As many women know firsthand, motherhood can change absolutely everything. CBS News correspondent Mika Brzezinski has been searching for women who refuse to fit into the ordinary mommy mold for the new The Early Show series "Cool Moms."
Some mothers are finding out that their children actually give them an edge, a motivation to accomplish new things that they never thought of doing before. One such mom is Jennifer Nicole Lee, who holds the title of Miss Bikini America.
Shortly after Lee delivered her second child, she looked in the mirror, stared at 190 pounds, and asked herself some questions.
"Who am I? Where did I go? I used to be so young and pretty and energetic," Lee remembers.
Then she did a brave, life-changing thing: she took a picture of herself in a fuchsia bikini. What does she see looking at the picture?
"I see someone who is struggling, who is trying, who is a good mother. However, she needed to be a good mother of herself," says Lee. "I looked at that every day, and I just got on a mission."
That little Polaroid went a long way. One year and 70 pounds later, Jennifer Nicole Lee was crowned Miss Bikini America.
"After being pregnant, breast feeding or fat the past five years of your life, putting on a bikini and actually looking good? I was loving it," says Lee.
Though it took hard work, the rewards and recognition that followed were especially sweet for a girl who had been battling her body her whole life.
"Mangia, Mangia! was our motto. We ate morning, noon, and night," remembers Lee. "I was always chubby growing up. I was always on the large side. Italian family. And I really had to retrain myself and recondition myself to break all those old habits that have been ingrained in me."
Fitness contests, calendars and covers all followed the amazing transformation of this young mother, not to mention a book deal and fitness DVDs.
"I like to do smarter not harder exercises," says Lee.
Her method wasn't a quick fix approach or a four-week diet.
"It's not about being a size zero or a size two, or a number on a scale," Lee says. "For me, it's about how strong am I? Can I lift up my own furniture? Or, do I have to call for a guy to come help me? Am I able to tote my toddlers up and down the stairs?"
She has even designed fitness routines that include her squirmy toddler.
Does she think she would have reached this point if she didn't have kids?
"I think, actually I know, that that gives me an edge," says Lee. "It gives me more credibility. And, a little bit more, 'Oh, she's legit. She's a real woman.'
"I like efficient, effective workouts which I've designed myself that does allow you more time with your children, more time with your loved ones. And that's the key."
And her kids say think that is way cool.
Tune in to The Early Show in the coming weeks for more Cool Moms, including a stunt mom and a boxing mom.
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