1. THE BODY IS NOT AN APOLOGY: THE POWER OF RADICAL SELF-LOVE, By Sonya Renee Taylor
No theatrical countdown here, we are starting with my number one recommendation in changing your relationship to your body. I couldn’t risk anyone missing this one.
I first came across this book when preparing for my Kind Mind, Powerful Body workshop. Over the years as a personal trainer I’d been developing an approach to well-being that centered on healing the relationship to the body, and rejecting the oppressive beliefs the fitness industry was built on. Taylor not only encouraged my work through her words, but she asked more of me, both in my own relationship to my body and my work with clients.
Taylor asks you to be radical. She pushes you to not just settle for acceptance and instead seek something more powerful, radical self-love. This book acknowledges the true power each of us hold in the radical self-love of our body. She paves the way for us to collectively destroy violent systems and change the world we live in through radical self-love.
2. Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, by Lindo (formally Linda) Bacon
So maybe you aren’t quite ready to join the revolution. Or maybe you’re like, “whoa there, what about all the science that validates my hate for my body and what about my ‘health’?” Or perhaps you’re a Capricorn or a Virgo and prefer ideas to stand not only with logic but also science. Then this book is for you! The fitness industry has been built on a myth, that the pathway to health and well-being is through weight loss. This book cuts through that.
I recommend any trainer, instructor, teacher, or professional in the wellness/fitness industry read this book. I know what your schooling looked like, and I know what training you went through to attain your certification. They missed this part. Read it so you don’t perpetuate the problem. If you, like many other fitness professionals have recognized the destruction of weight loss culture, you will need the data in this book to field the questions from coworkers and clients. It becomes a tool in helping people understand their obsession with weight loss is not helping them move closer to a “healthy” body.
3.The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
Due to our body shaming culture, we often feel at odds or at war with our body. In healing our relationship to our bodies we must begin to form compassion and understanding for it. It is an expression of us, not rebelling against us. This book helps grow that compassion. It’s an intense read, both due to its dense science and heavy content. When we begin to discover the powerful science and stories about the mind body connection, we become more aligned with our bodies. Van der Kolk argues that trauma is our number one health issue in the west.
This was an important read for me. While I’ve lived a “healthy” lifestyle– never smoking, rarely drinking, having always been very active– I was experiencing strange physiological problems. I tried going to doctors, and using my expertise in movement and exercise but nothing worked. I was angry at my body, I felt betrayed. This book helped me understand the root of the issue. Trauma was expressing itself through my body. Just this fact and understanding that connection, I grew compassion for my body. And myself.
4. Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them, by Louise Hay
This book is like tarot and astrology for the metaphysical mind-body connection. It can be as powerful or playful as you want it to be. The book’s core content is a three column list. The first column is the physical ailment or problem. The second column is a thought pattern that’s the probable cause. And the third column is a new thought pattern or mantra.
Heal Your Body gave meaning to the pain in my body, and helped me become more mindful. It raised my awareness to the themes of my thoughts, and gave depth in the way I approach healing. For example, hip pain is said to be related to “Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.” And the replacement thought pattern is “I am in perfect balance. I move forward in life with ease and with joy at every age.” Based on this, I sought out not only movement, but movement that brought me joy, and I became more aware when I struggled with fear in making decisions. Similar to tarot, this book is something I pick up when I need to, to gain deeper knowledge and perspective about how to move forward in healing.
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