By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
He is half the man he used to be — and then some.
And for Alan Barnes, that’s a good place to be these days.
Barnes, a main-stay on the Corsicana entertainment scene for many, many years — radio, community theater and the local music scene — has undergone a major lifestyle change by losing over 230 pounds.
Barnes, 55, underwent gastric bypass surgery in March 2011. The results of that operation, and the necessary lifestyle changes that go with it, have brought Barnes to a present-day weight of 174 pounds.
Friends who haven’t seen him in some time will likely do a “double-take” to recognize the outgoing Barnes. The “gap-tooth” smile is always the dead giveaway, he said, sharing a meeting with a former co-worker who said he “looked familiar” before the smile gave it away.
Barnes is a 1975 graduate of Blooming Grove High School. He attended Corsicana schools for a while as well during his youth. The son of former Navarro College and Blooming Grove school band director Grady Barnes and Meroba Barnes, active in the Navarro County Republican Party and a founding member of the NCARC, Barnes spent many a fall beating a drum in the marching band, while getting involved in a number of musical groups through the years, playing everything from big band to country to pop.
He was also a regular performer at the Warehouse Living Arts Center for many years, where next week he returns to that stage for the first time in many years in the role of “Scrooge” in the Children’s Company production of “A Christmas Carol.”
Barnes also spent some time in Nashville, and on the road with a traveling theater company performing a musical tribute to Patsy Cline. Theater, music, and radio gigs — including many years on KAND Radio — kept the popular Barnes in the public’s eye.
Always a “big man,” Barnes began to get serious about his weight and his health after marrying Corsicana’s Elaine Ragsdale and the couple having their son, Andrew.
“I had gotten comfortable being big,” he said.
He had been working with a company that supplies traffic reports to radio and television stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth market when he found himself unemployed after some cutbacks — and found himself spending too much time sitting around and eating. It’s then that his weight hit a high of 409 pounds.
He went back to work with the traffic firm, and as soon as he became eligible for insurance benefits again, he made the decision to go through with the gastric bypass procedure.
“I had been thinking about it for four or five years,” Barnes said. He’d tried a number of times and ways to loose weight, but they only brought temporary weight loss.
“I had to get right in the head,” he said.
When his doctor told him he had to lose weight or risk not living to see his son graduate from high school, that was the final nudge Barnes needed to go forward.
“Unless you do something, that’s going to happen,” Barnes said his doctor told him. “You’re going to drop dead.”
He had considered several surgical options, but honed in on the bypass as his best choice.
“I had heard of people having trouble with the ‘lap band’ procedure,” he said. “I was so obese, I felt the gastric bypass was the best choice.”
Before the surgery could take place, Barnes had to lose some weight on his own — falling from 409 pounds in the fall of 2010 to 360 pounds before getting the green light from his insurance company and his doctor at Baylor to undergo the operation. Six months later, in March 2011, he had the procedure.
In the 20 months that have passed since his operation, his weight has dropped to his present day level of 174 pounds. And he keeps a close eye on it, he said.
“My wife asks me why I weigh myself two or three times a day, and a tell her if I see myself at 180, or even 176, I know I’m doing something wrong,” he said.
Barnes said he endorses the procedure for those serious about weight loss and who have failed in other attempts.
“I tried everything else,” he said. “And it’s not cheating,” Barnes said of the operation. “It’s another tool to get healthy.”
He stressed the importance of education and followup after weight loss surgery to maintaining his “new” lifestyle. He said that is something that those considering the surgery should look for in the doctor or clinic they choose — followup after the operation.
“It’s moderation,” he explained. “But the days of the big double-burger are over.”
And Barnes’ success has help motivate others he said, speaking at a post-surgery support group he attends.
And he’s doing something regularly he really had not done before — exercise.
“I walk,” he said. “Now that I can walk. I was in such bad shape I couldn’t walk to the corner.”
Barnes said he’s heard people say “If Alan Barnes can do it, then I can do it.”
And, he’s fine with that.
“But remember this — you’ve got to get it right in your head,” he repeated. “Because once you get it right in your head, it’ll move to your heart. And once you get it right in your head and your heart, it just falls off.”
Barnes’ son Andrew is now a senior in high school.
And you can bet, that trademark Alan Barnes “gap-tooth” smile will be bigger and brighter than ever come graduation.
Bob Belcher may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: email@example.com