katy and april outside the Y
katy and april at the Y
Katy and April outside the Y

In May 2020, April Lewis posted pillows for sale on Facebook Marketplace. When she went to deliver them to the buyer in a public parking lot, she thought it was just another ordinary transaction. But this sale proved to be extraordinary.

April was searching for a part-time job. “I wanted to find a job at a gym because it would help support what I’m trying to do,” she said. Turns out, the buyer wanted to meet at the Robertson County Y because she worked there. It was program director Katy Miears.

When April told Katy that she wanted to work at a gym, Katy sent her a job link and hired her the following day after an interview. Katy had new pillows and a new employee!

Why did April want to work at a gym? For decades, April struggled with her weight. But four years ago, she got a diagnosis that provided clarity. Her bloodwork revealed that she has Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that can cause extreme fatigue and unexplained weight gain. “That unlocked a huge piece of the puzzle. I went from everyone looking at me assuming that I was lazy and eat too much to validating that ‘it’s not me’.”

Armed with information about her disease and what to do about it, April lost 160 pounds by sticking to a modified paleo diet and walking outside. For her, weight loss wasn’t just a number on the scale. “I’ve been able to come off blood pressure medication and reverse Type 2 Diabetes.”

April in her house

She also recovered from an injury that caused her discomfort for 14 years! She works out with Johnathan, a personal trainer at the Y. He knew just what to do to help her swollen, painful ankle. “My bad ankle is now the same size as the other one. It hasn’t been that way in 14 years. I can walk down stairs. I can put on a seatbelt like a normal person. I wish I kept a list of all the things that aren’t measurable. I’m 47 now. My life is entirely different. I’m under 300 pounds for the first time in 25 years.”

Working at the Y has supported her mental health after years of struggling as a single mom to a now-grown son. “I never felt like I had a place. I never wanted people to see me. Then I started working (at the Y). This is my home. I feel like I belong here,” she said. 

April hopes that she can bring a little cheer into someone’s life each day when she’s working at the Y. “Small things are what make the needles turn. There’s a lot of negative in the world. But there’s a lot of positivity and hope here, and it spreads outward. It makes you feel like you’re part of something special, and it’s humbling.”