BY SHARON GITTLEMAN
HARRISON TOWNSHIP – When Tim Smith crosses the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., his daughter Destiny Smith will be right there rooting him on.
That should come as no surprise to the people who know them well.
Destiny has cheered her dad’s efforts ever since the day he started on the diet that helped him shed 75 pounds and sparked his ambition to run in the race.
What does she thing of her father’s accomplishment?
“I think it’s pretty fine,” said Destiny, 5.
Her dad’s 10-month effort has taught her some lessons about eating well.
“Junk food is bad for you,” she said. “You can’t have too much candy.”
His partner, Kenn Bing, 45, said renewed energy and greater confidence were just a few of the unexpected windfalls from Smith’s weight loss.
“In the beginning it was really tough. You could see the frustrations,” said Bing, a Harrison Township resident. “It started to ease out after the first few months. Once he embraced it you couldn’t stop him.”
Smith kicked off his diet effort just before Thanksgiving, Bing said.
“He didn’t eat turkey. He stuck with his salad,” he said.
His partner went from couch potato to dedicated athlete.
“We had a weekend at Saugatuck,” Bing said. “He got up one morning and ran for three hours. He’s definitely gung-ho.”
Smith said he lost the weight through a program at St. Joseph’s Health Care in Clinton Township.
He heard about the hospital’s weight loss program when he worked there as a physical therapist. He’d decided to shed the pounds to avoid having to take medications for high blood pressure.
Smith joined other dieters at weekly class meetings at St. Joseph’s that were devoted to teaching new ways of eating.
He started with shakes and prepackaged meals, slowly adding vegetables, fruits and proteins to his daily regime.
“You just learn how to eat healthy,” said Smith, 31, who’s in the process of moving to Maryland, with his family.
Weekly visits to the clinic and phone calls to his diet coach kept him on track.
“I really didn’t want to have to tell my teacher I cheated,” he said. “Her nickname is ‘bulldog.'”
The moniker came from her determination not her nature, he said, laughing.
“She’s the nicest person. She just expects a lot. She wants you to succeed,” Smith said.
He shares at least one character trait with his teacher.
” ‘Stubborn’ would be a word that’s been used to describe me,” he said.
Smith is counting on that grit to ease him through the 26.2 miles of the marathon.
While the Oct. 29, race through the streets of Washington, D.C., is officially the Marine Corps Marathon, other groups devoted to good causes are invited to join in.
Smith is pairing up with nearly 50 others to raise money during the National AIDS Marathon, with funds directed to the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C.
“I have to raise a minimum of $1,700 to run in the race,” he said.
He has two motivations to complete the marathon – to help find a cure for AIDS and to prove to himself that he can make to the finish line.
“I’ve never been a runner,” he said. “They said they can train anyone to do it. I’m going to see if they are right.”
Smith is preparing for the race by doing interval training – alternating running and walking. So far, he’s up to 18 miles.
“It feels good to accomplish that,” he said. “It’s pretty exhausting.”
The determination that helped him melt off the pounds keeps him pounding the pavement – even when he gets halfway to his goal with miles stretching out ahead.
“That’s where running with the group comes in,” he said. “You encourage each other. You try to keep each other going.”
One memory helps spur him on. He left the U. S. Army during basic training after he couldn’t run two miles in the allotted time – 17.5 minutes.
Smith plans to lose another 25 pounds.
“In my case, I needed a program to hold me accountable and also give me the tools to make it work,” he said. “You need the support of your family.”
He’s gotten that two times over.
“Part of being in a relationship is you have to take care of each other and yourself,” Bing said.
Bing and Destiny plan to be on hand when Smith finishes his race.
“We’ll give him a big hug and congratulate him,” he said.