Former Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney Opens Up About Body Image

Adrianna Barrionuevo

You may remember McKayla Maroney from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where the then 16-year-old earned herself gold and silver medals. Following her victories came injuries and major surgeries, and earlier this year, Maroney announced that she would no longer compete in the sport she calls her first love. “Obviously, my identity was totally caught up in gymnastics, and it was really hard for me to kind of let go,” she tells Yahoo Beauty.

The 20-year-old aspiring singer had a hard time after the 2012 Olympics, when downtime due to injuries kept her away from training, and her unhealthy lifestyle affected her confidence. “That was actually one of the hardest things for me,” she says. “When I wasn’t working out eight hours a day, I gained weight, and my coaches weren’t happy about that. So I really didn’t like my body for a while after I couldn’t really work out. I wasn’t eating that healthy when I was competing. I would drink 24-ounce Cokes, and my parents weren’t really health freaks. But [my perspective] totally changed. When I couldn’t work out, I was feeling sick; my body kind of freaked out like, ‘We can’t lay in bed all day!’”

Maroney has since grown out of her funk and embraced a healthier lifestyle along with her positive body image. “Now I’m a vegan and I’m into Pilates and yoga. I do this diet called Ayurveda,” she explains. She also says that her current fitness routine helps keep her energized, and she enjoys different routines: “It’s really important to get outside and switch it up. Two days a week I try to work with a personal trainer.” While her Instagram bio may refer to her as “that one gymnast girl who fell at the Olympics,” she sure has come a long way, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Read more about McKayla’s life after gymnastics at Yahoo Beauty and then shop our picks for the best travel workout gear.

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