Go With Your Gut

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Through my journey as an online health + fitness coach, I am always reading, researching, and discovering new things in the health + wellness world…especially when it comes to nutrition. Last year I became obsessed with kombucha…not only because I think it tastes amazing, but because it has so many live probiotics and healing properties for your gut. My obsession with kombucha led down me a path to learn even more about gut health and other ways to improve it. I put together a Facebook LIVE video where I talked all about it, but I really wanted to put something down in writing as well for a quick reference.

Healing your gut allows your body to build a stronger immune system and produce the right kind of bacteria to fight off infection. All diseases begin in your gut, and restoring your gastrointestinal system can have major effects on your ENTIRE body. It not only affects your immune system, but also your mood, memory, digestion, and more. Certain bacteria can affect vitamin and mineral absorption, hormone regulation, and also eliminate toxins.

Some symptoms of a poor gut include abdominal pain, bloating, reflux/gas, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and immune weakness. On the flip side, probiotic foods with healthy bacteria are helpful to make you feel great, slim down and be on the offense against infection. Prebiotic foods are also great as these are foods that probiotics thrive on. I will go into more details on these below.

So without further ado, here are 15 foods for a healthier GUT:

1) Yogurt – Yogurt is full of probiotics, or live active cultures. It doesn’t really matter if it’s Greek, regular, full fat, non-fat, etc. They are all pretty great for that belly. There are also some great dairy-free options (made with coconut, almond, etc) that are packed with probiotics as well. For myself, I try to look for a brand with a low amount of sugar, because this is definitely a food product where many brands sneak in those extras sugars. One of my favorite brands that is also low in sugar is Siggi’s!

2) Kefir – Similarly packed with probiotics, this is drinkable yogurt and has a bit of a tangy flavor. Check out this one by Maple Hill. Many brands of Kefir are also 99% lactose free for those with lactose issues.

3) Kombucha – I touched on this earlier as the gateway drug to my gut health research ;-), but kombucha is a probiotic tea that is both carbonated and tangy. It’s made with a natural bacteria and yeast that have fermented. You can make it from home if you can find the “scoby” to do so, but I personally love the brands Health-Ade and Brew Dr. – Pink Lady Apple tastes like sparkling apple cider! I have seen kombucha come into question many times for pregnant women, because of a couple reasons. 1) technically since it’s naturally fermented it can have trace amount of alcohol in it and 2) it’s raw, not pasteurized in order to salvage the healthy beneficial bacteria. Now, the alcohol part doesn’t really bother me as I’ve never gotten drunk off kombucha, let’s be real. But the raw part does make me a little nervous to be honest to drink while pregnant. I’ve always been told to avoid these types of raw foods while pregnant, and have decided to skip it at least in my first trimester, and I haven’t fully decided about the rest. I have seen and heard many people enjoy kombucha during their pregnancy, and I feel it’s just a personal choice much like eating sushi, certain cheese, etc. while pregnant. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to speak with your doctor and make a decision that you feel is right for you and your baby. That all said…kombucha is probably one of my fav things on this list, and if you haven’t tried it, you must!

4) Kimchi – This spicy Korean cabbage is made with lactic acid fermentation and does wonders for the belly! It’s a staple at many Korean meals, and you can find it at many health food stores and groceries these days or make it yourself! I’m not super big on spicy foods, but if I were, I would try this kind from Ozuke!

5) Miso Paste – Miso paste is made from aged fermented soybeans and can be used to make miso soup, on fish, or in a stir fry. It does have a high sodium content, so just be aware of your intake!

6) Sauerkraut – This chopped cabbage has been pickled in brine. There are tons of beneficial probiotics found in this dish which has been around forever. Look for sauerkraut that is located in the refrigerated section rather than jarred or canned at room temperature, because that is where the live, raw bacteria will be kept thriving and better help that gut. Bubbies makes a great one.

7) Sourdough Bread – This type of bread is made with lactic acid and contains friendly bacteria as well. Who knew? A bread that’s actually good for your gut! Sign me up! Whole grain sourdough is best. Bonus: for those with diabetes, sourdough bread causes a lower blood sugar spike than other types of bread.

8) Pickles – A pregnant woman’s dream!!! Though I have to admit, I have never craved pickles in any of my pregnancies haha. Similar to sauerkraut, you want to make sure your pickles are in brine rather than vinegar and those with live cultures are best. You can also pickle other vegetables in a similar fashion such as beets, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, and more. A great pickle brand is Bubbies and one of my favorite pickled beet mixes is from Ozuke.

9) High Fiber Plant Foods – These types of foods are excellent for the gut, because they are preventative to keep the belly in a healthy state. Some high fiber plant foods include vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

10) Prebiotic Foods – These types of foods are what those healthy probiotics love to eat! To keep the healthy bacteria alive, they need something to thrive on, and these foods are it! They include the fiber rich foods listed above, onions, garlic, asparagus, shallots, leeks, beets, cabbage, beans, lentils, soybeans, oats, whole grains, bananas, and mango.

