Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review: It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

Andie Mitchell's story is like so many of ours...growing up in a dysfunctional home, an alcoholic father, an enabling mother. Those are the experiences that molded and shaped so many of us. Some kids come through a turbulent childhood relatively unscathed. Some kids develop behavior issues or turn to substance abuse. But Andie Mitchell chose solace in food. Even as a young girl, she was overweight. She experienced ridicule and had poor self-esteem. In her memoir, It Was Me All Along, Mitchell shares her tumultuous childhood and her journey to the realization that she needed to change her lifestyle.


The book starts out with an amazing description of cake. Not just any cake, but Sour Cream Fudge Cake. The description of this cake makes you realize how much more food was to her than just nutrition. Food was like a drug for her, just like alcohol was for her father.
"I can remember carving the first slice, taking the first forkful. The rush of whipped sugar speeding through my bloodstream. It felt like teetering on the ledge of the roof of a skyscraper, exhilarating and terrifying..."
And then she ate the whole thing.
"What begins as hating the cake for all its multiple layers of lucious temptation spirals quickly into hating myself and all my fat cells. I let myself down. I lament not having more control...
It was a turning point. After many failed attempts to lose weight, after deciding to accept herself as the "fat girl", Andie made the decision to save her life. And lost 138 pounds while doing it. She also learned more about herself. I particularly enjoyed her comparison of losing weight to running a race. A long slow race. A marathon, in fact...
"Because for once, I realized that weight loss wouldn't be like taking up jogging as a new hobby...it would be like running a marathon, where miles ten through twenty-six just purely, uncompromisingly suck." 
She picked the perfect metaphor. And as she says in the book, once she realized this, she knew that this was going to take "real strength". But she stuck with it, and hit her goal of 133 pounds. Amazing, right?

Not so much. As it turns out, losing the weight was the easy part. Learning to live as a thin person was a much bigger challenge. To me, this was the most interesting part of Andie's story.

I've had friends who lost weight told me they still saw themselves as "fat". This is what Andie describes in the book. She describes the mixed feelings she had about being thin and being praised for that as if she was less worthy when she was an overweight person. It was interesting to me, as a thin person, to read this perspective. Because I hate being called skinny. I don't find it to be complimentary, and it bothers me that people comment on my body. You'd never go up to an overweight person and say, "oh you're so fat!" Right? Andie experienced life on both sides, and learned that being thin was not all it was cracked up to be. Plus she feared gaining weight. She also missed the reckless abandon that comes with not caring about your weight.

The rest of the book chronicles her recovery from food addiction and learning how to eat healthily. I was really impressed with her journey. Andie's story really helped me understand why people who lose weight cannot keep the weight off. There is so much more to dieting than calorie restriction. Learning to love yourself, for one. The person you were before, and the person you've become. And as Andie says:
"....fat or thin, it was me all along."
Today Andie is a food writer and blogger. You can read her blog: Can You Stay for Dinner. She also has a cookbook coming out March 29 called Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook.



Have you struggled with weight loss and learning how to live as a thin person? Do you eat to live or live to eat? How do you find a middle ground between eating for pleasure and eating for fuel? What recipe holds a special place in your heart or provokes a happy memory for you?

Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of the post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks, but the comments stay live forever! Don't forget to link back to this post, and please read and comment on the other reviews. Remember, sharing is caring! I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club!

Next month we are reading what I've been told is an amazingly inspirational book! Find A Way by Diana Nyad is the story of her swim across the Florida Straits from Key West to Cuba. I cannot wait to pick this one up! The review and link up will be posted on the 3rd Friday of March (March 18). Let me know if you have any questions!


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58 comments :

  1. This book has been on my list to read! Thanks for the reminder, I'm going to pick it up this weekend :)

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  2. I bought the book and fully intended to participate I just didn't finish it! Ugh I am about a 1/3 of the way through and I haven't gotten to the part where she loses weight yet. I've found it fascinating so far as eating disorders are really one of my big interests. I can't wait to see how she makes the turn around and loses the weight. Have you started reading her blog? I am writing next months date in my calendar now I will be there!!

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    1. I see a lot of patients ( and mine are all young) with disordered eating. It's just fascinating, the relationship we all have with food.

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  3. Wow what a story. Sadly I think this story mimics what so many women have gone through.

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  4. I have heard such great things about this book. And reading your review, I will definitely be checking it out!

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    1. She's a really good storyteller, and I think a lot of people could relate to her story.

