“This time last year I was just out of rehab, and I was still scared to eat Oreo. I'll eat an Oreo right now,” Ferrer said.
Last year LSU gymnast Bailey Ferrer battled an eating disorder and subsequently hung up her leotard. After losing gymnastics, her way of life for 18 years, she turned to something new.
"When I was at my worst with my eating disorder, I decided to reach out to an actual coach for bodybuilding. He ended up giving me a meal plan to go day by day to get my weight back up," Ferrer said. "He kind of showed me the bodybuilding world and the fitness world, and I just kind of fell in love with it when I found out I was no longer going to be able to do gymnastics.”
A sport based on judging looks may not be the first thing you'd expect for someone who struggled with body image, but Ferrer doesn't see it that way.
“Bodybuilding is a very opinionated sport and a lot of people think it develops into eating disorders but for me, it's the opposite effect. I'm eating more now than I ever had before and I'm happy. I think I weigh the most I've ever weighed, but it's all healthy weight, and it's taught me a lot of how much your body can take and what you can eat and everything works in moderation,” the LSU junior said.
This mentality is what Ferrer's trainer Caleb Blanchard looks for in his clients.
“It's great to get an opportunity to work with people like Bailey because you give them their life back to a certain degree," said Blanchard. "They've lost their ability to really refine themselves, and not just in their fitness, in their own perception of their ability, their self-worth, things of that sorts.”
Blanchard doesn't sit so far from Ferrer's experience. His sister, a former Olympic gymnast, struggled with mental illness after leaving the sport.
“I made a lot of mistakes with my sister, and having experienced that I wanted to really be a better coach, in terms of how I impact the youth because I'd like to get to them before they learn the bad habits before they get the wrong idea,” the trainer said.
Ferrer plans to compete in the bikini division this fall. These competitions entail serious training, meal preparation and a variety of cosmetic tasks to ensure competitors' bodies are in peak condition.
“The prep is kind of what you have to do to be able to be on competition, be as lean as you need to be. The day of competition, it’s a lot of tanning, and a lot of makeup and you put on that bikini and just kind of hope for the best," Blanchard said.
As for her goal in the sport, she isn't too set on one.
“Well, I think I'm trying to just take it day by day right now because I am making sure my mental health is the first priority,” Ferrer said.
“Bailey's potential is great just like many of the other athletes,” Blanchard said
And that's because Ferrer is more in tune with her food and fitness journey than ever before.
“To know that I've accomplished so much and I'm healthy and now I'm helping other people that means absolutely the world to me and I'm just definitely grateful and thankful for all the support and love. I've received throughout the year of growing and becoming the person I am now," Ferrer said.