Hometown: Carmel, IN
Weight Before: 285 lbs
Weight After: 190 lbs
Offensive linemen need to be big. Really big. And when they’re in high school with dreams of playing at a major college program, every pound counts. By the time Joey Barnes, of Carmel, IN, was a senior, that endless pursuit left the six-foot teen weighing a massive 285 pounds. But his size didn’t set off any alarms, especially in the gym, where he was benching 400 pounds and touting a 500-pound squat. “I was strong,” he says. “But then I blew out my knee.”
The injury—a torn meniscus and sprained MCL in his left leg— occurred early enough during his final season with the Carmel Greyhounds that he was able to rehab and return for the playoffs. The team reached the state finals, but during the week of the game, Joey blew out his knee again. Still, he played. “I got it taped up, and I already had a brace,” he says.
Not long after the game, Barnes saw a doctor. While he expected bad news about the injury (his meniscus was shredded), he didn’t expect to hear something equally bad: He was too fat.
With no college football offers and no desire to walk on, Barnes had to face a stark reality. “It was time to make a change,” he says. Barnes, now 20 and a sophomore at Indiana University, finally realized his football career was over and his eating habits were out of control. “My health and my life were at risk,” he says.
The biggest change he had to make was learning to cut back at mealtime. That meant no more linemen dinners of 20 pizzas and 30 wings with the team. And no more Hardee’s for breakfast and burgers for lunch. “Four days a week of junk food were guaranteed when we were playing ball,” he remembers. “They were built into our schedule.”
To kick-start his weight loss, Barnes began cutting back fast food to one day a week. Soon he even got used to throwing chicken on the grill, steaks in the broiler, and munching on fruit between meals. “It’s not really a big-time commitment to cook. It takes the same amount of time to wait for a pizza as it does to make a salad.”
In the gym, Barnes lifts up to five days a week, sometimes twice a day, working in some time on the treadmill or in the pool. He’s even started making MMA training a part of his routine. “In the beginning, running a mile was like climbing a mountain,” he says, “but things got easier.”
Barnes had successful knee surgery and is down to 190 pounds. “I keep getting more confident,” he says. “I have a lot more energy. I’m just a lot happier.” He’d still rather be playing football, but clearly, feeling fit is pretty cool, too.
JOEY’S TIP: PUSH HARDER
“Before, if I had to walk up two flights of stairs, I’d already be breaking a sweat. I was happy when I ran my first mile, but I wanted to do better.”