Really, what is motivation? Why do we need motivation? To keep track of our fitness and not let ourselves go? To reach our goals? To keep our spirits going? What is the point…?
The definition of motivation is to give reason, incentive, enthusiasm, or interest that causes a specific action or certain behavior. Motivation is present in every life function. Simple acts such as eating are motivated by hunger. Education is motivated by desire for knowledge. Motivators can be anything from reward to coercion.

There are two main kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is internal. It occurs when people are compelled to do something out of pleasure, importance, or desire. Extrinsic motivation occurs when external factors compel the person to do something.

A common place that we see the need to apply motivation, is in the work place. In the work force, we can see motivation play a key role in leadership success. A person unable to grasp motivation and apply it, will not become or stay a leader. It is critical that anyone seeking to lead or motivate understand “Howletts Hierarchy of Work Motivators.”

Salary, benefits, working conditions, supervision, policy, safety, security, affiliation, and relationships are all externally motivated needs. These are the first three levels of “Howletts Hierarchy”. When these needs are achieved, the person moves up to level four and then five. However, if levels one through three are not met, the person becomes dissatisfied with their job. When satisfaction is not found, the person becomes less productive and eventually quits or is fired. Achievement, advancement, recognition, growth, responsibility, and job nature are internal motivators. These are the last two levels of “Howletts Hierarchy.” They occur when the person motivates themselves, after external motivation needs are met. An employer or leader that meets the needs on the “Howletts Hierarchy” will see motivated employees and see productivity increase.

Another place motivation plays a key role is in education. One of the first places people begin to set goals for themselves is in school. Ask any adult: “What is the main thing that motivates you.” Their answer will most likely be goals. Even the simplest things in life are the result of goal setting. School is where we are most likely to learn the correlation between goals, and the definition of motivation. That correlation is what breeds success.

So, as you can see, motivation is what propels life. It plays a major role in nearly everything we do. Without motivation, we would simply not care about outcomes, means, accomplishment, education, success, failure, employment, etc.. Then, what would be the point?



I think we can all agree that “muffin tops” – the fat hanging over the waist of a too tight pair of pants – and beer bellies aren’t attractive. Still, when it comes to excess belly fat, the situation is more serious than how you look. Excess belly fat has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and but also stress.

When you have stress, your body releases certain “fight-or-flight” stress hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands: cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. When you first get stressed, these hormones kick into gear. Norepinephrine tells your body to stop producing insulin so that you can have plenty of fast-acting blood glucose ready. Epinephrine will relax the muscles in your stomach and intestines and decrease blood flow to these organs. Once the stressor has passed, cortisol tells the body to stop producing these hormones and to go back to digesting regularly. It’s normal for your cortisol levels to go up and down throughout the day, but when you are chronically stressed your cortisol level goes up… and stays there.

When your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body actually resists weight loss. Your body thinks times are hard and you might starve, so it hoards the fat you eat or have present on your body. Cortisol tends to take fat from healthier areas, like your butt and hips, and move it to your abdomen which has more cortisol receptors. Hello ab flab! In the process, it turns once–healthy peripheral fat into unhealthy visceral fat (the fat in your abdomen that surrounds your organs) that increases inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. This belly fat then leads to more cortisol because it has higher concentrations of an enzyme that converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol. The more belly fat you have, the more active cortisol will be converted by these enzymes. Yet another vicious cycle created by visceral fat.

So what if you have belly fat? Lose the weight by following the best nutrition and lifestyle strategies that support you in times of stress. When you limit your caffeine to 200 milligrams a day, avoid simple carbs, processed foods, and refined grains, and get plenty of high-quality protein as well as heart pumping exercise, in addition to de-stressing yourself, you’ll automatically help your body keep your stress hormones, especially cortisol, lower. It’s a day by day choice you’ll have to make, but the results will be worth. Think how good it will be when you are as healthy on the inside as you look on the outside.


