Get enough sleep! According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Indianapolis, your body needs at least 7-8 hours of sound, undisturbed sleep to repair and regenerate and go through the proper metabolic processes. Studies also show that people who sleep less than the required amount tend to put on weight.

Include “superfoods" in your daily diet. It’s not hard at all. Superfoods are easily available—mushrooms, tomatoes, almonds, oats, eggs, broccoli and spinach are some examples. Berries, avocado, quinoa, salmon and walnuts are a little harder to get, but they are worth the pain and money spent on them.

Up the intake of lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, soy and egg whites in your diet. If you are vegetarian and follow a training programme, supplement with a good whey protein shake.

Get a professional to evaluate and calculate your nutritional requirements. This involves a detailed session factoring in age, genetics, activity levels, ailments, physical limitations, etc., so you get a perfectly tailored plan for your body.

You need to eat to lose weight: Eat small amounts every 3 hours instead of three large meals a day. Aim for six-seven small meals in a day. Drink at least 2 litres of water a day and avoid alcohol. Alcohol is just empty calories that will slow you down the next morning.

Vary your workout to avoid the plateau. Include compound exercises—these exercises work more than one muscle group at a time, and build balanced overall strength. They are great for your core. Try burpees, kettlebell swings, squats with shoulder presses, push-ups, etc.

Invest in the correct training gear. The right training shoe can boost your performance by a mile. Companies now provide adequate information at the customer level. Tips to keep in mind: Is the basic arch of your foot neutral, flat, or high? Is there a specific sport you need the shoe for, such as tennis, running, basketball, etc.? If you like to perform various activities, then you are looking for a cross-training shoe.

Don’t just limit your workout on single stations at the gym which isolate the muscle group you are working on. Perform the same set of bicep curls standing with free weights rather than fixed machines to promote greater muscle activation. Include kettlebells, the TRX System, and don’t underestimate the power of body-weight exercises.

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Work towards improving your posture at your desk, during workouts and while you walk. Stand tall! Correct alignment and maintaining a neutral spine can prevent posture-related injuries. To find your correct posture, stand facing a mirror—shoulders should be slightly rolled back and relaxed, ears should be in line with your shoulders, belly button tucked in and core activated, and the spine straight and neutral. Put equal weight on both the left and right sides of your body, with the weight distributed a little more on the outer soles of your feet.

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Do “super sets" in the gym. They can be done any time your workout needs a little change or increase in intensity: A super set is two exercises done without any rest in between. This saves time and increases the intensity of the workout.

Sometimes supplements, such as high-strength vitamin C, ZMA capsules and a good multi-vitamin, are needed to improve performance and to build immunity and improve concentration. These are available over the counter, but it would be a good idea to run them by your physician to see what you are deficient in and how much you need. Just like deficiencies stop your body from performing at its peak, too much of something can also be harmful—for example, a surfeit of calcium can lead to fatigue, nausea, hyperparathyroidism, etc.

Stretch for success: Make sure you include a flexibility programme in your workout schedule. It could be a class or two of yoga or just basic stretching. Regular training and incorrect posture can lead to tight muscles, which can further lead to injuries. Keep your muscles supple.

Finally, aim for consistency and balance, with food and training!

Sumaya Dalmia is a wellness consultant, fitness expert and owner of The Bodyworks Studio, a personal training studio in New Delhi.

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