Oklahoma native Dr. Amanda Stevens has been pushing her body to its limits since she was a child, and now she has reached her own mountaintop as a professional triathlete. She is committed to empowering children across the nation, and primarily in Oklahoma, to do the same. In addition to competing professionally, Stevens travels the nation as a motivational speaker.
In what is your passion for fitness and competition rooted?
I grew up a competitive swimmer, and as a child, swimming was definitely where my heart was. I was lucky enough when I was in medical school at OU to get involved in the sport of triathlon, and I was on the fast track to the professional rank. I’ve been racing as a professional now for about 10 years…That’s pretty much been my full-time job, and I’m blessed and grateful that I get to compete in this way for a full-time job because it’s absolutely what I love doing. It’s allowed me to travel the world and meet other athletes and like-minded people and really experience life.
How instrumental has your medical background been in your athletic career?
I’m not practicing medicine right now. It was a tough decision to make, but I couldn’t put my whole energy into medicine and my career as a triathlete at the same time. But I still dabble a little bit here and there, mainly through promoting health and wellness. I spend a lot of time helping kids develop healthy eating habits, teaching them to exercise and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I also coach a team of triathletes, and I think that’s where the bulk of my medical experience comes [into good use].
Did your passion for sports spark your interest in science and medicine, or vice versa?
I think they go hand-in-hand. I grew up swimming and playing other sports. I didn’t really get the bug for medicine until I was in junior high. We had a science class, and I did my first dissection. I thought it was the most awesome thing in the world. So I went home that night and told my parents I wanted to be a doctor, and they were kind of thinking, “Where did that come from?” because none of my family or extended family were doctors. But then in high school, I grew to really love science and chemistry; and in college at Texas Christian University, I became really interested in anatomy and physiology, so I continued on the pre-med track.
How big is the need for fitness education, particularly in Oklahoma?
I think it is huge. I’m living and training my team in Boulder, Colo., now. If you look at [Boulder and Oklahoma] as far as demographics, Boulder is one of the healthiest places in the country, and Oklahoma is almost always in the bottom couple of states in regards to health. There’s a stark difference. When my athletic career is over, my husband and I will most likely settle back in Oklahoma, and I really hope to have more of an impact here in the state. Childhood obesity is still on the rise in Oklahoma. A huge amount of kids are overweight, and I think that’s going to set them up not only for health problems, but potentially [problems in] many other areas of life.
What are some of the things you’re planning for in the near future?
I have two world championship events coming up in September. My primary focus for those events is to not only be on the podium, but also be on the top of the podium. I can see myself racing as an athlete for two or three more years. After that, it’ll be time to pass that up, and my husband and I will settle down and start having some kids. At that point in my life, I think I’ll get back into medicine and hopefully be able to make a huge impact in Oklahoma on health and wellness.