Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: "It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell

Morning! This is the fourth book in my "25 Before 26 Biography" challenge - and like the others, it has come at a time when I most needed it. (except Sean Lowe's book..that was just for fun. Sorry Sean!) This one is called "It Was Me All Along" by Andie Mitchell.

Andie is a food BLOGGER, freelance writer and recipe developer. She lost 135+ pounds and this is her story.

Via "":

"A young food blogger shares her inspiring story of incredible weight loss-a journey from nearly 300 pounds to losing more than half her size-and establishing a healthy and confident relationship with food.

On her twentieth birthday, Andie Mitchell stepped on the scale and discovered that she weighed nearly 300 pounds. At 5' 9"-even knowing that she was big and hating herself for it-she was stunned. How had she gotten there? Without following wild diet trends, she lost 135 pounds over thirteen months and has kept it off for six years. It Was Me All Along shares the at times heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting and motivating, story of how Andie kicked her habit of binge eating, which she developed during a traumatic childhood, and developed a healthy relationship with food, which she still loves to cook and enjoy. Her story is at once familiar and inspiring to millions who have struggled with weight and self-image issues. Andie is a powerful motivator who bravely bares all to help others."

I'm just going to go ahead and put this here:

Why you ask? Because, even though there's hundreds of other photographs showing my weight gain out there and others that I'm way more embarrassed of - but this one reminds me how far I've come. Andie's book is like that for me too.

She begins her story at age 5. She, for lack of better terms, had a hard childhood. And I don't even think hard covers it. An older brother who worked and escaped her house as much as possible. A father who did not hold a job, and drank himself (literally) to death. And a mother who worked 3+ jobs to keep everything together - and food on the table. Andie was left alone. Left alone in a world that's not kind - and food became her friend. It was her friend, her comfort, her life line, and probably  the biggest thing - it was something she could control. 

And so she ate. She ate and gained and went through life without portions, feeling full or someone softly sitting her down and saying "I'm worried about you." That part I understand though - it's hard to tell someone their life choices aren't doing them any favors. Even when I was at my biggest (in 8th grade), I was loved. Even when I cried myself to sleep at night or called a whale (something Andie experienced as well), my family never wavered. That saves people. You can be kind about the situation and never say "fat". It's possible.

One day though, it just clicks. Something switches in your brain and suddenly it's easier. It becomes about portions and exercise. Vegetables and changes. Mine started the day I started running. A breakup happened and I found myself on a run - if you can even call it that - with my dad. Andie's was after she ate an entire cake on her 23rd birthday. 

So the story becomes about the triumph, and the set backs. Andie is a champion of the idea that food can taste good and exercise can be great! That you can eat what you'd like, you just better stick to a smaller portion or without that much butter. That you can find something you enjoy that makes you move! Enjoy it. Savor it. Sweat it all out. Do one more crunch, one more push up. Make it be your friend, but never the kind of friend that attacks you if you find yourself on the flood of the bathroom, eating chocolate. And I find myself cheering, as you probably will, with her.

There are two big "quotes" or moments in Andie's book that stuck with me. The first is this: "Can you do it today? The notion of just trying to take each day as it came. The commitment to the present moment, and only the present moment, without worrying about the big daunting picture of all the days that followed. The mustering of strength and dedication for now, if not later."

When you try and change your life, and this is true for me (and I'm hoping I'm not the only one!), you want to change it now. You want to wake up and suddenly be good at burpees and do a million at a time (is anyone good at burpees?!). You want to stop eating the cookie and look down and see your stomach physically become a six pack.

The ugliness of that is this: it doesn't happen that fast. Ugh..right?

But you work for it. You wake up before the sun comes up or stay up when the moon comes out. You walk around the block or around the kitchen table until you're ready to run. You do yoga or kickboxing in your living room until you're ready to join the gym. You take one step at a time, because that's all you can do. And when it gets tough, because it will get tough - you just say "okay" and move on. Move to the next thing - even if the next thing is just taking a swig of water and standing up again. Can you do it today? Yes. You can.

Which leads me to my second moment/quote: "what I thought next - just after I silently called myself a quitter, a loser, all manner of bad names - was simple enough: Oh, it's just going to suck for a while."

Damn right it will. And it'll probably suck every now and then after that, because it's work. It's a life change. It's a lifestyle. You don't go into a lifestyle change because it's fun (even though, it is, eventually), you go into it because there's a point when you have to, or you gain another 20 pounds. Or you eat another bag of Cheetos. 

No one is perfect - and I'm certainly not, but coming from a former over eater. A former fat kid. A sometimes still fat kid (hey..I'm not going to stop eating cheeseburgers anytime soon) - that life is much, much easier when you learn how your body works. How your body does on sugar, and how it does when you add some spinach in.

You can do it today.
It's going to suck for a while.
But you can.

Despite anything and everything that says you can' can.

You should read it if you're struggling with anything weight loss related. Andie is a no nonsense writer - she's put it all out there. From her eating a whole plate of cupcakes (at 5 years old!) without guilt or a stomach ache, to not fitting in a prom dress, to joining weight loss clinic trials to finally finding a "program" that works for her. Whatever you call yourself at night when you're alone - she's been there. However many frosted covered things you've eaten when you're sad - she's done that too. It's all about finding comfort in the fact that she's been there and you can change too..if you're willing. You're not alone. She's been there. I've been there. You can be here too.

"I will always know fat. And love who she was. And know that fat, in itself, is not a bad word. I'll own it and respect those twenty years. They were hard, but they were sweet, too. I grew up in that body, in that time, in that big, beautiful mind.

I will always know thin. And love who she is. And know that even when she feels heavier mentally, she's freer now. She's effervescent. Small but tough..but both are wide, and their open. And I can lie and cry in one and move and spin in the other, all while knowing this: they're the same field. And they're both mine."

Although it's hard sometimes, and I'm not perfect at it - but love yourself -
and be kinder than you feel,

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