MEGAN WILLIAMS

Trainer. Nutritionist. Brain Health Consultant. Coach. Traveling Photographer. // No Rest For Megan Williams

In 2005, at the age of 17, Megan suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing college basketball.  Unfortunately, due to doctor malpractice, she had no idea of the TBI until she was 25 years old.  The effects of the brain injury, coupled with several other concussions, severely impaired her cognitive and emotional health, as well as her memory.  Since then, Megan has been on a relentless and restless journey of self-healing and organic recovery.  

Regardless of life's challenges, Megan pushes upward and onward.  She is a coach, personal trainer and nutritionist during the week, as well as a photographer by the weekend.  But let's not stop there...the weekends are still filled with coaching and training; however, Megan either flies out early, or stays back, over the course of a weekend competition to capture the cultural and social lifestyles of any given location.

Megan Williams

Megan Williams

 

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Okemos, Michigan. I currently am a Personal Trainer, Diet Specialist, TBI nutritional expert, and professional photographer.
 

Tell us about your vision, or mission.  What’s ahead for you and/or your career?

Even when I was younger, people would ask me what I wanted to do when I was older, and I would always say I didn’t know but I had to love it. I am a person who is entirely too restless to have just one profession, or career that defines me. So as it stands one of the best things I do is help people with traumatic brain injuries, severe health issues, and other afflictions live their best life imaginable. But what really sets my soul on fire is photography. It eases my restlessness in a way nothing else really does. It’s the creative outlet a busy body like me needs.

As far as my personal training and nutritional work goes, my vision and mission has always been to help people create better versions of themselves through nutrition, working out, and psychologically syncing up with a more positive outlook and view of the world. That being said, my vision was blurry at times with how I was going to achieve that.

Nutrition, working out and psychologically finding a different approach literally saved my life. I had points of deep seeded depression, incredibly negative thoughts, and destructive self-talk. This started to change when my diet changed, I took my workouts more serious, and I changed the way I viewed my life. I started to say, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” versus “Why is this happening to me” and that change everything. Here are the bullet points of my life so far.

Since the age of 12, I have been afflicted with these rare subsets of migraines called hemiplegic migraines with aura. They start with blotches in my vision, one half of my body goes completely numb, my speech slurs, I start to not make any sense and stop being able to verbalize, and then comes the blinding migraines. It wasn’t until I was 25, I started to realize certain foods, and certain types of lights triggered these migraines. I have managed them without the help of prescription drugs.

    1. When I was 17 years old, I was at college basketball practice when a freak accident ended in me suffering a traumatic brain injury, which, I wouldn’t actually be diagnosed with for another 7 years.
    2. When I was 19 years old, I found out I was born with only one kidney. Again, this discovery came as a total accident, I was getting an ultrasound to figure out if I had issues with my gallbladder, and wham came the solo kidney punchline.
    3. When I was 25, I finally got diagnosed with a TBI after severe memory issues. With a strict diet, lots of sacrifice, and a regimented workout schedule by the time I was 31, my TBI could no longer be seen on an MRI.
    4. When I was 32, I found out I was born with two uteruses. This also came as a shock as you can imagine, considering the other health issues or anomalies I seemed to have.
That all being said, some people will look at that list and feel bad, or think it sucks. At times, of course, I thought it sucked and asked the obvious, “Why me?!” question. But, I decided that if I can beat these rare migraines, take care of my one kidney, survive, thrive, and cute my TBI, and continue to work through the issues I have because of being born with two uteruses, then I can most certainly help someone else do it too.
My mission became, how can I help someone get through these same issues without the use of prescription medication. In doing so, I realized the information I had to share were things some people had never heard of, thought about, or attempted before. So up until recently I didn’t start telling my story because it felt like a weakness. It felt like a punchline, an excerpt in my story. When in actuality it was the exclamation point. It was the pivot point of what I should be embracing and sharing. In the hopes that it helps another person along their journey.
 
