Mind Over Body

Nordine-Zouareg. 150

This week’s guest is Nordine Zouareg award winning coach and author of Mind Over Body, and his new book that will be coming out is It’s Not About the Body. He describes how everybody can find their mental motivation; what he calls their core desire and also master tools which we are going to talk about: visualization, meditation, affirmation, to keep you on track with your wellness goals. Think about this as executive wellness for you so that you can perform at your top level. After you develop a foundation you are able to move on to inspiring yet effective programs to keep you happy, well and fearless forever.

Nordine has been a fitness coach and helped co-found the Miraval Life In Balance Program. You’ve heard Cathy and I in the last 3 or 4 months talk about Miraval. Well Nordine helped found the wellness program and worked with a ton of different celebrities around their wellness. People like Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Streisand, Janet Jackson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Neil Patrick Harris, and John Carey. He’s going to be able to impart a lot of  information that he shared about how they could be at their best.

He teaches the same program that has been wildly successful for these clients and himself in the past 20 years. We are going to give you some tips and tools about things that will allow you to perform in your top 10%. Nordine, aside from starting the program, has also been one of the youngest Mr. Universes. He’s going to talk about his background about what he did to get over adversity and be the star that he is.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: We are so focused these days on mindfulness, consciousness, and integrating well-being into our executive development programs. We talk a lot about emotional and social intelligence, and I think today what Nordine brings to the table, which I love, is how to integrate that whole philosophy—this whole idea of a whole person, not just the brain, not just the neuroscience, but the whole person into being your best. We are going to talk about intentional activities that improve your set-point.

Dr. Relly Nadler:  Nordine, welcome to the show.

Nordine Zouareg: Thank for having me.

Dr. Relly Nadler: We always start off with this, and I know because I’ve already heard this story, that your background is very interesting. Tell us a little bit about it and who some of the people are who may have influenced you the most in your career.

Nordine Zouareg: Well, I think I’ll have to start with my background. I was born in the back of a truck, a French Army truck, in the Sahara Dessert, to North African Bedouin parents. I weighed barely two pounds. I was thrown in the hospital after that.

Long story short, my parents immigrated to France to seek medical attention me; I spent two years of my life in hospitals. When I was 19 years old I weighed barely 108 pounds. Bullied by school mates and teachers alike until I was 19 years old and so I needed to do something. I couldn’t live my life that way. One day I got home and I had this little ritual that I was doing that was helping me a lot; it was crying. My kind of meditation—I was not aware of meditation back then, I didn’t know what it was. So I had my own way of dealing with stuff. I was going to my siblings bedroom—we shared a room, seven siblings in one bedroom—and I would sit in the corner and cry and cry. You know how when you cry you get stuff out of your chest.

One day coming back from school I was going directly to my room and I saw my siblings watching a television show; it was a gymnast doing the Iron Cross. I saw this picture of this perfect body and all of the sudden I asked myself: why not me? What can’t I be like that,  you know what I mean? It was something that has really stayed in my mind and started the premise of my work which we are going to talk about later on. So, I was not born Mr. Universe, I was a little, sickly baby. I was even diagnosed with rickets when I was a baby.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That’s fascinating. What was it that got you then into the body building and eventually becoming Mr. World, and Mr. Universe? Tell us a little bit about that. I think I remember in your book that you were the youngest next to Arnold Schwarzenegger, to become Mr. Universe?

Nordine Zouareg: Yes. Arnold and I hold the same title. He was younger than me, and I’m the second youngest to ever win Mr. Universe.

How did I start body building? Well I didn’t want to start to tell you the truth, I wanted to do gymnastics because I remembered that picture of that person on TV who was a gymnast so that is what I wanted to do. The next logical thing to do was to join a gymnastic club. So, having a lot of low self esteem, I didn’t muster the courage to do it on my own and join the gym, so I had to knock at the neighbor’s door and ask the neighbor’s son to come with me and join the gym. He became national champion and I became nothing. I broke my bones, right and left because I was too skinny for the sport.

One day we were competing and in gymnastics you compete as a team and you go to one practice after another and you have two judges. I was doing the pummel horse and I fell on my wrist and I broke my wrist. I remember one of the judges said to me, if you don’t continue then your team is going to have zero and that’s going to hurt your team. Because I didn’t want my team to lose, I continued on with a broken wrist.

When that was done, we were in the locker room—everybody celebrating because the team came in second. They put me in the corner and they told me that we lost because of you. We are second, but we could have won if you didn’t screw up. So, needless to say, I was very sad and my coach came to see me and he said, you know what, you really need to do something else. This is not for you.

So I went back home and went to that room again and did my meditation ritual just crying. I had to figure out something. It dawned on me that I needed to be more muscular so I joined a weight lifting gym. There I had my ups and downs due to low self esteem. I would go to the gym and somebody else is wanting to use the machine and you know how you just let them use it, right? Well for me, I had to wait until everybody had actually finished with their workout to be able to use the machine because I was projecting that low self esteem. I was telling them to treat me the way I was treated. It was my fault for projecting that low self esteem.

