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Talking the talk and walking the walk

Sgt 1st Class Heather Moran goes for the gold

Sgt. 1st. Class Heather Moran prepares for her daily strength conditioning work out. Photo courtesy Sgt. 1st Class Heather Moran

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U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Heather Moran doesn't have room for negativity. Positivity fills every fiber of her being.

"Anything you believe and can see yourself doing, well then that's half the battle, and at that point you can achieve your goal," Moran said.

With half the battle already won, Moran is focused on the other half, competing at the upcoming Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas. She will arrive at Fort Bliss with one goal in mind; cementing a spot on Team Army for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 2-9.

Moran represented Team Army at last year's Warrior Games in Chicago where she garnered two silver medals in shot-put and discus and placed fourth in cycling. This year she's going for a medal of a different color.

"I am going for gold, absolutely," Moran laughed. "I have it in my sights and I've been really pushing myself. I've been training every day. I will not lose."

The registered nurse discovered her love of adaptive sports while healing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion. A former bodybuilder and an avid athlete, Moran found herself dealing with a reconstructed thumb and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite her circumstances, her love for sports and competition never left her. She says she learned to adjust to her new normal by participating in new sports such as archery, air rifle and cycling.

"Adaptive sports gives us hope. It awakens that drive and passion while making us feel good about ourselves."

The Washington State native said she's using a former competitor as her incentive to hopefully make Team Army again and bring home a few gold medals at this year's DoD Warrior Games.

"(U.S. Marine veteran) Sarah Rudder made a complete transformation from 2016 to 2017. She's a beast and I have used her as my motivation and inspiration. I want to be in the best shape I can possibly be in for this year's competition."

Moran has been training daily in an effort to make her Warrior Games dreams come true. She joined a 21-day virtual fitness challenge through social media, which happened to be the brainchild of a former Team Army athlete.

Retired U.S. Army Spc. Michael Stephens, a member of Team Army in 2016 and 2017, developed the challenge with his partner Amanda Leibovitz, a USA Para triathlon Certified Coach, Certified Mental Performance Coach, and PhD student. Leibovitz is focusing her studies on the specific needs and goals of adaptive military athletes.

Stephens and Leibovitz developed the challenge, with doctor approval, as a way to give veterans and non-veterans the ability to participate in fitness and nutrition challenges over a three-week time period. Participants were provided proven fitness programs, nutrition guides, meal planning tips, team support, and one-on-one mentoring designed specifically to help achieve their goals. Moran has completed the challenge several times since she first started it in the fall of 2017 and has recently signed up to be a coach herself. The program has brought welcomed changes to her approach to nutrition and fitness.

"I changed my nutrition and began daily meal preps. I exercise daily and I gained 10 pounds of muscle and dropped two pants sizes. I have positioned myself to be the best I can be for competition and in my life," Moran said.

She said she walked away with more than a physical change after participating in the challenge.

"It's about focusing and encircling myself with people who are supportive, don't disappear on you and will stay with you through the entire journey ... that's what Amanda and this challenge has been for me."

Moran will compete in cycling, shot-put, discus, air rifle, archery, track and swimming.

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