Jillian Ridpath was exhausted.

As a chemical dependency nurse working the night shift, Ridpath drank caffeinated beverages to stay awake, went home too tired to cook and used food to cope with the stress of her job.

All three factors led to her decision to look for a new position at a different company. Improving her health was a priority, which meant finding an employer with a workplace wellness program was essential. After doing a little research, Ridpath found and was hired by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) in October of 2017.

BCBSNE’s workplace wellness program provides employees with an onsite fitness center, group exercise classes, wellness challenges and other wellness initiatives, such as visits from a registered dietitian and free flu shots.

For some employees, BCBSNE’s onsite wellness program has been life changing. Take Ridpath’s 90-pound weight loss journey for example.

Ridpath joined BCBSNE’s 12-week Healthy Weight Team Challenge shortly after starting with the company. During the challenge, teams of five supported and motivated one another to reach their individual weight loss goals.

The challenge, coupled with small lifestyle changes, such as parking further away from the building, eating less and sleeping more, contributed to Ridpath’s weight loss and led to increased feelings of well-being.

“I have a lot more energy,” Ridpath said. “I don’t feel like there is constantly a cloud above me.”

Ridpath continues to work towards her wellness goals. Her 7-year-old son is her inspiration.

“I stuck with it because I knew I had to,” she said. “My son needs me to be healthy and to be around to watch him grow through the years.”

BCBSNE employee William Johnson started his weight loss journey after being hospitalized for health problems. His doctor wanted him to lose weight, and BCBSNE’s BlueHealth Advantage (BHA) program, helped him do it.

In the BHA program, users take an online health assessment and work with health coaches over the phone to set health goals. One of Johnson’s goals was to increase his stamina.

“When I first started working here, walking from the garage to the front door, I had to take a short break to catch my breath,” Johnson said. “Now I can walk from the garage all the way to the elevators without stopping.”

Johnson has lost 42-pounds. He credits the BHA health coaches for his accomplishment.

For BCBSNE employee Robin Shanks, the convenience and timing of BCBSNE’s wellness initiatives has had a large impact.

Shanks participates in BCBSNE’s WW program, formerly known as Weight Watchers, and attends onsite group exercise classes regularly. Both programs are available over the lunch hour.

“Having the wellness programs at work makes it very convenient to go during my lunch instead of taking time away from my family or other responsibilities outside of work,” she said.

Shanks enjoys doing yoga and has lost 30 pounds between the WW program and exercising.

Laurie Kouba found similar success through BCBSNE’s wellness program. Kouba uses BCBSNE’s fitness center to work out in the morning and over the lunch hour. Participating in the onsite WW program keeps her from getting stuck in a rut while the support of others helps her stay on track.

“Family members, coworkers and members of the WW group all had a great part in my success,” Kouba said. “Knowing they care and giving me encouraging words kept me going.”

Kouba encourages other BCBSNE employees to take advantage of the company’s wellness initiatives.

“It helps you get motivated and feel good about yourself with the results,” she said. “I like the challenge.”

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