If someone had said “You should do a triathlon,” last September, Bernie Neighbor would have laughed at them. At the time, she was significantly overweight and exercise was not a part of her life.

That was until one morning when she woke up and decided things would be different moving forward.

Neighbor joined a program called “Strive” in Williamsburg, VA, where she was fortunate to work with a nutritionist, therapist, and personal trainer to help her turn her life around. Triathlon was not her goal at the time, she just wanted to lose weight and get healthy.

Todd Pickens, her personal trainer and a runner, inspired her to start training for a 5k. Three months later, she completed her first one and her weight loss journey continued with momentum from there.

At her second 5k in January 2013, a race she did in remembrance of her older brother who passed away from cancer in 2010, she reconnected with one of his old friends who convinced her to train for triathlon. Neighbor’s brother was a dedicated triathlete, training and competing in Ironman events.

Now, Neighbor has lost eighty pounds and considers her transformation from “couch to tri,” extremely influential in her new outlook on life.

“I have fallen in love with the sport,” Neighbors said. “This allows me to connect with my brother on a spiritual level. I keep looking forward towards the goal of Ironman.”

Neighbor will compete in her first triathlon at the REV3 event in Williamsburg, VA on June 22, 2013.