Summer means beaches and pools and less layers/more skin showing. And while I love the idea of being outside and enjoying the sun, there's something about this time of year that makes me start thinking about how well (or un-well) I am doing at caring for my own body. With that in mind, I started more intensely working out and trying to be careful about how I fuel this body of mine. It hasn't been easy. In fact, the very process alone has brought up all sorts of issues that I forgot I had. So continuing on with the theme I started at the beginning of this month, I decided to read another story of someone else's weight loss journey.
Andie Mitchell basically tells her life story throughout the pages of her book, It Was Me All Along. Reading her account of life through the lens of her food addiction, I could connect with so much of what she wrote. She admits things like, "I struggled between wishing away all the food that collected on my body as fat, and fiercely missing every morsel. I hated the binge I had last weekend, and I wished I could do it again. I wanted to eat less, and I wanted to immediately eat more. I wanted to be angry but I felt too hurt, too ashamed to thrash about. I wanted to fit in while also wanting so badly to say a careless "****off" to all of society. I wanted to run each ounce off but I felt more like taking up permanent residence under the covers of my bed. I wanted to be alone while wanting desperately to be held tightly!". I've been there....that contradicting place of wanting one thing so badly, while also longing for the opposite just as much! It's like being caught between a rock and a hard place!
Andie also talks a lot about her relationship with food and the realization that this relationship wasn't normal. She shares about how much she struggled with moderation and not over eating, and admits that "When you've never been thin, never met normal numbers on the scale, you don't know that living in moderation is possible" and that "the problem with bingeing was that although I promised myself that I would not do it again, I silently wished I could. One the one hand, I wanted to be right on track, doing well and paying attention to what I was eating. On the other hand, I wanted to veer off course and stay riding in the direction that wound into oblivion. It was this dichotomy that killed me. The wanting to be different in order to be perceived as better, yet wishing I didn't have to try so hard".
But then she starts to make a mental shift. After realizing "even though I'd often felt that way myself, I resented that the size of my body was correlated to my value, my worth as a person", she also began to realize "I couldn't knowingly look at food for a way out when it had so clearly led me here. It wasn't hunger that beckoned me to eat more. It wasn't my stomach that needed to be reconciled. It was my shame. It was guilt. And food can't remedy such things". And isn't that the truth! Binge eating is never really about a love for food....it's about the desire to satisfy or stuff some other feeling going on inside of us...and it's not until we really address the underlying issue, that food will stop having that addiction quality for us!
Unlike the previous story I read though, Andie's weight loss journey had a pretty much upward swing with seemingly very little physical struggle. She talks a lot about how much heavier she was than everyone else and what her ideal weight was, but when I think about that in terms of my own life and body I find that part of her story a bit less relatable. I am about the same height and started off heavier than her, but I've lost weight before and I know that even at my skinniest I was no where close to her ideal weight. While I have no doubt the story is true, I know it wouldn't be the same for me and that turned me off a bit.
However, the mental and emotional connection she has to food, that's something I truly understand. From a young age, food is comfort for her, a constant. When she starts to try to get healthy, she swings to the other end of the spectrum and food seems to become more of an enemy, this thing that frustrates her and pulls her away from her goals. Food isn't just energy for her. That I can relate to. When you struggle with weight, food always seems to take on a personality for you. It's not just a way to fuel your body... it becomes much, much bigger than that. Her story was a reminder that I am not alone in that understanding!
Ultimately Andie's conclusion is that the same girl that was overweight and comfortable in it, the girl that worked hard to lose it all and the girl that will continually fight against her addiction to food, were all her and that person is perfect. That's a good thing to remember, for all of us! I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to think the person I am working to become is somehow better then the person I am, but I think her point is that embracing all the parts of myself....from the person I am in this moment, to who I end up being....is really what makes like beautiful.
While this might not end up being my favorite book I've read this year, or even my favorite ever on this subject. I am glad I read it and I would say for anyone who struggles with food issues and weight, this might be a good read, for no other reason than to remind you that you are not alone.