I met Simi on the first truly warm summer day at Fox in the Snow Café in German Village. At this point in time, spring semester was over, and I was living in Cleveland for the summer, but that didn’t stop me from doing this Superwoman interview in person. I felt like I had to; I heard her speak at The Wonder Jam, and everything she said felt so right to me. So right, in fact, that I messaged her via Instagram after her talk to let her know just how important what she said was. An out of character move, but a move all the same.
I don’t often find myself nervous for interviews. I love storytelling, and perhaps the best part of my job is the ability to tap into other people’s individual stories, but as I watched a black storm cloud whip wind through the cobblestoned streets of the village, I knew I was nervous. Something about Simi’s presence is calming. Centering, too. Maybe it’s her easy-going personality or her willingness to be open, but whatever combination it was, great conversation ensued.
Simi Botic’s journey to becoming a health coach actually began by going to law school to become an attorney. Sort of. At this point, she had endured a 10 year struggle with her relationship with food and body image, coupled with a history of binge eating. Overall, there was a desire to be perfect.
“I had struggled with dieting, trying to restrict my food intake, over exercising, and ultimately a lot of that restriction led to me also struggling with binge eating,” she said. Overall, Simi’s relationship with how she perceived her body was a tumultuous one. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Simi says that contributed to her desire to manipulate her appearance.
“That really manifested itself in my relationship with food and exercise,” she said. “After a lot of personal work, it just really came down to the fact that I wanted to feel loved and I wanted to feel like I belonged.” To her, being perfect was the path to love.
Simi got married shortly after starting work as an attorney, and she recalled a moment from her honeymoon in which she opened up about her struggles. During a “real meltdown,” Simi shared the thoughts she had about her body with someone else for the first time. Her husband encouraged her to get help, and fatefully, she discovered a holistic health coach.
“That was where I really started my healing journey, and that was seven years ago,” she said. After working with the coach, Simi was more in touch with her body and needs. She realized something else: she didn’t want to be an attorney. She felt that she had “gone through the motions” in order to make other people happy without asking herself first.
“I had to have that hard conversation with myself. ‘What would I be excited about?’ What was I passionate about?’ My first health coach really encouraged me to become a health coach,” she said. Simi went back to school and eventually stopped practicing law all together in order to start her own business. She wanted to love law, but it just wasn’t right for her.
However, Simi wouldn’t change her career journey. She would go to law school again, where she learned a lot about herself and her curiosity, and she would also practice law again. Professionalism, curiosity, teamwork, communication and client service are all skills she attributes to her law experience. The transition from law to entrepreneurship is where she would give herself advice.
“The only thing that I would tell myself when I was practicing law, hoping to create this business and hoping to make that transition that felt like it wasn’t happening fast enough is just to take a breath and be patient. All you can really do is put one foot in front of the other,” she said. “It’s always hard when you know where you want to go and you’re not there yet.”
Even once you get there, though, challenges arise. For Simi, her greatest continual challenge in her career is “letting work go at the end of the work day” and allowing herself to devote time to her personal life. Unplugging is even harder as an entrepreneur because she cares so much about her business.
“I think my biggest success is that I really feel like I’ve done this my way,” Simi said, adding that everything she has created in her business is authentic and true to herself. She acknowledged the pull that is sometimes felt to mimic what other successful people are doing, but that it is okay if your process looks different than other people’s.
When Simi started her business, her income came from private coaching with one-on-one clients and a small group coaching program. All of her original clients were women local to Columbus, and her business was known through word of mouth. It continued to grow this way with her second set of clients. Simi eventually created a virtual intuitive eating program called “Finally Free” with a friend. The growth of her business had led her business to where it is today.
“Now, I very rarely know my clients personally, more than half of them are not in Columbus, and it has continued to grow with word of mouth,” she said. People also hear about her through podcasts she has appeared on, and Simi published her first book this year, which new clients have connected with. However, she knows that the way the she serves people changes slights based on what feels right to her.
Her book, “Letting Go of Leo” came out of Simi’s love for storytelling and the connection she feels from other people’s stories. However, she couldn’t seem to come across the right book idea, as there were so many books on intuitive eating already with “no space to fill.”
