Amy Fournier considers herself a reformed People-Pleaser turned Healthy Lifestyle Entrepreneur. She specializes in emotional fitness, stress and energy management, work-life balance, natural health and beauty from the inside out.
She is the Founder of Miami Fitness & Lifestyle®, a lifestyle club located in North Andover, Massachusetts, which is a unique fusion of specialty fitness classes with community and fun for women. Amy considers herself to be a student of life and a work in progress – she is also an artist, workshop presenter, dance/fitness/yoga instructor, author, International fitness cover model, philanthropist, friend, daughter and lucky Mom to cute little fur-baby, Charlotte.
Take a moment and get to know Amy!
Daring Spirits: Tell us about a decision that felt really bold.
Amy: Gosh, there have been so many times in my life where I feel life has given me the opportunity to be bold, brave, and daring and go out of my comfort zone and move from where I was, and they all involved a lot of fear and uncertainty. Thinking back on them, they all involved a lot of doubt and it was always scary to make the move I knew I had to do. Here are some top ones:
1. Deciding to get a divorce and then starting over
2. Leaving everything I knew: a safe and secure life with all my friends and family and established business to move to Miami, Florida, by myself and without any solid connections, job, or plan!
3. Opening my own club! This was certainly a BIG HUGE one!
All of these decisions forced me to dig deep and take action and just leap despite the fear and insecurity. For some reason, I’ve always had something driving me and I’ve known that the only way I can evolve and grow into the person I was meant to be was to risk and to keep expanding – just like the entire universe does. It is our example of how to live.
Daring Spirits: Describe a time when things went “wrong” and then the Universe delivered.
Amy: Well, if I understand this question correctly, I think you’re asking about a time when I thought something was “bad” and it turned out to actually be for my highest good. If so, I have to say that I just love when that happens – it’s one of my favorite things, and I find it so comforting! It’s like God’s way of winking at us and letting us know He’s out there and in charge and got our back’s so we don’t have to worry.
I have one very clear example of this. Let’s just say God removed someone from my life whom I thought was good for me and replaced them with some one SO much better than I could have ever dreamed. At first, I felt devastated and couldn’t image how I would carry on; yet at some point I realized that it was the biggest blessing in the world and actually an answer to my prayers!
Daring Spirits: What’s one thing you really want people to know (about the world, about you, about life — this is your chance to drop some knowledge!)?
Amy: I’d say to relax, to trust, and to just be yourself. Fight for the life you want, and to be the person you want to be. Stay focused on what matters most to you and what’s real. Go within for the answers you seek, and then have the courage to heed the answers that you will feel from your heart/your body. It always knows what’s best for you and what you really want.
At the end of the day, all we have is each other, and the love and connections we have created and shared are all that matter. That’s it. Nothing else is really that important. Have the courage to just be yourself; it sounds so simple, but it’s so rare to see today and took me over 40 years to finally get it myself!
DS: Beach or Mountains?
AF: Gosh, both – it’s like saying left hand or right to me!
DS: Sweet or spicy?
DS: Window or aisle?
AF: Aisle!! (gotta be able to get up!)
Daring Spirits: Stay focused on what matters most. Wise words, Amy, thank you for sharing your insights and energy. It’s clear to us that you’re aligning with what makes you light up!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DARING SPIRITS AND ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS THEY OFFER HERE!
When most of people think of being healthy, they usually think of eating a healthy diet and exercising. Although those are very important, they are not the only factors involved in living a vibrant life.
All too often I see people investing a lot of time, energy and money on buying and preparing healthy food or paying for fitness club memberships to exercise only to still be overweight and feel frustrated. I’ve learned, living a healthy, high-energy life requires looking at your whole life, and your whole self, both inside and out. When we overlook other very important lifestyle factors like getting proper rest, downtime, play, fun and connection we suffer and certainly do not get the lasting results we desire.
How we feel and think on a daily basis are just as important components to our health and looking good as the mechanics of how we move and the food we use to fuel ourselves. In other words, we must think holistically – at our whole lifestyle, mind, body and spirit to be able to achieve the results we want.
When you consider your healthy lifestyle, do you also think about:
- Your stress level
- How much recovery and down time you have
- How you think/your beliefs/self-talk – your anxiety level, optimism, expectations, confidence, etc.
