The Foundation

Project Heal

It has been an amazing journey for superstar gymnast and viral sensation Katelyn Ohashi, and the journey continues with her Drop It Like It's Hot competition meet series. This will be a great opportunity to meet Katelyn and raise funds for the Katelyn Ohashi Foundation.

Katelyn has a skin condition called granuloma annular. "It covers my entire body. Some look like bruises; some are complete circles. It actually doesn't affect me, but people are like, 'What's wrong with your stomach?" Ohashi said she "used to feel ashamed" of her body because of her condition and would avoid taking photos in her swimsuit or leaving her stomach bare.

"But now I feel like it's important to show it because so many people try to hide it," she said. "Recently someone said, 'I was able to take the bandage off my hand to show my granuloma because you inspired me.' That was such an amazing thing to hear. Why should we have to hide?"

In addition to her skin condition, Ohashi also had to change her mindset after overcoming disordered eating, which began at age 14 when she "started hearing comments about my weight."

"'You look like you swallowed an elephant.' 'You look like a pig.' 'Your face is three times the size it was this morning.' 'You remind me of a bird that's too big to fly.' People whose opinions I valued said this to me," she said.

Those comments led to disordered eating. "My friends and I would try to eat 500 calories or less when we were training seven hours a day," she said.

"At parties, we would go to the bathroom and try to vomit up the food ... I had a horrible relationship with food and didn't really understand why I was supposed to hate it, but I loved it so much at the same time. It was so normalized because all the girls around me, my close friends, were doing the same thing."

Ohashi said she would feel weak during practices from the lack of food, and by age 16, she was struggling with major back pain. She learned that a vertebra in her back was sticking out and she needed to stop doing gymnastics.

"That was such a relief because I had been miserable for so long, so a weight had been lifted off my shoulders," she said.

"My new goal was to find joy in the sport again and just fully do it for myself," she said.

She joined the gymnastics team at UCLA, where the nutritionists and trainers prioritized eating to properly fuel her body.

"It created a better environment for me to accept my body and not be super weird about eating," she said. "I don't prevent myself from eating anything. Once you release your mind, your body can relax and do what it's supposed to do."

Katelyn Ohashi has selected Project HEAL as her charity of choice. Project HEAL's goal is to provide life-saving support to people with eating disorders regardless of their financial ability.

For more information on Project HEAL go to