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Perrls of Wellness, Empowering Women through Health

Mary L. Williams started Perrls of Wellness after her mother’s illness. Photo courtesy Perrls of Wellness

Mary L. Williams started Perrls of Wellness after her mother’s illness. Photo courtesy Perrls of Wellness

When Mary L. Williams was in her early 20s, her mother had a mild heart attack. After she recovered, doctors sent her home with pages of written instructions given to her at discharge. For a while, Williams witnessed her mother follow the recommendations and maintain her health. But as time passed, she slipped back into her old, comfortable, more unhealthy habits. Williams believes things could have gone differently.

"I believe if she had had one-on-one help and encouragement that she would have really stuck with the recommended lifestyle changes," she says.

Williams' mother and aunts developed chronic health conditions and eventually succumbed to them. The Flora native saw their deaths as reflective of the plight of many women in Mississippi, specifically African American women. Thus, she created Perrls of Wellness, LLC, in 2013 to empower women to take back their lives, by first taking back their health.

"We all know what to eat or how to eat because there is tons of information on the internet, but sometimes we need somebody to walk us through and to walk with us during this journey," she says. "That's what I offer as a coach, to walk with you through this journey."

In her role as a health and wellness coach, the Army veteran offers a holistic approach to health management. She provides eating strategies and counsels women on how to be more active and to manage stress. In addition, she regularly updates Perrls of Wellness' Facebook page with evidence-based, relevant and accurate information that her followers can use to make informed health choices.

She also hosts a self-titled podcast on the second Wednesday of every month to ensure that women stay informed on the latest health and wellness issues.

Williams, a registered nurse, works at the VA Hospital as an RN case manager with the homeless program. She has had extensive training in health coaching through the University of Wisconsin's Integrated Health program and the National Society of Health Coaching.

Williams says that too often people place their health outcomes in the hands of doctors and specialists, and she hopes that Perrls of Wellness encourages them to retake responsibility for their own wellness as well by adopting lifestyle practices that serve as preventative care.

"I feel like we believe that 'My mom had this, or my grandmother had this, so I'm just destined to have this.' I want the women that I come in contact with to know that that's not (necessarily) true," Williams says. "You don't have to have diabetes because your mother had it and your mother's mother had it.

"You don't have to have high blood pressure because they said that it runs in your family. You can change your own destiny. You can change your own life by taking control of your health."

To learn more about Perrls of Wellness, find the nonprofit on Facebook, or listen to its podcast on iTunes and other platforms.

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