By Javacia Harris Bowser
This month, in the brutality of Alabama summer heat, I am going to start training for a marathon, and it’s all Artney Walker’s fault. Walker is a Birmingham-based fitness blogger and last year, she ran four marathons.
This accomplishment has not only inspired me to start pounding the pavement again, but also got the attention of Weight Watchers magazine. Walker was profiled in the May/June issue as part of the magazine’s “I Love What My Body Can Do” feature. Walker has been a fan of the Weight Watchers diet plan for eight years, but she never thought she’d one day be on the pages of its magazine. “In the beginning, I was in shock,” Walker says of the day in January when the magazine first contacted her. “The day of my photo shoot, my dream became a reality. Being a Weight Watchers member, I knew my story would resonate with so many readers.”
Motivated by an upcoming high school reunion, Walker started the Weight Watchers plan in 2008 and lost 55 pounds. She continues to use the plan when she needs extra help making proper food choices.
But running four marathons in a year wasn’t about weight loss. On her food and fitness blog MyPrettyBrownFit.com, Walker often writes about the importance of celebrating “non-scale victories,” which made her the perfect fit for the magazine feature. “Obviously, my marathon journey was quite the non-scale victory!” Walker says. In 2015, Walker, who follows the Jeff Galloway walk/run training plans, completed the Marine Corps Marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon, the Magnolia Marathon, and the Eau Palm Beach Marathon. And as if that weren’t enough, she also completed six half marathons, a 10K race, and a 5K race (that’s 12 altogether.)
By sharing this journey on her blog, Walker hopes to motivate others. “I have the opportunity to inspire others who look like me—and those who don’t—on their healthy lifestyle journeys,” Walker says. “No, I don’t have a six-pack, but I’m making a conscious effort daily to make healthier choices.” Walker admits that blogging helps her stay motivated, too. “Sharing my journey on my blog definitely serves as a form of accountability and therapy,” she says. “It’s a space to get people excited about fitness, healthy recipes, and living a balanced, fit life. I also love sharing about my upcoming races, training plans, progress, and race recaps. I’m a big fan of Disney races, so I love sharing my costume, details leading up to race day, and recaps from my magical race experiences.”
Through blogging and running, Walker has also had the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for popular road races and national brands. Most recently she signed on to be an ambassador for Enell and its line of sports bras. She’s also part of the Rock ‘N’ Blog team for the Rock ’N Roll Marathon Series. “I also consider myself a ‘fun runner,’ so being part of the Rock ‘N’ Blog team allows me to enjoy running with friends, enjoy good music, and conquer the distance while having fun,” Walker says.
Walker got into running thanks to the Birmingham Chapter of Black Girls RUN!, an organization that seeks to reduce levels of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the African-American community by encouraging black women to exercise, eat well, and develop an overall healthier lifestyle. “I’d never seen anything like it before; I wanted to be a part of it,” Walker says. “There were so many runners in all shapes and sizes—and seeing women who looked just like me really inspired me!
“When I first started running, I could barely run 15 seconds without being winded,” Walker continues. “Being ‘running fit’ is definitely a thing.” But she didn’t give up. “After hitting the pavement week after week, I decided that I wanted to sign-up for my first 10K,” she says. “After completing my first 10K, I wanted to train for my first half marathon. When I completed the Mercedes Half Marathon in 2013, I fell in love with distance running.”
Walker says that her faith has played a role in her running journey, too. “Through faith and determination, I have proven to myself over and over again that I can achieve my ‘impossibles,’” she says. A member of Church of the Highlands, Walker often shares one of her favorite quotes from Pastor Chris Hodges on her blog and social media networks: “Let’s live our lives so big that it couldn’t possibly happen unless God shows up. Keep dreaming.” And keep running.