With all these things growing in your mind and heart you suffer, and at the same time you are trying to find an answer. I think the fact that I was so angry at myself and angry at other people, there was no way I could not seek within for an answer. Because of that I gathered enough willpower, so to speak, that led me to, in 3 ½ years, go from nothing; a little scrawny 19 year old 108 pound boy to Mr. France, Mr. Europe, Mr. World, Mr. World overall champion and Mr. Universe.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Nordine that is very powerful. You talk about the bones not being capable of withstanding the impact of what you were doing. At 19 you weighed 108 pounds. You have a new book that you have been working on called, It’s Not About the Body, and I think that’s so powerful because you think about what a nineteen year old young man who weighed 108 pounds has to go through to reach the success that you did. What were the one or two things you can tell our audience, that really captivated your heart, motivated you to pursue this and how did you get there? What were some of the steps you used to get there?

Nordine Zouareg: At first I always thought that I got where I got to be because of willpower. Then I soon discovered that it was not true. What powers it is just a by-product of what I’m going to tell you now.

I based all of that—everything that I have done, everything that I have achieved is based on one thing and one quote that I’m going to tell you and your audience. It is: “If you want to know what you have been doing in the past, look at your body now. If you want to know what you are going to be doing in the future, look at your mind now.”

So, what does that mean? Well, it simply means that if we look at my own story, and I’m sure that a lot of us have our own story. The sufferance and hurdles are different, not everybody is born in the back of a truck like I was, not everybody was 2 pounds at birth, not everybody got beaten up for years by schoolmates and teachers, but I had a lot of stuff. I know more than one person with that kind of stuff could have committed suicide.

For me, I switched complete from the outer world of what was making me suffer to an inner world where everything was peaceful. Remember that ritual that I was doing, that saved my life. Instead of doing drugs.

I went back to Europe, to France where I grew up. Three quarters of the people that I grew up with are either dead or in jail. So, I had to go deep within myself to find the answer.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Nordine you said it’s not about the exercise. In your book you have this term, “Innersize,” so it’s the inner work. Tell us about what the inner work was that you can identify that’s really propelled you to be this top performer.

Nordine Zouareg: First, before we get into that I’m going to tell you a story about visualization. I didn’t know what visualization was. I barely knew my name when I was 19 years old. I didn’t know any of the stuff that people know now. So visualization is something I stumbled upon accidentally. In my parent’s house there was an attic. I built a pulley because I couldn’t afford to go to the gym, so I was using a pulley. On the wall there was picture of a Mr. Universe that looked like me. The reason I chose that picture is because the person looked like me but of course it wasn’t me, I was a fan and he was my idol. I put that picture on the wall and 3 years later I became Mr. Universe. Guess who was competing next to me on stage?

Dr. Relly Nadler: That guy!

Nordine Zouareg: That guy, sure. Guess who I beat? That guy! So I didn’t know that was what I was doing—visualization every time I came in. I was in there every day, two or three times a day. It’s funny when I started learning more about visualization, I said to people, you know, I used to do this but I did it accidentally. Like the meditation—the crying that was my form of meditation. So meditation, visualization, affirmation are all things that are going to propel you to where you want to go.

Remember, it’s not about the body, the body is just a servant of the mind. It’s just a servant. The body does not create anything. The spirit is perfect and does not need to create anything. The only thing that creates it is the mind and it creates whatever you focus on. In my case, I was eager to get of my misery. I was eager to become something, to become someone. I was eager to help myself, so what did I do? I focused on my inner self and I started being excited doing meditation, visualization—I was looking at pictures of people I wanted to become like. Even at some instances cut out the picture of a body and put my face on it.

I was doing that in the morning, at night, at lunch. As far as affirmations, you know they are simple. My affirmations were simple. I am going to be Mr. Universe by _______ : just fill in the blank.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: As you are talking here, I’m thinking, this is a visualization process obviously, that many people have been practicing who are very successful professionals. I mean John Assaraf talks about it in The Secret. I know you have worked with John. Many sports athletes that I have worked with over the years talk about doing this visualization; putting the picture of the person they want to be most like on their ceiling so at night when they go to bed they are looking at it.

Let me ask you; what are the three biggest things, the three top things that every leader can do to be successful using some of these wonderful motivational internal types of insights that you are talking about? Just give us two or three.

Nordine Zouareg:  I think that to be successful in anything you need to find out why you are doing it in the first place. There is a saying that I like to say and share with people and ask them to remember which is: “everything that comes from a place of love, everything that we do that comes from a place of love, is correct and divine.” Meaning that it cannot be a mistake. Everything that stems from love that we do is correct. This being said, I would say that the three things that leaders, in order to be successful in whatever they do not only the business side of their life but everything from health to relationships, and business is one, to make sure that whatever they are doing they ask themselves, am I doing this in a place of love or am I doing this in a place of fear?

So, three things that are important are number one, take care of your health. Health is the most important thing in success. In whatever we do. You can be successful and if we don’t have our health then I don’t think I can call it success. What comes under health? Fitness, wellness, nutrition, meditation, visualization, and affirmation.

Then the second one is look outside and see if there’s balance. At Miraval we talk Life in Balance. Why did we teach Life in Balance? Because, most people that came there were either successful in business and not successful in anything else in their lives, or the opposite. So look outside and see if there’s something that you can do to balance your life.

So the first one is health and fitness; wellness in general. The second one is trying to find out if there is something else that you can do to balance your life.

The third one I would say, to me, which is the most important thing is helping. Helping whoever needs help. Every day of our life we need to understand one thing. We are not here for ourselves only. See if we can do something that is going to be meaningful and helping someone, somehow. Every single day.

These are the three things for me that are the most important.

Health, wellness, fitness, our lives, and helping.

Learn more about Nordine Zouareg and his fitness tips. Listen to the complete recording above, without commercials.


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