How Exercise Renewed a Former Ironman’s Health and Zest for Living


“Fall down seven times; get up eight,” goes a Japanese proverb.

Arnold Barrett is living proof of its wisdom.

In his late 40s, the lifelong athlete competed in three Ironman World Championship triathlons, placing in the Top 5 of his age division in Hawaii. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Friends and competitors called him “The Brick” because he was seemed impervious to pain.

“I was on top of the world,” he says.

But then a routine cardio test so alarmed doctors that they told Arnold he could no longer participate. In an Ironman race, competitors swim 2.4 miles, ride a bicycle 112 miles, and then run a marathon.

“I was in tears at the doctor’s office,” Arnold recalls. “I was told I was like a ticking timebomb.”

Now 63, the retired CPA is back in excellent condition thanks to renewed dedication to exercise and eating right. And he’s even considering a return to the triathlon world.

That Was Just the First Ordeal

After the initial diagnosis and being slowed by the medication, Arnold had a horrible reaction to toxic mold that developed in his home’s insulation. Brain fog and low energy bogged him down. “I couldn’t think. I couldn’t concentrate.”

He later was also diagnosed with Lyme disease and told that he had previously had West Nile virus, as well.

After a decade of searching for answers and effective treatment, Arnold eventually met a trainer who got him back on the road to healthy living. He’s running again, uses resistance bands, and concentrates on his core several times a week, working with the trainer on Zoom and by himself on other days.

“He changed my mind from being frustrated, knowing I couldn’t work out like I used to,” Arnold says. “Before that, I could barely walk up the stairs.”

Trainer Joe Robert Weaver also changed Arnold’s eating habits to drop some of the weight he’d gained.

“Arnold is so strong and, as a high-performing athlete, he was used to just pushing through everything,” Joe says. “I got him to slow down. He was straining a lot during his exercises, and once you start straining too much, then your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone that makes it harder to lose weight.”

Arnold stuck with it, just like he kept seeking alternative solutions to his myriad health problems over the years.

“He’s got the most perseverance,” says Joe.

‘You Gotta Expect Some Curveballs’

Today, Arnold is mostly retired and enjoys traveling around the country with his beloved dog, Bella, in an RV. He keeps his training equipment with him, and connects with Joe regularly for their virtual sessions.

His advice for others struggling like he did? Fit exercise into your lifestyle. Mix it up so you don’t get bored. And most importantly: “Never give up,” he says.

“You might not be what you used to be, but who wants to be what they used to be? Change is good.

“You don’t know what life’s going to throw at you, but you gotta expect some curveballs. You gotta deal with it, because everybody deals with something.

“I’m feeling so good and so fit – who knows what the future holds? I just go out and smile, because I’m out here living.”

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