It Was Me All Along: A Memoir

It Was Me All Along: A Memoir

by Andie Mitchell

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Overview

A yet heartbreakingly honest, endearing memoir of incredible weight loss by a young food blogger who battles body image issues and overcomes food addiction to find self-acceptance.
 
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780770433260
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 01/06/2015
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 26,875
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

ANDIE MITCHELL is a writer, recipe developer, and lover of cake. Her popular blog, CanYouStayForDinner.com, shares the inspiring story of her successful weight loss and continued passion for good food. She lives in New York City, where she is the social media director for ShriverReport.org. 

Read an Excerpt

Introduction
 
IF YOU WERE NOT ABLE TO ATTEND my twentieth birthday party, you missed a fabulous cake.
And if, by chance, you were able to attend my twentieth birth­day party, you, too, missed a fabulous cake.

In fact, everyone did, save for me.

I can remember carving the first slice, taking the first forkful. The rush of whipped sugar speeding through my bloodstream. It felt like teetering on the ledge on the roof of a skyscraper, exhilarat­ing and terrifying. The split-second decision between balance and oblivion.
What I cannot remember, however, is the exact moment I made the decision to eat the whole thing.

Scraping the sides of the mixing bowl, I began to notice just how satiny the fudge batter was. I made swirls and figure eights with my spatula. In transferring heaping spoonfuls of espresso-hued chocolate cream to the cake tins, I reveled in the lightness of texture, the airiness of what I was working with. A scoop in the pan, a scoop in the mouth. I then watched through the oven door as the cakes materialized, rising to fill their nine-inch pans.

Ten minutes into the baking, the air in my apartment was so saturated with the aroma of chocolate that I lost the ability to focus on anything but that cake. Though I had already eaten lunch and cake batter, a new hunger appeared, unexpected and urgent, the kind that forced me to stop whatever I was doing and tend to it. It was the kind I couldn’t ignore, the one that wrestled away my power, every hidden weapon of will, and thrust me into the kitchen, where it always seemed I’d run out of milk and self-control.

While the cake cooled, I bided time by making the frosting, following the same rigorous taste-testing protocol as I had with the cake. Once my mixing bowl was full of glossy stiff peaks, I iced both layers. I carved one perfect slice, dragging my index finger along the flat side of the knife to collect any wayward fudgy crumbs, and brought it to my mouth for a thorough licking. I ate the slice of cake with fervor, as if intently pursuing something. I devoured a second slice, and then a third, trailed hastily by another three. I carved one more, reasoning that would just about do it, but, oh—look at the crooked edge I’d produced with my shoddy knife skills. A sliver more would straighten it. I whittled away at the frosting, and, finally sure that enough was enough, I walked away from the cake and laid my fork and knife in the sink. I turned back to the cake stand and, in one painful glance, saw all that remained. A single slice.

Guilt has a way of resisting digestion. There’s nothing natu­ral about its aggressive spread. It stretches out inside me, doubles its size by uncurling its chubby arms and legs. It kicks and groans every slip of the way down. It reminds me, shames me, at every twist, every turn. And when it plops down at last upon the base of my stomach, it stays for days, unwelcome.
When it finally begins to dissolve in a halfhearted effort to leave me, particles of self-hatred remain. And hatred, like acid, erodes the whole of its environment.

What begins as hating the cake for all its multiple layers of lus­cious temptation spirals quickly into hating myself and all my fat cells. I let myself down. I lament not having more control. I crave comfort and reassurance, but the shame pushes me to choose pun­ishment instead; it’s all I deserve. And though crying seems a valid option, tears elude me. Instead, I stay stuck internally, bottled and sealed inside my own skin with the acidity of hatred and guilt and shame.
 
Today, eight years later, I’m standing again at my kitchen counter, tending to the same fudge cake. I’m gently lowering the top layer onto its frosting pillow. I’ve baked this cake enough times that I don’t even have to take a bite to know the rich velvet of its texture. It has always been decadent, always as intense as a square of high-quality dark chocolate. A forkful makes me know that, were I able to suspend hot fudge in air just long enough to hold it and bite into it, just to taste it during the moments before it oozed, thick on my tongue, it’d be the same as this cake.