- Getting regular sunshine
- Having meaningful relationships with people you care about and trust
- Connecting with nature regularly
- Minimizing toxins in both home and personal care and hygiene products
- Ensuring you enjoy regular play and fun
Without addressing these lifestyle factors, we will never reach the levels of wellness we aspire to and will be perpetually frustrated and lose our joy (and boy is that unhealthy!).
To make it easy for you, I’ve put together a checklist of four of the key foundational areas to look at when considering your health holistically. Next time you find yourself frustrated or falling short of your goals, have a look at them and see how many you can check off on your list!
Key Lifestyle Area #1: Diet and Nutrition
- No one-size-fits-all solution – Must learn to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY – How You Should Feel After!
- Learn about the hormonal impact of food and macronutrients – All calories are NOT created equal!
- Eat an Ancestral Diet = high in healthy fats, with adequate protein and low in net carbs (no sugar, processed foods, fake foods, etc)
- Eat REAL FOOD – Eliminate packaged, processed foods, soda, fruit juice, “sports drinks”
- To achieve ideal weight, you must determine your personal Carbohydrate Threshold or Quotient, eat adequate, high-quality protein and plenty of good fat
- The longer the shelf life, worse is for you – do a Kitchen Makeover and clean out the crap!
- Read all labels – Can a Kindergarten kid pronounce the ingredients?
- Identify personal food intolerances or allergies
- Make Sure at Least One-Third of Your Food Is Raw
- Eliminate All Wheat, Gluten, and Highly Allergenic Foods from Your Diet (Wheat, Soy, White flour products (baked goods, cookies, and pastries), Rye, Teff, Spelt, Kamut, Barley, Couscous)
- Low energy, acne/skin, gastrointestinal problems: bloating, diarrhea, cramping, constipation = symptoms of intolerance
- Non-gluten grains: Rice, Corn, Buckwheat, Millet
- Eliminate Transfats -like hydrogenated oils and shortening
- Understand Serving Sizes and portions
- Avoid Soy
- Fast 12 hours
- Consider Basic Supplements – probiotic, Magnesium, Vitamin C and D
- Get Adequate Sun Exposure– Optimized vitamin D levels may significantly lessen your risk for cancer, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, age-related macular degeneration, and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin D can also combat infections and control seizures, especially for epileptics.
- Use The Hunger Scale – (0-10: “0” = stuffed and “10” = famished) eat between a 5-6 -Never get stuffed/Starved. Eat until 80% full and then stop. (for proper digestion, weight loss and energy)
- SLOW DOWN when you eat. TASTE and CHEW each bite. Never Eat when stressed
- RX: Drink a minimum of ½ your body weight in ounces of pure water per day.
Key Lifestyle Area #2: Exercise and Movement
- Vital to life and all proper bodily functions – both physical, mental and emotional
- The primary benefit of exercise is not necessarily weight loss but instead to make you more sensitive to insulin, burn excess glucose and to engage all your bodily systems and hormones
- Being fit and losing weight is NOT a matter of “calories in and calories out”. It’s about understanding the different metabolic and hormonal effects of different foods and macro-nutrients as well as ideal exercise timing for maximum effect
- Exercise format balance = Key. You want VARIETY:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT). This requires just 20 to 30 seconds of maximum effort, followed by 90 to 100 seconds of rest. HIIT improves your muscle tone, promotes higher energy levels, enhanced production of the HGH, or human growth hormone, and leads to increased calorie burn.
- Strength training – Improve muscle strength, tone, and elasticity, create strong connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments, and slow down and even reverse risk of Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
- Yoga and Active isolated stretching (AIS)
- Cardiovascular- increases mitochondria, oxygen transport and circulation/detox
- Balance, Agility, Speed and Power
Key Lifestyle Area #3: Proper Sleep and Rest
- Ideal amount of sleep per night = 8 hours minimum
- Sleep is essential for proper repair and revitalization of all body cells, tissues, organs and systems
- Needed for detoxification and anti-aging
- Deficiency can lead to weight gain (because levels of appetite-inducing hormones rise) and affects brain, reducing ability to think and focus also increases sugar/carb cravings when sleep deprived
- Lack of proper sleep is associated with higher risk of depression and chronic diseases – diabetes, cardiovascular and heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer
- Resting as needed is part of the repair and rebuild requirement of your body. Listen to it and slow down, unplug and rest as needed – with NO GUILT! We are not machines. We are human!
