Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Owning my size – Donna Alward

I have always struggled with my weight. Even as a kid, when I was active as anything, and as a teenager when I played sports, I was really quite healthy and in good shape. But I was still “bigger” than a lot of my classmates. Taller, and I really am big boned, so in first year university, when I was quite “small” for me, I was still 5’8”, 155 lbs, and wearing a size 12-14.

Over the years I’ve gone up and down. Up to 175 when I got married. Up to just over 200 when I had my first child. Down to 183 and in a size 12 when my second child was a toddler. Back up to over 200 in 2009. Dropped to 190 in 2011 and stayed there for a while. And then I crept up again, and again, and right now I’m probably the heaviest I’ve ever been.

It’s tough. It’s a constant dialogue in my head. And it’s not even so much the number on the scale, but how I feel about myself. Each time I lost the weight, it was because I started eating better and diligently exercising. I like sports. I like competition, even with myself. I like feeling strong and capable. I KNOW that the benefits are amazeballs. I stood taller – physically and mentally.

And yet here I am. And the dialogue in my head doesn’t say I’m fat. It says that I need to make exercise a priority and I don’t so therefore I must suck. I’m lazy. I’m unmotivated.

I know how I got here. It’s a blend of work, stress, exhaustion…not physical exhaustion, but mental and emotional which I think can be even worse. And at the end of the day it’s hard to get up the energy to hit the gym. I could work out in the morning, but the morning’s also my sharpest time mentally, and most productive, and I can’t afford to lose any of those hours. Some people would call these excuses. For me, it’s just trying to make it through. The last few years have been really rough, including a pretty significant period of time where I was depressed on top of the regular anxiety. Exercise probably would have helped a lot. And would have, if I’d been able to get out of bed.

And at some point, and I think other overweight people can relate to this, I got to a place where losing weight and getting in shape were just overwhelming ideas. We’re not talking ten pounds and improving our cardio function. We’re talking fifty pounds and OMG why does everything have to jiggle in waves when I exercise.  It just feels so BIG of an undertaking when we’re already treading water.

And then yesterday I saw this: . And I loved it, because the women are just so damned confident and comfortable with themselves.

The thing is, and this is hard to admit, but there are times when I don’t go to functions or events because I’m so self-conscious about how I look. About how I’m perceived. And I miss out on things.
I need to stop that.

I’m making a significant addition to my career plan in 2017, and to do so I need to stop hiding. I need to be more comfortable in my own skin. And I do need to take care of myself better (and my weekly yoga classes aren’t enough, clearly). I have to own the body I’m in, and appreciate it. After all, if the last few years have been tough, my body’s bearing the scars and it’s still tickin’. J

Self-acceptance – whether it’s weight, age, flaws—it’s important. My heroine in Someone To Love, which was out in March, has that nailed. Self-acceptance and forgiveness is what got her through some pretty tough times. And I’m getting better at it, but I still have a long way to go.

One of the toughest events for me each year is RWA Nationals, because I almost always look at the pictures and feel like they don’t represent the real me. This year, I’m aiming to go and smile in every damn one and just own it… scars, rolls, and all. I might even share the pictures.


Jane Porter said...

I love this post. Powerful and courageous and so very inspiring. Love and applause, Jane Porter

Donna Alward said...

Thanks, Jane. :)

Eileen said...

What a great post. Own it Donna. Be proud of who you are today and every day

Kate Walker said...

You are beautiful- doesn't matter whether there's more of you or less, you are still my very special twin & a wonderful you. Your body has achieved so very much along with you and I just wish I could be there to hug you for real at RWA xxxKate

DJ Sakata said...

Love this - every woman over size 10 has felt this way more than once.

Donna Alward said...

Thank you Eileen and DJ!

And Kate... it's been too long since we've seen each other. :(

Jen Hayward said...

I love this post Donna. I struggled with anorexia as a teenager. I spent so much time being so concerned about my appearance until at some point in my life, I decided I wasn't giving it that power over me. I was going to appreciate me for who I am. I always think I wish I could empower every young woman with that knowledge so they wouldn't have to go through it, but sometimes life is about the journey. I think you're very inspiring and amazing. xx

Julia Broadbooks said...

I love this. I'm in the same place. I need to make healthier choices and even thinking about it feels exhausting some days. Thanks for being an inspiration!

Anne MacFarlane said...

Donna, I could have written this post. I've been skinny, medium, slightly overweight, unhealthily overweight in the past 25 years. I've been happy and unhappy at all those sizes.

But you know what?

None of that has anything to do with who you are.

You are a loving, generous person and that shines so brightly, no one can see anything else.

dstoutholcomb said...

I know how you feel. Really, truly. I'm that girl, too. Go to RWA and be strong!


Eileen A-W said...

I know how you feel. You are a wonderful person and that's what's important. So stand tall and be proud of who you are. Go knock the socks off people at RWA as you own who you are.

Abby Green said...

Go to the nationals and KICK ARSE! You're beautiful ;) xx

Donna Alward said...

I can't tell you how warm and fuzzy these comments have made me feel.

You're all amazing. <3

Anonymous said...

I think every woman/girl can relate to what you've written! As I sit in my living room on my laptop!! Find a partner and do anything... walk, take a yoga class, just anything together so you're responsible to each other.

Kate Sparks a reader/friend