With its pristine beaches, deep blue sea and lush mountain ranges, Mauritius looks like paradise on Earth. But its people are dying.

 

According to Paul Anthony, a Calgary-based personal trainer and world champion natural body builder, half of those living on the island will die from cardiovascular disease by the time they reach age 55.

 

"That's so young - it's crazy," says Anthony, explaining that poor diet and lack of exercise are to blame for the disease's prevalence on the island in the southwest Indian Ocean.

 

"Only 15 per cent are active, like either walking or playing sports. So many people are just inside, watching TV and playing video games. They're becoming westernized."

 

So Anthony made Mauritius the first stop of a program he calls Transformation 360, taking with him his team of nutritionists, mental health doctors and personal trainers - including Vic Pochun, who works with Anthony at the Bay Club World Health and is from the island.

 

Their goal? To change the world with exercise, good eating habits and community involvement. Anthony's team targets communities such as Mauritius that have statistically high rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other diet and exercise-related illnesses.

 

"Our mission is to lead, teach and inspire people to take massive action toward living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle," Anthony says.

 

His desire to travel the globe, helping others, started when he was a teen, having just moved from Jamaica to Calgary. It was solidified after he had to overcome his own battles with physical and mental health.

 

He dreamed of playing professional football, but snapped his leg while playing for the Calgary Colts. The break was so bad, he was told if it broke again, he would likely have his leg amputated. After months of rehabilitation, he was running track when he was impaled through the shoulder with a javelin. He knew then he would never play ball.

 

He still has the scars - but these adversities helped Anthony, who now has 20 years in the personal training industry, find a balance between improving the physical body and strengthening the mind, something he calls MindScore. "It's really about who I am, what I'm about and what I've experienced," he says. "The mind's like the horse that pulls the carriage, which is the body, and you can't have a healthy body if the mind is not 100 per cent strong."

 

MindScore is mindset training that includes meditation, affirmations and visualization to complement and further a fitness regimen. Together, Anthony calls this the DreamBody program.

 

"It takes repetition to change the body - it takes repetition to change the mind as well," he said. "It's a mind gym with a little positive brainwashing."

 

And it's this positive whole mind and body change Anthony took to the people of Mauritius, complementing programs that the island's government and agencies such as the World Health Organization are already implementing.

 

For three weeks this spring, Anthony and his team travelled the island by bus, hosting educational seminars and trying to dispel long-standing approaches to nutrition and health (tea, sugar and bread are staples in the local diet).  After meeting with various health officials, the team learned about other troubling effects of obesity on the island, such as a high incidence of diabetes and hypertension. Issues such as these have prompted Mauritians to make moves toward living a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle, such as taking pop machines out of schools.  For Anthony's part, he believes in changing how people think, by creating a new hierarchy pyramid in which health exceeds all other needs and wants. His motto is health before wealth.

 

"Why live a fast life being wealthy and die before 55?" he asks. "Without your health, you really don't have anything at all."

It appears the Mauritians have embraced this concept, inviting the Transformation 360 team back to the island.

 

"This has been a lifelong plan of mine, to go around the world and help people," Anthony says, adding Mauritius is just the first stop on his 360-degree tour of the globe. "I love people, I love helping people and I think people love me."

 

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Putting+health+first/4807487/story.html#ixzz1Mp7GGM00

 

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