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Want to lose weight? Do a spiritual workout

Fitness expert Patricia Moreno shares her principles for weight-loss success, which focus on the connection between mind and body. Here, she explains the workout, called IntenSati, and shows off some of the movements it involves.
/ Source: TODAY books

Fitness expert Patricia Moreno shares her principles for weight-loss success, which focus on the connection between mind and body. In this book excerpt, she explains the workout, called “IntenSati.”

IntroductionI have struggled for most of my life with weight, eating  disorders, diets, and different workouts, always looking  for the answer to my problem. Yet I could never find the magic  pill, the perfect diet, the exercise of all exercises. What I have  found is that most anything will work ... if you can get yourself to do it. It is not the diet that fails, but the willpower that fails. It is not that an exercise doesn’t work for your body type; it is that you can’t get yourself to commit to doing it consistently, or you’re simply not motivated enough to start.

I come from a family of eleven kids: eight girls and three boys. In my home, there were always huge amounts of food — and no discipline or rules. So I ate whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted — wonderful Mexican food and all the popular American junk foods: doughnuts, sodas, cookies, ice cream. By the time I was fifteen, I weighed 212 pounds! Then came diets, diet pills, fasts, liquid diets; you name it, I did it all.

Whenever I was on a diet I would lose weight, and whenever I wasn’t I would gain it all back ... and then some.

I started teaching aerobics in high school and got down to 140 pounds, but over the years my weight always fluctuated by 30 or so pounds. I also battled bulimia, the dreadful binge-and-purge cycle, and exercise addiction. It moved me into a depression and a deeper self-loathing; I was a fitness professional who was not living a very healthy life, and I had a secret that I didn’t want anyone to find out. My guilt around food got so bad that even eating a bowl of lettuce would send a tidal wave of shame over me.

The secret grew, the guilt and shame grew, and my perspective of myself worsened every day. I had managed to increase my workouts to five to eight solid hours a day. It was the only way I could manage myself. One day I finally opened up to a good friend, sharing all my struggles around food, exercise, and body image. As soon as I told her about my secret pain, the healing began. I found a therapist who specialized in eating disorders, Dr. Judith Brissman, and over the course of a few years she helped me recover from bulimia. With her guidance, I found my way out of the darkest and loneliest period of my life. And here is where my longing for a better way began.

The journey has been a long and challenging one. I have spent every single day of my life since the third grade looking for solutions to my love-hate relationship with food and my body. This book has come about after more than twenty years in the fitness industry and my personal quest for freedom around issues of my body, my weight, my self-esteem, and my happiness. I have read much, studied voraciously, prayed, meditated, and searched for answers to the question “How do I get myself to where I want to be, both thin and happy?” I had been thin before, but the joy was still painfully missing from my life. I had successful workout programs, popular classes, a TV show. I was sponsored by clothing and shoe companies; I was in magazines, aerobics competitions, and ad campaigns. I trained thousands of instructors all over the world. I studied dance, yoga, martial arts, meditation, life coaching, and nutrition, but I still couldn’t find the key to happiness. So I sought to figure it out myself. And I did. Before your journey begins, there is some work to do. Maybe you have tried a million other diets before and failed. I hear you.

This one is different, and you will have to do something differently if you want a different result. Do you know one definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a new outcome. My program is the answer to that insanity. It is a unique, holistic approach to dieting and fitness. I will guide you through mental, physical, and spiritual exercises that will help you become who you really want to be. This is a spiritual approach to weight loss, and you will not only lose the pounds but gain clarity and purpose. You will gain both inner and thinner peace!

This program, called IntenSati, teaches you how to use your conscious, goal-making mind to access and awaken your spiritual or subconscious mind, the part of your mind that holds your beliefs about yourself, your personality, and the driving center of your actions. Ultimately we can set all the goals we want, but until we take action, we are just big talkers and will continue fueling the belief that it is too hard or impossible to have the life and body we want. You have everything you need right now within you to fulfill any goal; this program helps you awaken and channel that power.

My belief in the power of the mind was instilled in me at a very early age. My father was a firm believer in it. He read endless books on the subject; I remember him always having one book in his pocket and one in his hand. I believe that his interest in the power of the mind may have not only saved my life but instilled in me an understanding of the power of our thoughts at a very early age.

