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Walk Stars: Girls on Fire

girls at 5k raceI was never a fan of fitness — I hated it — and I was the least athletic person I knew (I took golf as my P.E. requirement in college).

It wasn’t until after college that my lack of exercise finally caught up with me. I had never had to do any extra work to keep the pounds off, but sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day was taking a toll!

However, I’d been helping out with the Walk Georgia program and finally decided to try it out as a participant last year. I recruited my friends to be on my team, and for the first time, I was going to the gym on a regular basis.

I didn’t realize how competitive I would be until I saw the miles my friends were putting up. I kept thinking to myself, “If they can do it, so can I!” I was suddenly motivated to go to the gym, so I could keep up with them. I tried new activities I thought I’d never do, like weightlifting and racquetball. I wanted to visit all of the counties! Was it possible? Was exercise becoming fun?

My team decided that we should have a goal to work toward, like a 5k. So in April, we did the Terrapin 5K Plus One More Mile in Athens. This was my first race, and I was really nervous. Why did we think it was a good idea to do 4.1 miles instead of just starting out with a normal 5K? But I pushed through and finished under my goal time.

After that I swore I’d never run again. That didn’t last long because a week later I did another 5K that I signed up for at the last minute! What was happening to me?

I didn’t turn into a gym rat, but even after Walk Georgia was over, I did keep exercising. In the fall I signed up for group fitness classes, which are awesome, and ran yet another 5k.

Now that Walk Georgia has rolled back around, my friends were more than happy to sign up again. Our team name? Girls on Fire! We haven’t been as competitive, but we’ve decided to do the same 5K again. Hopefully this year I can improve my time. I’m also planning on doing the Warrior Dash.

I am so glad that I have been able to experience this lifestyle transformation with my friends. If I can make the change, so can you. It won’t be fun at first, but don’t give up. Just remember: if you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself!

Andrea Gonzalez is an editor at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. If you have a Walk Georgia story to share, please email us at,so we can feature you.