Olympians Jordyn Wieber & Nastia Liukin Open Up About Pressure to Stay Thin After Gymnastics Careers
“People remember you as, like, this really fit gymnast," Liukin said. "Then they’re like, ‘oh, like, what happened?’ ”
This article originally appeared on People.com.
The gold medalists recently sat down for an interview with PopSugar, in which they talked about life after gymnastics — including the pressure they’ve experienced to maintain thin figures.
“I think because we’re both retired, not being a competitive gymnast, people do remember us as gymnasts,” Liukin, 27, said. “So, there still is that expectation to be in shape. To look like that 16-year-old gymnast that we did like 10, 12 years ago. We’re like, ‘okay, we’re not that person anymore.’ ”
She added: “It was hard because your body goes through these changes and people remember you as, like, this really fit gymnast. Then they’re like, ‘oh, like, what happened?’ ”
Liukin, a five-time Olympic medalist — and 2008 Olympic individual all-around champion, — retired from the sport in 2016. She opened up about her relaxed, post-Olympics diet.
“It’s human nature, right, to kind of go through these body changes and so I remember that being hard, because that was the first time in my life after the Olympics where I wasn’t training seven hours a day anymore,” she said. “I was kind of eating what ever I wanted.”
The athletes may have dealt with body image after ending their careers, but Wieber spoke of the pressure they experienced as young gymnasts.
“Once your body hits puberty, you can no longer eat whatever you want. Your metabolism is so high,” the 22-year-old said. “Every girl goes through that, but when you’re training as an athlete you really have to focus in on eating the most healthy diet you can possibly eat after you hit puberty.”
Wieber took home a gold medal after competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
She added: “Also you go through this growth spurt. Maybe you grow two, three inches and most people are like, ‘Ooh, no big deal.’ But for gymnasts, when you’re swinging in between two bars, all of a sudden you start kicking the bar and that’s a little bit of an adjustment.”