My Health and Fitness Journey

Although I admired bodybuilders when I was growing up, I thought pumping iron and building muscle was impossible with cystic fibrosis — so I didn’t even try. After a hospitalization, my passion for fitness was rekindled and I discovered I could build muscle mass and improve my health.

June 1, 2023 | 4 min read
Headshot of Alex McCully
Alex McCully
Alex McCully flexing his arms in the reflection of a mirror

Growing up I loved watching bodybuilders on YouTube. I always had a passion for training and being the strongest I could be; but living with cystic fibrosis, I always felt that I wouldn’t be able to look like the people I admired. I wouldn’t be able to be as strong or as fast as them. I think knowing cystic fibrosis can be crippling is part of what fueled my love for being strong, athletic, and powerful. 

Because I always felt my CF held me back, I didn’t take my life as seriously as I should have. I was relaxed about school and didn’t take care of my health. As I got older and kept this same mentality, I eventually got really sick and was hospitalized. I had three different bacteria overgrowths in my lungs and my body was developing sepsis. I couldn’t walk up the stairs, and I had to sit in the shower. It was the worst I’ve ever felt. I hadn’t been in the hospital for a long-term stay since I was young, so it hit me really hard mentally. 

It was during my time in the hospital that I discovered God.  That experience gave me strength to accept the second chance at life I was given; so when I got out of the hospital, I sought out God and started to get my life back on track. 

Through God I rediscovered my passion for fitness. I got back into researching and learning all that I could that would help me to live a long, strong life. I started doing all my treatments as prescribed. I ate all the time and focused on building muscle. I started to see the scale go up — in a year I went from 128 to 140 pounds. For a normal person that doesn’t sound like much, but for someone like me, that was amazing!

With cystic fibrosis there’s always a struggle with putting on weight. I found that putting on muscle was possible and way easier than trying to put on fat.

Because people with CF burn so many calories, it can be hard to get enough food to achieve a surplus. Focusing on just eating enough protein to prevent muscle wasting and build muscle is easier than trying to stuff down enough food to up the number on the scale. 

It was a year after starting this new regimen that I began taking Trikafta®. I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but everything I had heard made it seem like a miracle. I already felt much better due to working out, but when I started taking Trikafta, it was like God blessed me for committing to him. My world got flipped upside down. Through working out and Trikafta, I feel as if I don’t even have cystic fibrosis some days. Trikafta has made it easier to put on weight, so now I’m up another 20 pounds in about a year. It’s helped make me feel as though my goals are in reach, and I can achieve anything. 

Now that I’ve learned and achieved as much as I have, I want to help others do it too. I got certified by the International Sports Science Association and started a personal training business. Of course, I’ll train anyone, but my goal is to reach as many people struggling with cystic fibrosis as I can and help them understand it can get better as long as you keep trying and never give up. You can make it to the other side even if it’s just a little bit better than where you started. 

Interested in sharing your story? TheCF Community Blogwants to hear from you. 

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Headshot of Alex McCully

Alex was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth. He works full time while trying to get his personal training business off the ground. He lives in Oklahoma City with his girlfriend, Alyssa, and their two dogs, Milo and Luna. Alex uses social media like Instagram and Facebook to spread awareness and share his personal journey. 

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