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Health Warrior: Kristy McClung

We go waayyyy back. This woman inspires me in a way that few others can. Most notably, she radiates positivity and always speaks with encouragement, especially when talking about health and fitness. You won’t find her at your local health club though. You’re lucky if you even get to meet her! 

She’s my sister. 

Kristy constantly shares with me about her decisions to be more healthy and the progress she makes when she does so. She has more excuses than most of us will have in a lifetime. She can't get to go to a gym, never has, and she can't even prepare her own meals, but that doesn’t stop her! I won’t spoil the surprise. You MUST know Kristy’s story! Read on and soak in what she has to say. And next time you're deciding whether or not to watch another episode of a mind-numbing reality show or get in a little more physical activity, think about what Kristy would do.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Share with us a picture of what prompted your journey in the health and fitness. 

I’m Kristy. I am in a wheelchair and was born with spinal bifida. My journey started when my family and I recognized that I needed to lose weight. We just really wanted to improve my health as best we could and particularly to help improve my breathing. At the time, about 4 years ago (mid 2013), I was having a lot of difficulty breathing, partially due to fluid accumulating around my lungs. Since then, my lungs are drastically improved and I’ve lost 10 pounds since February and 15 total in the last year!

2. Can you share with us how you approach health and fitness: what does healthy living look like for you?How do you consciously steward and take care of your body on a regular basis?

Put simply, I follow a consistent exercise routine and just try to eat healthier as often as I can. The way that looks for me is finding exercises that I can do with my upper body and doing those four days a week! My physical activity is limited though and isn’t enough by itself to help with weight loss, so I pay a lot of attention to the amount of calories I eat every day too. So, as far as eating, I don’t prepare my own meals, but when I can choose what I eat, I try to make healthy decisions and always make sure I include a veggie or fruit! I try to make other positive changes too. For example, I’ve reduced the amount of soda that I drink down from seven days a week a year ago down to two days a week at most now. That has helped a lot!

3. Can you walk us through your typical exercise routine?

Well my exercises are all for my upper body. I use lightweight dumbbells that I can hold or use resistance bands. I like to follow exercise videos right now. These lead me through about 10 repetitions each ofexercises like bicep curls, arm circles, shrugs, shoulder circles and other arm exercises for anywhere from 10-30 minutes and I do those 1-2 times per day on the days I exercise.

4. What is one of the most difficult challenges you face in your healthy living journey and how have you dealt with that? 

The most difficult challenge I face is my limited ability to be physically active and sometimes I don’t want to exercise because my lungs don’t feel good. Breathing hurts sometimes, like if the humidity is higher one day or if it’s really cold another day, it’s just harder for me to exercise those days. It’s true, those are my honest excuses… but… no excuses!! If I could have perfect sunny summer weather to exercise in every day, I would! But I don’t, and even though it’s often hard to exercise, I just choose to do it anyway. I just try to keep a positive attitude and do what I can.

5. What is one non-negotiable part of your health routine each week? Whatever it is, tell us what you protect or put in place each week to take care of yourself.

I keep water with me at all times! Wherever I go, my water bottle goes with me. Water is vital to keep my kidneys working! Especially now that I have only one functioning kidney. I try to drink 64-94 ounces of water per day. Plenty of water is my non-negotiable.

6. How do you set health and fitness goals for yourself? Do you measure them? If so, how often? What are some goals you are currently working on? 

The biggest goal I’m currently working on is to exercise four times per week. I like to have family members hold me accountable. They typically check in with me a couple times per week and I’ll check in with them on how they’re doing on their goals. Because this goal is pretty easy to remember, I don’t write it down or anything. I just remember, on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, I exercise.

7. How have you worked to carry such a positive, realistic and genuine attitude about health, fitness and life in general? What is something you consistently tell yourself to renew your mind and motivate yourself to stay positive? What inspires your toward being healthy?

I tell myself, “If I do this stuff, I’ll be healthier.” Just the knowledge of being healthier and keeping my body strong, is enough to inspire me! I also love pointing out things that other people are doing to help themselves. I love encouraging people in ways that make them feel better and continue on with things that add to this.

8. What's the best advice you could give to someone with similar obstacles as you to keep an active and healthy lifestyle? A key takeaway you could share with us?

If I can do it, you can do it! Even when you’re in a wheelchair, you can do it!

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