katie-mcclendonby Andi Agnew

Katie McClendon, Clinical Associate Professor, Assistant Dean for Student Services and Director of Student Affairs at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy in Jackson, used to feel like a hypocrite, telling her patients that they needed to get regular exercise when she herself was a bit of a couch potato. “Since I’ve started regularly working out, I feel much more genuine when I talk to patients. I heard an idea a few years ago about the keys to exercise, the ‘Three ‘I’s’ – Individualization, which is doing what you are able to do, Intensity and ‘I like to do it.’ That last one is so important. I used to take classes and I realized I spent the whole hour wishing I was not there,” she says.

McClendon began her fitness journey a few years ago with preparations for a cycling event. “The first time I went on a bike ride, I was so completely out of shape I had to lay down in the grass to catch my breath. But I found that if I stopped to take a picture of something, it didn’t look like I was out of shape–just stopping to take a picture.”

She later decided to switch from cycling to long walks, which allow for more picture-taking. She doesn’t pay much attention to distance or pace. “I usually listen to a podcast and just walk until it’s been about an hour. I have no idea how long the walks are in distance. I usually walk in Belhaven, and I have sections of the neighborhood I cover. One day I’ll walk the northeast corner, another the northwest corner. Then the next I’ll do the southern part and into parts of the Heights. But if I’ve seen something too recently, then I can get bored, so I’ll add in Fondren. When I do this, I go directly from work. I’ve found that if I go home and sit on the couch even for a minute, it’s really hard for me to get motivated.”

Image: Katie McClendon

Image: Katie McClendon

The pictures McClendon takes on her walks have garnered a lot of attention on Instagram. Most of the pictures are of pretty houses, plants and cats — lots of cats. She usually tags the photos with “#catsofFondren” or “#catsofBelhaven,” depending on where they are spotted. This habit has caught on enough for other Instagram users to also post their own hashtagged pictures of neighborhood cats. “I really like getting to make friends with the cats in the neighborhoods since I’m not a dog person, and I get really excited when I get to see the miniature horse in Fondren. I also like seeing the different holiday decorations, and taking pictures of the fruits and veggies that grow in some people’s yards,” she says.

With the recent time change, McClendon will not be able to get in as many walks after work. Continuing to set a good example for her patients is still a priority, though. “I’ll be sure to get my walks in on the weekends, and use exercise DVDs during the week.” Besides, there are plenty more cats just waiting for their closeup.

Follow McClendon’s  walks through Fondren and Belhaven on her Instagram at instagram.com/katiesmcclendon