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Mind Over Body

While traveling through the Algerian desert on a summer day in 1962, 15-year-old Yamina Zouareg gave birth to a son, Nordine, in the back of a French army truck. The baby weighed just more than 2 pounds and was mere skin and bones.

Zouareg's grit and determination helped keep her son alive during the first tumultuous year of his life. Diagnosed with rickets, the boy grew up skinny and unhappy. At 19, he weighed 108 pounds and was smaller than his two younger sisters.

The tide changed that year. After school one day, he saw a gymnastics competition on television. At that moment, he knew he wanted to be a gymnast.

Undeterred by his physique, Nordine Zouareg set out to achieve his goal. Along the way, a coach suggested that he try bodybuilding to increase his size and strength. As he began to work out, his goal shifted from becoming a gymnast to a competitive bodybuilder.

In 1986, Zouareg won four bodybuilding titles--Mr. France, Mr. Europe, Mr. World and Mr. Universe. While you might think that only muscles earned him the titles, Zouareg's strength also comes from his mind.

"I went from a sickly baby born in the back of a truck to becoming an American with Mr. World and Mr. Universe titles ... I made it with core desire."

Zouareg says that identifying your core desire is the first step in achieving a goal. But a desire must be from the heart instead of the mind. He helped clients understand this as a fitness manager from 1999 to 2004 at Miraval Life in Balance. Now he works independently as Miraval's professional fitness coach and has his own business.

"I had a client who wanted to lose 30 pounds. When I asked why, she said she wanted to look better than her ex-husband's girlfriend. That's a reason, not a desire. ... That is not powerful enough to change your behavior. We had to turn the conversation around. I asked if she had kids. ... I said, 'How about becoming a model for your kids?' That immediately shifted the focus. She saw herself running with her kids. That became a core desire versus a reason. ... You have to feel it deep down inside you. It speaks from the heart, not the intellect."

Zouareg says the mind can derail us from our goal if we listen to the wrong voice. "The problem is, people don't believe they can achieve what they want. ... If you are driven by fear, frustration and doubt, that has a direct affect on hormones. It creates an environment to gain weight. ... If you think about what you don't have and what you don't want, (what you want) won't happen."

If you want to lose weight, "truly see yourself in shape. ... Start loving that picture. Remember how it feels. Keep that picture in your mind. ... Feeling is the language of the soul."

Zouareg stresses that you must recondition the mind: "If you are fearful, doubtful and frustrated, you are one step closer to fatness. If you are happy, grateful and forgiving, you are one step closer to fitness."

While working at Miraval, Zouareg says that he encountered the same patterns in his clients. "They asked the same question--'How can I lose weight fast?'--instead of going within and asking if it was what they wanted. And six months to one year later, they were worse or didn't change. I asked myself, 'Am I failing them, or are they failing themselves?'"

The answer to that question led Zouareg back to his youth and his climb toward his bodybuilding championships. As he examined his life, he saw the importance of mental work when achieving a goal. He decided to write a book: Mind Over Body: The Key to Lasting Weight Loss Is All in Your Head, to be released on June 1.

As summed up in the title, Zouareg's book discusses an often-missing factor in weight-loss techniques. "It requires mental reconditioning. Exercise doesn't work. Nutrition doesn't work. They are just part of the equation. The biggest part is the mind."

Zouareg's book outlines a four-step mental process: Identify your core desire; use the power of intention; make an appropriate action plan; apply your resolve, and make it automatic. The book then shifts into the physical aspect with a fat-loss eating plan, an ultimate workout plan and a workout for body, mind and spirit. Zouareg says it's the most simple and effective workout he has seen. It takes 24 minutes a day, five days a week.

"This book is about fitness of life. It's not just about how to look good. It is how to be fit in your life--in your wallet, body, mind, everything."

Nordine Zouareg speaks and signs copies of his book, Mind Over Body: The Key to Lasting Weight Loss Is All in Your Head, at 7 p.m., next Thursday, May 31, at Barnes and Noble, 7325 N. La Cholla Blvd. For more information about the book, visit mindoverbodyonline.com. For additional information, visit tripleimpactcoaching.com.

More by Irene Messina

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