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How I Stay So Happy: Q&A with Patricia Moreno
In her very intense classes at the prestigious Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City, personal trainer Patricia Moreno draws a devoted following of students who swear by her methods. They also go on about how darned joyful she seems to be at all times. If you get a chance to be in a room with her for even 30 seconds, you’ll see it.
We caught up with Patricia between classes to find out what keeps her so upbeat — and how the rest of us can get our hands on whatever she eats for breakfast.
Q. You absolutely exude joy and passion when you teach. Where does that come from?
A. I have such a love and joy of movement. When I was young, I was overweight and depressed. I was on a diet by age 8, and I always struggled with being 60 to 70 pounds overweight. I always wanted to be a dancer, but being the ninth of 10 kids, I had to wait. Once I found dance exercise, my body began to change and I found a way to express myself. This led to self-confidence and real joy.
When did you first start shouting affirmations and empowering statements while teaching?
About five years ago I wanted to create something new, something that would influence my overweight, under-exercised family … something that would impact them and other people. I became a life coach, and during the training we spoke affirmations out loud. In an inspired moment I combined speaking my affirmations with exercises. At that moment I realized that my actions and my attitude and my intention exploded into good feeling. It left me crying and laughing.
What are some of your favorite affirmations?
“I am strong now” is one of my favorites. One of the things that stops us is fear, so saying, “I am strong now” is very powerful. “I believe that I will succeed” helps me remember that doubt is a choice — and at this moment, there’s nothing in the future except what you put there with your mind. This reminds me, and others, that life is a choice. I also love, “What I desire is on its way to me now and it’s coming to me in amounts greater than I can imagine.”
Did you always love and appreciate yourself?
No, and I so wanted to access that ability. Everything I had read said it’s important to “love yourself.” I realized that if I was going to teach this, I needed to learn how to appreciate myself. It has been a challenge for me to get to this place and it’s become a daily choice and practice. I now work out, meditate and journal when I find myself in judgment of myself.
So what do you “eat for breakfast”? What’s a typical day for you?
These moves Patricia calls Power Pose and I Am Strong Pose are part of the morning workout/affirmation routine she says is one secret to her everyday joy.
The first thing I do in the morning is sit up in bed and do transcendental meditation, a form of meditation that uses a personal mantra. This takes me deep quite quickly. I then write in my journal. Sometimes, if I have something important coming up, I write the script for how it will go.
Then I work out. I do a combination of yoga and weight training that includes flexibility and balance. In midday I work on emails and phone calls and create new programs. Starting at about 4 p.m., I go back to the gym, do some meditation and then teach two or three classes. In the evening I read, see friends, take a bath, watch a little TV. I try to detach from work once I get home.
It really is a practice of defining what works for me. I keep sugar out of my diet because when I eat it, I go in the wrong direction and crave more. I keep my weekdays very structured. I eat three meals a day and eat a lot of vegetables and protein. On weekends I like to enjoy a few special treats — a homemade tortilla with butter or cheese is one of my favorites.
Who are some of your role models or heroes?
I love Deepak Chopra because he simplifies spirituality in a way that is accessible to so many people. I love Marianne Williamson because she distinguishes between living in love versus living in fear. If we learn nothing else in life, learning that we can shift into love at any moment is so important. I also love Anthony Robbins and the way he can transform a room full of people.
Do you believe being physically fit helps you feel happy in a spiritual sense, too?
When you are living in a place connected to your body and really honoring, respecting and loving your body, it gives you a kind of love and self-esteem that I believe connects you to your soul.
Want more? Visit Patricia Moreno’s blog.