We love people who break the boundaries and relentlessly push toward their goals.  That said, what drives you?  Was there an event, or personal moment that triggered it all?
On the health front, when I first got diagnosed with my TBI, I took a deep dive in all of the books and literature on TBI’s that were available. I am a person who feeds off of knowledge, so I read book after book, listened to podcasts, read medical journals, of course took many hours down the Google rabbit hole. While I was doing this there was a website that came up by this world renowned TBI doctor who was known for treating TBI patients all over the world. On her website, one of the things it said was, and I will never forget this because I had such a visceral reaction to it was, “People with traumatic brain injuries have to accept that this is their new reality and cope with what’s to come.” Now, I don’t like being told what to do, and I especially don’t like being told I can’t or shouldn’t do something. So, when I read that on this renowned doctor’s website, I said a few four-letter words and decided then and there I was going to beat this TBI on my terms. I didn’t need a fancy doctor, I didn’t need medicine, and I sure as hell didn’t need anyone telling me how to fix my own brain. I knew what to do, I had the personal training and nutritionist background to do it, so the next day I went out and bought all my groceries, got a great first workout in, formulated a plan and started out on healing my brain. 5 years of hard work, dedication, discipline, sacrifice and pure doggedness later, my TBI no longer showed up on an MRI.
On the photography side, I am a person who will take that one great shot in a set and I can feel my energy build. I am always striving to figure my photography aesthetic out a little more every time I press the shutter. Photography lights that part of my brain up and I can’t turn it off, so you could say I am naturally driven to do more and more events, more shows, more concerts, more festivals, because it really lights me on fire.  For me, when I was 17 I was going through a really hard time when I first suffered my TBI. I was starting to not do well in my classes, I started to remove myself from my friend group and grew deeply depressed, at the time I had no idea why. I bought a $80 pentax K1000 film camera and lens off of craigslist and went around town taking pictures that meant something to me. When I got them developed, I fell in love with the process and for those 24 moments while I was shooting I didn’t feel depressed or sad, I didn’t think about the doom and gloom of the day, I didn’t think about anything but that shot, and I was alive for a little while. After that I knew it was something, I had to do to keep that creativity in me alive, so I kept shooting and getting better, and figuring my style out, and learning. It helped pull me out of the drudge of my depression.
Have you been rejected along the way?  How did you feel?  How did you overcome it?
I have been rejected every step of the way. When I first had my set of concussions, ending with the last one where I actually suffered the TBI, the neurologist that I went to at the time didn’t seem to think it was a big deal I was starting to fail my classes, remove myself from social situations, had a difficult time reading and retaining information, or any other big signs I told him about. He told me I was probably overworked and stressed out. At 25 years old I was having severe memory issues and had gone through a two-year stint of being so tied down by depression, I didn’t know if I was going to make it out alive. I went back to the same neurologist and he gave me the same bullshit about being overstressed and overworked. I demanded I get an MRI, which he begrudgingly ordered and told me everything was fine. Something in my gut told me I needed a second opinion, so when I went to another neurologist, he explained my MRI when I was 17 and 25 years old both showed brain damage. So, in short, my original neurologist didn’t divulge this information to me on purpose. He didn’t like to be wrong, which is why we figured he didn’t tell me. This new neurologist, although he had a lot better bedside manner, he told me unless I was willing to take prescription medication, he didn’t know how to help me. Being as I was born with one kidney, I don’t take prescription medication because of its notorious negative effects on the kidneys. So, I was one again rejected and sent on my way with little to no help.
 
When I started to get a firm grasp on what people with brain injuries, Alzheimer’s dementia, epilepsy, and any other brain disorders should be eating and how they should be working out I started to share that locally with some people. I was immediately rejected because it didn’t include any SSRI’s or prescription medications so it couldn’t possibly work the way I said it could. I was often asked if I went to medical school, or how I was qualified to make these determinations, and one time I even was asked what gave me the right to take such liberties with people’s lives. Rejection was just a tip of the hat to what I was doing. People do not like change, and they really don’t like new ideas being brought about by someone younger than them. Rejection wasn’t the hard part, I knew I was bringing something unique but incredibly helpful to the table, the hardest part was getting people to put their bias, their opinions, and their original ideals aside to really listen to me, and change the way they ate and worked out. For the people that listened I had great success, and for the people who wanted to stay in their own comfort bubbles, let’s just say their progress has been slow, or non-existent.
If you could offer a piece of wisdom/advice to someone who is ready to break their own boundaries, what would you tell them?
  1. Do not for one second give up on what you’re trying to accomplish no matter how many no’s you get, how many naysayers you come across, or how many bad encounters you have. Keep pushing.
  2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It will never be easy to break your own boundaries, but I promise you it’s worth it.
  3. Have a 12 hour wash away rule: If you get rejected and it’s a little more hurtful than usual, if a big deal falls through, if a client you really wanted to do well isn’t doing what they should be or listening to what you’re asking them to do, you get 12 hours to be angry about it, then get up, wash away the negative thoughts, open yourself up to the good things the universe has to offer, and get out there and kick more ass.

What mantra do you would want the world to remember you by?

Restless has always been a word that completely described me, but lately I’m finding I have this dogged restlessness for growth. So, if I could be remembered by any mantra it’d be, she had this dogged restlessness for life, growth, and expansion.

What does it mean to you to be fueled by choice?

My whole life I have had limitations laid out in front of me. Doctors and people have told me what I won’t be able to do in my life. Other photographers would tell me I didn’t have schooling, experience, or expertise to be a professional photographer. I have never been ruled by anyone else. I am someone who is not good with rules, and don’t care what other people think about me. It’s a reflection of their limitations, not mine. I live my life by what sets me on fire, I live my life by doing the things that make me genuinely and infinitely overjoyed. If it doesn’t make me feel like I am vibrating at a higher energy, I don’t want anything to do with it.
 
Being fueled by choice is the way I live my life. By my rules, my terms, my way.

Connect with Megan Williams:

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