The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Everyone who has a body should read this book. If you think you know what it is all about, you probably don’t.
I thought I knew. I have followed TBINAA on social media for years, so yeah, I know. But not really. This book had more depth and breadth than I anticipated. I bought the book on audible, but by Chapter 2 I knew that it wouldn’t be enough. I purchased the print book and started marking it up. The audiobook is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. Sonya’s voice is deep and clear and powerful. She also leaves in some of her “flubs.” A few times she repeats sentences and at one point she gives a little “oh” when she realizes she misspoke. At first, I thought this was poor editing, but then I realized it was a conscious choice. It is a statement on how we are not perfect nor are we meant to be. It helps me believe Sonya when she says that she too suffers from days where she struggles to find the body love, it is believable.
My copy, with all of my post-it bookmarks
I’ve read the book, but I’m not finished with it. I figured out pretty early on that this wasn’t going to be a one-and-done read for me. I will need to read and re-read it many times. I will need to chew through the passages slowly and with reflection. I will need to use the inquiry questions as a workbook. I can’t remember a book that has impacted me this strongly in a really long time.
This is not a self-help book in the way typically self-help books work. It is more like a three-way conversation between you, your body, and Sonya, who is acting as some sort of marriage counselor, helping you and your body remember what you loved about each other in the first place.
If this book is on your “to read” list, move it to the top of the list. If it isn’t on your list, well, what are you waiting for?
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I spent the weekend rethinking what I’m trying to do. I didn’t walk I didn’t write. I just thought. (And got a foot massage which helped both the chronic pain and the thinking.)
I examined the issues I thought I was addressing:
- Always tired
- Chronic pain
- Feeling old
- Feeling out of control
- Feeling loss of self to outside pressures (work, school, family, relationships)
Then I thought about my motivation:
- Acceptance by others
- Peace of mind (sanity??)
To be honest, I’m not convinced I’m on the right track. Trying to adhere to a schedule (30min 30days) was great when I was successful but left me feeling like a failure when I (a) failed to make the minimum requirement or (b) felt pain or suffered in recovery. Even writing an article each day and creating a meme is wonderful and insightful, but between work, school, and family I’m not sure it is a realistic expectation. I actually felt bad missing a day and that caused me to miss another. Ugh!!
This is not to say I’m giving up. Getting up and moving around was great. How do I do it with semi-consistency and without undo pressure? Writing this blog again has been so helpful. How do I arrange time for it without it becoming a drain? My type A personality usually only employs two setting: Full-on-high and off. How do I cultivate a lower setting?
So, I’m thinking and considering. I’m looking for resource outside myself. I’m hoping for inspiration. I’m planning more massages, more walks on the beach, more sleep. I’m trying to change my perspective.
I may have written about this before, but I believe in the power of “as if.” I believe in it so much that I’ve taught my child to use its power. She is even better at it than I.
Not confident? Just act as if you were confident and it’s almost as good.
Not happy? Act as if you were happy. Smile and laugh and tell jokes. No one can tell you aren’t happy. Maybe not even you.
Don’t know what you are doing? Just answer as if you are sure of yourself. Others will believe in you, follow your lead, and soon you will be sure.
Right now I’m not body positive at all. I’m feeling old and sore and worn down (especially last night). But I post as if I’m sure of what I’m doing and that I know it will turn out right. If I keep saying it, not only will you believe, but hopefully I will too.
This post marks 7 days in a row that I’ve posted. I admit I’m a bit rusty. Also it feels weird to be sharing my inner thoughts again. Luckily no one is reading this blog (except my mom) after being dormant for so long.
Today I got my walk in, but barely (10 days down; 20 to go). I had exactly 30 min between finishing work and the leaving for the movies. BF wasn’t too happy, but he got over it.
It was dark and drizzly and I didn’t have time to go to the gym. I strapped a light onto my knit hat and held a flashlight when oncoming cars would come. I’m supposed to avoid blacktop because it’s harsher on the heel pain, but sometimes you just have to make do.
It felt like the old days, before I ran a half marathon, before the chronic pain, when I was just trying to hit a million steps and would walk in all kinds of weather just to get those extra steps in. Before I had “friends” on my Fitbit app and I was the only person I knew who had a Fitbit. Before I turned 50, when I thought I’d never be a runner, or athletic, or fit. When all I wanted to do was be able to walk without huffing and puffing.
It was also a time when I obsessed about what I was eating, and how much, and when. And I was drinking coffee and diet soda (ok I had diet soda today, but just because we were out to dinner and there weren’t a lot of options. It really is a rare thing) and I was weighing myself obsessively.