Breaking a sweat on a regular basis can get you into amazing shape, but research shows it can help you get smarter too. Learn to harness the total-body benefits of cardio workouts.

The Brain-Boosting Benefits of Cardio Exercises
You know that logging miles on the treadmill can give you a trim body, but adding more cardio to your life will also ratchet up your smarts, boost your productivity, rev your energy, and turn you into an unstoppable success machine. Even one 30-minute cardio session pumps extra blood to your brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at max efficiency. Cardio also floods the brain with chemicals that enhance functions such as memory, problem solving, and decision making. And new research has found that this kind of exercise may even cause permanent structural changes to the brain itself.

“Cardiovascular health is more important than any other single factor in preserving and improving learning and memory,” says Thomas Crook, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and memory researcher. “You’re working out your brain at the same time as your heart.”

And the mental mojo you get from cardio isn’t limited to making you smarter. It also has the power to lower your stress levels and shake you out of a funk. It’s no coincidence that so many high-achieving women—from Madonna to Condoleezza Rice—share the cardio habit. Here’s how it works.

Your Brain on Cardio
Anyone who has ever tackled a StairMaster has a pretty good idea of what happens to your body when you break a sweat. But here’s what’s going on in your head at the same time: All that extra blood bathes your brain cells in oxygen and glucose, which they need to function. The more they get, the better they perform.
Every muscle you move also sends hormones rushing to your brain. There, they mix with a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which plays a role in brain cell growth, mood regulation, and learning. “BDNF is like fertilizer for the brain,” says John J. Ratey, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Without it, our brains can’t take in new information or make new cells.”
Exercise has another vital role: It signals the release of several key hormones, including serotonin, the famed mood booster; dopamine, which affects learning and attention; and norepinephrine, which influences attention, perception, motivation, and arousal. This exercise-induced chemical cocktail has a powerful impact. “By elevating neurotransmitters in the brain, it helps us focus, feel better, and release tension,” Ratey says.
Experienced regularly, all that rushing of blood and hormones primes your brain to grow. In one study, researchers scanned the brains of people who exercised for one hour per day, three days a week, for a duration of six months. They discovered an increase in the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning. Working out literally bulked up the study participants’ brains, allowing them to perform better at tasks that require concentration and recall—two talents that come in handy if, say, you do your own taxes or tend to forget passwords. “Exercise improves attention, memory, accuracy, and how quickly you process information, all of which helps you make smarter decisions,” says Charles H. Hillman, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Capitalise on Cardio
Will any old way of raising your heartbeat also raise your success meter? Moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise—such as pedaling a bike, walking briskly, or anything where you’re breaking a sweat but can still carry on a conversation—shows promise in lab studies.
It takes at least 30 minutes of cardio three times a week to yield results, says Arthur F. Kramer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, based on his studies on cognition and exercise. And if you can build up to daily cardio sessions, recent studies show that you may boost BDNF in your brain more rapidly than if you work out every other day. But it still might take a while to build the kind of brainpower that buffers you against stress.
After a few months of a regular cardio habit, gradually increase the intensity of your workouts to boost your mental returns. “Add a few vigorous efforts like running or interval training to your weekly program,” Ratey says. Or try alternating between your usual routine and some workouts that are mentally challenging, such as dancing or tennis, a few times a week. Activities like these require coordination, which engages several areas of the brain at once—it’s the mental equivalent of doing a pushup to work your entire upper body versus a biceps curl that targets only one muscle.
And if you happen to take a break from regular exercise, even for up to two weeks, no worries. Your brain has a molecular memory, which helps it churn out high levels of BDNF after just two days of hitting the elliptical again.
If a few hours a week on the treadmill ultimately helps you think quicker, make better decisions, and climb the ladder at work, your sweat will have literally paid off.
Text extracts from a Women’s Health article.


