Have you ever read a book or someone's blog and feel like you know them? Like they're talking directly to you and somehow they're unaware you're best friends? That is totally, completely, in EVERY WAY, Andie Mitchell. How did I find her blog? I'm thinking about it and I really don't remember how I stumbled upon it. I do remember being obsessed with a blog about how a girl lost a significant amount of weight and fell in love with running. I had emailed the woman to ask her how she overcame her own mind and did it anyway. She never emailed me back, but her next post read, "I've been getting a lot of emails about how I lost the weight but I'm not gonna talk about that." I felt so crushed - like I was being personally attacked. Obviously that wasn't true and I was being overly sensitive, as I tend to be. In my desperate attempt to feel connection I somehow click-holed myself to Andie's blog. I'm so glad I did.
Andie is a lady. A living, breathing lady who has struggles just like everyone else. Her past is messy just like a lot of people's and when she wakes up her hair probably doesn't look good. I say this because she also happens to have lost 135 pounds on her own and I feel like that makes her superhuman. I think a lot of people feel like it makes her superhuman so I introduced her as awkwardly as possible for balance. Heh.
It Was Me All Along: Andie Mitchell - In her book she tells the story that brought her to where she is today. A latchkey kid who used food as her babysitter, she voices a lot of the pain I think anyone goes through when they struggle with being overweight. Her past was hard, and so many others are too, but eventually she learns to accept herself at any state, large or small. Her writing is effortlessly descriptive, especially when describing the food she ate, so you really get a sense of how vividly food has impacted her life. And I totally get that. Being overweight my entire life this book basically made me want to lay down under the floor. It brought up painful memories of being ridiculed at school, by family at times, in public, and it just makes you crumble a bit. In bringing her issues to light I feel like I've stepped into the light as well. It's so easy to hide.
Being overweight makes you feel like you're the only one, though everyone knows it's actually an epidemic. Half the country is overweight but WHERE DO THEY LIVE? No one sees these people! They all live in the same community in Montana or something because I seem to be the odd woman out. Reading about the things she's gone through forced me to remember what I've gone through - so many of the stories paralleled. It's kind of like getting cold water thrown in your face. You gasp for air like a fish out of water. It's a shock to unearth a painful past you've repressed with such "skill" for so long.
When I was finished reading the book (in a record day) I wanted to email Andie and just... friggin GUSH about how I think we should be friends, and what is her vitamin regimen, and does she enjoy watching You've Got Mail as much as I do? These are things I think about when I start to see someone with hazy, glittery lights around them. I mean I've wanted to know how many cups of water Beyoncé drinks a day for YEARS. I quickly realized what I was doing. When I start obsessively finding success stories I'm not motivating myself, I'm canonizing the person. I'm bronzing them. I... want them to do the work FOR me.
I've made it quite far in my life not doing that much hard work and thinking strength was making myself small, being comic relief, and focusing on pleasing my mom. That's gotten me here, with a person's weight to lose. I have to lose an amount of weight the size of a slightly overweight person. Saying that aloud makes me feel faint.
In the moment I was all, "I'M GONNA WRITE MY STORY. I'M GONNA WRITE IT SO PEOPLE KNOW MY PAIN AND THEN THEY'LL KNOW. THEY'LL KNOOOOW THE PAAAAIN." You start to glorify the pain and the past struggles. But I want to acknowledge that they happened, look at it firmly in the eye and say, "I see you, but you are not defining," and get to work. Hey, maybe one day I will write my own book on the mind warfare that is weight loss, but that day is far off. And that is okay. Now I focus on finding a different kind of strength, a will I thought did not exist.
Even if you haven't struggled with losing weight, this book just helps you remember that whatever struggles you've gone through, who you are at any point in your life is the person you're supposed to be right in that moment. Messy or not, shit together or not, you're you. And you are amazing.