What should you do when the heat is on but you’re not feel­ing as hot as you should? Don’t stress. Just start mak­ing small changes, writes Jody Scott.

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What should you do when the heat is on but you’re not feel­ing as hot as you should? Don’t stress. Just start mak­ing small changes.

In the dark depths of win­ter, sum­mer can feel like a life­time away. Then sud­denly it ar­rives faster than you can say pasta (which is one of the best things about cold weather). So what can you do if you didn’t be­gin build­ing your bikini body six months ago? Well, for starters, don’t worry. Rais­ing your cor­ti­sol level will only lower your meta­bolic rate. Plus, all that last-minute sum­mer-body-blitz­ing busi­ness is so last cen­tury. Ditto de­pri­va­tion, one- size-fits-all di­ets and ex­pen­sive su­per­food sup­ple­ments. Slow and steady is a more mod­ern mantra. For a body that lasts be­yond sum­mer, go for sim­ple and sus­tain­able. There are so many lit­tle things you can do to reap big, all-over-body re­wards. To fol­low are a few ideas to help get you back on track.

1 KNOW THYSELF Start track­ing how much ex­er­cise you are ac­tu­ally do­ing each day. Treat your­self to a new Ap­ple watch or Fit­bit. Or down­load a free ac­tiv­ity-track­ing app to count steps and set goals, and mon­i­tor your wa­ter and kilo­joule in­take. Once the data is in, you’ll know what to do. Knowl­edge is power.

2 SHROOM WITH A VIEW Medic­i­nal mush­rooms are the orig­i­nal su­per­foods used to sup­port hu­man health for cen­turies, par­tic­u­larly in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine. They’re also used in Western medicine to make an­tibi­otics and other drugs. The ben­e­fits vary from ’shroom to ’shroom, but the fungi king­dom can help boost im­mu­nity, li­bido and longevity, slow age­ing, reg­u­late blood su­gar, fight fa­tigue, en­hance cog­ni­tion and el­e­vate well­be­ing. They are also anti-in­flam­ma­tory, an­tibac­te­rial, anti-vi­ral, an­tiox­i­dant-rich and adap­to­genic (mean­ing they sup­port your adrenal glands and calm your stress re­sponse).

3 TRACK YOUR PE­RIOD If you want to burn fat and build lean mus­cle, tune into your men­strual cy­cle via an app. When you train is as im­por­tant as how you train. Go hard in the low-hor­mone fol­lic­u­lar phase of your cy­cle, then lower the in­ten­sity in the high-hor­mone luteal phase.

4 STAND AND DE­LIVER Sit­ting has been linked to cog­ni­tive de­cline, lower me­tab­o­lism and an in­creased risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. If you can’t stand up on the job, aim to move more of­ten. Set an ac­tiv­ity tracker to alert you when you have been sta­tion­ary for more than 20 min­utes. Sug­gest walk­ing meet­ings rather than sit-down brain­storms with col­leagues. Take a stroll while you make a call. Or sit on an ex­er­cise ball to keep your core ac­ti­vated while you work.

5 KEEP MOV­ING The cur­rent World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion guide­lines rec­om­mend adults do 150 min­utes of aer­o­bic ac­tiv­ity plus two ses­sions of mus­cle-strength­en­ing ac­tiv­i­ties ev­ery week. But

along with struc­tured work­outs, build­ing in plenty of nonex­er­cise phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity (NEPA) will boost your basal meta­bolic rate (BMR). Walk to work, take the stairs, ride your bike and meet friends for a walk rather than a meal. And do your chores. In­ci­den­tal ex­er­cise all adds up. Laun­dry, gar­den­ing and even shop­ping (al­beit not the on­line kind) will do the trick.

6 THINK BIG As in big mus­cle groups and old-school ex­er­cises that use your own body weight as re­sis­tance. Do push-ups, tri­cep dips, sit-ups, planks, lunges and squats to build lean mus­cle, burn fat and rev up your me­tab­o­lism. If you’re a lady who likes to lift, go for heav­ier weights and less reps. Work to fa­tigue (when you can’t lift any­more). Rest and start again (with a qual­i­fied trainer su­per­vis­ing your tech­nique).

7 PRO­TECT YOUR AS­SETS Lean mus­cle is pre­cious and hard-earned. To re­pair, build and pre­vent mus­cle break­down, and to bal­ance your hor­mones, you need to eat enough pro­tein ev­ery sin­gle day. For­get the old one gram for ev­ery kilo­gram of body weight. Ac­tive women may need up to 1.8 grams of pro­tein per 1 kilo­gram of body weight per day. Go for lean meat, dairy, eggs and good qual­ity sup­ple­ments.

8 KNOW YOUR COF­FEE QUOTA Cof­fee may well be pro­duc­tiv­ity in a cup. It’s true, caf­feine is also a source of anti-in­flam­ma­tory plant com­pounds called polyphe­nols (pro­vided you take it mi­nus the dairy milk and su­gar). It can also im­prove in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity and help some women bet­ter metabolise oe­stro­gen. But it’s a drug that stim­u­lates your hy­potha­la­mic pi­tu­itary adrenal (HPA) axis, which mod­u­lates in­flam­ma­tory re­sponses. Pay at­ten­tion to how it af­fects you, es­pe­cially if you suf­fer from anx­i­ety. A sali­vary DNA test can also help iden­tify how well you metabolise caf­feine and how much is enough. Ad­just ac­cord­ingly.

9 EAT CARBS Yes, that’s right. Women need com­plex car­bo­hy­drates to burn body fat, pre­vent mus­cle break­down and sup­port healthy en­docrine func­tion. Low en­ergy avail­abil­ity (LEA) can also make you feel fa­tigued and less mo­ti­vated (or less able) to work out at a high in­ten­sity. No-carb di­ets are for men. You need at least 120 grams of car­bo­hy­drates per day.

10 SUN­DAY SORTED The say­ing should be “sum­mer bod­ies start on Sun­day af­ter­noons”. Or on Satur­days morn­ings, when you hit your lo­cal farmers’ market to stock up on or­ganic fruit and veg­gies. Week­ends are the time to prep for the week ahead. Stock your fridge with cooked quinoa (for the pro­tein), chia pud­dings, low-su­gar treats and a few jars of homemade salad dress­ing. As you know, you can’t out-train a bad diet. So take it one snack at a time.

11 DRINK MORE BUT USE A FIL­TER Drink­ing enough wa­ter can boost your en­ergy, me­tab­o­lism, con­cen­tra­tion, blood cir­cu­la­tion and lymph flow. But make sure H20 is all you are get­ting by fil­ter­ing out ad­di­tives such as chlo­rine, flu­o­ride, heavy met­als and other con­tam­i­nants. You can use an un­der-the-counter, coun­ter­top or sim­ple jug fil­ter.

12 RE­THINK YOUR NEXT DRINK The lat­est ev­i­dence sug­gests there is no safe level of al­co­hol con­sump­tion. Aus­tralians are drink­ing less al­co­hol now than at any time in the last 50 years. Know your own magic num­ber and stop there. Drink less. Your liver and skin will thank you all sum­mer long.

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