SUCCESS STORY / Dean Barnard, 70, of Buford

‘You get into the arena and find people who are doing all kinds of things in their later years.’

When he started: 2016

Age: 70

Personal life: “I am the owner of a professional five-star insurance agency, the Barnard Allstate Agency in Cumming,” Dean Barnard said. “I have been married to my beautiful wife since 2010. I have two grown children and four grandchildren.” He lives in Buford.

The lifestyle change: When executives of the large farm equipment manufacturing company where Barnard was the vice president of sales for North America all died in a corporate jet crash, he was restructured out of a job by the new leadership. After nearly 20 years with the company, his career was crumbling and his marriage was headed toward divorce. Here I was a millionaire and I lost everything. I was suicidal,” Barnard said. “I went from riches to rags, now to riches again.” His sons encouraged him to try a new church. He did, and his faith began pulling him through one of the darkest times of his life. A state champion wrestler in high school, he was recruited to wrestle by the University of Iowa. But partying derailed his plans, and by his sophomore year he had quit the team. In 2016, now the owner of a successful insurance agency, he set out to recondition himself at his local Life Time club and revisit his love of wrestling. “I lost 20 pounds,” Barnard said. “Got rid of my arthritis — I could hardly walk before.”

Change in eating habits: “I eat really healthy now, mostly fish,” Barnard said. “It’s all high-protein, low-fat, low-sugar.”

Dean’s how-tos:

1. My purpose: “I felt I had a purpose, and that was to show what you can accomplish at an older age. I have always worked out my whole life, but in 2016 when I went to Poland for the wrestling world championships, I stepped it up” and won.

2. Not the end: “I don’t want people getting to be 70 years old to think it is the end of their life. I have a friend who swims professionally. I have another who pole-vaults professionally. You get into the arena and you find people who are doing all kinds of things in their later years.”

3. Perception becomes reality: “One of my favorite comments is perception becomes reality. This is true in life, home and business, that your perception becomes your reality.”

Exercise routine: “I work out twice a day at Life Time,” Barnard said. “I work out with the classes that are controlled, and I come back later and do 20 minutes of cardio. I watch my heart rate.” He participates in seven group classes each week at Life Time

Biggest challenge: “Just a dedication to working out,” Barnard said. “I don’t want to make it sound like it’s easy for me. The biggest challenge is to go to classes early in the morning when I don’t want to go. Once I go, though, I’m happy and my endorphins kick in.”

Dean’s top tips: Barnard focuses on his “four F’s” — faith, family and friends, and fitness. “I came up with those four on my own, during the divorce when I was going through the worst of times,” Barnard said. “They fit in with what I was trying to accomplish and what brought me back.”

Faith: “Faith is the foundation of my life right now. God has given me a gift. My wife was just a miracle. The wrestling world championship — it’s just been one miracle after another,

Family and friends: “Family and friends helped support me through the worst of it.”

Fitness: “Fitness is important, eating right and showing up for fitness.”

How has his life changed: “Big time,” Barnard said. In December 2019 he competed in Poland and earned the gold in the United World Wrestling Master’s World Championship. He has also been featured on the television show “The 700 Club.” “I think people have to have a purpose in life,” he said. “My purpose is to take it to another level to show what you can do at any age. People come up to me at the gym and say you’re my idol.”


Seeking readers’ stories of lifestyle changes: We’re looking for stories about changing health habits. While The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not endorse any specific programs, we include names and links for the benefit of readers who want further information. If you would like to share your story of a lifestyle change, please contact reporter Michelle C. Brooks and include your email address, phone number, and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). You can email her directly at: ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.