By Vanessa Packer
I DIDN’T HAVE A CLUE what I was walking into at 9am for the Intensati class at Equinox. I had heard about the empowerment, the affirmations, that the class was a good sweat. What I hadn’t expected was the energetic shift I would experience twenty minutes in, as the beads of sweat rolled into my eyes and I yelled, “All I need is in within me now!” High-fiving my classmates, smiling ear to ear, amped for the day ahead, “All I need is within me now.” We sat down with the founder of Intensati to find out how her journey began and what keeps her motivated and mindful throughout her day to day life. From her favorite smoothie recipe to her relaxation rituals, Ms. Moreno leads us through what is means to live Satilife.
In your own words, what is Intensati?
Intensati is an exercise where you consciously choose what you say or what you do versus being in the mindset where you are stuck in your habits or stuck in what society tells you. Being able to make a clear choice about what you mean, not because you are stuck in a habit or perception, but because you get to choose it for love versus fear. It’s about changing perception of your self.
How is it different from, say, a kickboxing class?
It’s about your mind being in the same game as your body. Sati means mindfulness, so it’s a practice of mindfulness and empowerment, but it blends the physical, the mental and the spiritual because you have to feed yourself as a whole. It’s not just focusing on the body. We try to integrate all the pieces for one goal with integrity. When you come to the gym are you exercising with intent? Not just, “OMG I’m so fat,” “I look terrible.”
When did you decide you wanted incorporate affirmations with actual exercise?
I think the big piece was that I started teaching yoga. I love starting with a theme and having lessons. I thought, “Why am I still not a yoga teacher in all the classes that I teach?” Not everybody goes to yoga. There are these people who want the high intensity and sweaty workout. I thought could I bring the yoga world into the fitness world on a level where new people can really benefit.
When did you come up with the concept of Intensati?
I was studying with Anthony Robbins and we were on the beach chanting affirmations “All I need is within me now.” Lightning struck and I was like, “OMG, that’s it. A class with affirmations.” Once you interrupt the mind of doubt and criticism, you get present to your true self. That presence says everything is ok, I am good.
I heard you quoting the Dalai Lama and Marianne Williamson, who are some of your role models?
Over the years they’ve changed so much. I’m a voracious reader. I love John Friend from Anusara yoga. As far as my spiritual practice, teachers like Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. I’m a student of the I Am Discourses, which not many people know about. They are discourses on love and acknowledging the presence within you.
Was there a game changer moment in your personal life that opened you up to this thinking?
It was a journey. I was overweight and on a diet since the third grade so the whole beginning of my life was a struggle with my weight and not knowing how to control it. Then I found exercise and jazzercise when I was in high school. I started teaching it and started to lose weight. Exercise saved my life in that respect, but since I didn’t know how to control my diet, I tried to control it with exercise. I was working out five to eight hours a day, teaching twenty-five classes a week. I got to the point where that didn’t work anymore. At the time, I had a television show and the executive producer called me in and said you’re gaining too much weight. I thought to myself, “I have no integrity. I’m selling something I don’t even own and it’s time for me to get my shit together if I want to stay in the business I love.” So I went to therapy and to a 12-step program and started studying and looking for that piece that helps you create lasting change.
Do you believe part of your happiness came from being thin?
My whole life I thought thin, married people are happy but they’re not at all. I was ripped, in aerobics championships, on magazine covers, and I was still not there. Something was missing. So I went to Wayne Dyer’s group to study. When I walked in everyone was meditating and as soon as I got there he opened his eyes and said “You are what you think you are.” I started bawling. That was the missing piece. I kept thinking I’m a fat girl trying to get thin so I kept running away from the fat and the weight, worried that I was going to be fat again. That’s what I was carrying. I could never been thin and happy if I continued thinking I was fat, even though I wasn’t.
What is your philosophy now when it comes to eating?