This time I’m being really strict. Not only is there a no-scale rule and a no writing down everything you eat rule, but there is a don’t obsess about your food choices rule and a eat when you are hungry rule. There is also a don’t feel bad about what you ate rule. Sometimes I forget the rules a bit and have to remind myself… gently remind myself… kindly remind myself that the rules are there to protect me (from me). Then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and send me back into the world.
It feels pretty good.
Yesterday I almost didn’t get my 30 min walk in. The day got away from me so that the earliest I could get to it was 10 pm. It was rainy and icky out. I was really tired. But it’s only 30 min and I already brought my sneakers, I told myself.
Then I realized I had forgotten to pack up the most important thing: I carry a water bottle to the gym that has my Garmin watch, Bluetooth headphones, a sweat towel, and a scruncii to hold my glasses on. Could I really walk without these?
Yes, I thought:
- Listen to the rhythm of your breathing
- Enjoy the sweat as proof of your effort
- Repurpose your empty coffee thermos from this morning as a water bottle
- Rely on the treadmill to record your efforts
- Hold your head high so your glasses don’t fall off
It was a great moment in positive self talk. I found reasons to succeed instead of reasons to fail. I kept thinking if you let these little things defeat you now, how will you survive the big things?
On my way to the gym, with less than an hour before closing, my glasses broke. One of the temples (arms) fell off and into the abyss of my dark car. To keep driving (I am completely blind without my glasses) I had to hold them with one hand and drive with the other. I had no time to go home for a spare pair and still get my walk in.
Well, that’s it, I thought. I can’t see so I can’t walk. Just give up. This is a legit reason. More legit than no headphones and no water bottle.
But then I thought, Fuck It.
I want to get my walk in. Let’s see (hehe get it) what happens.
So I went to the gym and held my glasses with one hand to find the changing room and then dressed blind. Then I held my glasses to find the treadmill and to see which buttons to press. Once I got a good rhythm going I put the glasses into the empty cup holder (yeah, I left the coffee cup in the car after all that) and walked blind. I didn’t fall. I didn’t fail. I didn’t give up.
All in all it was a pretty great day.
3 miles is better than 2
14:12 is better than 14:30
45 degrees is better than 34
3 runs this week is better than 1
Feeling that little, tiny flower of empowerment
rising in your gut through the ash of cynicism and self-doubt
Recovery has made wax poetic. Not sure why.
Today was better. My running was better. My emotions were better. My expectation that I might run again this week, that I can get past a “bad run” was better. Just knowing I can get through a bad run helps me get to the next one.
I’m sure I have many more bad runs in my future. But I also believe they will be followed by better runs. And maybe out there… way, way out there… are some good runs.
I’m not having the best week. Work is hard. Working out is hard. Food issues and body image issues that I thought were behind me are creeping up again. In general, life is hard.
But now I’m taking care of me for a few days. 3 vacation days (plus weekend). Starting now, I’m taking 5 full days where I’m turning off emails, politics, drama. I’m looking to feed my soul. I’m focusing on friends, loved ones, family.
We aren’t going anywhere. I’m not setting up a “to-do” list. I may or may not run. I may or may not sleep till noon. I plan on having a lot of sex and alcohol may or may not be involved.
Most of all, I’m taking a vacation from judging me. To celebrate, I’m taking a beautiful sunset walk. Lots of pics. Lots of rests. Lots ofcontemplation and introspection. No thoughts of shoulda, coulda, woulda.
For five days. Ready? Set. Go!
If I didn’t live near a beach, I most likely would never have started running. Running gives me an excuse to go to the beach in February.
I love running on boardwalk over pretty much any other surface. I love running in air that tastes salty. I love listening to the waves crash as I cool down and stretch.
Driving home from NYC after work can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hrs, depending on which part of the city I’m coming from, how early I get out, and general traffic conditions.
The beach is considerably colder than the mainland, and the sun sets very early in winter, so running on the beach is often a matter of timing and luck.
Even though I was cleared to run for a while, I didn’t get going as fast as I could have/should have. It has been months since the weather conditions and my own sense of timing provided me with the opportunity or inclination.
Today was the day, though. Weather was unseasonably warm, despite the fact that we are due for a blizzard tomorrow. I made it past the Queens border by 3, clearing my way to hit the beach before the sun went down.
And so I ran… for sheer joy it seems.
The only way this works is if I start over; pretend I never ran before. I’m not looking at time or pace or distance. I’m looking at “did I get it there and run.”
I’m the unfaithful lover That has to earn back trust.
I’m the prodigal son who doesn’t deserve another chance but gets one anyway.
Loving my body means loving it when it can’t perform, and I’ve failed miserably on that front, but I’m ready to make amends.
So I ran today.
It was hard and lovely and just the beginning.
I promise to care for my lovely body that is sometimes amazing and sometimes fragile.
Forget yesterday. Ignore tomorrow. Run today.
Sometimes the struggle is just getting to the starting line