Shawn Johnson was worried her eating disorder would come back during her pregnancy

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When Demi Lovato sat down with Ashley Graham to talk about her relapse, she mentioned that she didn’t initially realize that her excessive exercising was actually a manifestation of her eating disorder. It didn’t occur to Demi that working out three times a day was unhealthy and was directly connected to her eating disorder, and her loved ones didn’t necessarily realize it, either. They might have been concerned about her working out, but didn’t say anything because they didn’t make that connection. (And, of course, they aren’t responsible for Demi.)

Shawn Johnson spoke with Today about being worried that her eating disorder was going to manifest during her pregnancy, and she told her husband some of the things that he should look out for so that he would be aware of any reason to get Shawn help:

When Shawn Johnson first learned she was pregnant, she had a frank discussion with her husband, Andrew East.

The gold-medal Olympic gymnast, who has said she struggled with a restrictive eating disorder throughout her career, was worried that her pregnancy could trigger unhealthy habits.

“I gave Andrew a list of things to look for, and if he started seeing them, he needed to talk to me,” Johnson, 28, told TODAY Parents. “I was really scared.”

But much to Johnson’s surprise, “the reverse” happened.

“As soon as I got pregnant, I couldn’t care less what I looked like, what I gained, or what the scale said,” Johnson revealed. “For me, it was no longer my body. It was for my baby. And I felt like it had such a purpose that no material body image issue occupied my brain.”

Johnson, who welcomed her daughter, Drew, in November, noted that she now accepts every part of herself.

“I remember going in for my check-up appointment at the OB-GYN and the doctor said, ‘Your (c-section) scar is a little bigger than it should be and I was like, ‘I don’t care. I’m proud,’” Johnson recalled. “I don’t feel pressure to work out, or eat certain things or look a certain way because my body made a human being and that’s pretty amazing.”

[From Today]

I’m sad for Shawn that instead of initially being able to celebrate being pregnant and focus on that joy, she was terrified that she would have a relapse. Enlisting her husband’s help was a level-headed, fantastic way to take care of herself, though. It’s also wonderful to hear that her fear turned out to be unfounded and her focus shifted to her baby rather than what she looked like. I hope that this continues for her. Today noted that Shawn’s trip to New York was because of her paid partnership with Enfamil, and it was her and Andrew’s first overnight away from baby Drew. Shawn said that they are “enjoying some much needed husband and wife time,” and that she was sure that she was going to be physically sick when they left Drew, because she was “so anxious.” I’m hoping that Shawn continues to be healthy and happy and that she’s able to focus on enjoying time with Andrew and Drew.

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5 Responses to “Shawn Johnson was worried her eating disorder would come back during her pregnancy”

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  1. Ali says:

    Shes so tiny!

    Good doctors are the worst.

    You think the main concern would be that the scar is healing nicely.

    • raptor says:

      Any time I’ve had surgery, my doctors have been pretty fixated on how my scars are healing, and I think there’s some idea that it reflects on their success in completing the procedure.
      After my first c-section, I ended up up with a large keloid (I’m just prone to them), and the doctor who performed my second c-section cut out the old scar during the procedure. The new scar is much smaller, which I didn’t think would matter, but actually, because the new scar is smaller, fewer things trigger scar pain now than did after my first pregnancy. So, in that way, I actually appreciate the focus on my scar.

      When I had hip surgery, one of my sutures got infected and I ended up having to have it removed. The scar also became a keloid, and the doctor who performed the procedure said that my scar wasn’t going to look as neat as he wanted it to, and as a result, he was going to amend the way he tied off sutures from then on. I thought it was thoughtful of him to change his approach.

  2. kellybean says:

    I have been in residential treatment with many women who struggled with chronic eating disorders for sometimes 15+ years. They said the only time they were able to manage it and take care of themselves properly was during a pregnancy(ies). Sadly, in their cases, their remission was short lived. It was heart breaking to see the guilt and shame they carried due to having to leave their children temporarily for treatment.

    While I would love to have a child, it seems more and more unlikely for a number of reasons. I think the fact that many of those with eating disorders are on psychotropic medication as part of their treatment plan adds more fear. Some but not all meds are considered safe to take during pregnancy. When you consider the co-morbidity of other illnesses such as mood disorders where medications are critical to managing moods it’s overwhelming to balance the risks of going without certainty meds and the desire to have a child .

    I’m glad to hear a public figure discussing the rarely raised issue of pregnancy and eating disorders.

    • FHMom says:

      My first pregnancy “cured” my bulimia. I was able to eat without guilt and allow myself to gain weight. I loved how my body looked. It was very freeing. That was almost 18 years ago and I’ve only relapsed a few times.

  3. SamC says:

    I like that she was open and direct with her husband about helping her keep watch for eating disorder behaviors. I follow their IG and listen to their podcast once in awhile. Can be a bit heavy on the sponcon sometimes but they are fun and seem to have a healthy, strong relationship.