Bernadette Reed Page ContentFebruary 2017When Bernadette Reed changed her diet and started exercising, she learned fitness can have unexpected bonuses. When her husband bet her a chicken-fried steak she couldn’t go without meat for 11 days, Bernadette not only won the bet, she made it into a lifestyle. She discovered vegetables and yogurt and soon learned she actually likes to work out. So far, she’s lost 40 pounds and three dress sizes. She says she’s a stronger person now – mentally and physically.Your journey to wellness started with a dare?One day last year I decided to try a tofu burrito. It wasn’t bad, so I decided to see if I could last through the day without meat. At dinner that night, my husband jokingly bet me a huge chicken-fried steak that I couldn’t make it without meat for 11 days. I did it and to my surprise it was easy and it turned into a lifestyle change.Where did your diet go from there?It really just evolved. I’ve lost my taste for meat and if I eat it I want it to be really good. I fell in love with vegetables for the first time in my life and started to like yogurt (frozen Black Cherry Chobani is amazing!). I try to eat a diet that is low in sugar and high in fiber. Eating right at work can be tough. How do you handle that?I stopped drinking sugary drinks and I drink a gallon of water every day. I eat small meals throughout the day, like mozzarella sticks, nuts, leafy greens and yogurt. My coworkers joke with me and call it rabbit food, but that’s just added incentive! It also helps that my mother, Mercy (in Finance), comes downstairs to bring me fruit and healthy snacks.Any healthy eating tricks you’d like to share?I roast huge trays of vegetables and throw them in the fridge and then munch on them all week. After working out, I eat roasted veggies and fruit instead of junk food.Is exercise part of your new way of life?Three weeks after I stopped eating meat, I was in the gym. I didn’t really have a plan. To my surprise, I started working out and discovered I liked it. I never thought I would love sweating – I wasn’t even sure I could. But now I can’t stop and I love it!What kind of exercise do you do?At the gym, I like to lift weights and work on the machines, like the cross ramp, which is a Stairmaster/elliptical hybrid. And I’ve started spin classes. I’ve never been able to jog before, but I can now.Have your efforts paid off?I’ve gone from a size 18 or 20 to a size 14. I’ve lost about 40 pounds and weigh less than I have since high school. My A1C blood sugar even dropped from 6.1 to 5! I feel so much better now and have so much more energy. What keeps you pushing toward your goals?My sister in San Antonio and brother, who is a nutritionist and trainer in the Philippines, are my biggest cheerleaders. I send them my sweaty workout selfies all the time! I want to make them proud. Of course, I do it for myself, too. How do you keep your willpower? I have before and after photos of myself at home and work, and they really help motivate me. What have you learned about yourself during your fitness journey?No part of me ever thought I would lose weight. I’ve been “plump” since I was 8. I never thought I would be in shape. I’ve learned so much about my capabilities, and I’m a much stronger person.What’s your advice for others?Just try. You never know what you’re capable of doing. In the gym, it’s all about you; zone in on your workout and don’t worry what others may think. Just try … and surprise yourself!