Are you serious? Haven’t got a bucket list yet? You should!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Life and mood can be ‘lighted’ by a “bucket list” with inspiration and motivation. I have one myself and recommend it: A list little or large, modest or ambitious, free or costly (start saving); some sort of agenda to remind you to live life here and now, this is your chance!

Bucket list refers to the English (American) expression “kick the bucket”, which means to “pass away”. It is normally a list of things you would like to see or do, before you leave this World. The phenomena was depicted in the American comedy drama The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson (2007).

Bucket lists are a hit: The internet is full of them and many bucket listers do the most amazing things. But smaller things count, too, the main thing is, that you start to reflect upon your life and everyday:
Are you doing, what you want to? Or is there something you miss, something that you would really like to do, but have not done yet? You almost always only regret, what you have not gotten around to doing …

Personally I call my list for my “Life To Do List”.
That list contains little and large activities and travels out of the ordinary (for me). Others have lists centered around trying to be a better person and doing good deeds – maybe an idea, though I have those on my daily to do list!

Does bucket lists work? Yes, they do!

No matter how they look or what you call them, in my experience they work exceptionally well – and research proves, that goal-setting and writing your goals down will vastly increase your chances of your dreams coming true.
By writing a list, you make your wishes conscious and concrete, so your brain directs your thoughts and actions in the right direction: You get things done.

If you haven’t got one already, why not make a bucket list today?

A couple of weeks ago a big ‘bucket list’ wish of mine came true (through planning and saving and a bargain offer): Camel riding in Sahara, Tunisia.

Tunesia Sahara Marina Aagaard fitness wellness world

Camels crossing iStock_000014142085Large

A bit of that tour is captured in this:

Bucket list trip: Sun, Sand, Sahara and Star Wars, Tunesia

Have great fun with your bucket list and life!

If you have one – please share it in ‘comments’.

For your fitness and wellness: Collect new and different (exercise) experiences!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Ever since those slacklines appeared I have secretly wanted to try one. However, this has been ‘mission impossible’, because every time I have seen one, there has been lots of active ‘liners’ and onlookers. I admit: The fear of falling from the line to me (…) pales in comparison with the fear of ridicule and loud laughs from bystanders.  

Slacklines are quite popular in Norway and I have seen them before in public places. This is brilliant, I think, as easily accessible and tempting exercise equipment is smart nudging; a kind push to help you, consciously or unconsciously, towards a healthier way of living.

By chance – luckily – my husband Henrik (who knew nothing of my desire to try) spotted a slackline (over a reassuringly soft surface), when we were on an early morning photo outing this weekend in Stavanger, Norway.

Stavanger Norway Rampline photo Henrik Elstrup

Now I could – without spectators – try out slackline walking. No, it was not easy (it would probably have been a lot easier with tuition), however, it was less impossible, than I thought, so I managed a small shaky walk. A small step of the foot, a giant leap of the mind … and probably not for the last time, either.

Marina Aagaard motion på slackline foto Henrik Elstrup

My call to you: Try something new this week. Maybe something you have pondered upon for long; a new kind of training (or something completely different) – it is motivating and good for fitness as well as wellness.

It’s enlivening and stimulating to try out different physical and mental experiences … and sometimes you discover, that you are capable of much more, than you think.

Or what do you think? Comments (and experiences) are welcome.

Goodbye New Year’s Resolutions! Hello New Year and New Habits.

Marina Aagaard, MFE

It is that time of year again, New Year’s Resolution Time or rather:
A brand new year with ample opportunity for new beginnings, new smart moves … in your mind, body, habitat and on the move.

Don’t say goodbye to old habits, instead say hello to new and better ones – that is m u c h easier and increases chances of success.

Double Rainbow by the beach snapshot Marina AagaardSomewhere over the rainbow … (at the local beach).

As always it is true, that putting words to your dreams and goals make them more tangible and easier to reach, so do that now, right now:

  1. Write down: What are your five 3-5 major personal goals for 2014.
  2. Next to them: Write down your intended course of action.
  3. Next to that: What resources (help) do you need to succeed.

