by Ellen Shaughnessy, from Free Bridge Realty‘s Spring 2016 Gimme Shelter newsletter.
Lady Christine Davis of Shiloh church had a vision that the congregation could benefit from someone, to help empower others via health and fitness. That someone is August Smith-Williams.
To find out, we met at one of August’s favorite healthy food haunts… of all places: the Quadrant! I sat down to a delicious cheesy carb-loaded fried wrap-mass. August got her usual; a 2-egg omelette with chicken sausage and spinach leaves on top with a slice of multi-grain toast, then a rainbow of blueberries, red strawberries, and orange slice on the side. “Sensory impressions of food on the plate is important – for both visual enjoyment AND the vitamins and nutrients you get”. August does not have a phD in nutrition but with all her research and trials with food, it sure sounds like she does.
“There’s nothing special about me. But – in my thirties I had a lot of diseases. Diabetes Type II, chronic fatigue, chronic gastritis, extreme hiatal hernia, H. pylori. I was overweight my whole life.”
August became very sick, and blamed the sluggishness and ill feelings on pregnancy. “When I went to the doctor with some digestive issues, they told me the environment in my stomach was toxic.
Then I learned that I had a rare form of lymphomic cancer in my colon – a very aggressive one thatwas moving fast. The diagnosis was really not good. At the oncologist I was hearing things like ‘ten rounds of chemo’ plus major medicinal courses. I was like wow – I’m staring death in the face!
Lymphomic cancer is in the blood – they had to extract bone marrow and it was extremely painful; they did not put me under for it. It was an enormous wake-up call.” At 5’2” August was averaging 217 pounds. She had hit a ‘high’ of 227 pounds, but felt quite low.
“I started looking into some weight-loss options including bariatric surgery. They said I was a decent candidate but the insurance company wanted me to first do a 2-month trial, where I would see a nutritionist, a therapist, and try exercise. It helped me to take the situation into my own hands. I felt divine intervention and knew that I must try something new — I thank God that I was open to that.
I educated myself about food and started exercising. I hung out in
the back of the class and did what I could. Precious, the Zumba
instructor encouraged me and said I had the personality and drive to
take it further. She said I should become an instructor… I thought:
At only 21, Precious believed in me and was a great influence; now I
teach fitness full-time. I am so thankful for my health. Through diet
and exercise, I managed to shake the diabetes, and cure a lot of my
issues. I no longer need to take any medicines and have never felt
more healthy in my whole life. My self-esteem improved. If this can
help someone else now – I just feel like I want to help others.
Was it easy? No. I needed to completely change the way I thought about food. It has to start with your mind; it’s a commitment to do this. At a time when I really needed it, this community really helped me. I was learning so much about healthy, holistic options and to help me, there was the Farmers’ Market, GreenMouth, Natures’ Way. Once you learn about ingredients, there are many choices.
When we were walking down to BaconFest last year, I spotted GreenMouth and said to my children, we’re stopping in here first.
They were like “noooooooo!” but we got healthy shakes, and they really enjoyed them.” Now August’s kids are really into it too. They enjoy going to the market to hunt down the best spring mix or find new things to try. “My whole life I hated veggies – my family can’t believe the change. My children like to make healthy meals now too.”
August does not completely deprive herself. “I do keep things in perspective now. Do I miss a big italian sub with chips and a big sugary soda? Sometimes, and I do still treat myself to ice cream, cake, or Billy’s Diner fried fish on a bed of grits once in a while. There is always a special occasion coming up where I might enjoy some goodies.” While she loses a battle once in a while, August has won the war.
“When I really needed it, I was fortunate to have healthy options in this community.”
This blog is from our FBR’s first GimmeShelter newsletter issue, spring 2016.