Success Story: NPC Competitor Samantha Slaven beat the odds, lost the weight and transformed her life
Back in 2008, I did not appear to be someone you would’ve imagined had the dream of becoming a bikini model and earning a pro card. In fact, had I uttered these desires to anyone who knew me, they likely would have choked with laughter. I was a pale, 40-pounds over weight single mom, sporting a big 80's hairdo, stuck in going nowhere job and fresh out of an abusive relationship. To be blunt, I was a mousy, pitiful mess of a woman who couldn’t look anyone straight in the eye.
From about ages 12 to 23, I had the typical life of a young, fatherless woman. I seemed to be in constant battle with my mother, sought attention from males, dropped out of high school early, and had a baby…blah, blah, blah. Sounds pretty boring, right?
You know how you're supposed to “eat for two” during your pregnancy? Well, I ate enough to feed two whole families! So, after gaining 60 pounds of "baby weight" and slowly losing about half of it, I sat at an unhappy 157 pounds. Eventually, through semi starvation and numerous fad diets, I settled right around an average looking 137 pounds woman.
It certainly was not my ideal by a long shot, but at least my booty looked bubbly in the "right” jeans and my boobies could stop traffic with the "right" bra. But as many women know, it's all about hiding while accentuating certain areas. The problem: I wasn’t happy with what I saw when I looked at my naked body in the mirror.
At this point, it seemed as though almost everything in my life was going wrong. I was struggling to pay my bills, still living with my mom, and beginning to realize that my boyfriend and I were just not compatible. As far as the latter, I’m not sure if it was the constant arguing, that feeling that he never truly understood or supported me, or the cheating…hmm.
I was very unhappy, overweight, not eating healthy and not getting my butt to the gym. Because of this, I had zero confidence and even less motivation. And, to make matters worse, I began drinking more than usual, mostly on the weekends. My weekly “escape” ended up in a DUI on the way home from a social gathering one night. My life was in shambles.
That being said, the DUI was a blessing in disguise. Of course I was very upset about it at first, but it opened my eyes. And, I was thankful that I didn’t hurt anyone else as a result of my stupidity. So, once all was said and done, I had to pay about $8,000, put in hundreds of hours of community service, attend impact panel classes, and blow into a machine in order to start my car for the next six months. That one night of “fun” certainly wasn’t worth it. Come to think of it, I actually had a pretty lousy night. Ironic isn't, it?
Afterwards, I decided I needed to make changes. Call it a moment of clarity or simply being smacked in the face by reality. It's as though I heard a voice saying, "Wake up! Get it together for yourself and your child!" Little by little I started to make changes and improvements in my life. And, I learned that the real key to my lack of weight loss progress in the past was proper nutrition. I became a fixture in the gym and discovered the meaning of real training. No pink dumbbell lunges for this girl!
As a result of these changes, my confidence skyrocketed and I was exploding with endorphins. I was addicted--I replaced my old habits with new ones. I ate better, worked out, got more sleep, avoided stress, and the list goes on.
In addition to being a drinker, I also smoked for seven years. As soon as I started working out, I quit that habit cold turkey. I never crave it any more, and I can actually taste things I've never tasted and breath when I run or walk up stairs. Plus, my skin is clearer and teeth whiter.
It’s no coincidence that many of my biggest changes coincided with the meeting of my current boyfriend, Anthony. He helped me to realize what the important things in life are, how to be confident and how you can do anything you put your mind to. He turned me on to working out hard, really hard, and on a routine basis. He taught me how to stick with a healthy diet and training. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he helped me go from ugly duckling to swan.
My body changed dramatically within the first month of training. I didn't notice at first, but Anthony brought me in front of a mirror and said, "Look at yourself, do you see this? Your body is changing right before your eyes." I could see a hint of abs for the first time in my life. Fuel! Pure fuel feeding my internal fire of change! I was beyond motivated. I didn't want to stop. I wouldn't stop, nor would I let anything prevent me from accomplishing my unspoken goals. I wanted to improve more and more.
After only six months, I was in incredible shape at about 116 pounds. For the first time, I had clearly defined abs, delta, and tri’s. I looked absolutely amazing! No more lack of confidence. I decided I didn’t want to wait...I needed to compete. I was so confident that I entered the Flex Bikini Model Search at the 2009 Olympia in Las Vegas. I walked into this competition with zero knowledge, but man did it ever feel great getting on that stage and looking as good as I did. Never in a million years did I think I could look that good!
Needless to say, without proper walking, posing, accessories, and no knowledge of suit and color choices, I didn't do well. But the fact that I "belonged" there on that stage with all of those girls pushed me even harder!
Since March 2009, I’ve been working out five days per week, religiously. I love it and I never let anything get in the way of it. Most people that knew me during my heavy days don’t even recognize me anymore. I’m not going to sugar coat it: my journey hasn’t been easy. There’s no magic pill, video, or secret supplement that will change you overnight. You have to bust tail to see results, and you have to stick with it consistently. And, diet is just as important.
People often think that if you get in the gym, that is good enough. I can tell you from experience that you will not see significant change unless you also pay attention to your diet. What you eat on a daily basis accounts for about 80 percent of how you look and feel. But like anything, the hardest part is making that initial change.
So, here I am, now 26 years old, and I feel like I'm on top of the world. I began writing my story four days out from Jr. Nationals. (One more secret goal accomplished!) I sit at 116 pounds, and I’m making changes and improvements every day. I feel incredible, overflowing with confidence. And I’m doing things I have never had the confidence to do before. Now, with Jr. Nationals under my belt, I have competed in a total of four bikini competitions—all within the past few months. I took fifth place at my first show in Iowa, second place at my second show in Chicago and walked away the overall bikini winner in Rockford, IL. I am also proud to say that as of July 2012, I am a Biogenix sponsored athlete. I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to compete at the 2012 NPC USA’s in Las Vegas. And I look forward to representing them.
I am proud of my accomplishments; it feels good when you work so hard and are rewarded in the end. I am a mother that struggled with her weight for a very long time. There was a time when I didn't have a drop of confidence, and now I do and I feel like I can do anything. My job is to be a strong example for my daughter. I have completely left the old me behind, reclaimed my life and am proud to say I now own my own salon as well. On top of that, I also model, and I will continue to work hard to expand my horizons in that area as well.
Since December 2011, I have been working with IFBB Bikini Pro and personal trainer, Nicole Moneer. She is truly amazing, and I highly recommend her to anyone who needs help getting in shape, or even for healing strategies and a more positive mindset. What I liked most about her training is that she has taught me how to train smarter. She also cleaned up my diet a great deal. I’ve gone completely organic, hormone/steroid-free and preservative-free, and I feel amazing. And it’s not your typical contest type diet; it’s about eating for life, health and wellbeing. She pays attention to every detail of contest prep, from diet to hair to heels and so much more!
I also still train with my boyfriend, Anthony. He has been by my side for four years now, and he too has taught me so much. He continually encourages me, and has helped me to change my life for the better. I work hard and I strive for more and more every day. Of course there are still many things I’d like to still accomplish, but you know my philosophy: Talkers talk and doers do. So I’m just going to do it – I’m going to make my life happen!