Don’t worry, if those thoughts and words seem overly optimistic. By putting precise words to those goals you are closer to success, than ever before.
Tip: Be precise. I did this and I got the things I wished for … however, I forgot to specify (i left out important details) and hence the results were not quite as expected! 

Remember the SMART strategy, when goal setting and planning:

Specific – make specific plans and take action specific to your goal(s).

Measurable – set exact goals (kg, cm, sec.), not just “stronger”, “slimmer”, “faster”.

Attainable, accepted and action-oriented; ‘publicize’ and ‘practice’ (easy goals first).

Realistic – have a dream goal and a plan of smaller goals for each week or month.

Timed – set a date, timeframe, for your goal and smaller goals.

Go for your goals … Go!

Top 20 Tips: How to Slim Down and Up Your Health With NO Dieting

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Are you as healthy and toned as you want to be? If not, here are 20 proven methods for improving health, wellness, fitness and body composition.
In the early days of the New Year morale and willpower is high, however, after 4-6 weeks motivation drops. So be ready with new strategies!

Healthy habits diet and exercise

1. Think positive
Forget about previous negative experiences, unhealthy habits and what you want to escape. Instead visualize the new you, having health habits and the body shape and the weight you desire. Positive thinking facilitates the process.
Tip: If you are on the cross trainer and your weight is 155,6 lbs, do not enter 156 lbs, but 155 lbs and keep that thought in mind.

Positive thinking may not come all that easily, you need some ‘practice’: Start by smiling, this radiates inwards and outwards in all directions.

2. Focus on the important things
Think about feeling better and having fun. Forget about counting, measuring and weighing – the food and you!
Exception: It is a good idea to perform a small test: measure and weigh yourself today, so you have a starting point.
Write down one or more smaller goals and some target dates, the first date in 2-3 months time. At that time repeat the test, measure and weigh. But not on a daily basis!

3. Think before you eat
Be conscious about your choices in food; consider why, what, how and how much you eat? Do you need to eat right now? What is a healthy (sensible) choice for health as well as pleasure?
E.g.: Decide to have one serving of moderate size, before you fill the plate.

4. Think when you eat
Concentrate on your meal. Be present in the now. Do not work, read or watch television at the same time; it is stressful and disturbs enjoyment and digestion. Do sit down – by a dining table – so you sit comfortably with a good posture. Avoid slouching … physically and mentally.

5. Think after you have eaten
Reflect: pay attention to how you feel after you have eaten a meal. Are you full, satisfied and energized – or are you overfull, queasy and tired?
Listen to your body and gradually design meals to make you full, happy and energetic.

6. Enjoy your meals
Enjoy every bite – even the unhealthy ones! And enjoy your meal with all of your senses; sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Let it be an experience, a feast; make meal time appealing with napkins, flowers and candlelight (avoid too much CO2, though!).

7. Eat slowly
Eat slowly, chew your food 35-50 times per bite. Oh yes, it is easily done, when the food is coarse (versus soft, white bread). You also get an extra sensory experience by chewing more, eating slower.

Remember: It takes some 15-20 minutes, from you start eating, to the brain registers satiety . If you eat too fast, you eat way too much.
Bonus: Eating slowly reduces anxiety and stress.

8. Choose small plates
Using large plates leads to eating more without thinking about it.
Choose a smaller plate (the serving will look bigger); it will automatically reduce serving size and help you lose weight.

9. Avoid buffets
Buffets in general increase the risk of overeating; you eat too much; too large and too many servings. Even if you try to be good, a buffet is a risky choice.
If it is unavoidable, then 1) choose small plates, 2) have lots of vegetables and soup for starters and 3) eat slowly, so you are full, before you get to wanting dessert!

10. Eat dietary fibres
Vegetables, whole grain produce and fruit are good sources of dietary fibres; they improve digestion, satiety, weight maintenance and reduces the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
This healthy habit is easy; you just have to choose coarser foods.

