“Fierce” Ch. 20

Aly begins her comeback.

– When Aly returned to the gym, it felt like someone pushed a “reset” button and all her old dreams became new again. She began to see a chiropractor who helped her body loosen up again. For three months, she would first run around the floor for an hour, then do conditioning (especially focusing on bar form), and then Silvie would take her to do ballet and flexibility exercises. Her coaches never stretched her because they knew that she knew her limits.

– Silvie tried to teach her Romanian and Mihai would tease her about her terrible accent

– 12 weeks after coming back, Aly started doing back handsprings and other skills. Mihai left her to work on her own during this time because he wanted to be sure that she was serious about coming back. She began to realize that gymnasts don’t give themselves enough credit for how much work they put in. As she started regaining her harder skills, Mihai stepped in to help her.

– Bars and vault were the hardest and scariest events for Aly. Mihai would spot her every time, especially on bars, but he had to get surgery in fall 2014. When he came back, Aly gained confidence and did bars without spotting, but Mihai still spotted her on floor (with his non-dominant arm)!

– Aly felt that besides her coaches and family, nobody was taking her comeback seriously. Mihai felt that she was far enough along to return to camp, but Marta said not to rush. Aly was sad that she didn’t want her on the national team, but Mihai and Silvie assured her that it meant Marta was thinking about putting her on the 2016 team.

– When Aly started doing double sessions again, her muscles started cramping like they had in 2012. She met with Ted Harper, a sports dietitian who worked with many elite athletes. She had been eating a lot of protein, small amounts of salad and fruit, some chocolate or candy, and almost no carbs. She mentions that she gave up carbs and salt because a lot of people in Hollywood were giving them up too and she didn’t want to look puffy and bloated. Ted stressed that the Hollywood diets do not pertain to athletes, and that she needed to eat carbs, protein, and salt together to ensure that she was getting enough energy. He worked out a plan with her that had her eating roughly every 3 hours and told her to listen to her body and eat if she felt hungry. She started eating more greens and antioxidants as well. Ted’s suggestions made her feel better and she finally realized that there is no one-size-fits-all diet.

– The little kids who trained at Brestyan’s made Aly laugh and kept her humble. She and the younger girls would coordinate their leotards, a little boy named Anthony announced that he would marry her, and a little girl named Anna told Mihai to take down all the photos of Aly and put some up of her instead (Mihai told her “When you’re an Olympic champion”).

– Simone and Ashton were the loudest and most hyper at night (surprise surprise). 

– Marta didn’t care for Aly’s new floor routine and music but Aly and Mihai didn’t want to start from scratch, so they had to mix the original music (Kalinka) with another folk melody so that Marta would approve the music.

– Before Jesolo, Aly was warming up her first pass and did a tuck instead of the punch layout. She hyperextended her knees and Marta told her that she was too hyper and excited to compete again and she needed to put less pressure on herself.