Live like an athlete, and you will shine like a star

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I spend a lot of my time working with people who are striving for a leaner body and studying all the latest research on health and fitness.

I have found that it is useful to look at the habits that athletes live by and what it is that keep them performing so well and staying in such good shape all year.

These habits take time to learn and I have found that coaching people on these has helped them not only get into great shape, but to stay there long term.

If you share at least six of the habits on this list, you’re going in a pretty good direction towards living a lean life.

1. Start your day with a protein-based breakfast.

A key ingredient to start your day is protein, instead of the sugar cereals. Amino acids delivered from protein supplies your brain with chemicals that will give you focus for the day. If you do have cereal then you will be headed for a crash mid-morning and a day of snacking. A drop in blood sugar will make you tired and lethargic – not the ideal recipe if you’re about to hit to the gym.

2. See training as part of your life, and not a chore.

Find some form of exercise that you love to start with and build on that. Try new classes or experiences and when you go to your session bring energy and enthusiasm to it. Don’t do long arduous workouts, keep it short and simple.

3. Have a vision of where you want to go.

Set yourself a challenge or find an inspiration picture but, most importantly, know what you want to achieve.

4. Food is important.

You are what you eat? Actually, you are what you have eaten. In reality food is fuel for every function of the body so if you want to function properly, it is all down to food choice.

5. Enjoy cooking and experimenting with food.

Get in the kitchen and cook from scratch as often as you can. Try new recipes and keep your food interesting. Despite all the variety of foods out there we tend to get into bad habits of always eating the same things.

6. Have a positive outlook.

People don’t understand the principle ‘what you appreciate, appreciates’. Basically, being grateful, positive and happy will always come back to you.

7. Get eight hours’ uninterrupted sleep a night.

With daily stress sleep can often be the last thing on your mind, but getting seven or eight hours a night will really help with losing body fat. Try turning off the TV half an hour before you would normally go to bed and use that time to unwind and relax.

8. Preparation is key.

If you plan ahead with your meals and prepare as much of them in advance as you can, this will help you to make the right food choices and you are less likely to head straight for a sugary fix.

9. Make yourself a top priority.

This is a hard one I know, but with our busy lives we are often last on the list when it comes to finding time for things. If you are juggling working, children, shopping and all the others things then leaving time for yourself can be really tricky. Start by finding a small amount of time in your week for your own training or exercise session.

10. Have support.

When you socialise you need to have people around you who will support you and not try to sabotage your journey. Make sure you tell family and friends what you are going to achieve and ask for their support along the way.

Nikki Caputa is a health and fitness coach who works one-to-one with clients and runs her own fitness camps where she trains groups.

Known as FAB Body Bootcamps, two are based at Fareham and one is in Portsmouth.

Nikki is also an ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

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Follow Nikki on Twitter @nikkifit mum1.