Posted February 18, 2015
“It Was Me All Along”
By Andie Mitchell
By BRENDA MCGRANE
In an inspiring and honest memoir that takes you on a journey of weight loss, self-discovery and persistence, author Andie Mitchell, shares her story about a lifelong battle with food addiction and how it has shaped her as a person.
Mitchell was graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with a B.A. in communications.
Before launching her blog, Mitchell worked as a production assistant for Paramount and Sony Pictures and then worked as a social media manager for Foodista. “It Was Me All Along” is Mitchell’s first book; she also has a cookbook set to be published by Fall 2016.
Most weight loss memoirs are quick to jump to the end result—the victory of being ‘skinny’ and meeting the author’s weight goal—but this narrative is different. From cover to cover, Mitchell courageously paints scenes from her life that make her relatable to any reader. Her weight loss challenge begins in childhood and follows her through high school and into college where a trip to Italy helps her conquer her disordered eating.
The memoir begins with a description of Mitchell’s fifth birthday party. Her mother is an exceptional cook and baker and made up for the time she was working two (sometimes even three) jobs by preparing food. To Mitchell, food represented love.
Mitchell describes choosing a cupcake with an especially large dollop of frosting among the buffet of food, then savoring the richness melting in her mouth. She was always heavier than anybody she ever knew her age—family, friends and classmates.
“I’m always going to be the fat girl,” Mitchell resigned to herself.
Mitchell goes on to share intimate details of her life at home, watching her mother tirelessly work multiple jobs, take care of the house and bills, while her laid-off father drank to his depression. Mitchell’s older brother would often break up fights between their parents while she often watched—and ate—just beginning to understand that her father was an alcoholic.
And as her father’s addiction worsened and his few stints at committing suicide landed him in rehab (also out-of-state) Mitchell became lonely and depressed. To Mitchell, food represented friendship.
There are moments in the book where the reader feels squeamish on Mitchell’s behalf, like watching her as a child in a room full of adults at a Weight Watchers meeting. As Mitchell got older in high school, she became more conscious of her weight and although she sought change, she struggled with commitment.
Mitchell’s memoir compels most when despite her struggles she still shines. Like when the most handsome boy in high school asked Mitchell to prom and she won the title of ‘prom queen’ by a surprised class vote. Or when she was in her first relationship and later found her first love in college.
Mitchell still had friends and did things most young adults do; only Mitchell’s motive changed when she realized that her journey to lose weight would be in an effort to become healthy, not to live like everyone else.
A turning moment in the memoir is when Mitchell stands on a scale at a local YMCA during her summer break from college, expecting to see at least 200 pounds, but is taken back by a staggering number of 268. She was almost 300 pounds at 20 years old.
Mitchell changed then. She committed to Weight Watchers, exercised, cried, gave into binging and then continued exercising. In the end, Mitchell lost nearly have of her weight — scaling in at 133 pounds.
She became a new person with a new identity. Mitchell noticed people treated her different because of her weight; it was uncomfortably spoken of as if she wasn’t the same person on the inside. It drove her crazy, the pressure to never gain a single pound again, which changed her life from one extreme to another. It was clear that being skinny didn’t equal the happiest Mitchell thought she would feel.
“It Was Me All Along” is heartfelt and raw. Mitchell doesn’t dole out condemnation, even after she lost half of her weight. What she does instead is share her story of coming to grips and then making lasting changes. The reader is reminded that as a society, obesity is very misunderstood. Like in the case of the author, a person’s weight might be more of an indication of deeper problems — a broken home, depression and misguided consumption.
It is evident that Mitchell is a passionate writer. The structure of her memoir is concise and well written. Although her stories captivate the reader to keep turning the page, pictures of before and after her weight loss would impact readers. Overall, “It Was Me All Along” is definitely worth a read.
- Title: “It Was Me All Along”
- Author: Andie Mitchell
- Pages: 227
- Published: Clarkson Potter/Random House, first edition (Jan. 10, 2015)
- Price: $17-24
- Rating: 4/5 stars