you shared about your journey. Caring for yourself is a wonderful type of magic you are putting out into the world.

    • Tracy

      Thank you, Elizabeth! This— Caring for yourself is a wonderful type of magic you are putting out into the world! (wow! thank you!)

  • Elise

    Thank you for posting this. Thank you for your honesty. I’ve been reading the blog for years and feel like, due to the parasocial nature of internet connections, that I “know you” and this made me feel closer to you even moreso. I am also on a wellness journey and I appreciate your openness. I also always try and remind myself that we grow around grief – it’s always there, it doesn’t go away, we’re just growing around it.

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