IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  December 1, 2003

To speak well, prepare well

So you'll be leading a seminar, introducing someone at a dinner, or giving a real speech? Preparing well is the key to success. Start by making a list of material you want to cover. Keep the list handy and add to it as you gather more information and come up with new ideas. Then develop an outline of your material and rework it until it is in good order. After that, write down the words themselves. Revise as needed. It's important to check for accuracy, redundancies, and cliches. Remember that professional speakers use everyday language that both you and your listeners are comfortable with. Try to avoid using a lot of technical terms and statistics.

Now it's time to practice out loud until you are comfortable with your delivery. A tape recorder will help you hear where improvement is needed. Next print your key points on index cards you can refer to while speaking.

Janet E. Esposito, author of In the Spotlight: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing (Strong Books), says:

  • Consider your audience's level of knowledge on the subject. Be prepared to answer questions.
  • Picture yourself speaking with confidence in a loud, clear voice. Your audience wants you to succeed.
  • Don't mention that you are nervous or that you have problems with speaking. That calls attention to something the audience hasn't even noticed.
  • Focus on your message and the information your audience needs, not on yourself.


    Strong Moves - Strong Heart

    If you always knew that exercise was a good idea, but never got around to doing much, Heart Month is the perfect time to begin. There are two ways to approach it. The most effective way would be schedule a regular activity at a health club. You can learn to love the gym where you get a break from stresses of life, do something that makes your blood pump, and come away relaxed and invigorated. If there's a gym near your home that has programs for your level of fitness, you're halfway to a stronger heart.

    Get over the thought that going to the gym is a selfish use of time. It benefits your heart and your morale. It makes you stronger and more effective in other areas of your life.

    The second way to exercise is to do it at home, or from home. Doctors at U.S. International University in San Diego say modifying their environment helps people exercise regularly. One student got herself bicycling every day by placing the bike in front of the door before leaving home each day. Environmental modification could mean leaving your walking clothes out so you see them when you get home or wake up in the morning. Rearranging one's space proves to have a powerful influence on the person's life.

    Though it's more difficult to stick to, if you can arrange two or three 10-minute exercise stints every day or two, you're on your way to a stronger heart. Maybe you can ride your exercise bike for 10 minutes in the morning, or take a 10-minute walk at lunch time. If you haven't exercised for a long time, even a limited amount of exercise can have big benefits.

    Think it over. The gym isn't too expensive when you consider the benefits. You aren't too busy to exercise if you really want to get fit and strong.


    Newborn testing from outside labs

    In most areas of the U.S., hospitals test newborns for four deadly disorders. (In Massachusetts they test for 25.) But today, more parents are turning to private labs for screening of up to 50 conditions that might affect the newborn. For $25 to $50, independent laboratories can test for up to 50 disorders and have the results back to parents within forty-eight hours. If caught early, a disease can often be treated and the newborn's life spared.

    These organizations and labs can tell you what your state requires and where to get extra tests:

    Baylor University Medical Center
    Mayo Clinic
    UC Health Sciences Biochemical Genetics


  • Don't let the baby overheat

    You want your infant to be comfortable and warm, but watch for signs of overheating, such as sweat on the baby's face. Overheating increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), says Dr. Warren Guntheroth, author of Crib Death: The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Futura).


    Chocolate is a way to say 'I love you'

    No one has determined whether men or women are more likely to be chocoholics, but that's probably because the affliction is gender neutral. The holidays are a time when you can justly treat your taste buds to lots of chocolate. It's a gift.

    Forget the guilt of overindulging, because chocolate has a new reputation. Health scientists say it contains the same chemicals our brains release when we fall in love. The serotonin and endorphins promote a sense of well-being, calm, and even euphoria. Chocolate acts as a mild antidepressant.

    All chocolate, but especially dark chocolate, contains flavonoids that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In small, regular doses, chocolate increases "good" cholesterol, and reduces the kind that clogs up arteries.

    So follow the doctors' advice. Treat your heart, your mood, and your palate to a couple of pieces every day!


    Inflammation worse than cholesterol

    Large studies at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School lead researchers to believe that inflammation is a central factor in cardiovascular disease. It can be twice as bad as cholesterol as a cause of heart disease. The studies support earlier research with men.

