One of my goals for 2015 is to get back to my roots and read more books. As the great Frederick Douglass said, ‘Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.’ Books are a passion – nay, an obsession of mine and always have been. I grew up in the library and my parents fostered my love of reading and learning. With books I have lived a thousand lives, found myself absorbed in different worlds, and learned immensely more than I could have otherwise. So put up your feet, grab a good paperback and let’s get reading!
“It was me all along” by Andie Mitchell takes the reader on the emotional journey of Mitchell’s relationship with food. Her weight loss challenges start at childhood, when food was her comfort in a sometimes unstable home. Food continues to be her constant through high school where she accepts that she is the ‘fat girl’, and uses food to smother the grief of the loss of her father. “I built walls around myself with bricks of cake, using frosting as a mortar.” Then in college Andie gains more, the freedom to eat independently and to go out drinking puts her on the ‘heavier side of 250’. The combination of realizing she is closer to 300 pounds than 200 and the the shock and panic of her mother seeing her size when she went home for the summer helps push Mitchell to change. “I left school that May praying that this time would be different. That this would be the summer my weight would finally pack its bags and leave for good. That I’d never again see that look in my Mom’s eyes. I desperately wanted to feel ready for change, to be empowered and resolved and committed, but mostly I was terribly scared.”
Mitchell joined weight watchers, kept a food/emotion journal, learned how to cook healthy foods for herself and learned to exercise even when she hated it – “Can you exercise today, Andie? Not tomorrow, not the next day, not even a month from now. Today? Eat the best you can, work your plus-sized heart out… today?” She found that she could. She started loosing weight. “What I learned in those six months had less to do with food and more to do with myself. It taught me about the nature of struggle and the feeling of strength that’s born from it.”Right as her weight loss leveled out and she accepted that she would need to steel her resolve she went to Italy for a semester abroad. That is where after some bumps she lost 55 pounds and even after returning she lost another 22 pounds to finally reach a number she didn’t think she’d ever see: 133.
Mitchell now loved what she saw in the mirror but still mentally viewed herself as the ‘fat girl’. She hated the extra hanging skin left from her extreme weight loss. She came to realize through therapy that plastic surgery was essential for her mental health, and at the same time she addressed the depression that the food and weight- and now exercise had covered. Mitchell talked about her film jobs and then her jump into food blogging. Her relationship with all things food now healthy after she realized she could still have her favorite foods as long as portion control was the name of the game. “What I discovered in that year- and perhaps in all of my life- was that I am always growing, always learning. And whenever I think I’ve figured it all out, I’ve really only just begun.” We are taken on her emotional and physical journey with her.
Mitchell’s memoir is truly inspirational. She doesn’t sugar coat anything, she doesn’t make excuses or advertise her book as a ‘cure all’ or dole out condemnation. She writes of what her peers called her and what she thought of herself. It’s her personal story of working hard to achieve the best that she could for herself. Although this book focuses on weight, it could be applied in the reader’s lives in all various aspects. We are left seeing that whether at a healthy weight or overweight, Andie is always the same person- it was her all along.
You can check out Andie’s food blog, ‘Can you stay for dinner?’ here:
Click here to see my goals for 2015