And then there’s the frosting: a whipped confection with a tex­ture that lies somewhere between the airiness in a cloud of cot­ton candy and the fluffy marshmallow filling in a 3 Musketeers candy bar.

Swiping a finger through that frosting, I stop. I consider how wildly my feelings about eating this one cake have swung in the last seven years. Since that time, I have lost 135 pounds. The weight has left my body and, with it, the guilt, the shame, and the hatred, too. I think briefly of the days when the very sight of a confec­tion induced a seductive fantasy of eating it all in secret. Maybe it’s knowing that I could get away with it, the acknowledgment that I could eat it all without anyone ever seeing me do it, that gives me pause today.

I am a lifetime practitioner of secretive eating, after all. As a kid who entered an empty house after school each day, I felt a despera­tion to eat. I knew no way other than eating to alleviate the loneli­ness, to fill in the spaces where comfort and security could have been. Food poured over the millions of cracks in the foundation of my family; it seeped into the fissures; it narrowed the chasms. But even then I knew that the amount of food I was consuming was something to be ashamed of. So I learned to hide it well. I stuffed twin packs of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls deep inside my stom­ach, tightly tucking them away. I plunged their cellophane wrap­pers even deeper inside the trash can, where they couldn’t be seen without digging.
Until the year of my twentieth birthday, I lugged around the heavy shame of my eating. I’d devour a steak-and-cheese sandwich on the way home to eat dinner with my family. I’d find myself two days into a new diet, alone in my car, pulling through the drive-through window of the Burger King two towns over—the one where I was certain no one would recognize me. I’d griddle three stacks of pancakes in the mornings after Mom had left for work, stab my fork into the thick, cakey center of each one, and then slosh the bite through puddles of maple syrup and melted butter.

But today, eating ceaselessly in private doesn’t lure me the way it once did. It doesn’t seduce me in the same sexy way. In fact, there were years after having lost one-hundred-plus pounds when the sight of this fudge cake didn’t conjure up fantasy, but fear—a few birthdays when I spent the hours and days leading up to the cake searching my mind desperately for ways to escape eating it. I thought of excuses. I thought of ways to chew the cake in front of friends and family and spit it out in my napkin in the privacy of the next room. Three birthdays came and went without my so much as licking the frosting that touched my fingers while icing the layers.
The thinness I’d achieved came with its own brand of indignity. It was the fear of gaining back each pound, of proving myself a fail­ure, that plagued me. It was the fatness of my shadow that followed me into the dark alley of an eating disorder. And just as I always had, I stuffed the shame so far down that no one could see it but me. For the first time, I appeared healthy on the outside. I wanted badly to conceal the fact that, despite a radical transformation, I remained as screwed up as I had ever been.

I lied about just having eaten to eschew offers of food at the dinner table with my family. I drove in circles in my neighborhood, unsure of how to fill the hours on an empty stomach. I bought snacks I had no intention of eating when I went to the movie the­ater with friends. I doggie-bagged the leftovers at restaurants, only to plunge them into the trash can the moment I arrived home. Even after rekindling my passion for baking, I restricted myself to the smallest of portions and gave the rest away.

Making this cake now, a few years later, I see how starkly black and white my beliefs had been. I see the tragedy in living an all-or-nothing existence, in teetering on top of that skyscraper and feeling forced to choose between standing paralyzed in fear or hurling myself over the edge in ecstasy. I recognize the pain of white-knuckling my way through life. I recognize the internal chaos of barreling through life in bouts of mania and depression. The alternative, the middle ground, is balance. It’s not wishing to stay or to fall; it’s remaining upright, respecting the boundary of the rooftop and admiring the exhilaration, the strength, of stand­ing so high.
By now I’ve changed dramatically. I can, I want to, I choose to eat a full slice of this cake and love deeply all the many bites I take. I linger on the cocoa flavor, the suede texture, and, when one piece has reached its clean-plate end, I don’t look for another to replace it. I share this cake. I eat it out in the open, in a loud and proud manner. I take pride in having baked something so rich, so true and divine. I won’t eat until I can no longer feel anything but the stretching of my stomach, the growing of my guilt.

