Creating a Healthy Lifestyle – One Step at a Time
Mom, triathlete and wellness specialist Amy Bates discovered the healthy lifestyle she loves, one step at a time.
“When my husband Chris decided to train for his first triathlon, I thought he was crazy,” laughs Amy Bates, a 40-year-old from Colman, S.D. Little did she know that the competitive combination of swimming, biking and running was about to become her new passion too.
“I’ve always been a runner, so my training strategy was to pretty much just put on a lot of miles,” she says. “Later, I realized how that plan put constant strain on my knees and IT (iliotibial) band.”
Her first endurance race was in 2010, when she crossed the finish line of the Sioux Falls Half Marathon with a new medal and a new, persistent pain in her knee.
Although it was hard to slow down, Amy took time to heal while working with orthopedic physicians and physical therapists. “It made me realize how much I need to take care of my body, so I can be active throughout my life.”
First Step in a New Direction
While Chris completed his first triathlon in 2008, Amy was inspired by the “amazing energy” surrounding the event. They soon joined the Avera Sports triathlon club together.
Although Amy didn’t consider herself a swimmer, she knew it’d be a beneficial way to exercise while allowing her IT band to heal. “It was really great to mix up my routine.”
Amy also had to adjust to waking up at 4:30 a.m. for group workout sessions. “I’ve always been more of a night person so it was tricky at first, but now I really love it,” she says. “The club was good camaraderie and motivation. We worked out together, but at our own pace.”
With young children at home, Amy and Chris took turns going to the triathlon club workouts. But that didn’t mean a day off. They built a modest workout area in their garage with a treadmill, bike, weights and resistance bands.
Learning from the Avera Sports experts and friends in the triathlon club helped Amy and Chris continue training on their own after moving to an acreage in Colman.
To date, Amy has completed 23 triathlons, as well as a 70.3-mile half Ironman triathlon. And surprisingly, she’s grown to enjoy swimming. “With coaching and practice, swimming eventually came to me. It’s a really good workout and a timeless one too. I often see people in their 70s and older swimming and hope to be like them someday.”
Fueling an Active Lifestyle
When Amy started training for triathlons, she also became curious about how food affected not only her performance, but her overall well-being. That’s when they decided to add more organic vegetables, meat and fruit to their diets while limiting the amount of processed foods. Many of their vegetables come from their own backyard garden. They also began making their own yogurt, bread, cheese, protein bars and bone broth, plus fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi to support a healthy gut.
“We’re not perfect though,” she admits. “There are days when we’re running around like crazy and we decide to pick up a pizza. But we always try to return to healthy eating as quickly as we can.”
Healthy living developed into such a passion for Amy that her job at BCD Travel, a worldwide travel company based in Atlanta, transitioned from a human resources generalist to a wellness specialist.
So, how does this triathlete, mother of three and career-woman manage to do it all? First of all, she doesn’t do it alone. “We’re a team and I couldn’t do it without him,” Amy says of her husband, Chris.
“Take time to discover what works for you and what helps you live your best life,” she adds. And remember that relaxation is essential, too. “On Sundays, we just try to relax and be together. It’s a good day to sleep in, go to church, read, watch movies and recharge. And then we’re usually ready to go again Monday morning.”
Amy also finds inspiration by testing her own limits – whether that means trying new, unique foods or activities like surfing and scuba diving.
“Pushing myself a little further than I think I can go inspires me,” she says. “Over the years, I’ve learned that we can do a lot more than we think we can. We just have to be willing to give it a try.”