Woman Drops 130 Pounds & Hates What Happens Next

it was me all along andie mitchell

The way we always hear it, you'd think losing a lot of weight would make a woman deliriously happy. I mean, get skinny and there's your key to love, success, and everything wonderful in life, right? Well, you might be surprised at the reality. When then-20-year-old Andie Mitchell lost 135 pounds -- half her body weight -- it actually made her feel depressed. Here's what no one tells you about dramatic weight loss.

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In her memoir, It Was Me All Along, Mitchell describes her journey from her childhood, through her incredible weight loss, and the years following -- when she may have actually done her hardest work.

On her 20th birthday, Mitchell weighed 268 pounds. It was a terrifying turning point for her. "My motivation for losing weight had always largely been vanity," she writes in her memoir. But now that she was approaching 300 pounds, her weight became a matter of life and death. "I was reminded of my mortality. I was no longer just big. I was obese, and worse, morbidly so, according to the height and weight charts I'd read online."

After years of failed attempts, this realization fueled a new effort that finally worked. Mitchell's mantra was "can you do it today?" She took eating healthier and exercising one day at a time. It was excruciatingly difficult. It took her years. But at last she reached 135 pounds.

Mitchell told The Stir losing all that weight made her feel "attractive and desirable and valuable in a way that I wasn't before." Wonderful? Not really. "It made me feel sad," she says.

I'd lived for 20 years never having been thin and nothing had changed about me other than my weight. So to get all this attention, this validation just because of weight loss, one physical attribute. It's a little disheartening. Our culture puts so much emphasis on that. Your value is tied to what your weight is.

Wow ... I think it takes a certain kind of maturity and wisdom to see that. But maybe other women who have lost a significant amount of weight feel the same way. You're the SAME person you were before with just one superficial change. Why does that one thing -- your weight -- so disproportionately affect the way people treat you? What does that say about the value of everything else that makes you you?

Mitchell was working through that disheartening realization. But she also felt incredible pressure to keep the weight off. Being thin was such a new, unfamiliar thing for Mitchell. "I didn't want to be just another case of someone who loses weight and can't maintain it."

She developed an eating disorder. She became obsessed with calorie counting. It even affected her relationship with her boyfriend, Daniel. He had been one of her most enthusiastic supporters through her weight loss journey. She says he was incredibly proud of her success, but her new eating disorder put pressure on them. "It left no room for our relationship."

After more soul-searching and therapy, Mitchell dug through the pain of her childhood, the roots of her overeating. Her father died at the age of 40 from a stroke -- after years of struggling with alcoholism. The story of his death is so acutely heartbreaking, you really have to hear Mitchell tell it in her own words. To read it is to understand (maybe, just barely?) the amount of pain she was trying to numb through overeating.

Losing weight itself isn't going to erase pain from your life, and it's not guaranteed to make you happier. Most of all, it's not an end-point. "You kind of have to go through ups and downs," Mitchell says. She has gained 15 pounds since that 135-pound low, but her life is in a much better balance now.

"I feel like this is a weight now where I eat what I want in moderation and feel good about myself," Mitchell says. "I never want to have to diet the whole time just to stay one weight." She tells us she still takes life one day at a time.

It's been nice getting to know the body I'm in now, finding a weight I'm comfortable with, rebuilding my relationship with food. Even when it's been hard, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I've learned so much about myself.

Most meaningful for her now has been sharing her story with other people -- first through her blog, Can You Stay for Dinner?, and now through her memoir. "It's been amazing to see how many people relate to the journey. It seems like it's so universal, the struggle we all go through."

Have you or anyone else you know ever lost a significant amount of weight? How did they feel about that? What did it change?

 

Image via William Morrow/HarperCollinsPublishers

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