Wellness Guru Patricia Moreno on the Secret to Optimizing Your Workout (Spoiler: It’s All in Your Head)

Here’s the thing about working out: it’s uncomfortable. Sure, we’re familiar with the well-known, oft-reported benefits of regular exercise — weight loss; lowered risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and osteoporosis; a post-workout boost in short-term brain function. But facts and figures aside, it takes a certain mental readiness to get going and stay going over the (figurative) long run.

Still, summoning this energy is easier than you may think. It all comes down to your inner dialogue and how you define exercise itself, affirms Patricia Moreno, creator of intenSati, a workout that combines empowering mantras with interval training, martial arts, dance and yoga. (Fun fact: Lauren Bush Lauren swears by it.)

Needless to say, Moreno is a big fan of affirmations. An expert in fitness, dance, martial arts, yoga, nutrition, meditation and spiritual practices, Moreno has spent the past 30-odd years in the wellness industry. She was inspired to create intenSati after 10 years in the fitness game. Despite being at the peak of her career — a Nike-sponsored athlete traveling the world for aerobics competitions — Moreno struggled with depression and disordered eating. Moreno realized that if she, as a professional, wasn’t able to achieve happiness through dieting and exercise, (1.) millions of others were probably feeling the same and (2.) her wellness formula was missing a crucial element. Her body and mind were not aligned.

The key, she discovered, is to focus on “gratitude and reverence” for your body as is — to stop thinking of working out as a 30-minute run or a means to some far-off end. “Exercise is not really a great weight loss tool, it’s a great state-changer,” holds Moreno. Any positive movement — even walking around the block blasting your favorite song — can be considered exercise. “The ultimate goal is that you change your state of being so that every choice you make in your day is improved because you feel better. We make better choices when we feel better.” Choices like eating better, moving more.

“It’s not just the workout you do, but it’s really how you’re speaking to yourself, how you’re feeling about yourself while you’re doing the workout that really determines the results,” Moreno adds. If you wake up feeling unmotivated or find yourself flagging during a workout, “Switch your mind and say, ‘Yes, I can!’ It literally interrupts the old statements of ‘I can’t’ and ‘I don’t want to.’ The result [of your workout] is determined by your state of mind. Are you going to go forward willingly and joyfully or stop where you always stop and get the same result?” It’s a no-brainer.

For more on intenSati, Moreno’s journey and how to optimize your workouts and make your fitness-focused phases last, watch our full interview with the wellness guru above. Be sure to check out Moreno’s five-minute daily at-home workout routine here.