People read all kinds of books that discuss weight loss and wellness. I, myself, have definitely read my fair share.  

One thing most of these books will say is that before any sort of change takes place, you should identify your goals. These books tell you to get specific about your goals. Don’t just say “I want to lose weight.” Say “I want to lose weight so I can play with my kids or wear a bikini” or some variation of this.

So when I started my fat loss journey, I knew I needed to come up with some sort of goal for myself. A reason that I wanted to lose this fat.  

While I was scrutinizing myself, I got brutally honest. What was it going to take to get me off the couch so that I could start ditching the fat and bad habits in my life? What was going to prompt me to keep going when I KNEW I would want to give up in a matter of weeks just like I had every single other time I had attempted this?

I realized that the “looking good” goal wasn’t going to cut it. If I cared so much about looking good, I don’t think I would have ever allowed myself to get so out-of-control-fat in the first place. It was pretty obvious to me that I currently placed more value on frozen pizza than the size 10 jeans I used to wear.

So that was out.

What else? My health? I knew the clock was ticking and it was only a matter of time before I had a heart-attack or got diagnosed with diabetes or something like that. You’d think the knowledge that I was playing Russian Roulette with my life would have been enough to motivate me all by itself, but, nope. Turns out I didn’t value myself enough at this point to give a crap about my health.

So that was out too.

I sat and thought. Thought some more. And it eventually occurred to me that I was missing out on life. Big time. There were things I wanted to do, places I’d like to go, and experiences I’d love to have that just weren’t possible at my current weight. My fat was holding me back.

A while back–maybe 2007 or 2008–I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time with my family. I remember looking down at that great chasm and thinking how much different it must look from the bottom. I really wished I could go down there to find out. But even on that trip–when I was just chubby, not hugely obese yet–there was no way I felt I could even do a short hike into the canyon. Going down would be no problem, but I knew I was so out of shape that going back up would be tortuous. 

So as I was thinking about what solid goal I could set for myself that would inspire me to ditch the fat, that trip came to mind.

I thought to myself, “Well why couldn’t I do that? Why couldn’t I lose this fat and get into good enough shape that I could hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim?”

And just like that, my goal was born.

A goal like this has worked for me up til this point for several reasons. First of all, it’s concrete and very specific. I know exactly what it is that I want to accomplish here. The timeframe itself isn’t so important just yet, but the end result is. This is a goal I know I can accomplish. This isn’t something crazy or outside the realm of possibility. 

Second, this is a goal that requires me to get into shape to achieve it. And we’re not talking “kind of in shape.” No. We’re talking I-don’t-want-to-haul-a-single-extra-pound-of-fat-out-of-the-Canyon-because-this-is-going-to-be-hellish-enough-as-it-is kind of shape. Bottom line, my fat self isn’t going to be able to do this. But my fit self will. So I see this as a win-win. I’m going to have to get into amazing shape in order to hike the Grand Canyon (rim-to-rim is about 24 miles with an average elevation change of 6,000 feet at the steeper rim), and by doing that, I’m going to naturally look better in the process.

Lastly, this is a goal that I can visualize accomplishing. I’ve never been able to picture myself in a bikini. Would I like that? Absolutely, I would. But I have never been able to see it in my mind. Not only do I not see myself wearing the bikini, but I don’t see where I am, the look on my face, or who I am with while wearing it.

But the Grand Canyon is different. I can picture myself there. I can almost feel the ache in my legs, the burning in my lungs. I can visualize my face and the incredible sense of accomplishment I will feel when I get to the other side, and I can picture my cousin, RunnerGirl being right there beside me as we do this.

This goal is REAL to me. And honestly, I think that is what sets it apart from any other goal that I might have set for myself. That is what makes this a goal that I don’t want to give up on.

And here is the really cool part. If you think about it, the Grand Canyon is a total metaphor for my life, for this journey I am taking to get fit and become the person I want to be. 

I started out on one rim, looking down, thinking, “This won’t be possible. There’s no way I can accomplish what I want out of this. It’s too hard. Too huge. Too painful.” 


This journey–and life in general–IS hard. It IS painful. And what I want out of it IS HUGE. 

But it’s not impossible. None of it. Not even close. I’m strong enough to do it, and I’m planning on kicking ass and taking names along  the way.

And so, over two years ago, I took the first step to descend into the Canyon.

Everything I’ve read about a Canyon rim-to-rim hike states that going down is the hardest, most painful part. This is difficult for me to believe, but apparently the descent does a number on your legs. So much so, that the journey up hill–we’re talking double digit miles uphill–is viewed as the “easy” part.

That scares the crap out of me. What does it say about this goal, this journey, that going UP is the “easy” part? That fighting gravity, climbing approximately 4,000 feet out of the depths of the Canyon is the idiomatic piece of cake here?

I figure I’m somewhere near the bottom right now. Somewhere close to the halfway point of this journey. I don’t know where I am time-wise, but the hardest part–the mental aspect–is almost in the bag. And then I’ll be climbing out of the Canyon. Each step I take from here on out gets me one step closer to that far rim. And I can see myself standing on it, looking back on where I’ve been, how far I’ve come, and how high I’ve climbed.  

It’s real. And it’s truly glorious. 

Regardless of what goal you decide to set for yourself, you’re going to have a Canyon of your own to hike to get there.  It’s not going to be easy. It might just be the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life. So make it something worth the pain to you. Something that you want to accomplish more than anything else. In my opinion, that’s the only thing that’s going to carry you through to the other side. It’s going to be brutal. You’re going to sweat. You might even bleed. But if you keep on going, if you put one foot in front of the other over and over again, eventually you’ll climb out of the abyss and stand on the other rim.

I can see it. Can you?

4 thoughts on “Canyons

  1. Good morning Jess, the Scripture that came to mind as I was reading your blog is from Deuteronomy, Chapter 30. Verses 11-20. Specifically, verse 19….”I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, that you….may live…..” That is the choice that I hear you making. And I know God will bless you as you choose life. I love you my dear. Aunt Nancy


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