McKayla Maroney opens up about her life after retiring from gymnastics and the diet and exercise plan she uses to stay fit. The Olympic gold medalist gymnast rose to fame as a member of the Team USA Fierce Five at the 2012 London Olympics and is now moving on, in acting and in music, but not without scrutiny and criticism.
McKayla Maroney is just 20 years old, but, she announced earlier this year, that she would not be competing in the Rio Olympics as her injuries and subsequent surgeries made that impossible. As the new team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, dubbed Final Five captures gold medals, with Gabby Douglas and other returning members, Maroney’s absence has not gone unnoticed. Many remember her, if for nothing else, for the “not impressed” meme — that unforgettable image of her scowl as she stood on the podium receiving a silver medal.
In a new interview, she is revealing how painful it was to leave the sport behind. She said, “Gymnastics was the first love of my life. It was like breaking up with a boyfriend in the end that I’ve been with since I was 2 years old. I did it until I was almost 19, so for me to let go of it, obviously my identity was totally caught up in gymnastics, and it was really hard for me to kind of let go.”
She also opened up about what it was like to struggle with her weight when she had down time during the injuries and surgeries. She said, “That was actually one of the hardest things for me [after the Olympics]…When I wasn’t working out eight hours a day, I gained weight, and my coaches weren’t happy about that.”
Pressured to get back in shape she said, “So I really didn’t like my body for a while after I couldn’t really work out.”
She went on to speak of how being unable to train — and ultimately unable to compete — led her to revitalize her diet and to make healthy choices for the first time. She said, “I wasn’t eating that healthy when I was competing. I would drink 24-ounce Cokes and my parents weren’t really health freaks.”
Elaborating, she went on to say, “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!’ Now I’m a vegan and I’m into Pilates and yoga. I do this diet called ayurveda.”
Continuing, she added, “I try to do cardio every day since that’s what my body is used to from gymnastics, but I don’t actually go to the gym that much…It’s really important to get outside and switch it up. Two days a week I try to work with a personal trainer. That’s what I did today; we did stairs at the beach and I was dying after an hour, but now I have so much energy.”
McKayla Maroney also spoke about her current and future plans and said, “But the cool thing about moving forward is now I’m getting into music and I’ve kind of fell in love with a new thing.”
She also acknowledged how fans have reacted. She said, “My fans grew up knowing me as the girl who went to the Olympics, and obviously for me to be like, ‘Nope, that’s not what I’m doing anymore,’ I definitely understand…I get that you guys are feeling upset with me getting older and growing up.”
And with that scrutiny has come heightened expectations. She said, “It’s almost like, since I won a gold medal, anything that’s next that I do has to be up to that caliber, or else I’m like, ‘You’re a failure!’”
Continuing, she added, “People are like, ‘She’s hit her peak, she’s done.’ … They just don’t expect anything greater than a gold medal from me. And it’s hard to top that if you think about it.”
At the very least, there is curiosity. What might we expect of as a music artist? In the meantime as she transitions from the grueling 50 hours a week of training for gymnastics she has been active on Instagram, and has a million followers. She acknowledged the pressures she is felling and said, “You can’t just put a song out; it has to be perfect.”
She did drop a hint recently on Instagram, saying, “I’ve got some cool stuff on the way for u guys!! Hope u like dancing.”
Recently, McKayla Maroney pushed back against the dreaded “changing face” rumors and speculation that she had had lip injections. She took to Instagram and posted a pic of herself from the 2012 London Olympics, when she was a mere 16 years old, captioning it, “me thinking about how to get my face to look like i’ve never done anything to my face when i’ve never done anything to my face.”
She said of her choice to speak out, “You know, I have not done anything [to my face] but I’m going to stay a loyal, honest person to you guys and I hope you can respect that at the end of the day.” She added, “I guess a lot of people enjoyed that I spoke up for myself, so that was cool … I definitely really liked posting that.”
You can see the full interview here as McKayla Maroney talks about her future plans and more.
Pictures: PR Photos