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Holistic health in LGBTQ Community

By Christine Peterson
On November 16, 2011

Dillion DiGiovanni gave a lecture Wednesday at the Rainbow Center, discussing the issues of health and how they specifically affect people who identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer).

Her presentation, entitled "Tell Me Who You Are: A Holistic Approach to Identity," led the audience to question what was lacking in life, and DiGiovanni presented the audience with ways that they could improve those areas.

"I always say life is a bunch of classrooms. You graduate and then move on," DiGiovanni said. Whether they be bad relationships or jobs, people can always learn from these experiences.

DiGiovanni started with a video of her own past, showing pictures of herself where she had acne, is overweight and unhappy. However, to look at her now, one wouldn't even recognize the lively, engaging woman with a faux-hawk who gave the Wednesday lecture.

"I'm not a life coach or a nutritionist. I'm a holistic health coach," DiGiovanni said. She addressed every aspect of a person's life, ranging from spiritual to family life.

However, physical health is a big part of overall happiness, and this is where DiGiovanni began her lecture.

"There is a health crisis in this country," DiGiovanni said. One third of all American adults are obese, and 17 percent of youths ranging from 2 to 19 years old are obese. Not only this, but more deaths occur due to tobacco use than all deaths resulting from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, car accidents, suicides and murders combined.

As if fighting constant health issues wasn't hard enough, people who identify as LGBTQ have even more complications. People who are LGBTQ have to work much harder to be healthy because of additional negative obstacles such as access to better jobs without discrimination, health care needs, daily discrimination, humiliation, or family alienation.

"It was easy when I just identified as lesbian. Now that I identify more as trans, I feel like I'm constantly coming out," DiGiovanni said, adding just one more difficulty that LGBTQ individuals face.

People who are LGBTQ also suffer these problems with a lack of visibility. In the media, there are not as many role models for "queers."

"We can't be what we can't see," DiGiovanni said, and she continues that for LGBTQ people to be happy, it depends on them finding and maintaining holistic health and balance today.

DiGiovanni's solution involves going "back to the basics", beginning with physical health. While not being specifically a nutritionist, she recommends some easy steps to better physical health.

"Greens, I get so excited about greens; they're just so important," DiGiovanni said. To begin, she told the group not to eat iceberg lettuce, because it is mostly water and lacks nutrients. The more color, the more nutrients. Instead, she suggests kale, chard, spinach and bok choy.

Moving on from greens, DiGiovanni enlightened the group on whole grains vs. "whole grain". Whole grain bread does not count because the whole grains have been "pulverized into flour and isn't whole anymore."

In place of bread, DiGiovanni recommends brown rice and oats. Fruits vs. fruit juice is another misconception DiGiovanni brought up. There is no fiber in fruit juice, which the body needs. Instead, eat fruit or drink water, of which people should be drinking all day.

"Your pee should be the color of light straw," DiGiovanni joked.

Beyond simple nutritional habits, she gave advice on other aspects of life as well.

"Jobs, career, school should all be fun, feel good, and make you financially secure, otherwise what's the point?" she said.

Exercise follows the same rules; it should be fun, feel good, and be something one can look forward to.

The audience then participated in an activity to see what areas of their lives they were lacking in. People were invited to share where exactly they could improve their lives. Once these areas are brought to light, they begin to be addressable.

"I went to a catholic school…and we used to always begin with a prayer: ‘God, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference'," DiGiovanni said, "So what can you do right now to change the quality of your life?"

DiGiovanni expressed that everybody could shine, and to change your life, you have to find what works for you.

"Savor your existence," she said.

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