At twelve, I was diagnosed with a bone marrow infection in my right arm. I was in the hospital for about two weeks and the drugs I was being given were not making a difference. The doctors told my parents they were worried the infection would spread to my heart and be fatal. They planned to do an exploratory surgery and they told my parents that there was a possibility they would have to amputate my arm. I didn’t know about any of these conversations until afterward.

The night before the surgery my father came to my room after everyone had left. He sat by my bed and he told me a story. He had me close my eyes and imagine an army of soldiers, each dressed in their uniforms and carrying various tools, like shovels and picks. He had me envision this little army marching into my arm and finding the infection and shoveling it out. After they shoveled the infection out, they hosed the arm clean, then put everything back together and marched out. He mentally led me moment by moment through the whole process. I am not sure how long he sat by my side and we engaged in this visualization, but by the morning the infection was gone. The surgery was canceled, and soon I was released from the hospital.

For years I forgot about the incident, but when I began developing the intenSati method, this memory came flooding back to me, as vivid as if it had happened yesterday. What it shows me is that the power of the mind can do anything; it can, as it did for me, turn your health around and save your life. I know it is not easy to change the way you think. It takes discipline and practice as well as a deep level of self-love and self-respect because you have to own your power.

This book is about taking care of you, all parts of you: your mind, your spirit, and your body. This practice is a way of life. This is an awakening, a new beginning, an act of love and kindness, willpower, courage, compassion, and grace. There is no body that cannot get healthier. There is no mind that cannot become clearer. And there is no spirit that cannot overcome the greatest of challenges to find love and joy. So come with me and get ready to transform yourself into the person you know you can become.

What is the IntenSati method?
I always felt there was a missing link in the fitness programs out there: the link between mind and body. No matter what type of exercise you do, part of the process is nonphysical.

I believe that to transform yourself, you have to train not only your body but also your mind, your concentration, and your focus. Inten derives from “intention,” and Sati is a Pali word that means “mindfulness.” IntenSati is like no workout you have ever experienced. It fuses high-energy aerobics, martial arts, dance, yoga, and strength conditioning with meditation, positive psychology, and quantum physics. And while it sounds complex, it is so very simple: IntenSati combines spoken affirmations with simple choreography to build physical, mental, and spiritual muscle.

I felt a strong desire within me to create something that would really make a difference in people’s lives, something that would motivate those who were having trouble achieving their goals. Most of my students in New York City were young, successful, type-A people who loved a challenge and did not need to be motivated to get to the gym. But I knew this wasn’t the norm;

I wanted to create a practice for someone who doesn’t like exercise or has trouble sticking to a regular workout regime. On a personal level, I wanted to create something for my family, my sisters and brothers who were having trouble losing weight and keeping it off. This would be a workout that could work for anyone, at any age, and at any level of fitness; it would help people change how they think, move, speak, and act on a daily basis.

I call IntenSati a practice because it is an opportunity for anyone to practice feeling good, empowered, courageous, enthusiastic, passionate, focused, confident, happy, and in love. These are powerful positive emotions. After you practice feeling good and you know you can choose it, you will never be the same again.

In a traditional workout class, your body is going through the motions but your mind is on other things. You could be thinking about how much longer you have to endure this workout. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m dying ... only five more minutes and I’m outta here!” or “I have so much I need to get done at work this afternoon.” There is no way you can do your best while your mind is somewhere else and full of complaints. Even worse, you are not likely to continue with something you don’t enjoy. IntenSati is the first workout that fuses the power of positive thinking with physical exercise.

A new name for exercise
In IntenSati, you won’t find exercises called lunge, crunch, or squat. Instead, you’ll be doing exercises called Courage, Strength, and Faith, for example. The exercises are named for the attitude you are embodying, because the goal is to focus on training your emotions. In the following chapters, you will learn how to embody the statements with movements that will start to change you on a cellular level. Thoughts fuel your emotions, and motion fuels your emotions. So when you combine thought with action, your emotions will give you strength, courage, and stamina — all you need to make the right choices and hold tight to your vision.

Each exercise is broken down into three parts: the Action, the Attitude, the Affirmation. The Action is what you are doing with your body (the way you move your arms or legs or stand).

The Attitude is the expression of your heart — the emotion. The Affirmation is the mental exercise, or what you are saying. For example, when you do the exercise Strength, the action is a punch, the attitude is strength, and the affirmation is “I am strong.”

Excerpted from “The IntenSati Method” by Patricia Moreno. Copyright (c) 2010, reprinted with permission from Simon and Schuster.