In a little over a year home-builder Josh Barkley has dropped 130 pounds through diet and exercise and has inspired thousands with his story.
“It's been a whole lifestyle change,” Barkley, 32, said.
Weighing in at nearly 400 pounds in 2010, Barkley knew it was time for a change. He and his wife, Heather, 32, wanted to have children, but after Barkley's doctor told him he should think about bariatric surgery he knew the weight had to come off. The weight had reduced his testosterone and thyroid levels to almost zero.
“I thought, 'I put this weight on, I can loose it',” Barkley said.
He went from no workouts to doing CrossFit training six day a week. He was able to find a gym in Fort Wayne where the instructor, Justin Springer, was willing to tailor Barkley's workout plan to his ability and a diet that would work. Known by some as the “caveman diet” or the “Paleo,” it is named after early man, and allows no sugar, flour or processed foods. Organic fruits are allowed every other day. Organic vegetables and grass-fed lean meats are eaten every day along with raw nuts. Barkley is hoping if he can give his body the right care the rest will follow. Already his hormone levels are normal.
“Hopefully God will bless us with children,” Barkley said.
His wife initially found the change extreme. She wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Heather Barkley wasn't sure if she wanted to commit to the workout and diet. But after a miscarriage in October, she felt completely wrecked – emotionally, spiritually and physically. She decided to join him in his new lifestyle, hoping it would help pull herself back together. Now nine months later she has lost 40 pounds and six dress sizes, while her husband has gone from a waist size of 50 to 38 and a shirt size from 4X to XL.
“It's become more than a physical way to improve out lives,” Heather Barkley said. “We have developed a real community with some of the people at the gym. Some of these people have become our closest friends. We just do life together. It was something I didn't expect out of this experience.”
Reebok interviewed the couple last winter at a regional CrossFit competition. The interview has aired on ESPN 3 and the Barkleys say they have heard from a lot of people that their story has really helped to transform their lifestyles.
“It was mind boggling to think of all these people saw this; you would think who cares what some random couple in Indiana has been doing, but if God can use that to inspire people that's great,” Heather Barkley said.
Josh Barkley runs a homebuilding business out of Ossian, and Heather is working on her doctorate, teaching part time at Huntington University and working a full-time job in marketing. They are both graduates of Huntington University. Every morning now Josh Barkley gets up shortly after 4 a.m., does his spiritual devotions and then prepares for his 6 a.m. workout at Guerrilla CrossFit, 158 Collins Drive in Fort Wayne. Three days a week his wife goes with him.
Springer, who owns and operates the gym said when he has a new client come in he always tries to get to the heart of the matter of why someone has let themselves go, and through understanding that can better help them address their fitness goals.
“There is always an emotional reason why they have reached this condition and if they start slacking off I can tap into that to help them get back on track,” Springer said.
The stress of getting married, work and being in school plus a no care attitude said Barkley added up to his weight gain over the first seven years of his marriage.
Barkley would love to compete at the Final CrossFit games, but he is starting small, working toward going to the regional someday. Competitors peform six different intensive workouts over two days. All the named exercises are for military or police officers who have died in the line of duty. CrossFit was originally designed for training police and military members.
“A few months ago I would beg him to take a walk around the block, and now he can run a mile and is beating me; it has been the answer to my prayers,” Heather Barkley said.