    Painless inflammation can be measured with a test that checks for C-reactive protein, or CRP, a chemical necessary for fighting injury and infection. The test costs about $20, and may become part of standard physical exams for middle-aged people, especially those with other conditions that increase their risk of heart trouble.

    Exercising and losing weight can lower CRP dramatically. Cholesterol-lowering drugs also reduce CRP, as do aspirin and some other medicines. Doctors believe inflammation has many possible sources. The fatty buildups that line blood vessels become inflamed as white blood cells invade in a misguided defense attempt. Fat cells are also known to turn out inflammatory proteins. Other possible triggers include high blood pressure, smoking, and lingering low-level infections such as chronic gum disease.

    CRP levels may rise for 25 to 30 years before a person suffers a heart attack or stroke. That gives a good window of opportunity in terms of prevention.


    Back pain therapy: push weight

    The new treatment for back pain goes far beyond physical therapy. Called aggressive rehabilitation, it has back pain sufferers using their back muscles to stretch and push weight. Though most patients say it is painful in the beginning, some call it the "miracle cure."

    With growing evidence that spinal fusion surgery doesn't work for many people, patients are looking for nonsurgical options. But it takes the right equipment and the right moves to do the job.

    Some clinics, such as the Physicians Neck and Back Clinic in Minneapolis, use MedX exercise machines that use computers to monitor progress. A list of clinics that use them can be found on www.medxonline.com.

    Other clinics, such as the Spine Center at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, use Cybex back-extension machines and other machines normally found in health clubs.



    Skepticism - a balance between othodoxy and heresy.
    Derivation: scepticus - (latin) inquiring; (greek) watchman

    You can also say

    The journey of a thousand miles begins (with a broken fan belt).

    I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows (and a foundation leaks).

    Follow your dream (unless it's the one where you're outside in your underwear).

    Take time to stop and smell the roses (and sooner or later you'll inhale a bee).

    If you don't like my driving, take another road (that's why the highway department made so many of them).

    When I'm feeling down, I like to whistle (it drives the neighbor's dog crazy).

    Each day I eat something from each of the four food groups (cookie, salty-snack, chocolate, and the whatever-is-in-tinfoil-in-the-fridge group).

    Into each life some rain must fall (when the car windows are down).

    Love is like a roller coaster (when it's good you don't want to leave; when it isn't you want to throw up).


    Q & A

    Q: Are there any safety concerns in having/teaching a very basic step aerobics class on carpet on concrete floor? Thank you.

    A: An ideal floor would be a suspended wooden floor. However, many gyms carpet a concrete floor. The issue here is concerns about the knee being torqued by the additional friction of the carpet. It is critical that the knee be unloaded during ball of the sole turns. The suspended wood floor provides some shock absorption but not significant enough to compensate for bad form.

    I also question the cleanliness of a carpet that is sweated and stepped on without daily cleanings. Lying down to do floor work should include a towel to cover the carpet. Having carpet on a floor is analogous to nailing your sweats to the floor and subjecting them to walking and sweating for a few years with an occasional dust off. It not very sanitary from a health standpoint and unavoidable at most gyms.

    Q: What is considered the safe limits for cholesterol levels?

    A: Patients are advised to achieve LDL level less than 130mg/dl and HDL level greater than 40mg/dl first. Reaching these goals is first attempted through diet and exercise. If these levels cannot be reached by diet and exercise, then the doctor may prescribe medication.

    You Asked

    1. When people get married, why do we say they are tying the knot? The Celts, Hindus, Egyptians, and others once tied the hands of the bride and groom with fancy cloth to symbolize commitment.

    2. Where did throw pillows come from? In the 17th and 18th centuries, Europe had only hard wooden chairs to sit on. By the start of the 19th century, people were making pillows for more comfortable seating.

    3. Where were birthday candles first used? In the 13th century, German peasants celebrated their kids' birthdays with a candle for each year, plus one to celebrate life. The cake was presented at sunrise, and the candles were kept burning until dinner. Then the child made a wish and blew them out.

    4. Why do we have piggy banks and not doggie banks? According to the trivia goldmine, Straightdope.com, the old English word pygg (pronounced pugg) meant a type of clay used in kitchen pottery. As the language evolved, the word started to sound more like pygg, and craftsmen designed pygg pots in the shape of pigs. The rest is history.