Amy Updike's story will ring a bell for many women who've had kids. No matter how diligent you are about staying in shape before you have a child, once your boy or girl comes into the world, everything else seems to take a backseat to taking care of a new life.
"After I had my daughter," Updike says, "I was working full time as a registered nurse, breastfeeding, and feeling like I had to eat a lot to keep up my calories to keep up my milk supply. I didn't feel like there was any time for me. My priority was taking care of my family and being a mom."
The result, she says, was that by the time her daughter was about one, Updike was in the worst shape of her life—and discouraged. Then a life-changing event occurred. "We were watching TV, and my husband flipped the channel to the Women's CrossFit Games. Some of these women were just awesome. They were ripped, but they were feminine and pretty. I remember thinking to myself, 'I want to feel strong again.'"
Updike hired a personal trainer and got to work on creating meal plans and learning how to lift weights. Success bred success, and six months later, Updike entered her first competition. "It was just such a thrill, such an adrenaline rush to get on stage and do something completely out of my comfort zone," she recalls. "I really wanted to win."
Alas, Updike didn't win her first competition, but her coach urged patience. Just two weeks later, Updike entered—and won—her second competition. And there's been no turning back for this 27-year-old.
Updike has been taken aback at times by how much support she's received, including from social media followers. "People started following along and enjoying my journey of going from an out-of-shape mom to suddenly being on stage in a bikini," she says.
Her journey from harried mother to fitness champion has taught Updike some valuable lessons. She's relearned the importance of making her health a top priority. But she also sees, from a very personal perspective, just how much children look for their parents to serve as role models.
"Your children are going to watch the way that you live and what you do," Updike says. "They're going to know about fitness if you're into fitness. They're going to know about healthy food if you eat healthy food. Part of my goal is to inspire women to make time for themselves, to show them that even when they're feeling overwhelmed, staying healthy is good not only for themselves but for their family!"