Tracie Pettijohn’s wellness journey began a year ago with a wakeup call from her doctor.

Pettijohn, a marketing operations consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), is a five-year breast cancer survivor who has struggled with her weight in the past.

“The turning point for me was when I had a physical in May of 2019,” she said. “My doctor called me that night. He was very direct and said I was now a Type 2 diabetic, that I needed to go on medication immediately and that I had a choice to either do something about it now or have long-term consequences if I didn’t.”

She listened to her doctor’s warnings and the next day began logging her food and walking.

“Six months after my Type 2 diagnosis, my doctor took me off the diabetes medication since my A1C test came down significantly,” said Pettijohn. “I’m now 110 pounds down from where I started 14 months ago.”

She keeps it simple when it comes to exercising and just aims to get her heart rate up.

“When the weather’s decent, my go-to workout is walking,” said Pettijohn. “It clears my head, and I just feel better. When I started walking last year, I could only do about three to four blocks initially. I now regularly walk between two and a half to three miles and try to get my heart rate up. No matter what, I just try to do some kind of activity for at least 35 to 50 minutes per day, even if it’s just mowing the lawn or shoveling snow.”

Pettijohn lost her sister to breast cancer in 2017.

“She’s on my mind, especially during the walks,” Pettijohn said. “I know she’d approve. Thinking of her, a spark finally went off, and I realized I did not want to develop complications that I maybe could’ve avoided. This time, gaining the weight back is no longer an option.”

She encourages everyone to find their motivator and to know the smallest actions have major impacts.

“I want people to know that they can accomplish personal health goals that they never knew they could, no matter their age,” said Pettijohn. “Even the little changes you make early on, for me it was walking those three to four blocks in the beginning and cutting back on certain foods, have an almost immediate impact.”

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