Jim Hempel’s wellness journey began over a decade ago when he first started at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) and found it was easy to prioritize his wellness when the company he worked for did, too.

“It was the first time my employer was as deliberate about providing programing for its employees’ wellness,” said Hempel, assistant general counsel at BCBSNE. “I began taking a strength class with a couple colleagues over the lunch hour. Having the flexibility to work out at the office with the added motivations that friends at work provided made continued efforts easier to maintain.”

He has used his leadership position to help others become motivated to start their wellness journey.

“When leaders embrace the wellness program, it makes all employees more willing to want to join in the activities,” said Hempel. “Throughout my employment with BCBSNE, I have tried to get peers and team members involved in various wellness activities and have invited coworkers to lunchtime workouts or classes.”

Outside of the office, he has a unique way of keeping active – refereeing basketball.

“During a typical high school game, I would run three to four miles, and during a college game I would run five to seven miles,” said Hempel. “When I am working three to five games a week, it is really easy to use officiating as a means to stay active.”

Not only does it keep him well physically, but it also gives him a chance to continue a passion that started in college.

“I officiated college basketball for eight years and continue to officiate high school basketball across the state. This year was my 26th year officiating high school basketball, and this past season I was fortunate enough to be selected to officiate the Class C-1 Girls State Championship Game.”

Aside from staying active through wellness programs at work and officiating, Hempel is also a high school baseball coach at Omaha Gross Catholic High School, which allows him to get outside during the warmer months.

As another way to get outside, he takes time every week to jog or take walks alone or with his family.

“That time allows me to catch up with the family or just spend time with my own thoughts while staying active,” he said.

He hopes that sharing his story and the ways he focuses on his wellness will help others to start their wellness journey.

“It is important and more than okay to prioritize yourself, and we get so caught up in the day-to-day that setting aside some time each day for your own health will pay dividends for years,” said Hempel.

To read more stories like this one, visit Health and Wellness.

*Wise & Well is a monthly wellness series highlighting BCBSNE employees and their dedication to health and wellness.