Sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes is world-renowned for his ground-breaking research and for the fact that he lives his science. Here he shares his rules for life.

1.    Keep your brain active

Description: Keep your brain active

Do this through physical and mental activity. At my age (62) you really have to take care of your brain; it’s the thing that’s going to pack up last. We all tend to focus on hearts, limbs etc, but don’t neglect your brain. I’m always reading, asking questions and challenging ideas. Stay curious. Never stop improving your mind.

2.    Make a difference is my motto

It resonates with me because it reflects my father’s attitude. He left the UK at the end of WW2 and travelled to Africa, where he made a difference by helping develop industry in Zimbabwe.

I was always conscious of the fact that I was born into privilege. I had two choices: I could do nothing and enjoy a comfortable but unfulfilling life, or I could push myself and try to effect change. Privilege brings responsibility. Too many people think privilege is a right and they destroy their lives because they don’t do anything with it. It seems the harder you work at making a difference to other people’s lives, the more rewarding is your own life.

3.    Self-belief is non-negotiable

You have to have an intrinsic belief in yourself. Push the boundaries of belief. Be optimistic – you have to believe that everything you want to achieve, you’re going to achieve.

This is crucial but with it must go humility. There’s a great statement: You have to have the arrogance to know you’re really good but the humility to go out and try to prove it.

4.    Push the envelope

Description: Expose yourself to challenge all the time

When it comes to building your mental strength and endurance you have to keep pushing yourself. Expose yourself to challenge all the time. You have to challenge yourself and fail abysmally, and keep doing it. I failed utterly as a cricketer and that was the one thing I wanted to succeed at because my father loved cricket.

The natural of a thinker like myself is that if you overthink, you collapse under pressure. In running, I can control the overthinking. And the rewards are in proportion to the preparation. You have to learn to compartmentalise and live in the moment. Focus on the now. In any interaction, give 100 percent, or regret it.

When I die, one of my goals is not to have a toenail on my second toe. I always lose one of my second toenails running. If I die with my toenail not there, it means I was running right up until the day I died.

5.    Nutrition is key

In the past we’ve had a one-size-fits-all approach but it doesn’t work. You must question what works for you through trial and error. I’m pre-diabetic so, to live, I have to make sure I don’t become a full-blown diabetic. I can control that through diet and exercise.

Cutting carbs completely is working for me – without this I’d already be on diabetic medication.

About 70 percent of South Africans could benefit from losing weight. In my view, many of them would do better on a high-fat and protein diet than a high-carbohydrate diet.

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