“It seemed that the logical book to write had already been written,” she said. After flying to New York for a friend’s book launch turned into an airport plus pregnancy sickness plus canceled flight mess, her idea finally hit her.
“I had this moment when I finally got on my plane where I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m not freaking out right now.’ I would have freaked out so much if this happened to me seven years ago,” she said. This sparked her original idea for her book, one that would advise people about how to stop freaking out in different aspects of their lives. She wrote all of her notes on a barf bag on that same flight. Simi won her book deal through a writer’s workshop in Chicago, in which she won second prize.
The book turned out different than she originally envisioned; at first, she thought it would be your typical self-help book, but after 100 pages, she threw it all away.
“I learn better through storytelling, so why would I write this book in a way that I wouldn’t even want to read it?” she said. From there, it turned into Simi telling her personal stories that would illustrate to readers the lessons that she had learned. Overall, Simi was inspired by the idea of making women feel less alone, and the storytelling aspect of her book felt like the most authentic way for her to accomplish that.
But why “Letting Go of Leo” as the title?
“A big part of the book is really this idea of letting go of the fantasy of perfection…and one of the stories that I share is this fantastical love affair in my mind that I had with Leonardo DiCaprio,” she said. Simi was obsessed with Leo, and she believed that if she could be perfect, he would love her back. The title is a metaphor for letting go of whatever perfectionism is controlling your life.
Writing a book is no easy feat. As a writer myself who has toyed with the idea of writing a book yet purposefully avoided it because I have no idea what to do, Simi let me in on the truth.
“I had a lot of unrealistic expectations for it,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m just going to sit down, and this book is just going to pour out of me.’” Simi had also just become a mother around the time she began her book, and she recalled having to work during newfound time constraints she’d never faced, especially as an entrepreneur who creates her own schedule.
“I have limited work hours, and I have to grind it out during these work hours or else it doesn’t get done,” she said. She admitted that the time constraints terrified her, and the reason that she couldn’t write at first was that she was “trying to make it perfect.” The whole book centered on how perfect doesn’t exist. After getting annoyed with herself enough to become productive, Simi made herself write two Word Document pages per day, and her day wasn’t over if those pages weren’t done.
“It all came down to perspective, and I just needed to shift my perspective,” Simi said of her limited work hours; they could either be viewed as a gift or limitation, and she chose gift.
On top of being an author and a health coach, Simi is also a mother. One look at her Insta feed and you’ll see her adorable son, Osh, and their adventures together.
“Motherhood has made my life better because I now know my favorite person in the entire world who I didn’t know before,” she said. But Osh has brought her lessons to learn as well, such as patience, slowing down and being present in the moment as well as the value of play.
“I would say that I enjoy my life more now than I have in a really, really long time because the things that you just naturally do with a kid…they bring me a lot of joy,” she said.
In terms of working, at first it seemed like it would be hard dividing her time between her son and her work. But it turned out wonderfully.
“It’s forced me to get clear on priorities and the things I want to focus on and feel most valuable to me in my professional life,” she said. In turn, Simi has learned when to say “yes” and “no,” and how to create boundaries. Osh has also taught her how to be an “open, loving, compassionate human being,” so she is able to give even more of that to her clients.
The past few years, the body positivity movement has exploded. I wondered what a health coach who has expertise in body image would think of the way bodies are portrayed today.
“All bodies are enough, and all bodies are valuable. I believe in body diversity as a normal, natural thing. I don’t think we’re all supposed to look the same,” she said. “I think there are smaller bodies and larger bodies, and I think all of that normal and natural.“ Body positivity to Simi means embracing all bodies.
“I think that our bodies are some of the least interesting things about us,” she said. Simi thinks that everyone should feel at home in their bodies, embracing different abilities and skills.
Simi’s favorite quote truly embodies her work, and she finds it centering in that sense:
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”—John Steinbeck.
You can learn more about Simi via her website!
Author: Sam Raudins
Author Bio: Sam is a journalism major at Ohio State who lives for football and good iced chai lattes. She is an intern at Harness, Social Media Editor at The Lantern and Senior Editor at Her Campus Ohio State. In the past, Sam has created her own blog and developed a football column at Her Campus called “Femme Football.”
Link to social media or website: http://theinternalmonologue.weebly.com | Instagram @sgr3| Twitter @sam_raudins