11. Avoid candy and cookies
Sweets are like drugs, they are addictive, so stop eating sweets and cookies every day. Save it for parties. When you do not eat sweets on a daily basis, the desire to eat them diminishes. So avoid them for a couple of weeks and notice the positive improvement.
As a snack during weekdays eat a handful of almonds or walnuts; they are healthy, they taste good and they are filling.

12. Avoid all sugary beverages
There are large quantities of sugar in soda, coke, juice, fruit syrup and alcoholic drinks. By reducing consumption of liquid sugar, you cut out a massive amount of calories and will quickly become healthier and better looking without any special effort.
Bonus: You avoid cavities and save a lot of money on dental care. Sugar is addictive, so you may feel you cannot do without it. But do cut it out for a couple of weeks, then you will notice, that you can go without it without (hardly) missing it.
Strategy: Go from soda to diet soda (still bad for you) to mineral water with lemon or other taste to mineral water to plain water. And from day one, drink water before you drink any other drink.

Instead of orange or apple juice, eat 1-2 oranges and apples. Fresh fruit tastes better, have less sugar and more vitamins.

Spirits (including wine)? No, it is not healthy. Alcohol is a.o. cancer-causing. So enjoy spirits in moderate amounts for the taste of it. Pay attention to every mouthful, ‘chew it’ so you prolong enjoyment and reduce/keep your intake at a healthier level.

No matter if you are young, adult or senior, take good care of your health – and maintain a healthy weight: Enjoy spirits in moderation.

13. Drink water throughout the day
Start by drinking two large glasses of water in the morning. It wakes you up. Drink 2-3 litres of water during the day and more, if you sweat a lot, e.g. during exercise.

14. Avoid temptations at home
Do not stock up on sweets, cookies, chips, bread a.o. for potential guests. If you keep temptations away from you, you minimize the risk of thinking about them and eating them!
Also: Find healthier alternatives – for you and your guests.

15. Minimize temptations away from home
Bring a lunch pack (and extra snacks) for work or school to keep you full and happy during the day. If you are hungry, more often than not it results in impulse buying of unhealthy foods and snacks.

16. Make a meal plan and a shopping list
Make a plan for the meals of the week, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 1-3 snacks if needed, so you have a strategy for healthier eating. Then make a shopping list to follow, so you avoid an impulse buying.
A meal plan is also advantageous from an economical point of view and helps in reducing wasting food.

17. Do not shop, when you are hungry
When you are hungry, you also fancy something less healthy, and it is too easy to buy too much and too unhealthy foods.
See to, that you are full and health-motivated, when you do your shopping. It does make a difference.

18. Enjoy fun recreational activities
Engage in sports and exercise, that motivate you. There are so many fun activities, opportunities for getting stronger physically and mentally, all while becoming more healthy.
Choose something you like. And do include activities with a moderate to high level of exertion 2-3 times a week, for at least 20 minutes. This improves health and performance and increases fat burning.

19. Move about and maintain your weight and good health
Keep moving during the day. Move at any opportunity, get up, stand up, use the stairs, ride your bike. Avoid sitting down for more than an hour at a time.
Research has shown, that any kind of extra movement during the day improves health and fat burning.
Increase your NEAT: Non-exercise activity thermogenesis: The energy consumption during all kinds of activity apart from sleep, eating or exercise. E.g. tapping your fingers, moving your feet, gardening, riding a bike to work etc.

20. Sleep well
Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Relax for one hour, before you go to bed. Avoid coffee, tea, soda and alcohol before bedtime. Do not go to bed hungry or overfull.
Sleep in a dark, cool room with no noise or distractions. Daily exercises improves your sleep, but avoid exercising within 3-4 hours of going to sleep.

If you sleep too little, it will increase hunger. Poor or minimal sleep slows down fat burning, diminishes insulin secretion and increases blood sugar level, all of which increases the risk of diabetes and gaining weight.
Too little sleep also impairs concentration, performance, during work, every day life and sports and results in a bad mood and stress.

Be positive. Look forward. Do it now; do yourself some good.

Happy New Year: The Best Year Ever!

