Mark Benigni – March 27, 2019
I want to share a story of the human impact of our trail network. To put a name and a face to how trails create us. Hopefully this story will help inspire you to have the courage and will to make life changes. And to remind you that the trails and pathways in the greater Weber County area can be a resource.
In mid-January, I was contacted by a Weber State student, Cydnee Green, who had a team from a master’s program in Communications that wanted to do a project with us related to fundraising. They picked us because the team members are big trail users and the trails mean a lot to them. Not an unusual comment from Weber State students who do projects for us.
I met with the team at the end of January. As I usually do, I got down to business and explained how they may be able to help us with our annual TrailFest event being held June 22 this year. (Please pick up a flyer tonight.) After going through the details of the project, I did something else I usually do, get to know the team. And, follow up on why trails are important to them.
For no particular reason, I started with Tawnie Moore to go around the table. She told me she runs track for WSU and uses the trails for training and when running with a team from the Utah Running Club. She was pretty chill about it, but I commented that she must be pretty good if she’s a runner on the WSU team.
I learned later, the Marriott-Slaterville native currently holds school records in the indoor 60-meter hurdles and the outdoor 100-meter hurdles. She is a three-time Big Sky champion. Earned Big Sky Academic All-Conference honors in Communication.
Diedre Wilson is also on the WSU track team. The Shelley, Idaho native is a thrower (discus, shot-put, hammer and weight). She earned Big Sky Academic All-Conference honors in Graphic Design.
I complimented Deidre also for being on the WSU track team. She echoed Tawnie saying that having the trails right next to campus for training was one of the benefits of being on WSU’s team and helped with choosing WSU.
When I turned to Cydnee, she looked at me and quickly said, with a smile, “I’m not a track athlete. But, I am an avid trail user. In fact, because of the trails, I lost 140 lbs.”
My jaw dropped. Both Tawnie and Deidre said, “She’s our hero.”
At my request, Cydnee shared her story with Weber Pathways and is generous enough to let us share it with you. Here’s Cydnee’s story.
All of my life, I have always been the “bigger” girl. I never really paid much attention to what I ate, and I preferred to sit on the couch and binge watch television shows rather than participate in recreational sports. While I tried to mostly blame my obesity and poor physical activity on genetics, a large part of it was lack of self-control and motivation.
For my New Year's Resolution on January 1, 2017, I told myself I was going to turn my life around. I was 22 years old, pushing 350 pounds 40 percent body fat and couldn’t even keep up with my friends during our casual strolls through downtown.
I began this lifestyle change by fixing my eating habits. I completely cut sugar from my diet and consumed many meal replacement shakes. I replaced junk foods with vegetables, counted my caloric intake and dedicated time to planning and cooking healthy meals. After altering my eating routine, the next step to losing weight was finding a way to get active. At the time, I felt very uncomfortable in the gym; I didn’t know what I was doing, and I wasn’t in the shape others were.
Living in Weber County, I decided to take advantage of the resources around me. I spent a lot of time walking, jogging and eventually hiking and running many of Weber Pathways’ trails that are located all over Weber County. For the first while, I stuck to the flat, paved trails: Riverdale Weber River Parkway, Weber Pathways Rail Trail, Ogden River Parkway and the easier pieces of the Centennial Loop. (Our TrailFest route.)
By Spring, I had lost almost 60 pounds and was ready to test my abilities. I had slowly started turning my walks on the pathways into jogs and sprints. I wanted to get out and try more of a mountain climb than a flat path. The first time I had made it from Rainbow Gardens to the top and had the opportunity to see the Salt Lake Valley from what felt like so high up, I finally felt some sort of satisfaction with my transformation; I was finally able to do something I had never been able to do.
I spent the entire summer on these trails; late evening sunset hikes were some of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong, some of them aren’t easy, but they are beyond rewarding when you make it to the top. I started small and was eventually able to accomplish some of Weber Pathways most difficult climbs. After hiking many of the trails, some of my favorites include Waterfall Canyon, Malan’s Peak, Taylor Canyon, Indian Trail, Mt. Ogden and Ben Lomond.
In May 2018, I planned a three-day hiking trip to Zion National Park. During that trip, I hiked roughly 26 miles and made it to the top of both Angels Landing and Observation Point. Over a year ago, I never would have been able to do something that was so mentally and physically challenging.
I am now 175 pounds, 20 percent body fat and truly enjoy being outdoors. I went from being the person who didn’t even want to go to an outdoor mall that involved so much walking, to spending multiple hours each day either at the gym, or when the weather is nice, outdoors on our local trails.
Weber Pathways’ trails provide such an easy opportunity for active lifestyles. They have over 55 trails that span roughly 250 miles. Although I find myself sticking to some of the same trails in the same area, they have opportunities all over Weber County for free, healthy adventures.
Do not wait until you are overweight and unhappy with your lifestyle to learn how to enjoy fitness and outdoor recreation. Get out, get active and take advantage of our local resources.
Hey Cydnee! Thank you for sharing your story!
You are an inspiration to all of us to have the courage and will to make life changes.
Your donations help Weber Pathways continue to build trails that create a culture where all have places to walk, run and ride as they enjoy nature and connect with their neighbors in the greater Weber County area.