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  5. I almost cried when I read your review; so close to home. I did not lose as much weight as Andie did (a "mere" seventy-five pounds), but struggled with food issues all my life. I'm not sure I can handle reading this book. It could be my story on a less extreme scale.

    I experienced, and still do, the difficulty of not seeing myself as a fat person, even though at this time last year while training I was slightly underweight (Wait! What?). One day, I was walking down the street and as I looked into a store window thought, "Now, that's a thin woman." You guessed it. It was I. What an astounding realization.

    Ah, the cake. Yes, the first bite so delicious, so sensory, so sensual. The compulsion to keep eating long, long after hunger has ceased is psychologically so strong, as addictive as drugs or alcohol. And then the terrible feelings of guilt and worthlessness. It took me decades to learn to read my own body's cures. Although I've been at a healthy weight for some time now, those issues are always a struggle. I suppose they always will be.

    "...fat or thin, it was me all along." I am crying.

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    1. I guess I never realized that you lost 75#! That's amazing! I'm glad you shared your story. I love to eat too, but I don't have that kind of relationship with food. I thought this was a great portrayal of what it's like to be addicted to food.

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    2. Of course I mean read my own body's cues, not cures. I learned a lot from taking a web-based course on intuitive eating. It helps keep me centered.

      I'll give the book a try some day. A lot of issues that I've overcome. It would be a bold move to re-live them by reading this. Might do some good.

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    3. I knew what you meant. I can imagine it would be painful to read this. But it is so beautifully written that I hate to see you pass it up. When you're ready, you'll be glad you read it.

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  6. This was a fabulous book, thank you for selecting it as this month's read! I am now fascinated with this girl and her blog.

    Getting started on next month's book now!

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  7. That sounds like such an interesting book! I've read Andie's blog on occasion and love her approach. I'll admit I indulge probably a bit too much at times - it would be nice to be able to approach food more as fuel!

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    1. Who doesn't overdo it at times? It's only a problem if it becomes unhealthy.

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  8. Sounds like a great read! It is one of my goals to make more time for reading! I will have to pick up that Diana Nyad book so I can join in the discussion next time!

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    1. I'm really looking forward to reading that one!

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  9. What a great comparison about weigh loss and the marathon. It's always the last few pounds and last few miles that suck the most! Sounds like a great book Wendy!

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    1. It was a really good read and gave me a lot of insight into how hard it is to not only lose weight, but to keep it off.

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  10. That sounds like a great read. But the Diana Nyad book! OMG I want to read that!

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    1. I'm really looking forward to that one too!

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  11. Thanks for this review - I hadn't heard of this book but now I definitely want to check it out.

    My favorite feel good food that evokes memories - grilled cheese and mandarin oranges. My great grandmother used to make it for us for lunch every time we went to visit her as kids. I still love eating that for lunch today :)

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    1. I love grilled cheese and tomato soup. Actually I had it yesterday.

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  12. I've heard great things about this book and now I really just need to read it!

    I'm sitting here so thankful for amazing parents. They weren't perfect, but the one thing they did was build up their kids (all 4 of us.) I think that has made a difference in meeting challenges in my own life. Lose 30 pounds? Run a marathon? Sure, I'm capable! Yeah, feeling really thankful right now.

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    1. The author shows a lot of insight and resilience in spite of growing up in such a dysfunctional household. Isn't it amazing?

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  13. I cannot wait to read your review of Find a Way!! I just read the book and then watched the documentary, called The Other Shore. Talk about inspiring! Diana Nyad is a testament to never giving up!! Love your book club selections! Reading and running---why can't the two hobbies be accomplished simultaneously?? Audio books do not work for me---:-)

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    1. I'm glad you told me about the documentary because I will watch it for background info for my review!

      I love to read. Audiobooks don't do it for me either. I need to process the words...

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  14. You're the second one to read and recommend this book. I'm officially intrigued. I've definitely battled with my own food demons over the years, and have come a VERY long way from the worst of it. I think I'll have to pick this up!

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    1. It's really a beautifully written memoir. I really enjoyed it!

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  15. This sounds like a great read. Like so many things in life, food is so mental. Ok I am READING Diana Nyad's book. Maybe a tiny shred of her expertise will rub off.

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    1. Please do! And let me know what you think...

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  16. I've never heard of this book. I've never been clinically overweight, or ever had an eating disorder. But there are definitely times I struggle with binge eating, especially when I am stressed. I can't imagine dealing with this all of my life. I'll have to check out the book. Sounds like an interesting read.