Tips for Getting Great Sleep
- Expose yourself to sunlight during the day – especially in the morning. This will increase your serotonin and happy chemicals.
- Refraining from using electronics at least 2 hours before bedtime: TV, computer, phone (emit blue light that tricks your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime – hinders the pineal gland from secreting melatonin at an optimal time, usually between 9 and 10 pm.)
- Establish “wind-down” routine. The body likes routine.
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
- Sleep in complete darkness – melatonin, reduces body temperature and hunger and optimizes your circadian and improves gene expression and cellular growth and repair as well.
- Keep room cool/fresh air: Ideal room temperature = 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit
- Taking a warm bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime – raises your core body temperature, when you get out of the bath, the temperature drops, signaling your body that you’re ready for sleep.
- Exercise contributes to better sleep but ideally not within 3-4 hours of bedtime.
- Nap wisely: taking long naps during the day disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm, or your body’s internal clock. Ideally, keep naps a maximum of 20 minutes, at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
- Don’t eat 3 hours before bedtime, otherwise the digestive process can interfere with your natural sleep cycles
- Listen to meditation or relaxation CDs before bed to help unwind
- Do 5 minutes of deep breathing at bedtime
- Use aromatherapy/essential oils like Lavender, Serenity, Peace and Calming or Sandlewood – either diffused or topically
- Get a massage at the end of the day
- Read a relaxing book
- Write an “End of the Day Gratitude List” of all the things you were grateful for that day (no matter how small!)
- Journal – write your thoughts and emotions to get them out of your head and help you process, release and reframe them
- Drink hot water with lemon before bed or Chamomile tea
- See Foundation #4 below (you need a fun/stress outlet so you can rest)
Key Lifestyle Area #4: Regular Play and Social Connection
- Make a Happiness/Fun List of things you love to do and that make you feel good
- This is important for your mental and emotional health and your overall quality of life.
- Research has shown that strong social ties and connections are as powerful for promoting good health as exercising regularly and not smoking
- Getting regular play and fun promotes creativity and problem-solving
- Fun is one of the best (and cheapest) anti-aging potions we know of!
- They are powerful stress-relievers
- They prevent overindulging in “naughty” foods, activities and emotions due to “lack of fun and fulfillment” in your overall life
- We evolved with tribes. We are social beings and it’s in our DNA to connect and collaborate with others. Loneliness and feelings of isolation are very damaging to the heart and blood vessels.
- Strong social ties give meaning to our lives
- All work and no play make you a dull person 🙂
We all wanna feel good, right?
Well “emotions” are caused by brain/body chemicals that we’ve inherited from our mammalian ancestors, but we also can control them with neural pathways we build from things that happen to us in our lives.
Emotions are caused by brain/body chemicals. We’ve inherited these chemicals from our mammalian ancestors, but we control them with neural pathways we build from things that happen to us in our lives.
You were born with billions of neurons but very few connections between them. We build the connections by our life experiences and they channel the electricity that flows into your brain as the world bombards your senses with information. This is the basis for how habits are made. Habits are basically strong (well-established) neural pathways. Wanna form a new habit or break an old one? Here’s the key:
Electricity flows down your old paths….unless you build new ones.
The idea is to identify the current pathways you have and to consciously create new ones to promote more of the good feelings you want and less of the ones you don’t. It takes a little bit of effort at first but it works!
Now-a-days, it seems like everyone is talking about “happiness” and “being happy” and that sure is wonderful and super important, but I think we need to remember that our “happy chemicals” are not meant to flow all the time. They turn on and off in response to the opportunities and threats we see around us.
You define opportunities and threats with the neural pathways you have. An opportunity triggers a happy chemical that motivates you to go toward it. A threat triggers an unhappy chemical that motivates you to avoid it. Each spurt is soon metabolized, and you have to do more to get more. Opportunities and threats for your genes get your mammal brain’s attention whether you consciously think that way or not.
Here are the 5 Key Neurotransmitters that determine our Moods and Emotions
DOPAMINE spurts when you approach a reward. It releases your reserve tank of energy so you can do what it takes to meets your needs. New rewards are powerful because your brain adjusts to old rewards.