Motivation and habit change

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On the last days of the year it is time to take stock and set new goals. Time and time again it has been proven, that by reflecting, taking the time to think things over, evaluating, learning from experience, and setting specific goals and writing them down, the chances of reaching one’s goals, a.o. new habits, are vastly improved.
So do it now. Take 5 minutes off for reflection and goal setting.

Taking stock
Take a look back upon the past year. Do it in an ‘appreciative’ way; be thankful for all of the good things, miss out any ‘failures’ and ponder upon the successes; what went well (and how)!

  • What was the number one experience this year (job, school, leisure time, sports)?
  • What was I best at (what did I do particularly well)?
  • Where, how, did I improve this year (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially)?


  • What can I do better in the new year?
  • Where, in which areas, would I like to improve in the new year?
  • What would I like to have more of in the new year?

Same questions, e.g. “what is your most exciting experience this year” can be used for more interesting (New Year’s) dinner conversations.

Goal setting (realistic dream goals)
Now write down 10 goals for the new year, for family, lifestyle, job, school, leisure time, sport, whatever comes to mind.
When your main goals are listed, then break them down into manageable smaller goals.
Integrate those on your daily to-do list onwards. Do something, small (or big) things, every day, until you reach your goal(s).

Recommendation: Start today!

Best wishes from me to you and your loved ones,

10 Super Tips: Get Much More Out Of Your Fitness Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Fitness strength training is super training for every one regardless of sex and age. Unfortunately many fitness exercisers are wasting their time.
And it takes so little to make fitness so much better.

Good fitness 1) improves metabolism and increases energy expenditure during exercise and rest, 2) prevents injuries and 3) improves sports and everyday performance.

Poor fitness 1) gives minimal to moderate results, 2) may overload the body and 3) take up too much of your precious time.
Avoid wasting your time, check out these super tips for optimal fitness in minimal time.

Få meget mere ud af din fitness træning

1. Work out with direction and goal: ‘Less is more‘: It is better to work out for 20 min. in a sweat, than 60 min. with low energy levels. Go for out!

A higher intensity means saving time and getting better results:
Warm op: Do a 5 min. warm-up, and increase your performance by 10 %.
Choose effective exercises
: Do not waste your time with meaningless exercises.
Lift heavier weights: Lift ‘as heavy as you can’, meaning, that you are tired at the last lift. (1-3 sets of) 10 repetitions is a good number initially.

2. Minimize rest-pauses: Do not pause completely or rest for too long:
Optimize your workouts markedly by 1) timing your pauses; for general fitness 1-1½ minutes, for heavy weight lifting 3-5 minutes, and 2) having active rest-pauses, walk around instead of sitting down – or work other muscles during your pause (superset).

3. Quality vs. quantity. Do not lift more times or more weight than you are able to with correct technique. Better to do fewer (lighter) perfect repetitions.
Sloppy training is ‘memorized’ by the body, is stressful and very difficult to ‘undo’.
Quality training gives better results faster!

4. Train technically correct (in accordance with your goals): Only a few inches of deviation, means that the exercises work differently. Know what you are training, ensure that your body is in the right position and listen to your body – does it feel right?
Too many are pulling cables and weights in wrong directions and the effect is lost!

Note: Better workouts and results are facilitated by functional mobility, so do cool down with relevant stretches to keep the body mobile; this can improve your motor skills. 

5. Train heavy and fast. Speed improves agility. Start by lifting in a moderate tempo; 2-4 sec. for the lift, 2-4 sec. to lower the weight.
Over time: Lift faster, lower with control, e.g. 1 second for the lift, 3 sec. to lower it.
Advanced; Lift, in select exercises, as fast as you can, explosively, lower with control.

6. Awaken your muscles! The muscles get accustomed to the training, so make them react again by unaccustomed training. Vary exercises, programs and methods.
E.g. multi-angular training: Squats with narrow, moderate and wide stance and push-ups with narrow, moderate and wide hand position.

7. Change program frequently, e.g. every 3.-6. week, to keep motivation and stimulate the muscles to respond and improve.
Alternate moderate and heavy training: 6 weeks with 3-4 sets x 8-12 repetitions (hypertrophy), and 3 weeks with 5 sets x 5-8 repetitions (strength, requires basic training).
Exception: If you still progress and are happy with your present program.