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    1. I've never really had weight issues but I really enjoyed reading her story. She's a very talented writer.

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  17. I love stories of someone overcoming an obstacle. I just finished Fast Girl and it sounds like this book would be similar. I will have to check out! Thanks!

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    1. I don't know how similar the books were. I found Fast Girl a little hard to believe. But I love Andie's story and found myself cheering for her!

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  18. Thanks for selecting this book - it was really a great read. Like you, I've been skinny (gained the most after the kids) since at a young age and been called "Skinny" many times. As many labels go, skinny was akin to being weak and it was true, I knew somewhere along the line, I needed to gain more muscle. Looking forward to reading Diane Nyad's book.

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    1. Exactly! While I couldn't relate to issues with being overweight, I think we all struggle with body image issues. I enjoyed her perspective.

      Thanks again for linking up!

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  19. Wendy, I downloaded this book last night after reading your review. I had to force myself to put it down and go to sleep. She is so relatable. I find myself more in the "chubby kid" camp and even now my relationship with food isn't healthy. When under stress, I resort to food as comfort and do not use hunger as a means of moderating intake. I also find that I still picture myself as a chubby person and oftentimes will actually be shocked to see photos of me, because I'm still envisioning me as a larger version. And this is 4 years after I lost weight. Good read. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Isn't it amazing that it is so hard to shake those images of ourselves? Even though you've done all kinds of amazing things?

      We are all a work in progress.

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  20. I would never have thought Kelli was a chubby kid. It is amazing what we learn about each other. I was the huge kid...wrestled the food all my life. After I had my son I lost and then started gaining...I had to lose 75 lbs. when I did weight watchers, and I did it, but I never really have stopped seeing that over weight person in the mirror. I know i can be there in a snap.
    I related with her totally until she got her tummy tuck. I wish so many times I had the means to do that when I was younger! I think it would have freed me so much.

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    1. I don't know if you follow anyone on FB but Melissa Meets the Marathon really does a great job of chronicling her struggle with food and weight. She had a tummy tuck last year but is still battling her demons. It's tough all around.

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    2. I found her :) one can never have too many sources of inspiration.

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  21. When loosing weight, its always difficult to find that happy balance between eating enough to be able to fully nourish your body while still decreasing caloric intake in order to shed the pounds. Your comparison to a marathon makes a whole lot of sense.

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    1. I don't know that she struggled with good nutrition as much as portion control. Because it really isn't about the food...

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  22. This sounds really really interesting! I just finished my book, so this might have to be my next one!

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    1. It was a beautifully written perspective on the author's struggle with food.

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  23. That cake at the beginning was when I realized just how much this was going to be like my story. I still struggle with cake. The night I decided that I needed to lose weight, I had my husband go throw the birthday cake out in the garbage outside so I couldn't eat any more of it. I'm intrigued by her cookbook and by the kind of foods one eats when you find balance because I don't know that I'm there yet.

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    1. It's a work in progress! I'm so glad she shared her story. I think there are a lot of people who struggle with food.

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  24. I'm afraid to read this because I think it might hit too close to home. I didn't have a rough home life but I turned to food for love/loneliness at an early age as an only child/latchkey kid/child of divorce. My weight loss journey included a detour into disordered eating and even know I struggle against stress eating and wanting to eat all the things as soon as I decide to cut back.

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    1. But that's why I picked this book--so many people on this fitness journey really struggle with food. I see it in my feeds and on the blogs. Her story was so relatable and so well written. I hope you will eventually be able to pick it up.

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  25. Every once in a while I enjoy picking up an inspirational non-fiction book. I'll have to keep this in mind for next time, in fact I'll add it to my goodreads list today.

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  26. Great book! Thanks for the selection!

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  27. I actually didn't feel Andie's mother was an enabler. Using food to comfort her? Sure. And that can definitely lead to problems.

    But I saw her as having unconditional love. It's a tricky balance to find, obviously. Young egos are so fragile, and even when they need to lose weight, restricting and admonishing can just push them in the opposite direction.

    Frankly, I do wish my parents weren't so judgmental of people (not just me) on appearance. It definitely did effect me, and not in a good way.

    I'm curious, if I called you thin, would that bother you? Skinny has the connotation that you're too thin, and I don't think you are. I think you look great. I wish I had your metabolism, to be sure!

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    1. Thank you for your comments on the book and the compliment! No, I don't think being called thin would bother me, or slim either. But even tho those are meant as compliments, I'd rather be called fit!

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