Unrecognizable: Ada man ready to run first 25K after transformation

River Bank Run

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — “Hi, my name is Hannes, I used to be fat. I’m still fat in my head”, Hannes Smit joked about the serious transformation he has made in the last year and a half. He considers himself “a recovering fat addict”, because he feels if he ever slips back into his old lifestyle, he will become the man he used to be.

That man couldn’t even walk a mile, let alone run more than 15 miles, which is what Smit is getting ready to do the 25K at the Amway River Bank Run. .

The moment Smit decided to change his lifestyle was around Christmas in 2017 when his niece visited and they took a few family pictures.

“One particular picture of me was rather nasty. It was the thing that pushed it over the edge, but even before that I have always wanted to be healthy. It’s not always been easy, but that was enough of a final spur to say get on with it, get healthy,” said Smit.

On New Year’s Day 2018, he made a resolution to change his lifestyle. That decision has changed his life.

His cholesterol, blood pressure and energy levels, which were all “in the red” before, are now perfect. He has also lost 50 pounds.

“My (wife) probably wouldn’t appreciate me saying the fact that she feels like she has a new husband, but she has expressed that,” Smit said.

He achieved it through changes to his diet and running, which is something his wife was always better at than him.

“She always used to kick my butt. She does not do that anymore,” he said.

Running puts Smit in what he calls the “zen zone,” where he feels calm and peaceful.

He knows it can be overwhelming for people who have also wanted to make a change to think about running a long distance. He thinks the key is to look at only one step at a time.

“It’s so possible to change. It starts with wanting to, and if you want to you can. Start by walking, walk on a flat surface. Progress and walk uphill, progress and run on a flat surface then run uphill. It’s all a progression and if you really want to do it, you can. You don’t have to run a marathon on day one, you walk a mile,” he explained. 

Smit is an IT manager at Amway, which is sponsoring the race this year for the first time. He says it’s icing on the cake for him that the first year he will run in a race like this, his company is the sponsor.

“Amway has always been about health, mind, body, and spirit. The sponsorship for me is awesome because it just puts it out there in public view that they do live what they sell,” he said.

Smit considers himself a more patient and kinder person because of the changes he has made. He doesn’t ever want that to stop. He keeps a picture of the “old Hannes” in his favorites folder on his phone as encouragement to keep going, to keep running.

“(I see) a lost soul. Poor guy, I don’t ever want to be that again. Not ever,” he said. “It’s been quite a year of transformation for me in 2018, in all respects. Getting healthy is just one aspect. Now that it’s done, it’s been a good year looking back.”  

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