11) Bone Broth – This is another one of my recent favorite things ever. ESPECIALLY when I’m sick. It’s SO healing, and I feel like I get over my sickness that much quicker after having it. It’s nutrient rich and helps to heal and seal the lining of the small and large intestine. You can definitely make this on your own at home with chicken bones (and it’s probably even healthier for you that way to maintain all the nutrients), but I’m a creature of “easy as effing possible” so I have only purchased it. My favorite brand thus far is Kettle & Fire, and I love their Chicken and Mushroom flavor! I have also heard great things about Bonafide Provisions.

12) Apple Cider Vinegar – I know many people who swear by ACV each day. It helps the body created hydrochloric acid and aids in fat digestion as well.  I’ve never drank it solo, but I have enjoyed Mother Earth Organic Root Cider which is mixture that includes apple cider vinegar along with it also boasts roots, vegetables, spices, lemon, peppers, and more. It’s definitely worth a shot, and it’s a great kick start to your day.

13) Coconut Oil – Another favorite of mine to make the list! This medium chain triglycerides (or fatty acids) found in coconut oil may be helpful over time in balancing the bacteria found in your gut which can help with digestion, energy levels, and vitamin/mineral absorption. I always buy unrefined which keeps that coconut flavor. This organic one by La Tourangelle is fantastic.

14) Wild Salmon – Packed with omega 3 fatty acids, wild salmon can help to heal an inflamed gut. Eating wild salmon can help to ward off diabetes, obesity, and Crohn’s disease.

15) Collagen – Collagen is the most abundant protein found in our bodies found in our hair, nails, skin, bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Collagen supplements are wildly popular at the moment and can not only help strengthen all of those body parts listed above, but it can also aid an inflamed gut and slow down the aging process. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is the one I have seen most people using, and have also used myself. Again, always check with a doctor before adding any new supplements into your routine!

Welp, that about wraps up my research on gut-healthy food choices!!! I hope this was helpful!! Did you learn anything new? OR…do you have anything else you would ADD to this list? I love hearing from you all, so please share!

Let’s make it a great week everyone!

XO,

Gina

Sweet & Chic

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Coat: Express (old) – similar / Lace Dress: Tobi / Shoes: Kimchi Blue – similar / Tights: Urban Outfitters (old) – similar / Sunnies: Brickyard Buffalo / Earrings: World Market / Bracelet: Stella & Dot / Necklace: Vintage / Lip: MAC Rebel

I blinked, and it was the end of January! Holy smokes. February is right around the corner, and yesterday was the first time I thought about Valentine’s Day. It’s not a huge holiday in our family, but we still do like to do something nice to celebrate at some point during the week. Though as of today, we’ve made absolutely no plans, and I have no gifts for my people’s yet! Oopsie!

I do, however, have a cute outfit! Haha. I found this sweet little off the shoulder lace shift dress at Tobi in a wine color, and I think it makes an adorable little date night dress for a romantic evening out. I pulled together some other favorites from my closet to complete the look, and now I just need to figure out somewhere to go, right? 😉

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Do you have any plans? Going out? Staying in? Did you buy any gifts for your loved ones? Spouse? Partner? Littles? I need ideas, you guys!! LOL!

In other news, I hit 11 weeks of my pregnancy with Baby #3 this week, and I’ll be heading to the doc tomorrow, so I would absolutely appreciate any prayers or good vibes you could send my way! I am feeling okay. A little nauseous and super exhausted the past few weeks, but overall it’s been easier than my last two pregnancies, so I can’t complain too much! I think someone upstairs is being kind to me this time around know that I have two little dudes to chase on the regular.

I have been feeling a little more energy this week and been listening to my body when it comes to nourishment and exercise. My January Challenge Group is ending tomorrow and my February one will be starting on Feb 5th and is all about SELF-LOVE!!! I plan to continue to listen to my body and do what it needs for myself and baby, and I’m looking forward to supporting all of the amazing ladies who have been crushing their programs and those who will be starting fresh this month as well! There is still a little bit of time and a few spots left to sign up to join us on Monday, so please reach out if you’re ready to take action and reach some goals this upcoming month!

Hope you all are having an amazing week, and sending you lots of love!

XO,

Gina

2017 in Review

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WOW! I can’t believe 2017 is coming to a close. It’s been a year of personal growth, adventure, travel, family moments, and so much more. I learned a lot, and have come up with some exciting ideas to take with me into 2018. I plan to jump even more outside of my comfort zone this upcoming year, and see where the wind blows.

