The best perks of an active lifestyle are the emotional and mental benefits, says local Sugar Run 5k participant and fitness enthusiast, Kristen Clark

The mom of two, Wyatt (8) and Presley (6), has always been passionate about her well-being. For years, Kristen woke up at 3:30 a.m. to hit the gym before her kids were born. Now, she and her husband, Darin, maintain a more flexible schedule that includes runs around Shelby Farms and Arlington Sports Complex, and in-studio weight-training sessions. 

“I do it because it helps me feel better and helps me mentally. It’s about feeling good inside, too.”

The health guru also gleans inspiration from her career. As the Chronic Care Manager for the AM Diabetes and Endocrinology Center in Bartlett, Kristen works with elderly diabetic and chronic condition patients on Medicare to ensure that their lifestyles, diets, medication needs, charts, and fitness goals are met.

“I feel like the job has made me more aware of my health and fitness.”

The program recently expanded to include a senior patient exercise series called Silver Fit, some of which Kristen teaches at the office’s on-site workout studio, aptly named AM 360. These classes aim to improve muscle strength and increase flexibility.

“Patients can come in, meet people their age and get out of the house to socialize while having fun and moving.”

Kristen also adopted some recent dietary changes after completing a two-week, plant-based diet challenge from co-worker Jennifer Jurado, NP. 

“I am now more aware of how the things I eat fuel my body.”

The experience helped her become more dialed into her body’s responses to certain foods and how they made her feel. As a result, she now incorporates influences of plant-based meals with animal protein staples such as eggs and grilled chicken to support her workouts.

Dr. Kashif Latif is the Medical Director and creative force behind AM’s Bartlett-based facility, which also hosts the annual Sugar Run 5K—a family-friendly run that raises awareness of Type 1 diabetes and funds curative research.

The event’s Pro/Elite Run brings in professional athletes from around the country, who vie to complete the 5k in record time.

In 2019, AM sponsored St. Jude’s Half Marathon winner and Kenyan guest Pius Niantyka, who crossed the finish line wearing his Sugar Run 5k shirt.

While Kristen participates in the Sugar Run as a runner and logistics volunteer, she also has twice completed the St. Jude’s Memphis Half Marathon herself, crediting the feat to yoga.

“The breathing techniques and stretching movements of yoga helped me be able to run those longer distances.”

The Sugar Run is entering its 16th cycle of success this year. They have donated over a quarter million dollars to JDRF West Tennessee Chapter to fund a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Help them reach their goal while breaking a sweat and enjoying vendor freebies on November 19 at the Wolf River Nature Area in Germantown.

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By Shlomit Ovadia 

Photo by Tindall Stephens