Gold medalist gymnast Shawn Johnson gained, then lost, 25 pounds during her three-year break from international competition, she told reporters on Monday.
The 20-year-old, who won three silver medals and one gold in Beijing and is attempting a comeback for London, discussed the weight gain, and her subsequent body image problems at the USOC media summit on Monday. She said her fluctuating weight led to "hurtful" comments in the tabloids.
[Video: Shawn Johnson's Olympic inspiration ]
"That whole process kind of broke me down and taught me something," she said, according to USA Today. "People put too much emphasis on looks."
Even when she was at the top of the gymnastics world, Johnson battled weight issues. "I was at the Olympic Games winning medals and I still doubted my image," she said. "I doubted what I looked like. That's sad. Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that."
Johnson put on the weight after the 2008 Olympics and her 2009 victory on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." She tore her ACL during a freak skiing accident in early 2010 and added some heft to her athletic 4-foot-9 frame. Johnson said she'd perform Internet searches for her name and was horrified at the results.
[Photos: Shawn Johnson through the years ]
She's not a certainty to make the U.S. team but is excited for the opportunity to compete for a spot at the upcoming Olympic trials.
"I'm getting stronger on a daily basis," she told Fox Sports last week. "I'm excited for June. This time around, I've taken a whole new approach and mentality."
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