Facing Fears and the Inner Critic

It has taken me a while to sit down and write about the experience I had over this Easter weekend at the Whitney Jones Classic Transform Show in Phoenix. Part of that reason is I was still trying to process all the emotions, insecurities, and successes of the weekend. In fact, I have struggled on how much I would share of the experience, but I think it is important for me to show how quickly your inner critic can attack you when you are at your peak.

Just a bit of context, the Transform Show was put on by Chris and Heidi Powell and The Transform team at the end of the Whitney Jones Classic physique show in Phoenix. It was in inaugural transformation show with hopefully more to come. The two day event started Friday with pre-judging and Saturday the final judging and celebration. It made for a long, crazy weekend, but one I will never forget.

One thing that was apparent after it was all said and done is I am WAY more competitive then I ever thought I was. It also showed me how much I want to keep striving every single day to keep going on my journey and to keep working hard to inspire others on their own journeys.

There are so many things I am also grateful for in this experience. First of all, I am so grateful that I was able to go through this whole weekend with my hubby also doing the show with me. What an incredible experience to do this as a team. We were rooting for each other back stage and he was also going through the same experience that we will share forever. Second, I am SO grateful that my three kids and my mom were there with us through the whole weekend. They were troopers sitting in the audience for many, many hours through the physique competition and then our show. On top of that, they were so enthusiastic when it came to our show and I loved hearing them cheer us on when we were on stage.

The trip started with our flight out to Phoenix which was delayed due to weather, so we did not get to go and do some sightseeing in like we had planned. When we got to our seats, my husband was so excited how much more room we had than the last time we flew. In Jan 2018 on our trip to Disney, we purposely sat in the row with only two seats to make sure we would fit. This time we were comfortable and had room to spare!!

The events of the weekend started on Friday with check-in and a meet and greet with Chris and Heidi. It was so wonderful to see these two again and for them to meet my whole family. It was so special to share this moment as a whole family. Chris and Heidi are incredibly gracious and genuine. I just can’t even get the words out most of the time how much I appreciate the difference they are making in so many people’s lives. I know they have made a difference in at least mine and my family!

After the meet and greet, it was off to get my make-up done. Y’all she is amazing and new to the Phoenix area. Look her up on Instagram @laurenannahmakeup. I have never had my make-up done before…nope…not even my wedding day. So this was a special treat. She did my make-up both nights and it was amazing. I have never felt more beautiful! Thank you Lauren!

Then, it was off to the show (and to fix my hair that melted in the Phoenix heat! Ha! Ha!) I was so excited to see fellow teammates and meet so many others that I had only met by following them on Facebook or Instagram. As we were backstage, it was great to bond with some of the other ladies there and hear some of their stories. Amazing women who have been through so many different difficulties such as a child going through cancer treatment, a heart attack at a very young age, anxiety, Hurricane Harvey, surviving a mass shooting…so many stories of brave women who have battled so much. They are true heroes in my book. Here is just a few of the amazing ladies I met that weekend.

The first night we wore workout attire and this was the main judging day. We were judged on several aspects: stage presence, aesthetics, metrics, story and communication. I can tell you, I was SO NERVOUS! I had not been on a stage like that in a long time and I have not been in workout clothes on stage since I danced in high school. Y’all that was over 20 years go. This momma was very scared, but I felt so proud of what all I had accomplished to this point. I was also so excited for my hubby, Scott. He has worked so hard on his transformation as well. I could not wait to cheer him on!

As we were getting ready to go on stage, the boys were a little more than excited. Look at these crazy boys!

When it was my turn on stage, I took a deep breath and walked out with my group. I could feel my heart beating like it was going to burst out of my chest. I kept telling myself to just breathe and SMILE! We had to do a little walk when they called our name and some poses, then answer a question from the judges. To be honest now it is all a blur. I just know that I felt stiff and was just glad my feet moved. (But I kept SMILING!) As for the answer to my question, I had prayed over it for a while before the show. The question I picked to answer was “What did you learn about yourself during this process of transformation?”. How do you sum up a year’s worth of learning and transforming in just one sentence? For me, my biggest take away is how much I have found that I want to share my journey and encourage others that are struggling like I was. I want people to know that they can do it too! It is not impossible no matter your situation. I made it through and back to the backstage area. Fear conquered….for that night.

It was a LONG night and we did not get back to the house until around 1am. It took me so long to go to sleep to process all the events of the night. The adrenaline was at 200% and I had a hard time coming down off of the high of just being on the stage.

It made for a sleeping in day the next day and we had time to just relax at the house before it was time for round two Saturday night. Again, it started with make-up by @laurenannahmakeup. Once again, she did a beautiful job and this time, I went for flat-iron curls instead of straight.

I was so excited to wear a new dress I had purchased in a “normal women’s” XL! Yes, no more plus size clothing stores for this girl! I don’t think I have worn a regular XL since maybe one of my first years in college about 20 years ago.

Saturday night was a different vibe from the beginning. The stage was just up with props and backdrops and it was defiantly a larger crowd. We were able to watch more of the physique show and I was amazed at the amount of work these men and women had to have put in. It is not something I aspire to do, but I congratulate them for all their amazing efforts. Some of them had their own transformation stories. In fact, we met a very nice lady backstage that had lost 80 pounds in the past year and placed in the show. It was great to talk with her briefly about her transformation and she was so complementary to us on the great work we had done on our journeys.

As we started our portion of the show, it was even more scary than the first night. This time, we had to go on stage ALONE. And not only that, our BEFORE picture was going to be at on the screen above us as we walked out. I could feel the anxiety building up and just kept trying to breathe. I was in the last group to go and I just wanted to sit down or just go in the audience. I kept thinking, don’t trip, don’t fall on the stairs as you go up and down and breathe. I was so nervous that I really had no plan for my poses. I just winged it. (And they weren’t very original!) Again, I was just glad my feet were moving and I was smiling. When I was finished with my turn, I could feel the high of excitement of what I had just accomplished. I was on cloud nine and so proud!

For the show there were several different division. They had 90 day transformations: Men under 40, women under 40, men over 40 and women over 40. Total transformations: Men under 40, women under 40, men over 40 and women over 40. I was in the total transformation women over 40 with a total of 14 people in my division. A good number of them had also competed in the 90 day transformation as well. At the end of each division, the awards were given out. I was so hopeful I would at least place. I had put in so much hard work over the past 15 months and I wanted SO much for my kids to be proud of me. (And for me to be proud of myself.) My husband placed 4th in his division and the competitor in me was thinking I want to at least get to the same. As they began calling out names, one by one, I kept thinking maybe I am next…and then nothing.

My heart sank. Up to this point, I had been on a wonderful, emotional high. I felt so incredibly proud to be on the stage, but I could feel the inner critic voice start immediately. It attacked with a vengeance.

  • “Your story was not good enough.”
  • “You should have elaborated more or not cut out so much to trim your story down.”
  • ” You should have posed differently.”
  • “You are no where near close to your goal, why did you think you should do this?”
  • “You are not worthy.”
  • “You are a loser.”
  • “Your kids are going to be disappointed.”
  • “Your family did not come all this way to watch you lose.”
  • “Your husband is going to be disappointed.”
  • “Your team and coach are going to be disappointed.”
  • “You should have worked harder.”
  • “You should have………” It just kept going…and going…and going…

To say I wanted to run to the backstage, grab my stuff and bolt is an understatement. I had just come off this amazing high of conquering a fear two nights in a row and now I was just trying to keep smiling and not breakdown into a puddle of tears.

My reaction is in no way a reflection of the other AMAZING and DESERVING women on that stage with me. Each person was absolutely incredible and I am so very proud of the all participants. It was a complete reflection of the negativity that I was still letting take hold of me. The work I had been doing on the inside for the past year all came crumbling in. I had come from a point of not feeling valued and worthy. All those feelings came flooding back.

After several more pictures, we managed to get backstage, get our stuff and I put on a smiling face for my family. I am sure (because they are smart) that they knew something was wrong, but I tried so hard not to let them see it. The whole way back to the house, I just wanted to cry. The negative thoughts in my head just kept going and going. I kept trying to remind myself that the show was not about placing, but being proud and getting on stage in the first place. The more I tried to push the thoughts out the more they raged. I barely slept and at one point went into the bathroom and just silently cried. The emotions of the whole weekend just came pouring out to the point of being overwhelming and I could not stop the flow of tears. Even on the plane ride home, I just had silent tears that kept steaming down my face.

I have to give 100% of the credit for pulling me out of the negative place to two people, my husband and to my coach, Bruce. The next morning, I texted Bruce about how I was feeling and that I just needed him to keep pushing me so I would not give up. Because honestly, that’s how low I was. I knew I would need him to keep pushing me to just get right back up and start again without missing a beat. He responded with so much encouragement and positivity. He really is just an amazing person and I am so blessed to have him in my life. Thanks to Bruce, I knew that in order to get back on track, I had to immediately set a new goal for myself.

As for my husband, he is the most amazing man and just loved me through the whole weekend. He was so encouraging and he knew something was wrong, but did not press it. Once we got in the privacy of our home, I just turned into that puddle of tears and uncontrollable crying. But being the amazing man he is, he helped pull be back as well. He reminded me of how far I have come and how proud he was of me.

With Bruce and Scott’s help, I wallowed and cried for a day…one day…and then I knew what I had to do. I had to get right back at it Monday morning. No excuses and no giving up. I had to find my new goal and set a plan in motion. That’s exactly what I did!

My new goal is to be at or below 199 pounds by the end of October for our annual Halloween party. This year’s theme: Alice in ONEderland! Yup…I am ready to celebrate being below 200 pounds and I have a plan to get there. I mapped it out and it is on my wall in my bedroom. A constant reminder of my goal.

The lesson here is the inner critic is going to be always there telling you that you are not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. He will tell you that you don’t have time or resources. He will tell you that you will never meet your goal. He will go on and on with excuses. The real question is will you listen to it or put him in his place? I have put him in his place. I had to mentally tell him I was NOT going to give in to the negativity. I was not going to let it win.

The next day, I got up and had one of the best runs ever…because I did not give up. I showed the inner critic that I am stronger than any negative thoughts put in my head. You can do it too. You are strong enough. Tell that inner critic to SHUT UP. You are worth it and you are a CHAMPION!

4 thoughts on “Facing Fears and the Inner Critic”

  1. Thank you for sharing all these facets of your journey Danielle. You know we all have versions of this. Not necessarily about the same ‘widget’, but so much of what you’ve written reminds me of the INSTANT crash and burn that happens in my head as soon as a relationship doesn’t work out… man those demons come in in such full force to let me know what a piece of crap I am and how everyone else can find partnership so easily (totally not the truth but in those moments the absolute truth) and how hard it is, over the years that build and build, to keep being willing to move forward and not let those aweful, painful, crippling voices run the show. The bounce back time is always a little different but those demons are always the same…
    Anyway, just thanks for sharing. I know that the truth will eventually win out, it just gets buried sometimes with our own clutter. You have accomplished something wonderful and I do not believe you are anywhere near done. Those kids are learning so much right now, because of your bravery and your openness. I am sending good vibes and all the encouragement I can your way. Really can’t wait to see where this evolves for you. You know there is something so valuable about these 40s over 30s, the innate knowledge that you really have something to offer and to share.
    Say hi to Scott for me
    Bigs hugs from an OLD friend

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so grateful to have met you ❤️ This post is beyond vulnerable and you have such an amazing attitude and perspective on the situation. You are so real and it’s refreshing to hear how you overcame that struggle. I’m honored to be on this journey with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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