Okey, I have a confession to make… I’ve been naughty. I stepped over the line. I’ve broken my own rules. Refeed going a bit too far… and too long. Here’s the evidence. Whoops. The whole packet was devoured within a 24 hour period. Not good! There’s loads of crap in those biscuits that I don’t want in my body, but sometimes you just have to let go of the restraints in order to regain your motivation again. Tomorrow is a new day and I’m going to get me some Shirataki noodles again… to have with my vegetable stir-fry all week. Yummy! Upwards and onwards…

Now… sleep!


What an awesome Zumba class I had today. Lots of smiling faces and happy people. I can’t wait to introduce some new songs and choreography to my class on Tuesdays. I’m working on some new songs but can’t make up my mind which ones I should use and which ones to take out of the current repertoire. I’m sure I’ll figure it out though.

Now, colouring my hair with a colder brown-blonde colour, in preparation for a lighter summer look coming up for Spring. Can’t wait for Spring. And Summer. Some heat! This cold and snowy weather has to be done with soon…


Haven’t been writing for a while because all I want to write about is the misery of my back pain… and that is no fun reading anyway. This week is the first one completely off the pain killers, which is bittersweet, as I can really feel the pain but also notice I am getting better, little by little. Still a bit too slow for my pace, but I just have to accept it and be grateful I can walk, let alone still instruct my classes.

This week has been a good one. I have been semi-strict with my diet and I’ve seen results straight away. When you see the results that fast, it only spurs you on even more. It helps a lot to count the calories I consume each day. I haven’t been as strict as I used to be, but the act itself in keeping track of what goes in my body and also what gets burnt is simply math and produces the results I want. I’m on track.

AND… I have finally landed a great internship place… actually two. Gotta say no to one of them… hmm. Luxury problem to have, eh?!

Now, a fabulous weekend in the snowy Winter Wonderland awaits. Rest!


Pauline Nordin

Here’s an exclusive Question & Answer session with Pauline Nordin, creator of Fighter Diet, pro bodybuilder, fitness model, personal trainer and writer.

Pauline, how did you get all your vegetables every night when you were filming the Biggest Loser in Estonia?
I befriended the big fat chef who did not know one word English, but every night I hovered around the kitchen and when I saw the big plates with leftover steamed veggies I took it to my room. Some times he did not see me going but when he came back the plates were clean. That is how he gave me the nickname “the pig”.

What can really push your buttons in the gym?
When my headphones, my heart rate monitor AND my Iphone team up to go die on me on the same time, that makes me really stressed out… I try to stay calm but I get furious. I am a control freak with my training, so I need my add-ons to work!

Have you ever had an emergency or something like that in the gym?
Once I was maxing out on a leg press and I wanted to push beyond my limit when suddenly the lactic acid got so strong and I could not unhook the sled since it was a bit too high. My legs would not do it. I had to sit around panicking for minutes before my boyfriend came to my rescue. I was too embarrassed to ask anyone else. I also got stuck under a barbell with my hair doing bench presses once, so that is why I never wear my hair down when doing those things….

What do you never eat?
I never eat any junk food. Last time and only time I had a burger was in september 2006. I had a Carls Junior bacon burger after the tournament of pro figure Champions. I ordered it with some other items but I was so not used to fast food shopping I forgot it and left without the rest. Newbie beginner huh!

Pauline, are there any regular bodybuilding foods you never eat as well?
Sure. Plenty. I don’t eat tuna. I don’t eat brown rice. I don’t eat fast carbs post workout. I am not obsessed with getting protein every two hours… I was for years until I realized nothing actually happen with me not doing it! However, I supplement with BCAAs several times a day between meals. I am sure that helps with muscle revovery as well as sharpening the brain!

What are the most common beginner mistakes you see as a trainer?
The frustration that comes from expecting you will turn into a fitness model in three months when you have no background in training whatsoever. Some times I wonder what the deal is with constant entertainment too: you don’t need a lot of variety to grow muscle, you need consistency! Entertainment you get elsewhere but in the gym, that is why we have cable tv and movies!