It’s really about coming from that place of love and seeing your body as sacred. What would you feed yourself if you really believed your body was sacred space? It’s valuable not just from the ego standpoint of trying to lose weight, but really getting to what your body needs versus feeding yourself because you’re emotionally unsatisfied or sad. It’s really looking for food with the highest nutritional value and the lowest calorie cost. It’s also important to step back and uncover the emotional attachment to food. Allow for meditation and your spiritual practice to play into it. Because if you’re not feeling good spiritually, you’re going to be hungry.
What is an ideal day of eating like for you?
My diet is mostly vegan. In the morning it’s a smoothie or wholegrain bread with nut butter. Lunch is always a version of salad with vegetables, brown rice and beans. Dinner is pretty much the same thing. It’s not much about variety but I do eat pizza. I don’t have hard lines, but I would say 85% of my diet is plant-based. I might have a yogurt but I don’t normally have dairy. Or chicken or fish when I don’t normally eat meat.
Do you cook?
I cook a lot. I make a lot of salads. Everything I make is usually raw. I love tahini with lemon and black pepper as a dressing. My kids are just getting started on the food. I make a spinach, avocado, and banana plate for my 11 month to get his palate developed. For my two year old, today I packed a lunch of hummus, cucumber, green beans, broccoli and olives and she loved it. She has a smoothie every morning. She asks, “Make me a pink shake, mommy.” We don’t give her dairy. My wife is not as hardcore as I am. She’s healthy but she’s more lax. She’ll say to me, “Just give her the lollipop,” so we balance it out.
What indulgence do you love?
I like sweets a lot. Cookies especially. My favorites are the chocolate chip ones from Levain Bakery. One of those will make you not want to have cookies for a long time.
What is your go to smoothie?
I have two favorites. A green one that I make with cucumbers, celery, lemon, parsley, and banana. It’s good, it’s different from a juice because it keeps the fiber. It’s more filling. I make is a fruit smoothie with just fruits and almonds, almond milk, hemp seeds and water.
Do you have supplements or vitamins that you really rely on that you love?
Right now I’m taking so many because I started a detox for joints, which entails 15 days, and you start by eliminating things. You have one day of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and tofu, second day is just fruits and vegetables, and then the third day is just raw. Then four days of no eating at all. It’s intense. You have water, a little juice or soup if you need it during those days. Normally I just take a multivitamin.
How do you workout when you do that cleanse?
I actually feel ok. I started this two weeks ago, but I was drinking coffee, which of course has no integrity. Then I got three days in and I just had to give it up. So now I’m doing a week with no coffee and keeping it clean.
What is your favorite healthy snack?
I love avocados. I love avocado and hummus with cucumber. I like rice cakes, the little ones. I eat a million nuts, sometimes with some dark chocolate.
Do you have a favorite chocolate brand?
There is one sold at Beecher’s that has hot chili pepper in it. You can’t really over indulge in that.
Do you have a favorite mantra?
“I am the commanding presence causing the fulfillment of my desire,” from the I Am Discourses. When you acknowledge that space within you, you see that as the source of what you want fulfilled versus something outside of you. It’s getting your ego out of the way.
For someone completely new to this way of thinking, what can they do to improve their health?
The most important thing is catching that inner voice of self-criticism. It’s poisonous and toxic. There was one month I told everyone throughout the day as many times as you can, just remind yourself that you love yourself and see how that really shifts your filter of how you see everyone and yourself. Most of the time we’re not doing anything near that, we’re doing the opposite. We have 50,000 thoughts a day and 99% of those are negative and repeated. So we just have the same thoughts. Over and over. And they are usually, “I’m not enough.”
Do you think that’s the biggest issue people have? The ‘I’m not enough’?
Yes, because it’s the lack mentality, which reeks of fear. The ‘I’m not enough’ keeps giving the same experience that it will never be enough. Every time I ask the question in class, “Who’s had that thought recently that you’re not enough?” Everybody raises their hand. Everybody. We walk around thinking we’re the only one. It’s a cultural virus that we pass on and on.
What is your favorite affirmation right now?
I am Willpower. It’s about changing your mindset so you can thrive through life.