GGS Spotlight: Emily Ledford


Name:  Emily Ledford
Age: 35
Location: Purcellville, VA

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
GGS has been so inspirational in my training. Being a Girl Gone Strong means having confidence not only in my physical ability but watching that confidence spill into every area of my life. It feels great to be stronger in every situation.

How long have you been training?
Does it count that in 6th grade I got my first set of 5-pound dumbbells and made up exercises to get strong arms? Ha! I prided myself on arm wrestling boys... and winning! (Cut me a break, it was 6th grade!)

I started running distance at age 15 but unfortunately it was for means of weight loss when I was getting into a terrible eating disorder. I was a cardio queen for many years and only focused on calories in and out and excessive exercise. I became quite a bit more serious about strength training around 21 years old. I really feel the strength that was gained from training helped me to maintain a healthier outlook on my body and food. And eventually I was able to beat anorexia AND bulimia! I really believe strength cures.

Favorite lift:
Fave, really? Hmm, perhaps the deadlift. It will make you feel strong to lift heavy weight from the ground!

Most memorable PR:
My double bodyweight deadlift! I worked on this with Jordan Syatt. A phenomenal coach!

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
Anything by Florida Georgia Line. But mostly I try to just have the Today Show on! Everyone is so bubbly and it makes me happy! Many PR's have happened while having it on!

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym:
Lip gloss, wrist guards, and an endless amount of ponytail holders.

Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
I train at home so it would be from my kids: “Mommy, you’re so strong. Can you make us chocolate chip cookies?” How could one say no to that?!

Favorite post workout meal:
Oatmeal made with almond milk, cinnamon, protein powder , and coconut oil

Favorite way to treat yourself:
Hello Starbucks Americano. No room. I’m a real caffeinenista. Also, workout clothes (only bright colors or crazy patterns need apply!) and heavier kettlebells!

Favorite quote:
When they say you won’t or you can’t, turn around and say..."Watch me!"

Favorite book:
I have many, but currently, Dan John’s, Never Let Go.  I’m re-reading it.

What inspires and motivates you?
I want to be strong for my family and friends. Training helps tremendously with that. You must take care of yourself if you want to be strong for others. When I add weight to the barbell or press a heavier kettlebell… those things give me power to keep going. Results like that keep me motivated. Seeing my kids mimic my exercise and talking about how strong THEY are ― that feeds my passion, too! And I love to inspire my friends, get them moving, and watch them become healthier and stronger.

Tell us about a time in your life where you faced fear or self-doubt, and what you learned from it.
I feared food for many years. I feared gaining weight or eating too much. Sounds crazy, right? I made food my enemy and I thought I wasn't worthy if I didn't beat my body down by exercising at every moment possible. I based my self-worth entirely on my outside appearance or performance in the gym. And I never felt I measured up so I would try harder which made me feel terrible all around. Fortunately, my relationship with food and exercise has made a turn around and the struggle that used to be has only made me stronger.

I attribute recovering from these issues to my faith in God first and foremost, as well as constant reassurance and love shown by husband. Seeking out and learning how nutrition and strength training actually work from a scientific standpoint (and not just what the media throws at you) has been life-changing. I no longer feel like I have to be a certain size or chase a certain weight to be feminine, attractive or confident.

I want to be a voice from the fitness industry that helps women believe that it's OK to not be constantly chasing fat loss or obsessing over their bodies.

Life is more than diets and exercise. Don't waste your life away with the nonsense. You were not put on this earth for some comparison game so don't let that suck the life right out of you. Because it will!

You are great where you are right now and exactly how you begin your journey to a healthier you. You deserve to be strong and to own that strength. You are already remarkable. It's simply time to FEEL amazing.

What do you do?
I am a trainer and nutrition coach. I coach both in person and online. And I have a blast doing it. So, does that count as work? If so, I'm one blessed girl!

What else do you do?
I volunteer a couple of days a week at the elementary school that my kids attend. I'm room mom to both of their classes. Not sure what I was thinking when I signed up to do both, but I have the pleasure of working in groups or one on one with the students to help reinforce the skills they are currently working on. I also help plan their parties which sends me running to Pinterest to make up for my lack of creativity and craftiness!

I enjoy baking for special occasions such as birthdays and holidays, my husband's office and everything in between. And no lie, it's sometimes irresistible for me to eat as well!

I love a night out with my husband ― or a family date night with the kids. Quality time with the ones I love is a big deal to me!

What does a typical day look like for you, from waking up to bedtime?
I’m usually up by 5 a.m. to have coffee first before family wakes. I'm a lot nicer with coffee! I get my kids well fed and off to school, and then my day to day begins! It ranges from volunteering at their school, training clients or writing programs for online clients, getting my own sessions in, errands and food prep. I try to relax at night with my hub for bit before I fall into bed. I have to make myself slow down and stop working on things that could wait for tomorrow. I forget to make time for rest…it is so important!

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
I’ve gotten leaner in less time and I do like the muscle definition! Oh, and I can eat more! Healthy, but still, a lot more than I used to be able to --with an improved body composition.

Next training goal:
Work back up to that deadlift after having to take time off due to lower back pain. I also want to get in the 200's with my barbell squat and continue to work on those weighted pull ups!

Three words that best describe you:
Strong, Fun, Focused!

What is the best compliment you've received recently?
A sweet client and friend (who knew me in my pre-trainer days) wrote to me recently and told me that she believed that I had found my life's calling. She said that I had helped her start from a solid foundation which she had not had before. By helping her find her physical strength, she started to see how it emanates through all aspects of her life. She now carries herself more easily, her burdens seem more manageable and her confidence has grown so much.

While I know that that she did all the hard work to get there, it was very humbling that she would say that I played a part in that. It makes me love what I do even more. I want to help every woman realize this about herself.

What is the most recent compliment you gave someone else?
I love complimenting people. You never know who needs it. Even strangers need to smile, right? The last compliment I gave was to a lady at the grocery store, "I am loving that red in your hair!" She looked surprised and said that I made her day.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?
It is so empowering to lift heavy weight. And you WON’T look like a man! It’s a non-issue. I've only gotten leaner since I started lifting heavy. Everything in life gets easier when you are strong. You just feel better all around. Back pain? GONE! Energy? UP! Keep track of your progress. When you look back and see how far you have come, it’ll give you the motivation to keep going! GGS has excellent resources to get you started!

You can connect with Emily on her website, Emily Ledford Fitness, as well as on Facebook and Instagram!

Do you struggle with body image? Have you ever…

  • Felt anxious about clothes shopping or wearing certain clothes?
  • Dreaded going to an event (like a reunion or a wedding) — or even skipped the event altogether — because you felt too self-conscious about how you looked?
  • Found yourself not wanting to be in pictures or videos, or hiding behind other people in the picture to shield your body?
  • Scrolled through social media and felt worse and worse as you went?

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About the author:  GGS

GGS is an organization dedicated to empowering women. We do this by creating world-leading resources, and educational materials that help women, and health & fitness professionals who work with women, take their skills and knowledge to the next level.

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