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Researches Find That Your Weight Can Affect Your Brain

Researches Find That Your Weight Can Affect Your Brain

The common belief if that our weight can affect only our physical health and there’s absolutely no chance for it to affect our brain.

Obesity is certainly a horrible thing but it’s surely not so horrible that it will destroy the neurons in our brains right?

In fact, don’t many of us adopt a sedentary lifestyle to focus more on our career and work which basically involves sitting in front of a computer screen with take-out pizzas and gaining weight?

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The Truth:

Well, here’s the harsh truth. As per a study, our weight can seriously affect the size of our brains and how quickly it deteriorates. Which means obesity and brain function are linked and that obesity can affect the white matter inside our skull. This not only leads to dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression but it also affects memory, language and visual skills. Battling obesity has never been this important.

The Research:

Scientists at the University of Cambridge did an experiment to see if obesity speeded up the brain shrinkage process that occurs naturally with age. The findings were published in the Neurobiology of Aging, titled ‘Obesity Associated With Increased Brain-Age From Mid-Life.’

The Procedure:

They tested 473 adults between the ages 20 to 87 of varying weights looking to for unusual differences in their comparative results. They found out that leaner middle-aged people had more white matter than those who were overweight. So the average 50-year-old obese individual had the brain matter of someone at least 10 years older than him.

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In short, obesity deteriorates your brain.

Limitations:

However, this study does have some limitations. For instance, when the obese people were tested on their IQ, their overall cognitive ability remained unaffected thus hinting that more research needs to be done to establish the exact link between weight and brain function.

As Paul Fletcher, co-author of the research and psychiatry professor at the University of Cambridge says, “Going forward, older obese people should specifically be studied when it comes to obesity and premature ageing of the brain. We’re living in an ageing population, with increasing levels of obesity, so it’s essential that we establish how these two factors might interact since the consequences for health are potentially serious.”

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What’s Important:  

Nevertheless, white matter, often dubbed as the ‘subway of the brain’ is responsible for maintaining connections between different areas of the brain and controlling neuron response, so a decrease in white matter is definitely dangerous and can lead to further complications.

What You Should Do:

If you’re reading this, you’re either obese and panicking or, you’re not obese but still worried. However, there is no reason to panic or be anxious about this, as obesity, like diabetes and other serious ailments can be kept under control and even minimised with these two simple steps.

1. First off, get off the couch and get some exercise. The more active you remain, the better. Try to get into an exercise regime. You can join a gym or set up one in your own house, or if these options are too expensive, get creative. Use the stairs instead of the lift, stretch and do yoga, be more active in the house, do at least  20-30 sit ups every day and go for long walks to contemplate your life.

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2. Eat healthy. Keep a food diary or use an app to track your calories. Either way, keep junk food to a minimum. Take cooking lessons if possible or consult a dietitian to make a special chart for you and reward yourself for sticking to it.

In short, prioritise your health before anything else in your life, and that includes your career and monthly salary. If you’re looking for more ideas to lose weight check out these articles:

10 Simple Natural Hacks To Help You Lose Weight Fast
Four Ways to Lose Weight Fast
The 10 Easiest And Most Effective Tips For Weight Loss

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Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

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