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 absolute agony.
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?
It 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 "Total Women's 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.
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's Nutrition Plan
Meal 1: ½ cup of oatmeal with ½ 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!
Esther's Exercise Plan
Monday: Core training on stability ball, 30 min. elliptical,
Wednesday: Core training on stability ball, 30 min. elliptical, shoulders
Thursday: Abdominal training, 30 min. elliptical, legs
Friday: Core training on stability ball, 30 min. elliptical, back
Saturday: 30 min. elliptical
*** 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 workout.
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.