Wellness has been a part of Justin Cavanaugh’s life since his youth, and over the years, he has learned what it means to him.

“It’s feeling good about yourself and being able to do what you want,” said Cavanaugh. “For me, that means being physically active. I like to move and sweat. Ideally, I’d be playing basketball or football or something competitive, but I’ve transitioned to do more of the elliptical or riding a bike.”

Cavanaugh, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska information services instructional designer, has found another way to soothe his competitive spirit – coaching youth football.

“Coaching, in some ways, fills the same bucket of wanting to be able to compete,” he said. “When I am coaching football, I lose track of time. If I’m worried or stressed about something, it goes away.”

Cavanaugh focuses on his wellness not only with coaching, but with smaller, more personal goals as well.

“When I stepped on the scale and saw a number I didn’t like, I decided I wanted to weigh what I weighed the day I graduated high school,” said Cavanaugh. “It took me about seven weeks, but I got there, and that was a personal accomplishment.”

His route to that accomplishment was not a specific diet or fitness fad, but rather doing what he knew worked for him.

“I preferred to keep it simple,” he said. “I decided I was going to burn 500 more calories than I ate every day or week. I could eat whatever I wanted, but if I ate 10,000 calories, I had to burn 10,500, which I like to exercise, but not that much.”

Cavanaugh found one action helped him immensely in reaching his goal.

“Tracking is important,” he said. “The thing I immediately realized is if I don’t have a snack before dinner, that matters. If I want to have a bowl of ice cream, just having a scoop instead matters. If you’re celebrating, have a glass of wine, not two.”

Cavanaugh recognizes that wellness extends past just eating healthy and staying active.

“Work-life balance falls into wellness,” Cavanaugh said. “If you see people that work 100 hours a week or work a lot of overtime like nights or weekends, I think that can affect wellness too. Even if you’re in good shape and your heart rate is low, that can still make you feel unwell.”

He finds the facilities at BCBSNE help him maintain work-life balance and stay active.

“This is the first place I’ve ever worked at with an onsite gym and shower facilities,” Cavanaugh said. “On multiple occasions, I’ve gone and done a workout at 2 or 3 o’clock, took a shower and come back refreshed. I know I am way more productive after that.”

Overall, taking steps forward has helped Cavanaugh in his search for wellness.

“My advice is that if someone feels stressed, unwell or unhealthy, taking action is probably the most important thing. Be intentional and take action.”

For more articles like this, visit the health and wellness tab.

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