ENDORPHIN produces a euphoria that masks pain. Physical pain is what triggers it. We are designed to avoid pain, not to create it. Endorphin evolved for emergencies, not for a constant flow.
OXYTOCIN creates the good feeling of trust. You feel safe with those around you when it flows. Safety in numbers helps a mammal survive, but it’s not safe to trust every critter, so oxytocin goes on and off.
SEROTONIN creates confidence in your ability to assert yourself. A social animal has to assert itself to get the food and reproductive opportunity necessary to pass on its genes. Serotonin makes it feel good.
CORTISOL creates the bad feeling that your survival is threatened. It motivates you to do what it takes to make it stop. Bad feelings are information. They help us avoid paths that don’t meet our needs.
In my workshops we address details on how to build new brain neurochemical pathways and healthy habits so you can feel more of the good-feeling chemicals more of the time!
- Meet Your Happy Chemicals – Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD
- The Science of Positivity – Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD
- The Diet Cure – Julia Ross, M.A.
After over 25 years in the health and fitness industry and with varying degrees of success, including performing for large audiences, spots on National television and commercials, modeling/magazine cover features and being a guest consultant on radio shows, what I’ve learned is that no matter how high the perceived level of the accomplishment, you can’t truly enjoy any achievement and have a sense of rest and peace in your heart until you first do these two critical things:
1. You know who you are – without all of the societal programing, expectations and people-pleasing
2. Line your mind up with your emotions, feelings and beliefs with your body, energy and spirit.
You see, you can do all the “right” things:
- follow the toughest, most scientific workout program
- commit to the strictest diet
- and even have the “perfect” life on the outside with the perfect body, house, car, job, kids…or whatever
…but until you get your mind right and address your Emotional Fitness, which I like to think of as:
- knowing who you are
- what’s really important to you
- what’s driving you and your behavior
- how you think
- what you believe
- what your values are
- what you focus on
- how you process emotions
- how you talk to yourself
…and then utilize the habits, tools and techniques you need so you can live in accordance with these components, I guarantee you will continue to spin your wheels, your results will not last very long, you will always feel like it’s “hard” or a struggle and you will even feel miserable, deprived, a loss of freedom and/or at the very least unfulfilled at a gut level.
Well I’m here to let you know the good news: There is a better way – and it’s A LOT easier than you think! And I know because I’ve lived it myself.
That’s why my passion – my mission – is to help share what I’ve learned to help others struggling with the same issues by creating products, eBooks, workshops, classes and events that address these issues and help share the habits, techniques and tools I’ve discovered to harmonize them.
I would love to connect with YOU and hope to meet you in person one day and hear your story. I know we can learn from each other and we might even have some fun along the way. I sure would be honored to share this crazy this crazy thing called Life with you!
Often we are living a life we don’t love or is unfulfilling because we have lost touch with a part of ourselves that knows what we really want to be happy.
At this month’s Healthy Living Workshop, we will help you get clear on what it is you are really aching for and wanting in your life and help you understand the critical difference between your “needs” and your “values”.
By tapping into your center of feeling – your heart center – you will access the power of your deepest truth, your Inner Knowing that will ultimately guide you to you your happiness and joy. It is this internal energy and emotion “source” where you “feel” what you want in your life and where your dreams (still) “live”.
Your Personal Happiness Formula Exercises:
1. Create a Values Tree: Gain clarity as to who we really are, meaning: who we are at our truest and most pure self – without any outside programming, social masks, identities, fears, labels or expectations.
2. Create a Personal To-Feel List: Gain clarity on want we truly want – without the programming of those same outside influences.
I always love sharing things with you that have changed my life with the hopes it might help you too and this article definitely fits that description!
Since I’m all about holistic wellness (mind, body and soul), I’ve learned that to have the life you want- whether it be the body you dream of, a job that you love or even an intimate and fulfilling relationship, you must learn to master your mind.
To me being “fit” is much more than just what your body looks like or how it performs.
Instead it’s an energy. An attitude. A way of being and showing up in the world. It’s truly an inside-out job…because at the end of the day, we all just want to feel good, love our life and love ourselves.
Why I wrote this article and did a workshop on the subject
I want to share with you some of the “Spiritual Laws of the Universe” because being aware of these laws can help you adapt a more effective, comprehensive and “emotionally soothing” or peaceful mindset when you find yourself dealing with decisions, challenges or frustrations and confusion. They help you remember the bigger picture and can even bring comfort in knowing how you feel is often normal and a common experience for all humanity.
