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We’ve said it before, but it’s true: Our employees are amazing and inspiring. Today I want to tell you about Nef and her incredible weight loss journey. Her secret? Hard work, tenacity, and optimism. She’s a great example of how using the right tools (in this case using our onsite wellness opportunities) and truly impressive commitment, can make a huge difference in your health.

I had the good fortune to meet Nefertiti “Nef” Ameker in one of our on-site employee group exercise classes over a year ago. She walked in to class with a smile on her face, but with determination in her heart – you could tell she was there with a goal in mind.

And over the past year, I’ve seen her commitment to living a healthy lifestyle and witnessed the payoffs – Nef has lost over 90 pounds right before my eyes! Her story is inspiring, so I asked if she’d let me interview her to share her journey, tips and tricks. Check out what she has to say; you might just find your own inspiration along the way.

Q: What inspired you to decide to “be healthy”? What’s that journey been like?

Nef: What inspired me to make a change and start becoming healthy was simply that I wanted to be the best me I could be. I just knew that was going to be impossible with all the weight I was carrying. I needed to do something different. I had tried previously and wanted to be sure I was successful this time. So in September 2013, I made a promise to myself to do whatever it took to get the results I’ve been wanting; I was worth at least that much.

I have experienced a range of emotions as I’ve literally poured blood, sweat, and tears into my success. This journey has been an amazing experience. Not just about developing healthier eating habits and learning what is needed to stay fit and healthy, but I’ve learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of in the process.

Q: You used BCBSNC employee wellness programs to help you along the way – what were your favorites and why?

Nef: In the beginning I kept simple, I made the decision to take advantage of the different programs to employees at BCBSNC. I told myself that I would join our on-site gym and start by going at least 3-4 times per week. Shortly after, I became involved in the evening fitness classes offered: Zumba, Cycling, and then a FIT (Functional Interval Training) class.  My favorites were Zumba because it was fun and never felt like a workout, and cycling because I always left the class drenched.  After about two months of coming consistently, I set an appointment with Dewayne Jones, a personal trainer at our on-site gym, for a fitness assessment and workout prescription. I felt I wasn’t at a place where I was ready to have someone standing over me while I worked out; so I thought this was perfect solution.

“Nef is a true advocate of my motto ‘Be Great Today’ because she’s secured a purpose, and gives her best effort each day.  She’s an individual who understands the greatest project she’ll ever work on is herself, and she’s determined to be successful.” — Dewayne Jones, ClubBlue personal trainer

I also joined Weight Watchers at Work and took it one day at a time in an effort to keep it simple and focus on manageable goals.  What I appreciated about this program was the accountability. I knew that every week I had to weigh in which motivated me to make smarter decisions constantly asking myself if something that was just going to taste good at the moment was worth it in regards to the number changing on the scale for the following week.

That's an amazing transformation. Image: BCBSNC

That’s an amazing transformation. Image: BCBSNC

Q: You’re nailing it in the weight loss department – 91 pounds! What are your best tips and tricks?

Nef: Thank You! I’ve learned to not just have a have a healthy lifestyle but to live it! I set small goals for myself starting with my first five pounds, then to get under 200 pounds, and so forth. I also set goals that weren’t scale-related, like trying new recipes and new exercises that would get me closer to the body I was creating. Since I enjoy cooking this gave me another reason to find, learn and/or create new recipes that were both delicious and nutritious.

In addition, I looked for other interesting ways to push myself and joined – and am still a part of – an outdoor fitness group called Fittlab.  This extra challenge provided me with a community of people who helped push me to the next level, as well as challenging me to “Be Great Today”, a motto we all can live by!

Q: Any other advice for people who are ready to get started on their own health journey?

Nef: If anything, I’d say – just stay with it! Even when you feel like giving up because it’s too hard, or the weight isn’t coming off fast enough, or you just feel like nothing has changed… keep going! Adjust your mind set and remove any negative connotations you have associated with losing weight because negativity doesn’t breed success!

Ready to follow in Nef’s footsteps?

After reading Nef’s amazing story, are you ready to start your own story? Check out our other blog posts for more ideas about how you can take charge of you health:

About Allison Bonner

Allison Bonner works in Community Relations at BCBSNC where she coordinates and oversees community partnerships and employee volunteer opportunities. She’s deeply passionate about giving back to the community and changing the world one small step at a time.