Probably the most impactful/relatable book we have read this far we have found in It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. I still find it challenging to put into words what we experienced individually while reading it and shared with the group last week at our monthly book club. I think it is fair to say that the majority of us had some kind of emotional connection to this memoir – some with struggling with body image, but overall just struggling with how we see ourselves and what discipline and hard work can get you for a personal change. I feel honored to have been able to listen to the personal narratives that were shared as relating to Andie’s struggle.
Even though we all agreed that the memoir was not intended to make us feel self-conscious about our eating habits and weight, we took a huge part of the discussion talking about just that. Me personally, I’ve become more aware of how fast I consume a meal along with the quantity – Andie’s point about how the 2nd or 3rd piece of pizza won’t taste the same even though we think we can reach that high again was a gamechanger. Food becomes sort of like a drug, but the defense is we need food to eat so we can’t fully ‘quit’. Others communicated society expectations of good health (which Andie assumed before her weight loss became a obsession) – run and don’t eat crap. The diets these days are all over the place with success and continual management: Whole30, DASH, military diet, the Biggest Loser, and Extreme Weight Loss, etc. We loved how Andie broke that mold of having to enjoy running – some of us were relieved that she was raw and real with her goals, challenges, trials, and overall approach to weight management – walking was enough.
But one’s weight is probably not about the food – it goes beyond that into the psyche. We discussed the role of Andie’s mother and how Andie was always looking for some sort of approval from her. Her mom wasn’t able to show emotional support and talk with Andie about what she was noticing in her unhealthy lifestyle (almost when Andie came back from college, and her jaw slightly dropped open at the sight of Andie’s weight gain). However, we made the point that her mom supported her financially (even though struggling to make ends meet) by buying her a beautiful prom dress and taking out her retirement money for her skin-removal surgery. That was how she showed love and support, and it seemed like it was the only way she could – coming from a broken marriage and becoming a widow.
We’ve been doing potlucks for our book club meetings, and oddly enough, each of us (without saying it beforehand) brought a healthy appetizer! One person even made the Sour Cream Fudge Cake that was provided as the last page of the memoir! Other results from this book included following Andie’s blog Can You Stay for Dinner and Instagram where we discovered that Andie is back with Daniel and they are engaged! Jokingly, we thought, is there a sequel?!
I felt that our conversation was rich and full of quality with this pick for July. It has brought up past experiences in some of us and showed an appreciation for people overcoming a personal challenge for others. Something for everyone, I believe. Honestly, one of my favorite books to date. What is even better? It’s real life.
Here’s to our next book club selection, Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple!