most fitness success stories, this one doesn’t begin with an athletic childhood.
Born in Bristol, England, my parents immigrated to Quebec when I was five
years old. Throughout grade school, I was the kid who tried to avoid
gym class any way possible… for good reason. I was tormented relentlessly
by classmates for being short, fat and ugly. Looking back through
school photographs, I realize now that what others viewed as “fat” was
actually too much muscle on a small, juvenile frame. I loved to roller
skate (and still do), and it was my form of escapism. Unfortunately,
my preteen physique grew massive quads and calves because of it.
High school was worse than
grade school...physical abuse was added to the verbal abuse, and I found
myself falling into a deep state of depression. I refused to go to
school and spent most of my time in bed, despite my mother’s attempts to
get me up. I wanted to do nothing but hide beneath the sheets and
forget about the world outside my room. Obviously, my grades reflected
my absenteeism, and my parents decided that moving to a new province might
provide me with a better future. They were right! In Ontario,
I actually started to make friends, my grades improved, and I wasn’t dodging
punches through the hallways. However, as soon as phys ed became
an elective subject…I ditched it.
After graduating, I immediately
entered the work force. My passion was animals, so I worked at veterinary
clinics and pet shops whenever such jobs were available. Mysteriously,
my body began to experience strange pain and discomfort all over.
After countless tests and unsuccessful treatments, I was diagnosed with
fibromyalgia at the age of 19. At first, I gave into the pain and
convinced myself that I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy a normal, active
lifestyle. Luckily, my love of roller skating wouldn’t permit me
to remain inactive for long. I soon realized that exercise was the
best cure for my condition, despite the pain that accompanied it.
Remaining active in moderate pain was better than being inactive and in
Having learned to accept
certain levels of physical pain as a part of my life, I spent my early
20’s cycling, swimming, and roller skating. I didn’t pay much attention
to my diet, however, and was still stuck on traditional “British” cuisine
that consisted of potatoes, fatty meats, and savory pastries saturated
in pools of gravy. At 4’ 11,” I weighed 120 lbs which I was comfortable
with at the time. Little did I know that I was about to go through
the worst physical transformation of my life!
In two short years, I went
through an emergency appendectomy, 2 consecutive pregnancies, and severe
depression over losing my mother to cancer. My petite frame went
from 120 lbs, to a grotesque 170 lbs! I found myself regressing back
to the “hide under the covers and forget the world around me” state of
mind. Fortunately, I became interested in the TSN Fitness Canada
Pageant Series by World Natural Sports (www.wnso.com). I was so impressed
with the toned physiques and entertaining routines that each woman displayed…I
wanted to be just like them! But how could a stay at home mother
of two small children, with very little money, obtain the tools necessary
to begin such a difficult journey?
started with the creation of a tiny home gym…located in the corner of the
largest room in my 600sq ft house, which happens to be my kitchen!
I cleaned up my old stationary bike, and purchased an inexpensive weight
bench, elliptical trainer, and some dumbbells. I visited my local
Musclemag store and bought the “Women’s Total Fitness” book, which I refer
to as my “bible.” For Christmas, my husband bought me a subscription
to “Oxygen” magazine, and soon I had all of the tools I needed to begin
my transformation. To aid my motivation, I decided to enter a contest…but
had no idea what kind. I attended the 2003 FAME Expo held in Toronto
(www.fameworldevents.com) as a spectator, and it soon became clear to me
that bodybuilding would be more suitable for someone who had no gymnastics
background. I set my sights on the 2004 FAME Nationals.
As I worked at getting myself
into the best physical condition of my life, I found my exhausting workouts
the best therapy for dealing with the emotional turmoil of watching my
mother succumb to cancer. This inspired me to dedicate my contest
performance to my mother.
The FAME Muscle National
Championships arrived, and when I saw the magnitude of the competition…I
almost fled the scene when I first caught sight of my fellow competitors.
I felt as though I had bitten off more than I could chew, and that perhaps
I had made a mistake in choosing the largest bodybuilding contest in the
Nation as my introduction into the competitive world of fitness.
But I reminded myself that I had to go through with it…no matter what!
Not only as a way of paying my respects to my mother, but to prove to myself
that I can succeed regardless of obstacles in my life.
My husband and I still get
emotional when we think back to the awards ceremony. Nobody else
in the building was aware of the significance of my achievement, but that
didn’t take anything away from the moment. I somehow managed to place
5th in the Masters and 1st in the Novice female categories! I wasn’t
there to “win” anything other than the courage to face my inner demons.
In addition to that, I walked away with two trophies and the desire to
do even better next year!
By sharing my story with
others, I hope to inspire anyone who feels that their personal physical
greatness relies on considerable financial sacrifice. Without a personal
trainer, coach, nutritionist, gym membership, sponsor, training partner,
or any sports related background – it is possible to reach your ultimate
fitness goal. Yes, you will have to work harder when it comes to
the dedication and motivation necessary to carry you through each work
out…but you can do it! My motto to everyone, from any walk of life,
is: “Never underestimate your own potential!”
Esther Marson is a drug-free
athlete with World Natural Sports which focuses on all athletic levels
of competition; from novice to professional. World
Natural Sports & FAME
Events have received international acclaim. For more information,
contact the WNSO at firstname.lastname@example.org
Train Hard….Train Natural….Love
Meal 1: 1/2
cup of oatmeal with 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, cinnamon and ground flax
(add strawberries or blueberries off-season )
Meal 2: protein-shake
with 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
Meal 3: boiled
sole, or baked chicken breast on bed of salad or wild rice
Meal 4: can
of tuna, or rice cakes with cottage cheese
Meal 5: fish,
chicken, or an occasional steak with salad, or sweet potato
Meal 6: protein-shake
*** My diet rarely changes
throughout the year, but I will occasionally indulge in a piece
of homemade blueberry, or pumpkin pie!
training on stability ball, 30 min. elliptical, biceps & triceps
training, 30 min. elliptical, chest
training on stability ball, 30 min. elliptical, shoulders
training, 30 min. elliptical, legs
training on stability ball, 30 min. elliptical, back
*** 6 weeks before contest
time, I add 1 hour of cardio 6 days/wk performed on my old
stationary bike. I add hand-held weights to include an upper body