The Chicago Pro 2020 : My Experience and Lessons Learned

The Chicago Pro 2020 : My Experience and Lessons Learned

What Happened at the Chicago Pro

“It is your response to winning and losing that makes you a winner or a loser.” -Harry Sheehy

As you may tell from this quote, the Chicago Pro did not turn out well for me. I placed the lowest ever in my entire bodybuilding career at 13th. What happened? Bodybuilding is supposed to be about progression. You are supposed to get better as you compete, not worse.

It isn’t that black and white. Working harder or longer or suffering more doesn’t always equate to progression with the human body. You have to train smart. You have to diet smart. The body can only take so much abuse before it starts to deteriorate, and that’s exactly what happened.

3 Weeks Out

I was 3 weeks out from the show, looking hard as nails with big, veiny, cartoonishly round muscle bellies. This was the best I had ever looked. I was so pumped to bring my physique to the stage. I wanted to be better though. “Push harder, Shawn. If you aren’t suffering you aren’t doing it right!” I told myself. “More cardio! Pull more carbs! Let’s get crazy shredded” was my mantra. I was up to 2.5 hours of cardio some days with maybe 100g of carbs total. I could tell I was losing some size but told myself I would give myself a few more days to fill back out before the show.


Fast forward to Atlanta where the Chicago Pro was being held because of Covid-19. I was shoveling down huge portions of white rice, rice cakes, peanut butter, along with my protein. Another day went by and my body wasn’t responding. I wasn’t filling out the way I should be. I would eat and pose, eat and pose. A shadow of my former self stared back at me in the mirror.

Two days out I realized I had over dieted. My metabolism was out of control. I could try junk food, but I had taken such great measures to bring my waist down this prep I was too afraid. “What have I done?” I just wanted to go home. At this point, I didn’t even want to step on stage. I was ashamed and I knew I would disappoint a lot of people.

Day of the Chicago Pro

Of course, I went on anyway and watched callout after callout while standing to the side of the stage. Worst feeling ever. I already knew I’d be bombarded with questions and criticism regarding my showing and why I didn’t look like I did on social media. I’d be asked how my physique could fall apart so quickly. I’d be ridiculed for being a “social media bodybuilder” only.

My Plan for 2021

You have to take the loss and everything that comes with it with grace though. I know who I am and what I am capable of. I know that I can come in much bigger and more conditioned. That’s why I plan on working with one of the top coaches in bodybuilding starting in January 2021.

I don’t regret coaching myself for all of these years because I learned a lot about my body and the process, and things that work and don’t work. But I’m ready to hand the reigns over to someone else.

In 2021, I’ll just be doing the work and not making any of the decisions. It’s the right move because it takes the decision-making process off of me so I can focus on simply doing the work. I also won’t fall victim to my extreme hardcore mindset anymore either.

Overall, I am not that upset with the way things went at the Chicago Pro. Bodybuilding shows will always be there...and I am just getting started.