Growing up, Siliana Chanel-Gaspard was heavily involved in sports. She was nationally ranked in tennis as a teenager, ran for cross-country and track and field, and in general considered herself "thin." But once she stopped competing, life—and weight—just crept up on her.
Like many women, she used the birth of a child as an opportunity to take stock of her life: who she was, who she wanted to be, and what example she wanted to set for her child. With her son napping in a car seat next to the weight machine, Sil leapt into the adventure of transformation fully committed.
Where others would have seen only problems, this strong young woman saw solutions. Here's her story!
What prompted you to make the decision to transform your body and your life?
At 16 years old, I stopped playing tennis. That's about the time I also began a cycle of weight gain, weight loss, then weight gain—the dreaded yo-yo diet, as they call it. It kept going like this until I became pregnant with my son. During my pregnancy, of course, my weight only went up, until I'd gained about 40-50 pounds.
That's normal of course, but once I gave birth to my son, I got a chance to truly look at myself and see how much my body had changed—and not in the best way for my health. It was then that I decided I wanted to get in the best shape of my life.
That decision can be overwhelming. How did you get started?
I hired a trainer who owned a small gym so that I could bring my son with me. As a new mom, I felt guilty leaving my son in order to do something "for me." I would bring my baby in his car seat, and he'd sort of follow me around from machine to machine. This way, I was able to keep an eye on him, and in his infant mind, I liked to think that he could see that his mom was trying to better her mind, spirit, and body.
Weight: 160 lbs.
Body Fat: 30-32%
Weight: 117 lbs.
Body Fat: 12%
My trainer's wife was a professional IFBB bodybuilder, so he had me lifting weights—something I had never done before. I was of the misguided mindset that lifting weights would make me big, bulky, and masculine-looking. The results were the complete opposite, however. I loved how my body started to have real, womanly curves that started hugging my clothes in all the right places.
What do you think was the key in helping you succeed this time around?
For one thing, I don't think that I ever took drastic measures to achieve my goal. I just did what I needed to do. I worked hard in the gym every single day and gave it my all. It definitely helped that I had an excellent trainer who wouldn't let me give up, but I also wanted it so badly that I pushed and pushed and pushed.
Of course, many of us have our off days during which we just reconsider everything or tell ourselves this is crazy. Whenever I felt discouraged, I reminded myself that this work was required to get what I wanted; it was what I set out to do, and I was going to see it through.
How has this fitness journey and transformation changed your life?
After a few months of working with my trainer and gaining all this new knowledge, I started working out by myself. I decided that I wanted to compete in my first show, the Branch Warren classic. My ex-husband started training me daily, for hours each day, to prepare for the show that would happen in a mere two months.
It was a rough journey, but I placed second at the show and became instantly hooked. I've done about 12 shows since. I've placed in almost every show that I've competed in, won overall on three separate occasions, got nationally qualified, and was even voted Miss Texas Bikini in 2011 and 2012. I also got sponsored by the best supplement company, Optimum Nutrition. I feel so blessed!
To say that this journey has changed my life is an understatement. I feel empowered, and I have new meaning, goals, and desires. I am now able to inspire not only my family—who have all moved in a healthier direction as well—but people around the globe. Strangers contact me telling me they saw my transformation and it gave them inspiration, motivation, and the hope that they can do it, too!
This transformation is honestly one of the best things that I could have given myself. As for my future plans, I'll soon start training for my first show in almost two years, the Arnold Amateur. I'm definitely excited and nervous.
Who or what gave you the greatest source of motivation?
My son has been and always is my greatest source of motivation. Whenever I thought about quitting, I thought of him and how proud I wanted him to be of his mom.
Whenever the training got to me—and it was intense!—I thought of my son to fuel my fire. I was used to running long distances for tennis and cross-country and had never really worked with weights before. Learning the different exercises, proper form and technique to avoid injury, and pushing myself were all overwhelming at first!
Now it has become second nature, and I couldn't imagine working out any other way.
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Supplements that helped me through the journey
What did your diet plan look like?
To be completely honest, I didn't follow a traditional contest-prep plan. I merely made simple tweaks, including lowering my carb intake, changing the type of carbs from simple to complex, and increasing my protein intake. I didn't stop eating things like fruit or feta cheese, nor did I eat every three hours, as is popular among competitors. I allowed myself many things that would normally be off-limits.
Basically, I made smarter choices without completely limiting myself. That's what helped me stay sane and truly enjoy competing.
Steel-cut oats: 1/2 cup
Egg whites: 5
Almond butter: 1 tbsp
Grapefruit: 1/2 grapefruit
Tuna: 4 oz.
Broccoli: 1 cup
Whole-wheat pasta: 1/2 cup
Turkey burger: 3 oz.
Romaine lettuce: 1 handful
Cucumber: 3 oz.
Black-eyed peas: 1/4 cup
Green bell pepper: 1/2
Balsamic vinegar: 1 tbsp
Tuna: 3 oz.
Lettuce: 1 cup
Casein protein: 1 serving
Training regimen that kept me on track
Push-up (on knees)4 sets of 20 reps
What advice would you give a friend looking to make a drastic change?
Whatever you do, just don't give up. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve this. Your mind will fail you long before your body does.
Most people who contact me ask how I do it. "I don't have enough time because of family," they say. The thing is, you can always make time. I'm a realtor, as well as a trainer, a single mother, a student, and an aspiring small-business owner. It's just about shifting priorities and looking at how all of this fits into your lifestyle for the long term.
Plus, Bodybuilding.com is a great source of knowledge! You can read about almost everything you need to know about training and nutrition, but just as importantly, it's also a community, so you're never alone. You can always come in and find someone who is going through the same thing as you, or who already went through it and can offer advice. It's like a big fit family.