The Body Is Not An Apology: My Book Review

The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-LoveThe 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.

photo of cover of the body is not an apology.

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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Took some time for me

This week has been crazy, but I got a brief window today to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I headed to the beach to do my 30 min walk on the boardwalk.

I used the time to think about what I wanted and where I think I’m going. I’m reading a helpful book (more about that later) but one thing I realized is that I’m really mad at my body. When I got hurt a year and a half ago, and had to drop out of the marathon, it felt like a betrayal. My body betrayed me.

I’ve been punishing my body ever since. I’ve been depressed, angry, and pissed off. I see other bodies doing stuff and I feel jealous. I still haven’t forgiven my body for letting me down.

They say that knowing what’s wrong is half the battle. So I guess that means I still have half the battle left.

Act “as if”

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.

How meme it is…

If you are looking for where I get my inspirational quotes, don’t bother. In the past I scoured the Internet looking for the perfect graphic, but I decided this time I would make my own. All the backgrounds are photos or drawings I’ve made. Some of the quotes are appropriated, but most are original.

I’m sure there are other people who have better photos, cleverer quotes, etc. It’s just that if one of my goals is to get to my own truth, then the memes ought to be authentic as well.

One unexpected benefit is that as I go through my day I find myself looking for photo opportunities and thinking about the things I hear and read. Would that make a good post? Would that make an interesting meme? It’s made me more mindful of place and time and hopefully I’ll improve as I go along.

Reasons to Succeed

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.

Staycation

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! 

First Run

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.

Best Run in Months

OK, to fair, it’s been my only real run in months.

seldenMy last real run was in August. I did a 6 mile hill run that completely undid me. Since then I’ve  kind of lost myself. I tried a number of programs (weights, biking, yoga), but not with any enthusiasm. I’ve been disconnected, easily frustrated, and a bit lost.  What was supposed to be 6 weeks of PT dragged into 12 weeks. I was pretty faithful about attending PT, but kind of slacked off between sessions, not keeping up on my end of the exercise.
The events of early November didn’t help my already sagging mood. Not to get political, but I have lost enthusiasm for pretty much everything.

depressedThe PT, which initially showed promise wasn’t really getting me where I needed to go. Plus the doctors couldn’t agree on the best way to move me forward. One said I definitely needed surgery and it was a wonder I could run at all. Another said those were old injuries, and if I ran a half marathon last year those mangled bones and tendons couldn’t be the problem now. I went the path of least resistance and got cortisone shots in my heel.

At first I didn’t think the shots helped. I still felt all the pains, just in different places, but I renewed my efforts to work on PT and by week 2 things seemed somewhat better. My therapist said we could try a cautious run on the treadmill in PT. That was Monday. She let me run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, run for 1 min, walk for 2 min, etc.  In all I did less than a half mile of running in 15 min. It was both agonizing and exhilarating.  My body felt free, but also in check. It was the best 15 minutes in weeks.

That was Monday… I rested and tested how my legs felt Tuesday and Wednesday, I did a morning run: A little further and a little faster.  As per my carefully planned out regime, I rested Thursday and woke super early this morning ready for my Friday run. I did 10 minutes straight running, nearly making the mile mark.  When my lovely GPS watch buzzed that my time was up, I almost wanted to pretend I didn’t notice, but I thought about all the months and months of PT and thought, “It isn’t worth it.”  I stopped and walked  the rest of the way home.

homerI have to say right now I’m concerned. My calf is pretty tight right now, tighter than it has been in months. Did I overdo it? Did I not stretch enough after? Am I being oversensitive and overthinking it? Maybe it’s sore because I haven’t run in 3 months??

Having said that, running this morning felt awesome. I got more done at work today than I have in weeks, and the people that needed me to clean up their messes didn’t piss me off nearly as much as usual. I even felt better about how I looked. I mean, that’s crazy right? But I was thinking about it. The past few weeks I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and all I could think is negative thoughts: I’m getting fat, I’m wrinkled, I’m out of shape, I look awful… All my body positivity work from the past 3 years has just deserted me.

i-ran-todayToday, I put on a pair of yoga pants and tight top and thought, “Wow, I look cute.”

Seriously…

 

I’d love to tell you want it means, but right now all I can say is I want to run tomorrow. I’m supposed to rest between runs, but really, how important is that?

(Just kidding: I’m doing stretches and PT exercises tomorrow. But I’m definitely running Sunday.)

5 Stages of (Running) Grief

Doctor’s orders: 6 more weeks no running.  This was a long time coming (too long). But deciding definitively not to run the marathon is much more traumatic than I expected. I’m still grieving.

Denial – I’m not really hurt. Running is supposed to hurt. That’s just normal pain; I can run through it.

toughAnger – Seriously? Why me! I don’t care what my body is trying to tell me. I can run through this and stop telling me what to do. Stupid body.

Bargaining – I can fix this. Read everything on the Internet and talk to every person I know. Try every “remedy” so that I can justify still running.

Depression – I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to talk to anyone about running. In fact, I may never run again.
Acceptance – I’ll let you know when I get there.