Every year since losing all the weight, I’ve baked this sour cream fudge cake. And every year, I’ve felt different about the finished product. How has one innocent cake transformed from abusive lover to healthy companion, while I’ve continued to bake it just the same?

Has the taste changed, or, perhaps, have I?

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It Was Me All Along: A Memoir 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So many health books are about meal plans, loving the gym, and everything in your life being easier once you are healthy. This is not one of those books. It is real. Because not everyone loves the gym, and never struggles with weight once they lose it. What Andie so perfectly explains in her story is that living healthy isn't just a physical journey, its an emotional one. So no, this is not your book if you are looking for a day to day plan on exercise or a strict eating plan. If you are looking for rules you won't find it here, move on. But, if you are looking for some emotion in a subject that has been turned into numbers and percentages you'll find it here. If you are looking to be understood in a world where over-weight people are ignored till they are healthy look no further. If you are looking for someone to cheer for, Andie is your girl. Because not only will you find a fellow girl learning, growing, and changing, you will also find a friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so inspired by Andie, she is an amazing writer. I have read the book and recently bought the audio version. I cannot get enough of this audio version, which I have listened to again and again. I find myself anxious to get back to it whenever I have to stop it while listening. I can't explain the peace it brings me, the soothing voice, the beautiful pronunciation of each and every word. Andie will never know how much of an impact her book has had on my life, my feelings about food and acceptance of myself. For once an open and honest version of real weight loss issues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very intriguing memoir that takes you into the life of disordered eating and weight loss. Andie Mitchell does not leave any detail out when describing the struggles of having an alcoholic father, consistent weight gain, and binge eating disorder. Her story of weight loss and finding a balance with body positivity is enlightening and inspiring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly enjoyed this book! Very well written; the author really lets you in and doesn't hold back. Cant wait to read more by Andie Mitchell
RWDVD More than 1 year ago
I loved It Was Me All Along. I have battled with body image problems myself so I found this material very interesting. Food addiction is a very real disease. Andie Mitchell is very brave for sharing her story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for anyone who has ever felt alone with their eating disorder
Lisa_Calcasola More than 1 year ago
From the creator of popular food blog Can You Stay for Dinner? comes a standout memoir that shines. When you spend the first twenty years of your life as the ‘big girl’, it’s hard to imagine any other world exists. At twenty years old and 268 pounds, Andie Mitchell realizes that it is time, once and for all, to change her relationship with food and, ultimately, her life. But changing proves to be no small task for a woman who’s used food as her emotional crutch for as long as she can remember. Whether it’s to ease the pain of a family tragedy during childhood or to bond with college friends as a young adult, Andie has unfailingly turned to food to cope with all of life’s highs and lows. Yet this obsessive and volatile relationship with food, ranging from uncontrollable binge eating to severe restriction, has left her body and mind in shambles. It Was Me All Along chronicles Andie’s journey from self-loathing to self-empowered, from shameful to proud, from evading happiness to finding it in the most unlikely of places – in the kitchen, cultivating a startling new passion for cooking and baking. Searing and heartbreakingly honest, this is no mere weight loss book; it is the story of one woman who went through the full spectrum of eating disorders and came out on the other side, who realized that health and happiness are so much more important than numbers on a scale. This book is for anyone who has tried the world over to look beautiful on the outside, only to realize that true beauty comes from within. Readers will laugh, cry, and cheer for Andie in all her cake-loving, self-effacing glory.
BrittanyRosbaugh More than 1 year ago
Loved loved loved this book!! I related to so much in this book! Hands down one of my favorites!! If you have ever struggled with food and your weight this is a must read!
Merloo More than 1 year ago
I was prepared for something else. The fact that she told us the story of why she was the way she was and the way she told her story was incredible. And Mitchell has a way with a story and her family history was riveting.  I hope she continues to write - maybe move to fiction.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it. Finished it in 2 days.
ballb8 More than 1 year ago
This book was so inspiring and thought provoking. It gives new meaning to "food for thought"!
