Fitness influencer Keara Ferry joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about her incredible fitness journey, transforming her mindset, advice for others, and much more.
You recently posted a video featuring ‘how it started vs. how it’s going’. Can you tell us about the beginning of your fitness journey and what sparked it?
I grew up very active and played almost every sport imaginable. Soccer was my main sport and I played all throughout high school and went on to play on the girls club team at the University of South Carolina. However, by my second semester of freshman year, I was pulled out of school on account of my declining mental health and was unable to continue to play. In May of 2021, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, anxiety, and depression. I was tired of feeling weak, helpless, and defeated.
In April of 2021, with the support and guidance of my friends and family, I decided to recover. At this point in time, I was physically weak and extremely underweight. Fitness had always been a huge part of my life and I wasn’t ready to give that up. It took some convincing but I managed to get my doctor to agree to allow me to weight train with certain constraints, including eliminating all forms of cardio and sticking to my meal plan. I agreed. I started weightlifting the very next day and never looked back.
What was the most challenging thing in the beginning of your fitness journey?
There were many challenges at the beginning of my fitness journey. However, I would say the biggest challenge was developing a new mindset surrounding food and exercise. Growing up, I was surrounded by diet culture and had started associating my self-worth with the amount of food and exercise I consumed or did.
I always thought the less food I ate and the more exercise I did the better. I had to rewire my brain to view food as fuel and nourishment, while also learning to view exercise as a natural mood enhancer and way to build strength. Often times exercise coincides with losing weight. However, exercise can also add to your life. Exercise can be used to build back strength not only physically but mentally as well. Working out releases endorphins, which naturally boosts your sense of well-being.
What would your advice be to someone in a similar situation as you were?
My biggest piece of advice is to never compare your journey to someone else’s. Comparison is the thief of joy. No one person’s journey is the same as the next. When I was at my darkest point, I was consumed by comparing my body, the food I ate, the exercise I did, etc. to those around me. The fact of the matter is that everyone’s needs are different and no two bodies are the same.
The same advice applies to the recovery process. Stop comparing your recovery process to someone else’s. No one’s recovery is the same as the next and there’s no such thing as “recovering quick enough”. Recovery is a process with no set timeframe. Focus on your individual health, meeting your specific needs and appreciating your body and all the amazing things that it allows you to do.
What do you find the most rewarding about being in the gym?
Obviously the physical gains in the gym while watching your body transform is extremely rewarding. However, I would say the mental progress is far more rewarding. The mental strength I’ve built in the gym, along with overall increased sense of confidence, far outweighs any physical progress.
Self confidence is everything and bleeds into all other aspects of your life. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
How have you transformed your diet and other aspects of your lifestyle?
My lifestyle has completely changed over the last couple of years. I’ve always labeled myself as a “healthy” eater, but my definition of health has since changed. I used to be the girl who would eat a salad for every meal while trying to eat the least amount of calories as possible.
I now preach the 80/20 rule. Eating 80% foods that feed your goals and 20% foods that feed your soul. I eat a high protein diet while simultaneously weight lifting to build muscle. I focus on eating nourishing meals incorporating each macronutrient, while also learning to enjoy meals out and drinks on the weekend. Because, while fitness is important to me, it’s not my whole life. Fitness should add to your life, not take away from it. And life is meant to be enjoyed.
What are your plans and goals for the future?
It’s crazy to think that a little over a year ago, if you would have asked me this question, I would have said I didn’t have any. I was so consumed by my eating disorder and deteriorating mental health that I truly thought I wouldn’t live to see another year. But a lot can change in a year. Each day I find myself developing new goals and plans for the future involving fitness amongst other things.
Some of my short term goals for the upcoming year are to continue sharing my fitness journey on social media, while simultaneously building my audience to help reach as many people as possible. I want others to not only realise that recovery is possible, but be able to visualise it for themselves.
I also plan on studying and earning my CPT this year, so that I can start coaching girls online who were once in a similar situation as me. I want to be able to aid those struggling and hold them accountable, while encouraging them to grow not just physically but mentally as well. I also plan on continuing to focus on my own health and recovery journey. I have plans to challenge myself daily, while continuing to push myself outside my comfort zone because growth starts where your comfort zone ends.
As far as my long term goals, I plan to graduate college in 2024 with a degree in finance. I am currently a junior at the University of South Carolina in the Darla Moore School of Business and I’ve always dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur and opening my own business. By no means do I have everything figured out – and that’s okay. I’m still young and learning new things everyday. I don’t know what the future holds. The most important thing is that I have a future. I have plans and I have goals, which wouldn’t have been possible if I never chose to recover.
Follow Keara on Instagram – @goodeatswkeeks
Follow Keara on Instagram – @goodeatswkeeks