Shannon Perez - Bikini Competitor

My competition journey started in December of 2016. I was looking at myself in the mirror one day after getting home from the gym and the person I was staring at was somewhat of a stranger. I had spent the previous two years getting myself back in to shape and to a healthy state, but the person I was looking at was not the person (body) I had built then. I had gained about 35 pounds in approximately 7-8 months! I felt ashamed and realized how unhappy it was making me. I had started to except that this was just going to be how I looked and better get used to it.

This same December I found a few girls on Instagram and YouTube who had been prepping for a bikini competition. I looked at their hard work, dedication and perseverance PLUS amazing physiques and thought to myself “I WANT THAT!”. I started to compare my previous self to these girls and realized that this goal was completely possible. I reached out to a girl that I had known competed in my area and asked for her coach’s information. We met shortly after this and started on a plan to get me stage ready.

Today is the day ???? Prejudging went really well, I was really nervous but said a quick prayer and left it to God ???? and he heard my prayers and I came out of prejudging with first call outs in my novice and open bikini classes! Center for both as well! Resting and ready for finals after a recharge. #letsdothis Shout out to coach @dominicsemenza Suit : @lidia_gurley Shoes and Bling : @theshoefairy_ Hair/Makeup : By yours truly ?? - - #npcbikini #npcbikiniprep #showday #npcshow #bodybuilder #bikinicompetitor #bikiniprep #tanjijohnsonclassic #dedfitapparel #dedfit #leaveittogod

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My diet prior to prepping for a show was all over the place. I guess you could say I was eating “intuitively” but my intuition was telling me to eat way too much. I had little to no self-control. Especially when it came to cooking for myself. I love to cook and always cooked foods that made me feel comforted and then I would just devour it all. When I started with my coach, Dominic Semenza he gave me a pretty straight forward, 5 meals a day plan. I told him that this was easier for me. It was straight to the point and left little to no room for me to add or hide unhealthy options in my diet. This is what worked best for me. I would see my meals for the week and prep them on the Monday before. It helped me just know “Ok it is 2PM I need to eat this, this and this.”. DONE.

This was my first time competing/prepping and so I had not tried many other diets prior to this, but for a short time I did try and “macro track”. This did NOT go well for me. I would find myself forgetting to plan my day or fitting in not so healthy options because I could. I had also been strictly Paleo for about 2 years prior to this and this went OK, but was no sustainable for my lifestyle. Again, I just needing something straight forward, to the point and that I knew I had to just DO. I am just a cut and dry kind of person in that sense.

As my body, and mindset started to change (I would say about the 6 week out mark) I became very nervous about actually getting on the stage! I am a pretty introverted person and I didn’t really think about the fact that I had to go on stage and SHOW the work I did. What really got me through this was that I knew I had done the work. I had done the workouts, ate the food, did the cardio and lost the weight. I knew that everyone was going to be nervous (at least most) and I was not alone. Each time I thought about getting on stage (or when I did) I would just try and pretend I was in the room at my gym where I practiced posing. I started to practice posing between sets out in the gym. I knew people could see me and before this would terrify me, but I knew I had to get used to people looking at me because on show day all eyes would be on that stage, and ME.

Here is a little tid bit of me posing the other day after my lift ???? I have to say, posing is BY FAR the most challenging for me. 1. I'm so damn clumsy 2. I am AWKWARD AF ?? But...I practice every single day so none of those things happen/come across on stage! Six more weeks!! #moredeterminedthanever #practicemakesperfect

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During my prep I was lifting about 5-6 days a week. Five days a week I was doing cardio as well. I did my cardio fasted in the morning. The duration of the cardio changed depending on my progression. I always did only MISS cardio however. My coach provided me with my training program, again depending on my progress. He would assess my pictures and from there determine what I needed to change in my training style. He set a standard for a pretty hardcore lifting style from day one. I am thankful for this as it truly helped me keep that standard when I would train on my own. I can’t truly say how I balanced all of these things, I just looked at is as my second job I guess you could say. I would tell myself each day : “Wake up, do the cardio. Eat the food. Kill the lifts.” I used to write this in a journal I kept almost every single day during my prep. I just knew that I CHOSE to this and I was enjoying it because it was challenging.

All the work was put in and it was show day. I think it all really hit me when I got that first coat of tan. I was nervous and anxious that day because it was the day before my show. I was question myself if I was ready, but thankfully I had a coach who reminded me of all the hard work I had put in and would send me comparison photos of my start to that moment. I knew it was time. The day of my show I felt a sudden wave of calmness. I can’t really explain it. All the nerves and anxiety had subsided and I was READY TO KILL IT! I had made it this far and it was time. I ended up winning the overall in Novice and Open Bikini at this show. It was unreal. I then competed in second show and for this show I felt way more prepared and relaxed. I knew what was going to happen (as far as the process of the show) I knew I had continued to do the work and I was ready. I won the overall for this show as well. Again, unreal. My heart was filled with so much joy. I had worked so hard for this moment and the judges agreed. I was a two time overall champion. WHAT!? I am still in shock.

Being an athlete has changed me forever. I will never question myself if I feel I want to try something new. It has brought a much-needed structure to my life that I needed so badly. I have this fight in me now that I never had before. I can now bring all of this not only to competing, but to my work life as well!

Right now, I am 2 weeks post show. I am sticking with my coach and we planned to do a reverse diet to help start to grow and gain strength back. However, as of a couple of days ago I started to feel like I am not done yet. I am now considering going full force back in to a prep for Nationals in Miami in November of this year! Again, this is still up in the air, but I feel as though I might as well keep pushing if I am feeling good enough to. Of course, the hopes in all of this is to go pro and join the IFBB Legue. Never in my life could I have imagined I would want any of this, but now I want it more than anything else. I love this sport and the hard work it forces women to have. I can’t wait to see where it will take me.

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