Looking for an accountability partner to help you hit your goals? Look no further than Ledina Esserman. This Dallas native started her fitness journey in college and has grown more and more passionate about prioritizing a healthy lifestyle over time. Now, she's a regular at O2 Fitness Park Place and uses Instagram as a platform to inspire others to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle, too.
When did you first start your fitness journey?
I started my fitness journey when I met my husband, Mark, six years ago. During the time that we were dating, he worked as a fitness instructor at a kettlebell-focused gym and I would go in and do my best since I wanted to impress him.
He's the one that really got me interested in fitness and made sure I had proper form. Once I started getting my form down and really improved on the moves, my curiosity for fitness expanded and I wanted to learn more! (And having a crush on him gave me a little more drive, too.)
I started to get really good at it and I thought, "Hey, this is really fun, I really like working out." Before that, I would just go to the gym and do random workouts. I didn't really have an idea on how to focus on certain muscle groups and break out my days. I would just do what I felt like doing without much structure.
It kind of progressed from there and I started seeing results! The whole process was so interesting to me. Working hard and being rewarded for it was a fun challenge. I started setting small goals and worked hard to reach them. It’s like an ongoing snowball effect that challenges you and gives you a sense of accomplishment.
Why do you continue to prioritize fitness in your life?
Now that I'm working and have a full-time job, I realize how little calories I am burning when sitting at my desk for 8 hours. As I get older, my metabolism is only going to slow and it’s only going to get harder to workout if I don’t apply it to my routine now. Since I know that going to the gym helps me with stress and it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day, I make sure that it becomes one of my priorities in life. I also get to enjoy the foods that I want without feeling as guilty.
What motivates you to get out of bed and head to the gym?
The feeling I get when I workout. It’s so fun! It’s such a great way to destress and I get results on top of that. I’ve never left the gym stressed or less happy. At this point it’s more of a hobby than it is a hassle. If I don’t go to the gym for a week, I feel off. I don’t want work to be the last thing I do before going to bed. I want to break off that part of my day and have something to look forward to.
Some days after a long day at work it's so hard to get motivated, but that is just part of the process. We all have our ups and downs, and it’s about how we choose to handle them that makes our journey special. I found that having some green tea after my lunch gives me enough energy to make it to the gym. Once I make it to the gym and start my workout, my endorphins give me a boost and I am good from there.
What would you say to someone who wants to start a fitness journey in 2019?
Set mini goals! I can’t emphasize this enough. If you set a really big goal way ahead in the future and you end up not achieving it, you will feel discouraged and disappointed in yourself. You will then lack confidence and associate goal-setting with failure. Set yourself up for success. If you want to lose 20 lbs by the summer, make that your main goal, but set mini goals throughout that to help you get there. For example, the first week’s goal will be to start swapping healthier foods and really see what foods you should stay away from. Once you achieve that mini goal, you will feel so happy and like you’re on the right track to your main goal. Your momentum will build from there and you will feel so much more accomplished. At the the end of all your mini goals, you will have already achieved your main goal. And if you end up failing, at least you challenged yourself weekly and know for a fact that you can make changes.
So set mini, realistic goals. It really works!
What inspires you?
Helping other people through my own journey on Instagram really inspires me to keep going. I don’t want to let them down by letting myself down. In a way, I am kept accountable too! My goal is to share that same positive energy that I try to use with myself so that they can better their lives. Getting feedback also inspires me because it shows that my positive energy is being applied through others’ lives. Whenever I get messages from people saying, "Hey, I made it to the gym!" or “I hit my steps today!” it truly brightens my day. If I can change one person's lifestyle then I am happy.
What advice would you give to someone who hits a plateau or who needs fresh motivation?
What I do is evaluate what I've been doing the same of. Am I doing the same exercises each time? Is my music the same everyday? Am I eating the same meals? Once I acknowledge these things, I find ways to change my routine. I try a new playlist, I experiment with different exercises, I try new recipes! It really helps to spark up that motivation.
We all get stuck in our routine and sometimes we get so molded into it that we start to lack motivation. It’s like driving on a straight road for hours. The drive becomes more exciting when you turn left or right and explore a new route!
When you're doing something really tough, what do you tell yourself to get through it?
If it’s really tough it means that I'm going to get results. So knowing that along with the fact that the last push will only last a couple seconds, I just breathe it out and finish it. Ten seconds from now that moment of discomfort will be in the past and your results will be closer to accomplishment. Just tell yourself to hold on a little bit longer and keep your goals in mind. You'll see results through positive affirmation. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself “you got this," “one more,” and “you can do this!” because it’s that type of thinking that will help you finish.
What's the hardest thing you've ever done and how did you feel afterwards?
The scariest thing was getting back into weight training after my lower back injury. When you get hurt doing something, you're scared to do it again. I lost all my strength and muscle and for about a year, I couldn't fully workout like I used to. I didn’t want that fear to take over my life so I played it safe by going to physical therapy, getting my adjustments at the chiropractor, and did my research to make sure I introduced weight training properly. The process took over 6 months, but I built up my strength and now I feel stronger than ever. That was the biggest challenge for me, but also my biggest accomplishment!
What does Look Forward mean to you?
Look at where you want to be and think of all the challenges you can accomplish to get there. Don’t use your failures to bring you down, use them to take you forward. Stay positive and be strong. You got this!
What are you looking forward to accomplishing over the next year?
I want to get more people to live a healthier lifestyle by them wanting to live a healthier life. My goal is to help others be happier and to love themselves more by not looking at the negatives. I want to let them know that they don’t have to be skinny to be healthy, but to be more mindful when it comes to how they treat their bodies for a longer and healthier life.