Wellness Rebel: Barry Barnes

Barry Barnes

Barry Barnes

OXFORD, Miss. – Pizza was like a highly addictive drug to Barry Barnes.

But he only indulges in it and other less-than-healthy foods on weekends now. He prepares his meals well ahead of time and eats more fruits and vegetables. He’s added exercise to the mix, which has helped him lose about 30 pounds.

“Nutrition is the hardest part since most foods are like drugs,” Barnes said. “I don’t necessarily like veggies, but I eat them with my meals every day since food, like drugs, can also be medicine. To make it easier on myself, I consume most fruits and veggies in smoothies, but broccoli and lentils I eat cooked.”

Barnes, a Web developer at National Sea Grant Law Center, which is based at the University of Mississippi, also does yoga, resistance training, cardio, Wing Chun martial arts and meditation. He said the act of beginning was the toughest.

“I had to slowly make a habit of doing them,” Barnes said. “That way, it won’t seem mentally stressful in order to get started since each day is a new start. Starting small and building up helps, though whatever you do, it should be something that you can maintain in your life.”

Andrea Jekabsons, UM assistant director of employment and training, met Barnes at the Ole Miss chapter of Toastmasters, a group in which members enhance public-speaking skills and leadership skills in a social, supportive environment. Barnes has impressed her with his interest in personal growth and wellness.

“His enthusiasm about fitness and nutrition, including his love of pizza, comes through in his speeches,” Jekabsons said. “Barry has taught us and encouraged us along the way. And yes, real men do take care of themselves and even do yoga! Just meet Barry Barnes.” 

The progress also must be measured, Barnes said. He uses scales and Mynetdiary.com to track his progress and also tries to increase his fitness levels on the workouts he does.

“Progress can be hard to see,” Barnes said. “It’s hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame. I love making progress, but I first look to see if I’ve been following the process that I’ve laid before myself.

“How many days have I exercised, practiced, read and ate well? I keep notes of the exercises that I do and when they were done so that I can see if I’ve been slacking off.”

Some of his health gains are a testament to the power of positive messages to keep his mind right. He reads self-help books and listens to speeches by motivational speakers Jim Rohn and Les Brown and recorded lectures from Alan Watts, a philosopher, writer and speaker.

But Barnes said he also spends a lot of time motivating himself to stay on track. Once he starts, he always finds it easier to make himself finish his workout.

“I may not feel like doing my scheduled exercise, but I know that I’ll feel worse if I don’t,” he said. “I’ll feel like I let myself down by letting an opportunity go by, especially since I feel that each day is a new chance to get closer to where I want to be.

“If I don’t feel like exercising on those days, I’ll do just a little exercise. That’s really a trick, though. Once my blood is moving, I tend to feel like doing a bit more, but I’m not obligated to do the entire workout.”

Barnes is an extraordinary person who is always willing to work with others and help them find their motivation to get healthy, said Anne Klingen, director of the Department of Online Design and eLearning.

“He shares his experience and zeal for a healthy lifestyle with other staff members at UM,” Klingen said. “He recently completed his yoga instructor certification and can’t wait to share that, too. Barry’s enthusiasm is contagious and his dedication is inspiring to the sofa spuds amongst us.”