OnlyOnAOL: Olympic champ Shawn Johnson on what gymnasts really eat
By: Donna Freydkin
Shawn Johnson recalls with perfect clarity her major cheat meal after wrapping up the 2008 Olympics.
"The same thing all these girls are going to be eating: I had a nasty, huge cheeseburger. With fries," she says.
Johnson won team silver in Beijing in 2008, and the gold on the balance beam and the silver in the individual all-around. She officially retired in 2012 and is married to NFL player Andrew East. (Watch our interview with the 2008 gold medalist Nastia Liukin above). She thinks back to that time, wearing that gold medal, as "a pinch-me moment. Every time I see it or hear about it, I can't believe it."
Like the rest of us, she was watching Simone Biles and the U.S. squad compete in Rio -- and take home a haul of medals. Biles won the gold in the all-around, Raisman took silver -- at age 22, over the hill by the standards of women's gymnastics.
"They were absolutely incredible. I was blown away every time I watched the women compete. Aly and Gabby (Douglas) returning – Simone is just ridiculous. She's so strong and so powerful and is able to throw skills we never thought were possible for a female athlete. She does it with so much ease,' says Johnson.
She attributes Raisman's success to her mindset.
"Aly is probably one of the most driven individuals I've ever met. She has an ability to motivate and drive herself unlike anyone I've ever seen. Being cheated out of her bronze medal drove her to redemption," says Johnson, of the 2012 tie-breaker that left Raisman without a medal.
She's working with the American Egg Board, and says the relationship couldn't be more fitting.
"I've worked with a nutritionist my entire career. I ate some version of egg for breakfast for 15 years," says Johnson.
Speaking of, what do gymnasts eat? They don't survive on air and water.
"You start off with a good breakfast. You eat a lot of meats and proteins and vegetables and fruits. You can do omelets or hard-boiled eggs. For lunch, you do a protein, like a chicken, and vegetables and maybe some fruit. Dinner is honestly the same thing, protein and vegetables," she says. "We eat. But we are very clean eaters. We have to stay as lean as possible."
Johnson, who competed on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2012, is done with the beam and vault and bars. "I'm always tempted to get back into the gym. It's never serious. My time is done. I'll always miss gymnastics. I could never come back," she says.
But: "Once a gymnast, always a gymnast. It's a lifestyle."