Trinka More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book, and not just because author Andie Mitchell's descriptions of the delicious meals she consumed in Italy (and then the healthy foods she began preparing for herself) were so flavorful and savory. Yes, she is a food blogger to be envied; I literally wanted to lick the pages of my book she made the meals sound so tantalizing!! But beyond the beautiful food descriptions was Andie's struggle with the food that comforted her and soothed her and helped her grow to obese proportions. I applaud Andie's journey and the strategies she applied to finally change her life, change her bad eating habits, love herself and find peace once and for all. This is a must read for anyone who has struggled with weight and food issues - and really, that's most of us, isn't it? It's a beautiful story of one Woman's journey... I would recommend it to all my friends!
Asilverstone1 More than 1 year ago
Such a good book. I had problems with dieting and eating all the time. I would say I was on a diet then I would start to eat again. This is such a successful and inspiring story, great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first picked up It Was Me All Along, I expected to find a story about weight loss. Instead, I found a beautifully written and touching story about joy, pain, and self-discovery. Andie Mitchell is relatable and honest, revealing her deepest inner-thoughts. She describes her life and her constant struggle with food. For most of her life, she was overweight and struggled to become thinner, suffering from bullying in her childhood years. When she returned home from school, Andie was almost always alone, causing her to find solace and friendship in food. When she finally moves away for college, she begins to lose weight. However, once she has lost the weight, Andie obsesses over calories and pounds, consumed by a fear of the scale. Finally, after much trial and error, she discovers eating in the middle. Andie imparts this mantra to the reader, teaching moderation. When reading her memoir, Andie’s victory over her eating disorders is a shared experience. I was cheering for her from afar, ecstatic that she was successful. Her writing is poignant throughout the book and captures the reader when describing all kinds of situations, ranging from the making of a chocolate cake to her issues with her alcoholic father. Much more than a weight loss story, this memoir holds a depth of emotions. No matter what your relationship is with food and self-love, this story will resonate with you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was like she was living my life and has been walking in my shoes . I highly recommend this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was amazing. I suffer from an eating disorder as well and am still trying to figure a way to find balance and sanity. This book inspired me. I couldn't put it down. Andie has a special way of writing. Brilliant book; it brought tears to my eyes.
VickiLN More than 1 year ago
Andie had weight problems as far back as she can remember and in this book she tells that story in an honest, nothing is taboo way. She shares her ups and downs, her struggles and victories. She not only shares the physical battle she went through, but also the mental battles she fought. She had to deal with her fathers alcohol addiction and frequent trips away from the house, plus her mother working all the time. She was called names by some of her classmates but she also had a great group of friends. She was even taken to the prom by a very popular boy and was crowned homecoming queen, something unusual for someone her size. Andie spent a semester in Rome, which I found fascinating. It was there, in a city I think would be very hard to eat healthy, that she found her way to a healthier way of eating and a love of exercise. Overall she ends up losing 135 pounds. For most of the book she has a boyfriend, Daniel, (who is also dealing with a weight problem) who loves her very much. He moves from place to place with her due to her career in film production. They are together for years but in the end she feels she has fallen out of love with and breaks up with him. I found this very sad. In this book Andie tells us what she did to lose weight, how her eating habits changed, and how her life in college and after were. When she leaves the film industry she starts a blog, Can You Stay For Dinner? where she shares recipes and posts about her weight loss journey. There are also section for her most popular posts,  reader q& a, calorie examples, and more under the “Weight Loss” tab. In the back of the book there is a recipe for Sour Cream Fudge Cake with Simple Chocolate Buttercream. I haven’t made it yet but I plan to. It sounds amazing. I loved this book. Not only is she quite open about her struggles, she also has a great sense of humor and you see that throughout the book. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who loves memoirs or anyone who is struggling with their weight.
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It felt like a shameless plug for her blog at the end, but a good read.
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