"Now that the Olympics were over, I didn't know how to function as a normal human being."
Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson East opened up about her struggles with an eating disorder, pills and a miscarriage after her professional gymnastics career came to a halt.
In the YouTube video "Body Image Issues: 110 Lbs. to Pregnant" shared on Saturday, the 28-year-old detailed the difficult journey she faced after relying on the sport to define her for so long.
"Every decision I made in my life up until that moment, for at least 13 of my 16 years, was based on gymnastics," she explained. "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."
"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."
After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shawn went on to do "Dancing With The Stars" and even though she won the competition, it was not a positive time in her life.
"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 25-minute video. "I'd gained about 15 lbs. after the Olympics and I thought that that was the worst thing in the entire world."
She said during her Olympic training she would only eat 700 calories a day and often times passed out at practice.
"I started doing any and everything I possibly could to lose the weight and to look like I did at the Olympics," she continued. "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."
Shawn said she turned to ephedrine, Adderall and various weight loss pills to help attain that Olympic image.
"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," she confessed. "I took diuretics, I did every fad diet. I remember I went through a three-week phase where I ate nothing but raw vegetables."
However, a doctor told her otherwise and the couple welcomed daughter, Drew, in 2019.
"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," Shawn confessed. "I could have cared less. It was about protecting my baby. And I was so excited by that."
Now Shawn has found a new purpose in life with her daughter, wanting to be a "good influence" for her.
"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," she detailed. "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."