Sometimes I reach plateaus in my weight loss. I don’t know what to do. What would you advice Pauline?
Take a good look at what you are doing. Are you pushing the cardio? Are you adhering to a weight loss promoting diet plan? Are you for sure not eating extra from the healthy foods you do eat? Usually people know what is wrong deep inside, but they blame it on their genetics or situation when all they need is more focus!


Shirataki noodles for dinner.

What a great feeling to be back in structure land!
I have implemented some foods taken from Fighter Diet to try it out how it fits into my lifestyle and nutritional needs. Started off the day with writing down the brekkie of my massive porridge, which doesn’t add up to that many calories in total. Now I know, I am going to prepare it the day before because I was starving by the time it was finished.

Anyhow, the day has been good and I’m well chuffed to be organised with the food. Suits me so much better. For dinner I am trying something completely new… Shirataki noodles. They’re made from the Konjac plant, which means Devil’s Tongue… hmmm. 🙂 I’m making spaghetti bolognese but with these noodles as the pasta part. It’s gonna be interesting!


Right… time to get back to goal scoring and target striving. That’s the best way for me to keep my focus in life, and also the time when I feel optimal overall. Although, I train regularly through my group training instructing, it doesn’t feel like I’m getting stronger or more toned. Could be I should cut myself some slack, because after all, I’ve been injured and am trying to bounce back from that. However, I feel I should be seeing some results either way.

I have decided I am going back to calorie counting for a little while, until my back injury is better and I can stack on the heavy weights once again and go crazy with the cardio.

Here are my different upper arm forms:

September 2009
October 2009
February 2010
I know photos can be deceptive, but the way it looks to me, it doesn’t seem like a huge form improvement. Well, I have decided I am going back to what I know best, which is the pure math of calories in-calories out calculations plus a burn of at least 500kcal 6 times a week. Will be posting weekly form pictures.
It all begins tomorrow… Can’t wait to put some proper structure back into my life. Once again: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”


Cardio obsession seems to be a habit strictly allowed for those doing a show in three months or for those who have a deadline to reach a certain weight. Otherwise, yes you are crazy if you do more than the norm of 45 minutes a day 5 times a week.

It’s seen as compulsive if you are as serious with your cardio regimen as with your weight training because “who the heck goes to the gym to do cardio twice a day all year long?”

But, if you want to LOOK like you can step onstage any day…. You need to TRAIN like you are gonna step onstage any day….. And if you obtain a leanness a certain way you will need to keep doing that to keep that leanness. “Now you reached your goal so now you can relax and cut down the volume in half” they say but what if YOUR body does not see that new stimulus as stimulating enough? Are you supposed to cut back when you know that will tell your body to soften up again?

People lie about how much cardio they do. Trust me, ask any super lean fitness person and they will most likely claim they do a lot less than they do. Or if you meet these people at big events, nobody says they dieted for three months to be shredded for the booth work, no, they want you to believe they look like this all the time! Without any real issues with cardio or strict food guidelines!

I don’t know where that crap is coming from…. I have no problem standing up for me doing lots of cardio even though I don’t compete. It’s for ME. It’s because I do NOT want to be out of season because it’s season for my all the time. I don’t live by some competition agenda. I don’t need shows to stay disciplined. I don’t need deadlines. I just do, execute because it’s my way of doing it.

Is too much cardio unhealthy? Sure it is! It’s oxidative stress. It can lead to constant inflammation etc. But compare the extreme fitness lifestyle to whatever other lifestyle and you will see there are “healthy ways” and “super unhealthy” lifestyles.

If you’ve read my blog for a while you should see a pattern. I practice a lot of extreme practices, but I do it as healthily as I can while doing it. I’m not about being moderate or optimal. I’m about reaching my own personal goals in life. You don’t get there by doing things half-heartedly or with “moderation”. Moderation is for you who are happy with moderate results. I happen to be one of those who are not.

Pauline Nordin from Fighter Diet blog.