Excerpt From Letting Go Of Leo: How I Broke Up With Perfection

Enjoy this excerpt from Simi Botic’s book, Letting Go Of Leo: How I Broke Up With Perfection! Love this sneak peek? Make sure to give her a follow on instagram, @simibotic ; )

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Like clockwork, the moment that a special event or vacation went on the schedule, the inner dialogue would start.

The scale needs to say [INSERT GOAL WEIGHT] by the time I step onto that beach. If I reach that weight, I will be OK.  

Two months until vacation. So that would be eight weeks. If I can lose two pounds a week until then, I think everything will be OK when I need to put on that swimsuit.

OK, only one month until vacation. So, I just need to lose four pounds a week until vacation and I think everything will be OK.

Oh no! I only have two weeks until vacation. If I only drink fluids, I think everything will be OK. I’ll just have to cancel all of my plans until then, since I won’t be able to eat, and buy about 17 pounds of lemons by tomorrow so I can get started.

After eating everything in the world but lemons …

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!? Vacation starts tomorrow and I have spent the last two months panic-binge eating. I hate the way I look. I don’t deserve to enjoy this vacation after how I’ve acted. Why can’t I get it together? Why do I always do this?

I would then get on the scale and see a number that was not my goal weight. I would see the number and think, I don’t have permission to enjoy this experience. I don’t deserve to wear a bathing suit.

These were the thoughts that used to precede just about every vacation or special event. It happened before weddings, trips to the beach, and even a dinner with a friend who I hadn’t seen for a while. Once there, I was in hyper-hide mode.

What is the quickest way to get to the beach, strip off my cover up, and lay on my back before anyone sees?

Is it possible to hide my stomach with my book while I pretend to read?

Suck in suck in suck in.

Walk sloooooooowly Sim, so your thighs jiggle less on the way to the water.

Pull up the bottoms on the swimsuit to hold in your stomach … oh no! That made your whole butt fall out!

PLEASE don’t let me be in that photo they just took. I don’t want anybody to see me like this!

I wish I looked like her. Her legs are so much smaller than mine. Her stomach is so much flatter. Look at how she can play beach volleyball and have so much fun, while I’m stuck laying here trying not to breathe or move. I wonder how many lemons I need to drink to look like that? Maybe by my next vacation I can get there. How many weeks would that be? Like 30? So, if I lost a few pounds a week drinking only lemons for 30 weeks …

I would come home from most of these trips or weekend celebrations feeling even worse about myself than when I left. Of course I wanted to stop comparing myself to other people, but I assumed that it could only happen when I looked “as good” or “better” than them (at the time, in my mind, this meant “as thin” or “thinner”). I was insecure about my body and it felt really crappy to live in that place. I was desperate and thought that comparing myself to others might help because it would “motivate” me to be better (aka thinner).

It did not work. The more I tried to get my body to a place where I “deserved” to feel comfortable, the more uncomfortable I felt. The harder I sought validation on the outside, the more invalidated I felt. The more I compared myself to others, the more insecure I felt. As long as I was looking to other people or the number on the scale to measure my worth, I was never going to feel worthy.

And then one day I heard someone share a story about a man who had been blind since birth. This man could not see the number on the scale. This person could not see how his body compared to others. This person could not see his own reflection. He was totally fine. He was happy. He was confident. He didn’t need a number to reassure himself it was OK to live his life, to wear weather-appropriate clothing, or to smile.

This blew my mind. If I could no longer see the number on the scale, compare by body to another woman’s, or see my own reflection, how would I gauge how I was doing? How would I know if I had permission to have a good day? To enjoy myself? TO WEAR A SWIMSUIT WHEN IT WAS TIME TO SWIM?!

I would have to learn to accept myself for who I was, deep down inside. I would have to learn to ask myself, How are you feeling? — not turn to the scale or the women around me for validation. Rather than the constant quest to discover what I needed to do to be like her, I would need to learn to ask, “What do I need in this area of my life right now?”

My mom always says, “What we live we learn, what we learn we practice, what we practice we become.”

Living in a constant state of comparison taught me that it sucked living in a constant state of comparison. But I was stuck there until I learned something new. This is how things work. We are all just doing the best with what we know in any given moment, until we learn more and then do the best we can with that. I realized that someone in this world didn’t need to look at the scale or see his body compared to someone else’s body to know that he had permission to live a good life in the body that he had. So I decided to practice that instead.

I started asking myself an excessive number of questions (I’m very good at extremes. It’s a bit of a superpower). I asked myself multiple times a day, What do you need in this area of your life? What does your body need? What does your heart need? What is your soul asking for? How do you feel?

Whenever the old practices would pop up and I would think, What does she eat to look like that? or I should get on the scale to see how I’m doing, I’d imagine that thought on the gigantic dry erase board in my brain. Then, I would take a big, HUGE eraser and get rid of it. In a bright neon marker, I’d replace it with my new question: WHAT DO YOU NEED?

You know what never came up when I asked what I truly needed?

  • To look like anyone else
  • To be someone else
  • To lose weight
  • To spend more time on the scale
  • To measure my food
  • To say mean things to myself
  • To suck in my stomach
  • To eat only lemons
  • To hide
  • To disappear

What came up instead were things like connection. Fun. Freedom. Play. Passion. Presence.

I started to practice those things so that I could become who I needed to be, deep down inside. Rather than laying flat on my back sucking in my stomach on the beach, I JUMPED IN THE DAMN WAVES! I let my swimsuit ride straight up my butt and I let my hair get wet and I drooled from laughing while losing my breath because jumping in the waves is good at taking my breath away. And I didn’t worry about the girl playing beach volleyball on the beach because she was practicing what she needed to practice and I was practicing what I needed to practice. I thought that was pretty cool.

Time went on and years passed. Slowly, over time, I became what I practiced. I became more connected, fun, free, playful, passionate, and present.

From time to time, people say things that remind me that not everyone is practicing what I’m practicing and that’s OK — because we’re all at different places in our journeys. And when, for a brief moment, I think, Should I be practicing that, too?, I remind myself of the man who never looked at another body to decide if his body was good enough. And I close my eyes. When my eyes are closed I feel my body from the inside out. I feel what matters. And when I feel what matters, I can feel that nothing about me needs to change.

— An excerpt from Letting Go of Leo: How I Broke Up With Perfection, by Simi Botic

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