Sunday, January 18, 2015

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell wasn't quite what I was expecting.  I had hoped it to be inspirational in terms of my own weight loss goals, but I had some trouble with the tone of the book and in sympathizing with the author.

The book has absolutely amazing descriptions of the foods that held her prisoner for the first twenty years of her life.  There are some magical tales of the chocolate cake (which has a recipe included at the book's end for the people with the willpower to bake it and not devour it on the spot) and other desserts she enjoyed as a child growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and a mother who was working three jobs and never present.  Her love affair with food is obvious from her lusty, raptured accounts of eating multiple cupcakes and half a dozen bowls of cereal to entertain and care for herself when left to her own devices as a young girl.  I was in love with her descriptions, but wasn't moved by her family's story.  I feel like the real relationship in this book is between the author and food and that the relationships she shared with people were displaced and secondary.

Perhaps it was just me, but her weight loss seemed almost magical like something out of a movie.  Throughout the first half of the book I was feeling depressed because as a plus sized woman, the descriptions of her body didn't seem all that indicative of a person who was fat.  She describes herself as wearing an extra large top and being called a "whale" by her classmates.  To me an extra large isn't that big and the same kids then vote her prom queen while she is attending the dance with the "most handsome boy in the school".  I felt a huge disconnect in the way she saw herself as a fat person and the way I saw her.  Even the photo on the book's cover doesn't show a fat kid to me.

When she is in college she makes a decision to be healthier and lose weight.   Going to a gym and weighing herself she finds that she is 268 pounds.  She then decides her health is at risk and she needs to stop binge eating.  Within a few pages she is down to 228, within another paragraph 10 more pounds are gone.  She sees a counselor who diagnoses her with a "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified" and they tackle her food addiction.  She drops many more pounds (eventually over 130) and wrestles with food but I felt like the author looked at the hard work she did to lose the weight as something boring and not worthy of putting in the book.  By the end when she is talking about how supportive her boyfriend (who has his own struggle with weight) is of her and how his career as a professional poker player allows them the luxury of picking up and moving around the country every six months to suit her burgeoning career as an assistant on film sets I was dismayed with the author.  When she breaks up with him after several years I was actually kind of mad.  I was equally upset by the way the author glosses over time her new thin self's addiction to exercise and how she was running miles a day on a treadmill to achieve her new size four figure.  Although she mentions this when she talks about her struggles with maintaining her weight loss she also talks about her food blog that focuses on photos of her daily meals.  It all ends up feeling like I missed huge parts of the story which would've helped me feel inspired to change my habits the way she did and left me with several chapters of humble bragging about how she has everything figured out.

I think if Andie Mitchell ever writes a fictional story I would love to read it.  I think she has a great talent for describing food, people and her surroundings.  They would lend themselves well to a different genre.  I can't say this book didn't make me think about food.  It did.  It made me feel like I wanted to cry when my husband pulled into McDonald's for breakfast this morning and has made me incredibly conscious of what I'm putting into my body.  I wish it had inspired me in different ways, but it certainly has made me think about my own eating habits.  I would recommend it to those who have an interest in memoirs, but perhaps not to those seeking motivation for weight loss.

This book was provided by the folks at Blogging For Books for the purpose of review.  Thank you for the opportunity to read and share my thoughts on it.

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