Aflete recently had the chance to get some health and beauty tips from model, actress and fitness enthusiast McKenna Hardy. McKenna is a courageous young woman who despite having the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis has never allowed it to stand in the way of her doing what she wants and has achieved tremendous things, We get her secrets to how getting fit with Miss Canada was while tackling Cystic Fibrosis. She shares her inspiration and vegan food on Instagram under the username McKennaHardy and has more food tips, tricks and health updates available at her blog thesaltymutanteats.wordpress.com please enjoy our interview with her.
Can you introduce yourself for those who don’t know you?
I am McKenna Hardy. I was born with a genetic disease called Cystic Fibrosis. In a nutshell, it affects the digestive system and slowly shuts down my lungs. There is no cure and the average lifespan is currently 37. At age 11, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, caused by the CF. Since age 9, I have been in the hospital over 30 times. Despite all the doctor appointments, tests, needles, shots, hospital stays, and medications, I don’t let either of these diseases limit me. I am currently at a Junior College, hoping to transfer to major in Nutrition. In my past, I have been an extra in a national commercial for AT&T and competed in the Queen of the Universe Pageant in Beverly Hills in 2013, earning me the title Miss Canada.
How has food sharing (on social media) impacted you and why do you choose to share your food online?
Adding pictures of food in social media websites started months ago as an experiment to see if eating healthy will change my health and clear up my acne. After just one month of a mostly vegan diet, my acne cleared up 80%. People with Cystic Fibrosis are prone to infection and are encouraged not to physically contact others with CF. It is protocol to stay 3-6 feet away from each other with other protocols regarding cross-infections and lots of antibacterial gel. Social media is a fantastic tool to meet others, ask questions, share experiences, and give support. We create a bond with each other and call ourselves cysters and fibros. Using these outlets of communication, I decided to share with this community my experiment of eating healthy and the outcome. Because my diseases are genetic, I will never be able to be off my medications and strictly heal myself with real food. I believe it will absolutely help my health in general.
As a model and actress, you have a lot of pressure to be looking your best all the time- how does this impact what you eat? (can you talk about any foods you avoid, do you eat special food to improve your skin?)
When I first started to change my diet, I went vegan. I avoided all dairy, meat, and eggs. This cleared up my skin better than any prescribed or over-the-counter cream I had ever used. Because this has dramatically changed my appearance, I don’t want to change! Eating clean on the road is very difficult, but is manageable. There have been times where I’m on a road trip and instead of fast food, I go to a grocery store and pick food from the produce section! There absolutely is pressure for me to look a certain way, but when you provide the most natural foods for your body, it will thank you. As long as you don’t overeat, your body will naturally be beautiful and the shape it is supposed to be. I can’t change the way I look, but I can change to look the way I am supposed to look in a natural state.
It has been difficult at times and I will admit I have fallen off the wagon a few times (nobody is perfect! just make sure to pick yourself back up after!), but eating clean has made me feel so much better. Even just feeling better in general is a great outcome and can change your day and attitude.
Who is your biggest fitness inspiration?
I never grew up with the mentality “I have CF, I can’t do that”. If I wanted to do it, I did. I wanted to play tennis, so I did for many years. I wanted to be in the marching band in high school, so I did and even became the student director for two years. I am very fortunate that my health decline and progress is where it is now. So many CFers have not been as fortunate and are unable to exercise at my age of 21 or even younger because their lung function is so low. I want to be a role model to show that hard work pays off and can extend our life. I really admire Boomer Esiason, the former NFL star. His son, Gunner Esiason was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at age 2, but Boomer was engaged in CF awareness and fundraisers years before Gunner was born. He has since created his own foundation, Boomer Esaison Foundation. The most famous face of diabetes a few years ago was Nick Jonas. He has absolutely been a fitness inspiration. Diabetes and Cystic Fibrosis doesn’t mean you can’t try to do something. Health reasons might get in the way of actually achieving, but trying is what counts. What is the point of life if you don’t even try?
Would you want to use an app just for the food, health, and fitness community promoting a safe environment to share?
Absolutely! Society today is fast paced and efficient. If tips, recipes, and fitness ideas are accessible on the go or in the palm of your hand, they can be taken anywhere and used anytime.
Any final fitness tips you’d like to share
Your body will thank you for fueling it with something more than pre-packaged, chemical-laced food. You will feel better and just feeling better will give you more energy and that can change your outlook and whole day. Imagine what would happen if everyone started doing that everyday. If you fall off the wagon, people will extend their hand when you ask for help, but only you can pick yourself up.