It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell is a memoir by the voice behind food blog Can You Stay for Dinner? When given the book to review, I had no idea who Andie was, nor did I know her tale. I just knew that after reading the synopsis I had to give this book my attention.
Mitchell is a bit younger than I, but there are so many things about her story that could have been written about my own life.
All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.
It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.
I’ve discussed in the past regarding the fact I struggled with food as a result of my childhood sexual abuse. Like Mitchell, I ate because food was my babysitter while my dad was abusing drugs (or me) and my mother worked long hours to support us. Food was my best friend; some’one’ I could confide in when there was no one else to hear me.
I struggled with my weight as a kid; which followed me into my teen years. When I was a freshman in high school I tipped the scales at 227 pounds. I have no idea how tall I was then. I know I was shorter than I am now (5’6″.) I begged my mother to take me to Nutrisystem. Back then you had to go to the center to weight in, have meetings and pick out that weeks worth of food. I really enjoyed going and the staff was so good to me. I got down to about 135 pounds.
By the time I hit my 20s I fluctuated between 160-180. I was extremely active and had a job where I was on my feet walking around all the time. By 26 I had taken a desk job. I had my gallbladder removed. It didn’t take long for my weight to bump back up and over 220. So, I took advantage of the Weight Watcher at Work program and later went to meetings after the program ended. I eventually made Lifetime and dropped down to about 145. To get that low I developed an addiction to laxatives. I would binge and since I could not purge by throwing up, I found a way to get the food out. This is not something I am proud of and it has done damage to my digestive tract.
The trauma of what my dad did, finding out I was adopted by him, finding my real dad, being pushed away, life changes, deaths, divorce and moving across the country – the weight came back. Along with a life of chronic pain. I started #80toGoal as a way to document those challenges as I try to get my life back together as best as I can. I turn 40 this year and I know I can’t keep going at the pace i am going.
I picked up It Was Me All Along hoping that Andie’s words would mirror my own thought. While her story is a good one, there are many differences. It got to a point where it was hard to relate to. Andie just picked up and went around the world and it was during this time that she just all of the sudden stopped eating and started living.
I was mildly disappointed in this. While I realize it is a memoir, what the author should realize is what the majority of her audience is going to be. Sure, she will get some of her blog readers to buy her book, but over half of book buyers will find her in another outlet and will have no idea who she is. Those are the people she should think about as she wrote her book. People like me want to know the “how.” It wasn’t something that happened overnight like she made it seem.
After that, the book just felt rushed. Like she had missed her deadline and had to wrap things up. It was all over the place and lacking any real substance. It’s a shame because I really wanted to know more about how she got from point A to point B.
While not a terrible read it was lacking substance from the high point of the story to the end.
Disclosure: I received this book for free from a book review company in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. Some links are Amazon affiliate links.