The amazing, personal, grueling and often roller coaster of a ride to the stage can be very rewarding if you’re seeking a challenging goal. It’s a great journey if you wish to push yourself physically and mentally outside of your comfort zone.

Criticism from the judges

Though, there will inevitably be a moment when after all of your hard work you go on stage displaying your best body ever and you’re unfortunately lined up to be compared to many others standing beside you.

We give it our all and if you crunch the numbers, the majority of us have to come off the stage without any recognition of a placing. When the feedback roles in and perhaps the slight feeling of rejection wears off, we have the great opportunity to grow from that information.

Your physique is only as good as what you display

You can’t stand up on stage with your Dexa scan in your hand and argue that you have the right numbers and composition to win.

I don’t know any winners who haven’t spent hours perfecting their posing, picking themselves up and pumping themselves full of self-belief to elude a captivating stage presence. That’s on top of the training, the nutrition, the early nights and mornings and the many other sacrifices they’ve made.

Feedback should come from the judging panel. And generally will be about two things.

Your physique

This is usually objective and relates to your muscularity and conditioning. With so many different categories, outfits and bikinis, as a competitor it can be incredibly difficult to decide when and what to enter.

All you can receive is feedback on how your physique related to the category you entered on the day. For example, I didn’t place in a Fitness Model Category in a show because I didn’t display the abdominal muscles required. Simple. Though when I jumped in the Swimwear division – where my lack of abs was desired – I took out first place.

This is valuable feedback and vital information to take on board. You can use this information to discover what your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of muscle development and to strive to do the best in a division that suits you. It also helps with knowing which muscle groups to train in the off-season.

Your presentation

Perhaps you have the best body, booty and abdominal muscles, but if you don’t display all of those amazing features properly and sparkle, shine and smile, then the judges can’t see it.

You can’t expect people to see through that and award for you for it. This is where professional assistance from head judges and posing coaches can help. Most importantly, always remember to smile.

Personally I find it great when I get such clear, objective and specific feedback. It gives me focus and drive to get back under the bar and build on my existing physique.

When you receive feedback please remember that world champions were built on this vital information. How on earth can you improve on your weaknesses if you don’t know what they are? I am in my third year of competing and still crave the objective feedback required to improve.

Criticism from others

As you and I both place our gorgeous bodies on display for the judge’s criticism; that too opens the door for criticism from everyone else off the stage.

In fact, you don’t even need to make it to the stage to be open to the opinions of others.  And if you consider the power of social media, you are wide open and vulnerable to people you have never even met.

So, how do you cope with criticism that doesn’t come from the judging panel?

How do you deal with criticism perhaps from someone close, which isn’t so objective, but more personal and leaves you with a bit of a sting?

I’m talking about those little comments or remarks from people that feel they can give you their opinion of your body, training and eating habits. And perhaps when they are not so far along in their health and fitness journey as you are.

Even the most self-assured, confident person may still feel the negative effects of a snide remark, somebody else’s opinion, a comment on social media or perhaps their friend who just didn’t invite them to an event.

It hurts because as humans we are hardwired for connection and thrive on friendship and intimacy.

So when these occurrences happen, they can create separateness and distance which can hurt. And you definitely don’t need to be in a bikini to feel that.

This has happened to me on many occasions, and I’m sure will continue. So after some reading and pondering, I have found that these three beliefs have really helped me.

What other people think of you is none of your business

Everyone has an opinion, and there is nothing you can do about it. We never actually see what is objective, we see it through our own eyes governed by our own experiences and insecurities. In fact, I have been shocked at some of the things I have said – only out of fear and insecurity.

By following your dreams and achieving your goals, you also may show someone else a side of themselves that they have been neglecting. They may also be intimidated by your success and want to improve themselves in some way. This, can perhaps come out from time to time, often without realizing.

When we judge others, we are simply judging ourselves

What we see in others, we see in ourselves. This means everything negative we see in others, is perhaps something we wish to improve in ourselves.

Before we open our mouths or tap our thumbs to provide our opinion, it’s a great idea to ponder whether or not this is something we would like said about ourselves. And if not, change it to something more positive or simply pay a compliment instead. Take some time to look in the mirror at yourself before you throw around judgement about others.

You cannot please everyone and haters are always going to hate

They attitude may not even be about you, but more of a reflection of what is going on for them. Once you realise this and learn not to take it personally, it’s quite liberating.

Don’t give them the most precious commodities you have, your time, energy or attention.

I hope this has helped some of you on your comp journey. We have to remember that criticism isn’t always a bad thing. In fact it can help you to grow both physically and emotionally and push you closer to your goals and success in the long run.

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Amy Benn

Amy Benn

Amy Benn is a 2 x ICN Swimwear Model Champion and official reporter.

Amy's passion for health and fitness started from a young age. After enduring the effects of Crohns Disease at 14, she went on a mission to become healthier and happier.

With a background in critical care nursing where she became a teacher and educator of her profession, she has now branched out into the fitness industry after discovering a love of lifting weights and training to prevent illness and disease.

To follow her competing and health adventures you can subscribe to her blog.