Shawn, 28, explained in a new YouTube video, Body Image Issues: 110 Lbs. to Pregnant, that the conclusion of the 2008 Olympics left her feeling lost and without purpose — and that the rigorous training and strict diet that she had been following up until that point gave her an unrealistic idea of what her body should look like.
Shawn, 28, revealed in a new YouTube video, Body Image Issues: 110 Lbs. to Pregnant, how the end of the 2008 Olympics left her feeling lost. She went on to explain how her intense training and strict diet that she had been following warped her mind with an unrealistic idea of what her body should look like.
“When I went on Dancing with the Stars and I had my period for the first time, and I had to deal with going through puberty on national television, I hit a very low spot,” Shawn said in the clip. “I’d gained about 15 lbs. after the Olympics and I thought that that was the worst thing in the entire world — which it wasn’t, it was healthy and normal.”
“Every decision I made in my life up until that moment, for at least 13 of my 16 years, was based on gymnastics. What it would take and what I needed to do to get to the Olympics. What I ate, who I hung out with, how I dressed,” she revealed. “Literally every decision I made was for the Olympics. Now that the Olympics were over, I didn’t know how to function as a normal human being.”
The athlete then admitted she started taking different types of weight loss pills along with ephedrine and Adderall.
“I started doing any and everything I possibly could to lose the weight and to look like I did at the Olympics,” she said, “because in my mind, everybody praised me for what I did at the Olympics, they praised who I was as a human being when I was there. And in my mind if I could look like that — not necessarily compete or do gymnastics — but if I could be that person again, then the world would say that I was ‘enough’ and I was accepted.”
“I went through this dark kind of spiral of a few years on terrible medications and drugs that tried to ‘spike my metabolism’ and did nothing, I took diuretics, I did every fad diet. I remember I went through a three-week phase where I ate nothing but raw vegetables.”
Shawn recalled multiple low points after Beijing and after, returning to gymnastics ahead of the 2012 Olympics, realized she could not continue and retired in June of 2012. It was after she retired that she hired a therapist and nutritionist to help her heal.
Shawn married Andrew East in 2016 and the following year, got pregnant. She then had a miscarriage and said that she blamed herself as she believed her past choices were the cause.
Just last year, she got pregnant again, and while she was nervous old habits would return — she was determined to be as healthy as possible.
“There was something that switched when I got pregnant, where it was no longer about me or my body or like the vanity or like the calories or what I looked like or what I weighed,” she said in the clip. “I could have cared less. It was about protecting my baby. And I was so excited by that.”
Shawn ended the video by saying how she is “proud” of what she has been through and how she has handled postpartum depression. The gymnast said that having Drew in her life gives her “such a sense of purpose” and makes her want to be a “good influence.”
“Having gotten clean from, you know, the medications and the prescriptions and just the obsessiveness — I wouldn’t change anything for the world, I love that I went through it, it was very hard and I don’t wish that on anyone — but I’ve had these tough experiences that make me a stronger mom that will allow me to teach Drew how to be strong as well.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.