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Seek & Thrive: With Health Coach and ‘Letting Go of Leo’ Author Simi Botic

A conversation with Simi Botic, JD, CHHC, holistic health coach and author of "Letting Go of Leo: How I Broke Up With Perfection", on why our ability to stay adaptable helps us move forward in life.

Monica: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your journey with us, Simi!  You started off in such a different field than you are now, can you share what inspired you to dive deep into the health world?

Simi: A decade ago my life looked drastically different than it does today. I was a food-obsessing, schedule-filling, to-do-list checking, compulsive-running, corporate attorney.

For much of my life, I struggled off and on with disordered eating, yo-yo-dieting, binges, daily anxiety, crappy body image, perfectionist mindset, and so much fear. My relationship with food, my body, and the desire to be ‘perfect’ hit an all time low when I was in law school. The stressful environment, competitive nature of the experience, and my desire to control it all got projected onto my body. Shortly after graduation, I moved from Chicago to Columbus, OH to take the bar exam and begin practicing law. On top of a stressful and demanding transition, my husband and I also got married a month after I started working.

I finally hit my rock bottom on my honeymoon. After a date filled with French wine and French fries, my mind swarmed with fear and I started to feel guilty about my ‘bad’ choices. When I went to the bathroom that night, I had a total meltdown. In that tearful moment, I realized that my insecurities and coping mechanisms were keeping me distracted from the wonderful life right in front of me.

I couldn’t enjoy any of the amazing things in my life feeling like I did about myself.

I was so held back because of the way I saw, thought about, and treated myself. I was wasting seriously precious moments freaking out and, on my honeymoon, it finally hit me that these were moments I would never get back.

Monica: That must have been such a revelation, especially while on your honeymoon!  What helped you in taking the steps you needed to make a change?

Simi: After sharing everything with my husband, he encouraged me to talk to someone when we got home. I was finally able to accept that it wasn’t my body that needed to change, it was the way I saw, spoke to, and treated myself. I came home from my honeymoon and asked for help. Thanks to the loving and compassionate guidance of a coach and therapist, and a lot of support from my amazing family and friends, things slowly began to shift. I started letting go of who I believed I ‘should’ be and started creating a relationship with who I truly am.

Part of my journey of letting go of the need to be ‘perfect’ was discovering that practicing as an attorney was something I had believed I ‘should’ do. What I truly felt called to do was support other women on their healing journeys and work to change the narrative around worth and enoughness for all of us. I went back to school while practicing law to become a health coach before transitioning my career fully. Today, I’ve had the joy of working as a coach, writer, and speaker for five years now.

Monica: The perfectionist mindset can be such a struggle to overcome. What helped you the most in building that self-awareness and making changes you needed during that process?

Simi: If it wasn't for my past, I wouldn't even know that the work I do now existed! I struggled with feeling like I wasn't enough for decades and it manifested deeply in my relationship with food, exercise, and body image. I wanted so badly to make my body smaller because I believed that if I was smaller I would be more lovable, more accepted, and finally feel like I was enough. I tried so many diets, obsessed over celebrity eating plans, and eliminating just about every food group under the sun at one point or another until I finally got to a place where I felt like I couldn't hate my body or try to manipulate myself with food and exercise one more day, so I looked for help. I stumbled upon a health coach, and working with her was a huge pivot for me in my personal journey to food, movement, and body freedom.

Through working with my own health coach, I discovered the concept of Intuitive Eating. I was so enthralled -- not only did it change my life but the research and science behind it blew my mind. As Intuitive Eating helped me to let go of the external rules and begin listening to my body, I noticed changes in other areas of my life, too. One big area was career. I realized that being an attorney was something I had felt I 'should' do (like all the weight loss plans I had tried in the past). As I began listening to what I was truly passionate about in this area, it became clear that I felt called to help other women to find food, movement, and body freedom just like my coach had helped me.

Monica: I love how you felt compelled to help others through the same struggles you went through. How does your renewed understanding of health and happiness help you in the work you do now?

Simi: There was a time where I believed that health and happiness were waiting for me when I achieved 'X' (i.e. a certain number on the scale, a certain career milestone, a certain physical appearance, etc).

My work -- in both my personal relationship with myself and with my coaching clients -- has totally transformed that definition. To me, health and happiness is about being in relationship with ourselves. It's about checking in, listening, noticing what we need more and less of, and responding to the best of our abilities with compassion and kindness.

It's not a fixed state but is always moving, changing, and flexible.

My current work is a constant reminder of the power of intuitive eating, embracing a growth mindset, and releasing perfection. I'm so inspired by the work each and every one of my clients is doing in her life and I'm so inspired by the people working alongside me in the intuitive eating space.

Monica: I couldn’t agree more, it’s really about staying adaptable in life and finding ways to keep living forward. What's the key lesson you’ve learned that helps you thrive in life, and would like to instill in others?

Simi: For so long, I wanted to feel like I was enough. I looked to so many external things to make me feel that way, but I discovered that deep enoughness comes from within. Now, I feel part of my purpose is to help others connect with their inherent enoughness so that we can all stop feeling so held back by all the ways we fear we don't measure up.

Imagine what would be possible in a world where each person believed she was enough -- we could make some pretty incredible change! What I want each and every person to recognize for themselves is that you have so much wisdom inside of you.

Learn more about Simi at http://www.simibotic.com/.

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