8. Test yourself every month. Fitness Testing is easy and fun. It helps goal-setting, makes programming easier and training much more motivating.

9. Set goals, put them in your calendar or training log. Divide the goal into smaller goals for each period, e.g. one for every 1-2 months.
Goal-setting should be SMART, Specific and Measurable, accepted, Realistic and Timed – be concrete, eg. from 30 to 40 lbs in 1 month.

10. Train with a partner. This improves intensity and compliance. A partner can help, pace and ‘spot’: check if you are lifting with proper form and assist, when you want to lift more (if you do not have a partner, use a trainingbook or -app for motivation).

Apart from the fitness training itself, a healthy diet and lifestyle is essential for optimal results – and it does not have to be difficult. Make gradual improves using a ‘small increment technique’.

If you want more and better exercises, lots of inspiration and motivation for your fitness resistance training, check out these two bestsellers, available from

Resistance Training Exercises and Stability Ball Exercises.

   Resistance Training Exercises Fitness BooksStability Ball Exercises Fitness books

10 Top Tips: Get The Most Out Of Your Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Don’t waste your time! Check these 10 expert tips, based on motivation theory and advanced sports science, and get the most out of your training time.

Få Mest Muligt Ud af Din MotionFå Mest Muligt ud af Træningen      Få Mere Ud af Din Træning og motivation

1. Find your internal motivation, find out what’s fun and meaningful in training: 1) It feels good working up a sweat and feeling the muscles work, 2) you get to know your body, 3) you get more energy, perform better and can do things, you couldn’t do before.
Alternatively for external motivation: Put up a photo on your fridge of training or an athlete, that inspires you or give yourself a reward for reaching one of your training goals.

2. Enjoy your favourite form of training: Try different things; dance, martial arts, fitness, group exercise, individual exercise, ball games, racket sport, water sport. What motivates you the most, gives you the greatest chance of starting, committing and adhering to it.

3. Do cross training, mix different training modalities and activities; mix cardio, strength, coordination and balance, flexibility, indoor and outdoor, in the water or on the ground, with or without equipment, with or without music. The body and mind loves variety. It improves your motor skills and provides all-round fitness.

4. Do strength training, e.g. 3 times a week, 20-30 min. pr. time: It improves your metabolism, increases energy expenditure during workouts and recovery. It reduces the risk of injury and improves everyday and sports performance. And it’s easy!

5. Surprise your body. Your body reacts especially well to unfamiliar training, so dig out forgotten exercises and activities, e.g. hula-hooping or football. Or vary your advanced strength exercises with basic, heavy training.

6. Change your program regularly, every 4-6 weeks, to keep the motivation and stimulate the muscles to respond even better.
The exception: If you still progress and is happy with your program.

7. Organize your training in your calendar or a training log. Set time aside for training, get into a good rhythm. This is the basis for lasting result-oriented training habits and gives an overview of your training pattern; indicates if you undertrain or (rare) overtrain.

8. Set goals, a dream goal is fine, but split it up into realistic smaller goals: Taking small steps ‘Small Increment’ technique is brilliant and doable. See to, that your goal setting is SMART, Specific, Measurable – e.g. from 0-1 mile in 5 weeks – Accepted, Realistic and Timed. And in particular: Test yourself to see how you progress, fitness testing is a very motivating activity.

9. Train with a partner. Training with one or more people, e.g. group exercise, has proved to increase exercise adherence and a partner can support you and help you to increased (heavier weight, higher speed) performance.
If you prefer to work out on your own, then let your heart rate monitor, training log, training app or your workout music be ‘your partner’.

10. Make your diet and lifestyle enhance your training. Drink approx. 2 liters of water every day throughout the day. Eat in moderation and eat healthy, whole-grain, vegetables and healthy proteins and oils (e.g. oily fish).
Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. You get more out of your training and faster.
Also: See to that your training clothes and shoes have a comfortable fit, let you move with easy and are sweat-transporting (and lay it out ready for use).
This makes a difference and enhance your training experience.