Simone tells of her childhood spent “playing outside and helping around our family home”, and beams about her own “doting parents” who “taught us that with hard work we could achieve anything we set our sights on”.
“Our upbringing was a simple one,” she continues, “but with everything we needed and so much love and support. We were told that no matter what success we found in life, if we hadn’t achieved it with kindness and others in mind that it was never a success to begin with. That our relationships and bonds where the only thing we left this earth with and to nurture these.”
The social media star talks of her especially close bond with her mother and grandmother (“truly the most incredible females that I know”), both also responsible for nurturing Simone’s love of cooking—culminating in her publishing her own cookbook, So Delish, last year (she also published her memoir, Journey to Health, in 2018).
“I grew up with a grandmother who was an incredible cook, and a pastry chef as a mother,” Simone tells us. “My auntie runs a cafe in Auckland and studied food in France. Cooking is definitely a passion in our family, and I have been around food and recipes since I was born. My book is a mixture of family recipes, my own learning over the years, and my rediscovery of fun, fresh, healthy food made simply, with low-cost ingredients.”
Simone first rose to prominence documenting her weight loss journey on Instagram, shedding nearly 100kg in 2015 thanks to her phenomenal willpower and drastic lifestyle changes following gastric-sleeve surgery. She says that going public with her intentions then sharing the process on social media was the ultimate in accountability. And she soon went viral.
Kiwi superstar influencer Simone Anderson had the best way of welcoming in the new year, announcing in January that she and hubby Trent Forsyth are expecting their first baby. “For as long as I can remember, even as a little girl as young as three, I have dreamt of having and raising a family of my own,” she tells Verve, “so this news truly feels like a dream come true.
So many try to carve a career online but fail, why do you believe that you were so embraced?
“I believe it was a ‘right place, the right time’ situation. And because I didn’t start my online pages for any sort of monetary incentive. I started sharing my journey online purely to keep myself accountable on my weight loss journey. Because of this I was raw and vulnerable, sharing not only my highlights but also my deepest struggles. I believe because of this people felt able to relate to me and connect in a very deep way.”
Dealing with trolls and negativity, alas, come with the territory of having a substantial online presence, but Simone says that she simply doesn’t play into it: “It saddens me that that person feels that level of unhappiness in themselves that they would try and tear someone else down, someone that they have never even met. I don’t reply. I block and delete instantly. I just don’t need to feed into it.”
Simone’s story was not only picked up by the local press, but international titles such as the Daily Mail and Huffington Post. She even appeared on the front cover of Good Health magazine, and was invited to appear on US talk show, The FabLife, hosted by Tyra Banks.
How do you feel when looking at pictures of pre-weight-loss self? Does it seem like a different person?
“I feel like I am looking at Simone, happy bubbly and fun Simone who is driven and hard-working and loves to make other smile. She just happens to be holding a few extra kilos. I am reminded of my wonderful teenage years and all the special memories they hold.”
What advice would you give her?
“To do exactly what you are doing. Life is too short to care what others think. You are enjoying life!”
Advice that’s stuck with you?
“To only work towards goals and dreams that are truly your own. Ignore what those around you try to force onto you. If you try to please everyone, you will live a life that was never truly your own, focusing on goals that don’t even fundamentally make you content.”
What advice would you give to all those who’ve decided to try to get healthier with the start of a new year?
“Start small! Don’t try to overhaul your entire life at once. That’s when you find it hard to maintain and feel like a failure if even one thing slips. Make one change today—start with breakfast!”
Simone says that she’s personally not one for resolutions, believing that life should “constantly be for making change and trying to better yourself”. Her number one focus, always, is around her happiness and mental health: “Everything else has a flow on affect from these.”
Motherhood aside, grand business plans are afoot for 2021. Towards the end of last year, she and Trent launched all-inclusive activewear label, Embrace, inspired by Simone’s difficulty in finding decent workout clothing back in her plus-size days.
Embrace is not only an activewear brand, but a community,” she adds. “This is my goal for 2021, to expand our range and ensure more women around the globe feel supported every single day.
“Looking at websites where the models were a size six through to size 12, I just couldn’t relate or even picture the items on my body,” she recalls. “I felt isolated and alone. Like I was the only person who couldn’t find quality activewear. What I have realised over the course of my six-plus-year journey is that I was never alone, women around the world felt my same pain and struggle.”
She hopes to change negative shopping experiences into one that are empowering.
“Embrace is not only an activewear brand, but a community,” she adds. “This is my goal for 2021, to expand our range and ensure more women around the globe feel supported every single day.”