May 17, 2012 at 10:15 am EDT | by Kevin M. Norris
Taking charge of your health

As is the case with all personal health care regardless of sexual orientation, the preponderance of evidence suggests that early diagnosis, prevention and making health care a priority are key elements for longevity.

Heart disease is the number one killer of all women and the most common cancers for all women are breast, lung, colon, uterine and ovarian. Other concerns may include depression and anxiety, sexually transmitted infections, alcohol and drug abuse, diabetes, stroke, domestic abuse and the list goes on.

As a personal trainer for almost 20 years, I can’t say it enough and most experts agree that making your health care a priority is critical and preventive measures are the most effective approach. If you don’t find the time to be well, you will need to make the time when you are sick. It is always better to avoid getting sick than in treating the sickness. Take a proactive approach to your health.

One of the first steps you can take is finding a qualified practitioner. As part of the preventive and treatment approach, find a doctor knowledgeable about LGBT health concerns. Choose a practitioner whom you feel comfortable discussing your needs and concerns remembering that full disclosure, trust and honesty in this practitioner is crucial to your health and in your best interest. They can’t treat what they don’t know.

Each of us must persevere in finding the best health care resources. Thankfully, several that specialize in LGBT health are available.

The Mayo Clinic (, which states that the most effective approach to health care is prevention and early detection, is a reputable resource.

I believe our local Whitman-Walker Health ( with its main center located at 1701 14th Street, NW and with branches spread throughout the area, is a notable resource. I use Whitman-Walker for all my health care needs, including dental and mental health. Its staff has helped me tremendously and I have developed a profound personal allegiance to them.

Other reputable sources include the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, which provides online health care referrals ( Also, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health has published an in-depth resource including links to additional resources ( These resources include the renowned nationally based Mautner Project.

Once you have someone on board to manage your health care needs, what else can be done in terms of prevention? Nutrition and exercise, something everyone on the planet should be doing. In a nutshell, get moving and eat well. It’s crucial that diet and exercise remain a consistent focus in your individual health strategy. And remember, eating well and exercise are life-long commitments, not short term fixes.

Your nutritional plan should include a variety of whole grain, fruits and vegetables, fiber and lean protein sources. Be aware of caloric consumption, drink alcohol in moderation, don’t smoke, avoid excess sugar, salt and saturated fats and get plenty of exercise. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides extensive free nutritional and exercise resources and they are responsible for the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.  (

My two favorite iPhone applications for nutrition, weight loss and exercise at your fingertips are loseit and myfitnesspal, both available for free at your app store.

If you are out of your comfort zone in regard to nutrition and exercise, seek out those who can help. If you belong to a gym, most gyms have both complimentary nutritional consultations and personal training as part of their membership package. If you do not belong to a gym, consider an outdoor group exercise class. Yoga is also effective and several Yoga studios in the area have begun offering less expensive classes.

If you are intimidated by the gym atmosphere and are looking for private attention, there are several reputable boutique-size personal training studios in Washington. There are also personal trainers who offer in-home personal training, partner training and small group training.

Your health may seem like a tall order and your additional health concerns particular within your community may further daunt you. Remember, make small incremental lifestyle changes. Moderation is a key to achieving your goals. The all-or-nothing approach does not work for most people.

Your health is a continuous journey and not a final destination.





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