It was healthy competition that drew Shannon Thomas into the world of bodybuilding.
“I saw one of my old high school football buddies at spring break, and he was actually [getting] ready for a competition in a few months and told me to consider doing it,” says Thomas. “We started hitting the gym together, and I got third in my first competition.”
His friend came in second.
Thomas has participated in six more competitions around the country and has since turned pro in the world of bodybuilding. He specifically competes in the Men’s Physique category, which differs from the classic form of bodybuilding where competitors work to develop their muscles to extremes.
“It’s more of a proportional look,” says Thomas. “It’s not about being the most muscular; it’s more about aesthetics, like a fitness model.”
To get that look, Thomas works out at least four to five times a week to sculpt and grow his muscles. And to call his diet strict would be an understatement. It’s precise amounts of protein and carbs that ensure optimal muscle and fat; Thomas’ diet even accounts for his skin appearance. Once a body is as finely tuned a machine as his, everything that goes in is about producing muscle and looking good on stage.
“About a month before a competition I switch protein to fish,” he says. “And before that I’ll be eating sweet potatoes as carbs, then change to red potatoes.”
A cheat meal might be a lean steak, no seasoning. Even something like water intake becomes regimented before a competition.
“I start depleting my water. I just start dropping and dropping until the day before competition, and I just have two glasses of water [that day],” says Thomas.
He puts himself through this strict regimen in the hopes of getting to the Olympia Fitness and Performance competition in Las Vegas, bodybuilding’s premier event.
“My goal [for 2015] is to make it to the Olympia stage. I’m actually a sponsored athlete now, so I can get some more support,” he says.
For all of the depravation and hard work, Thomas works with something bigger in mind to the reach his goals.
“My mom is the reason I try as hard as I do,” he says. “Growing up and seeing her hard work and dedication has inspired me to strive to do better. She battled cancer for five years before it took her life. The reason I can’t give up is because she didn’t.”