After wellness took a backseat for Steve Konnath,  he found himself starting a new wellness journey with his wife Jane after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2012.

“The type of cancer that she had was called HER2 Positive, and it’s one that is fairly aggressive and it’s hormone driven,” says Konnath, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s (BCBSNE) chief actuary and analytics officer and senior market segment leader. “My wife’s reaction to that was she was the perfect patient for a doctor, so she removed all hormones that were within her diet or being consumed.”

Jane began a plant-based diet and a regimented workout routine, while Konnath became less active and stayed on his same diet.

“I kind of just ran on cruise control for most of my life,” says Konnath.

It wouldn’t be until their son went off to college and he hit his highest weight that Konnath would think about making a change. After hearing from his doctor that he was approaching prediabetes, Konnath started on a vegan diet.

The vegan diet was a difficult switch from what Konnath was eating before. He has good days and bad days, but the biggest lesson Konnath said he has learned is to have grace.

“I believe what is helping me is this concept of personal forgiveness, meaning that you have infinite mulligans and it’s OK to fall off of a perfect plan and have a setback as long as you dust yourself off and get back on and try to do well going forward,” says Konnath.

Since adopting this mentality, Konnath has lost 25 pounds. He stresses he is nowhere near the perfect exercise routine or diet plan, but through personal forgiveness, he is happy with the progress in his wellness journey.

Having personal forgiveness has encouraged Konnath to take part in activities he once avoided, such as biking, diving and hiking. Konnath just returned from a hunting trip in the Rocky Mountains, where he hiked with a backpack through 18 inches of snow at 10,000 feet.

“I felt really good about it,” says Konnath. “There were four hunters out there, and I was the oldest of the group. I would like to say I was pretty proud of the fact that I did it.”

Alongside the hunting trip, Konnath has incorporated a bike ride into his routine when the weather is cooperative. He takes his bike to work and brings a change of clothes, then bikes home at the end of the day. The next morning, he bikes to work and changes into the clothes he had left the day before.

“I get about 15 miles that way and 15 miles back, taking the Papio trail,” says Konnath.

Despite the progress he has made so far, Konnath is determined to accomplish more. His next goal is to get to a point where he can work out every day and generally cut out processed foods.

Konnath has words of encouragement for others who have struggled with their wellness journey:

“Just know that the game is stacked against you, and that even when you try to work against it, to the best of your ability, you’re going to fall short,” says Konnath. “You’re going to cheat, you’re going to eat chips occasionally, and that’s OK. Just get back on the horse and try to keep moving in a healthy direction.”

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