The Battle Against A Sedentary Lifestyle

Focus. Breathe in. Chest strains desperately, sucking in only a trickle of air. Unconscious of tent enclosing his head, sides dripping humidity, breaking news  but feeding him life giving oxygen. Releasing breath, gasping in again, previous breath forgotten, concentrate on the next one. Nothing else matters…only one more breath, one more breath, one more breath. Sleep? Only forever. Concentrate, one more breath, then the next one, the next one…

Periodically a nurse looked in on the young asthmatic with concern. At 3:00 am she called the intern, who administered a shot of adrenaline. There was an immediate easing in the boy’s desperate gasping, relenting to a heavy wheezing, in and out. The child soon dropped off to sleep, his first sleep since admission 2 days ago.

The year was 1957. Corticosteroids had been introduced several years previously, but were not yet in general use in British Columbia’s interior. Puffers (inhalers) were not available. A shot of adrenaline (epinephrine) could temporarily alleviate a severe asthma attack by over-stimulating the entire body, and incidentally causing enough vasodilation in the lungs to ease breathing, but epinephrine didn’t exist in the many forms and concentrations now available, and too many shots, too close together, could be more dangerous than asthma to the over-strained cardiovascular system of a six year old asthmatic. Once the stimulant effect of the adrenaline wore off, the asthma attack returned and stayed until it had run its course.

When your prime imperative is the next breath, and you know that failure to concentrate, means failure to breathe, over the course of time there develops an ability to focus on importance (whatever that is to you) and a corresponding ability to block distractions

“Get him exercising regularly or he’ll be bed-ridden for life,” the young physician informed his mother. Advice diametrically opposed to what other physicians had advised regarding her 12 year old son. Exercise will bring on attacks and endanger his life, they said. But severe attacks continued. THAT advice wasn’t working.

He was enrolled in a District basketball program. Lack of skills and lack of breath made basketball a struggle and that year he missed 46 days of school, his most ever. His parents worried that perhaps they’d made the wrong decision, had worsened the situation. But after the summer break, at the boy’s insistence, he was allowed to play the sport in grade 7.

Now, the determination he had applied to breathing for survival in hospital, he applied to pushing his body to stand the strains of basketball.

Even so, the mile run for grade 8 basketball try-outs was an ordeal that recalled his hospital stays. Breath sucked in to straining lungs, legs being willed to keep pumping forward, despite numbness and fatigue. The result? Finish a distant last behind 40 other boys.

In grade 10 he had his last asthma attack. In grade 12 he ran a mile in 5 1/4 minutes. At the age of 40 he discovered he was pre-diabetic. By age 60 he was still pre-diabetic and, in many ways, in better shape than he’d been at 40, an example of the power of Plasticity.

Plasticity is the body’s ability to change in response to internal or external environmental changes. Alter the physical stressors on your body, alter your body’s nutritional input, and you WILL change your body. That’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that plasticity can alter your body in ways most physicians neither acknowledge nor understand to over-come physical limitations. The bad news is that plasticity can alter a strong, healthy body, in ways the FDA and major food manufacturers neither acknowledge, nor wish you to understand, to create physical limitations.

When writing a feature story, one of the first things you must consider is the target audience. Is it for the general public or is it for a specific group of readers? If you are writing for the readers of a lifestyle magazine or for the lifestyle section in the newspaper, for example, you would need to consider whether you should write from the view of a third person or second?

Most feature stories are written from the third person. Exceptions where the second person is used instead is when the story is about ‘what you should get’, say, for an occasion or a festive season. Seldom is the first person used for feature writing except when the author is the narrating his or her own experience.

Take for example the first paragraph of a feature story on entrepreneurship written in the third person:

  • John lost his job two years ago due to the economy downturn. Believing it to be only temporary, he actively seeks employment while upgrading his skills through short-term courses. Today, he is still unemployed. Now at the age of 41, he is forced to consider self-employment and entrepreneurship but is hesitant because he has been an employee his entire working life.

If this first paragraph is written in the second person, it would read:

  • You have been an employee your entire working life. Two years ago, you lost your job due to the economy downturn. Believing the downturn to be only temporary, you actively seek employment while upgrading your skills through short-term courses. Today, you are still unemployed.

As you can read from the two approaches, the third person’s voice draws the readers into the story better than the second person because there is no need for personal involvement in the story unless it is a call to action. It works fine to use the second person if you are writing for a lifestyle magazine showcasing shopping goods, but not quite fine for a news feature story that aims to convey a message containing facts and advices.

When writing for a news feature story, four components should be considered: anecdotes, quotes, facts, and statements of theme.

An anecdote in a news feature story should be written from a third person as the narrator. The purpose of this is to use content ‘pull’ to attract readers to a sense of reading a novel or a storybook. For a feature story to be successful, at least one anecdote should be included to help readers visualize the ‘reality’ of a situation or the life of the person being told in the anecdote.

A feature should also include facts and quotes for angles of human interest. Facts may be research finding that quantify the content of the story, official statistical figures, or actual events witnessed by people:

  • According to official figures from the manpower department, unemployment is now at 4.5 percent.

Quotes are actual account of events by witnesses or spoken comments of people interviewed. Quotes can be direct or indirect. For a feature story to be credible and interesting, both direct and indirect quotes are necessary.

A direct quote is the actual spoken words by persons interviewed:

  • “I have been an employee my entire working life,” said John Doe, 41, a retrenched worker.

An indirect quote is a paraphrased or rephrased writing of actual words spoken by persons interviewed:

  • John Doe, 41, said he has been an employee his entire working life.

Statements of theme are sentences that links original theme of the story to various parts of the feature. This is especially useful when there are multiple sections or story points that need to be expanded in different areas of the feature. The objective of statements of theme is to draw the readers back to the main theme of the story.

The feature story is usually written with each paragraph pulling the readers forward to read on to the point of closure or a conclusion or instructions to proceed further. It is usual to end the story by drawing the readers’ attention back to the points being told at the lead paragraph, but with added knowledge on the subject.

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