What are the Laws of Spirit?
Like the Law of Gravity, there are universal laws, or principles, by which everything in the universe is governed. Records of these laws go back over 5,000 years to the ancient mystical, esoteric and secret teachings of Egyptian societies, Greek cultures and to the Vedic tradition of Ancient India, all have as their common thread these seven Spiritual Laws of the Universe. We don’t necessarily need to understand these laws or even be aware of them to be affected by them yet they govern the structures, forces and patterns of all life – from tiny atoms to huge galaxies.
- They are simple yet powerful truths for living wisely and well.
- All of the Universe exists in perfect harmony by virtue of these Laws
- Some are immutable/absolute, some are mutable
- Gaining awareness and knowledge of these laws can have a significant and powerful impact on your entire life experience – often bringing ease and freedom – as well as what you manifest in your world!
12 Universal Laws of Spirit
To be sure, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of spiritual laws that govern life as we know it, but a relatively small number seem to continually have direct affect on most of our lives. Here’s a list of 12 of the top one’s I work with on a regular basis in my life. I find depending what I’m going thru at the time, I resonate with certain laws in particular, so it’s constantly in flux which one life is giving me the opportunity to learn and grow from!
The Law of Divine Oneness – everything is connected to everything else. What we think, say, do and believe will have a corresponding effect on others and the universe around us.
Law of Vibration – Everything in the Universe moves, vibrates and travels in circular patterns, the same principles of vibration in the physical world apply to our thoughts, feelings, desires and wills in the Etheric world. Each sound, thing, and even thought has its own vibrational frequency, unique unto itself.
Law of Action – Must be employed in order for us to manifest things on earth. We must engage in actions that supports our thoughts dreams, emotions and words
Law of Correspondence – This Universal Law states that the principles or laws of physics that explain the physical world energy, Light, vibration, and motion have their corresponding principles in the etheric or universe “As above, so below”
Law of Cause and Effect – Nothing happens by chance or outside the Universal Laws.. Every Action(including thought) has a reaction or consequence “We reap what we sow”
Law of Compensation– The Universal Law is the Law of Cause and effect applied to blessings and abundance that are provided for us. The visible effects of our deeds are given to us in gifts, money, inheritances, friendships and blessings.
Law of Attraction – Demonstrates how we create the things, events and people that come into our lives Our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions produce energies which, in turn attract like energies. Negative energies attract negative energies and positive energies attract positive energies.
The Law of Perpetual Transmutation of Energy – All persons have within them the power to change the conditions of their lives. Higher vibrations consume and transform lower ones; thus, each of us can change the energies in our lives by understanding the Universal Laws and applying the principles in such a way as to effect change
Law of Relativity – Each person will receive as series of problems (Tests of Initiation/Lessons) for the purpose of strengthening the light within each of these tests/lessons to be a challenge and remain connected to our hearts when proceeding to solve the problems. This law also teaches us to compare our problems to others problem into its proper perspective. No matter how bad we perceive our situation to be, There is always someone who is in a worse position. Its all relative.
Law of Polarity – Everything is on a continuum and has and opposite. We can suppress and transform undesirable thoughts by concentrating on the opposite pole. It is the law of mental vibrations.
Law of Rhythm – Everything vibrates and moves to certain rhythms.. These rhythms establish seasons, cycles, stages of development, and patterns. Each cycle reflects the regularity of God’s Universe. Masters know how to rise above negative parts of a cycle by never getting to excited or allowing negative things to penetrate their consciousness.
Law of Gender – The law of gender manifests in all things as masculine and feminine. It is this law that governs what we know as creation. The law of gender manifests in the animal kingdom as sex. This law decrees everything in nature is both male and female. Both are required for life to exist.
So you might see that these Spiritual Laws are really just wisdom we already know and have deep within us- perhaps we just need to be reminded or reassured of their existence. As shown by all known civilizations for thousands of years, when we learn to live in accordance with them we can experience more love, freedom, peace, joy and fulfillment, and that’s a fit, healthy life!
- The Science of Being, Baron Eugene Fersen
- The Kybalion
- The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra
- Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman
- The Life You Were Born to Live, Dan Millman
- Mind Your Reality, Tania Kotsos