January 6th was a day I had looked forward to since June of 2014. Seriously, that’s when I pre-ordered three copies of this book. I hadn’t been this excited for a book in a long time, and this was the first time that I was buying a blogger’s book. She wasn’t just any old blogger, though. Andie Mitchell had become a kindred spirit, a voice from across the finish line of the struggle I was on, cheering for me because she had been there and won.
Several years ago, I stumbled upon a Pinterest pin that depicted this smiling thin girl with a caption that said she had lost 135lbs. I was intrigued enough to follow the link to her blog, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Andie has been the voice of Can You Stay For Dinner? for years and because of her candid conversational tone, I’ve been there for many of her posts about love, life, good food, and balance. Whether she was sharing her family’s famous meatballs or taking you step by step through her 400 calorie salads, I never missed an update.
When I first heard there was a book in the works, I was ecstatic. Andie was the first blogger that I felt connected to over the web and I was genuinely excited for her and this new chapter in her story. I couldn’t wait to support her in a more tangible way. If you were looking for a real narrative of a struggle with food, with emotions, and with life’s hard times, look no further than It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. As if this book wasn’t enough, she’s got a cookbook in the works too!
For an 18 minute long preview of the book, or just a heartbreaking look at the reality behind losing a lot of weight and realizing that that wasn’t your only problem, check out Andie’s TEDx talk here. It was a great warmup for the book, or a stand alone talk on accomplishing your goals one day at a time.
Now for the memoir itself. I may be biased from years of following her blog, but had you given me this book with no indication of the author, I would still have loved it. The conversational style of writing, the candid look into some painful moments in childhood and life, the fact that she doesn’t hold back with her struggles – with her weight, with her family. I felt an immediate connection with that little girl that spent so much time in an empty home, with food as her comfort and friend.
The first chapter had me tearing up, setting the book down to grab the peanut butter cups I had just stashed in my desk that morning. I cried through most of the second chapter, that last line resonating so close to home. Chapter 3 had the line, “School was the only place where I wasn’t alone,” and I felt I was reading about my own childhood. Reading about the chart in the doctor’s office brings my own memories of dreaded visits and charts. “I resented having to live differently just so I could be the same.”
The end of chapter 3 resonated so strongly with me – a feeling of failure, that I can’t even keep the promises I made to myself. Chapter 4 had me tearing up at the bridal shop scene, wanting to hug MaryEllen for her words and actions that spoke of great love. Then I just started copying down quote after quote in my notebook for this post. Gems like, “the bigger I grew, the smaller I felt.” After a drive thru stop Andie pauses, “I wondered how many other foods I ate that I didn’t even like. Then I wondered, however briefly, if my eating was even about liking the food at all.”
How many times have I myself gone shopping and had these very same thoughts, “Nothing that I ever left the mall with was what I’d have chosen if my size hadn’t been a factor.” Ugh. As I read this book, it was equal parts depressing for the knowledge that I still reside in this state that was a “Before” for her, and encouraging to know that for as many similarities I found, it meant that I could do it, too. The last quote I will leave you with from the book is one that speaks to the mental state she was in, and I am currently in at this point in my life. “I was ashamed that I couldn’t just feel better. I wished contentment were like misplaced keys, something to search for and find.”
Reading this book was like getting to know a friend better. I could see how familiar names from the blog fit into Andie’s life and finally got closure to some stories only ever eluded to in posts. One of these treats is the backstory of Andie’s mother, MaryEllen, who was recently featured on Andie’s blog for going through her own weightloss journey and success. I was one that followed along and cheered her on during her journey, so it made the success all the more sweet having now learned a bit more of the beginning of her story. A fun added bonus for me was getting to hear Andie’s impression of her mother’s strong Boston accent as part of the audio book.
Andie will probably always have a special place in my life for being one of the very first bloggers and success stories that I came across and truly related to in many ways. She bravely opened herself up to the world wide web and for that, I feel that much more confident that I can succeed, too. Because of her openness on her blog, reading her book was like celebrating with a friend. I feel silly sometimes, but if it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have the confidence to start my own journey, and I certainly wouldn’t be sharing it with you!
To conclude this review, I highly recommend Andie’s book, It Was Me All Along which is available on Amazon as well as Penguin Books website. I don’t always give five star ratings on books, but she’s got one. This book will be a great reference to pull out at different stops along my journey to remind myself that I am not alone, and if she can do it, so can I.
To be clear, I was in no way compensated for this review. I purchased three copies of this book with my own money. I passed along two of the copies to my sister and my best friend. All opinions are my own, but I think you probably gathered that from my gushing tone. 😉