I want to thank each and every one of you this past year for supporting me on this journey…for reading this blog, for joining one of my health + fitness Challenge Groups, for commenting on a Facebook post, direct messaging me on Instagram, watching my IG Stories, giving me all of your advice and feedback on outfit choices or motherhood woes or workouts…or just telling me that you are inspired by a post or that you can relate. It truly means SO much to me. I started this blog and my brand really as a creative outlet a few years ago, but it’s turned into an incredible community which I am so grateful for. So THANK YOU for your continued support, and I hope you continue to take the journey with me in 2018!

Below is a look back at some of my favorite memories and experiences of 2017:

 

Zack and I finally went on a “Paint Night” Date and we loved it

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I was obsessed with smoothie bowls:

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I learned a ton about gut health + drank lots of kombucha (I did a LIVE @ 9 Episode on this which you can find on my Facebook page, but I promise to create a blog post on this for 2018 so it’s in written form):

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Boys both fell in love with soccer just like their mama:

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Helped hundreds of Challengers get on track with their nutrition with these amazing portion control containers:

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Little sis got engaged and asked the entire fam to be in the wedding 🙂 :

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Zack and I had a week-long road trip together to Asheville (thanks Mom + Dad!):

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I was able to take the family on an all-expenses paid trip to Punta Cana with Beachbody as a reward trip for my work with the company. To say they had a blast would be an understatement:

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I developed a passion for nut butters lol 😉

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Hubby and I did the Ultimate Reset Challenge Plant Based Cleanse program and we learned so much about our bodies, our eating habits, and made many tweaks and changes to our habits going forward (again, I owe you all a full synopsis of this experience in blog post form…coming at you in 2018!):

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Went to the Dave Matthews Concert with the fam:

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Spent many summer days at the NY Beaches + riding the rides at Coney Island:

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Took Nico on his first roller coaster ride at Hershey Park with the family:

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Celebrated our 10 Year NYC Anniversary:

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Went to Rhode Island with the hubs to watch one of my best friends walk down the aisle:

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Went to NOLA for my 3rd Beachbody Summit with my amazing team. We continue to grow, and I love training each new person how to become a #boss and build businesses that give them happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives:

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Completed multiple workout programs including Shift Shop, T25, Insanity Max 30, and 3 Week Yoga Retreat:

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Celebrated my sister’s Bachelorette Weekend in VA Beach rooftop style:

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Luca got his 1st haircut:

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Nico turned 4 and Luca turned 2 with a Construction themed Birthday Party:

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My challengers got amazing results with their fitness + nutrition:

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We went on family vacation to Cape May:

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and the OBX:

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Nico started his first year of “real” school through the NYC DOE and is loving Pre-K. Luca started a 2’s playschool co-op, and it was a bit of a transition at first, but he seems to be enjoying it now:

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We threw at Rainbow Sprinkle Themed Bridal Shower for my sister:

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My little sis and her high school sweetheart finally tied the knot after 13 years:

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Took the boys on their first-ever camping trip this fall with good friends:

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Had an epic Halloween dressing up like The Wizard of Oz characters:

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Did ALL the the holiday things to celebrate the season (and enjoyed my most favorite/stressful time of the year):

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Welp!!!!

That is a WRAP. Wow. What.a.year.

It’s been a good one full of fantastic memories. Thanks again for your continued support of popcorn and pandas. I appreciate you all SO much. More than you know.

I wish all of you an incredible New Year!!! I cannot wait to see what 2018 has in store.

XO,

Gina

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Mountain Air

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Sweater: Leith via Nordstrom Trunk Club / Moto Leggings: B.P. via Nordstrom Trunk Club  (now on SALE!) / Booties: H&M (old) /Earrings: World Market / Sunnies: Brickyard Buffalo

Is it really only FOUR days until Christmas? Crazy!!! We shot this back over the Thanksgiving holiday. The weather was crisp and clean out in Western Maryland where we visited friends for the day. We are now back in Maryland at my parents house getting ready for Christmas! We’ve saw the trains at Homestead Gardens yesterday which is a neighborhood fav, and tonight I’m going shopping with mom, which is our favorite holiday annual tradition!

This sweater and these leggings are both from my last Nordstrom Trunk Club box and they are AMAZINGLY comfortable! I HATE itchy sweaters, and when I tried this on (no undershirt needed) it was completely comfy, soft, and cozy…no itchiness at ALL…I was sold. I will say that you MUST follow the laundering directions as I think I pretty much destroyed it by accidentally throwing it in with my regular clothes. I’m pretty mad at myself, because I LOVE this sweater, and I’m not sure if there is any coming back from it. I will have to check with my local dry cleaner to see if there is anything they can do. 😦 The leggings are also comfy, stylish and completely on sale right now! I didn’t have any pants in an olive color, so I was happy to add them to my wardrobe.

The next few days are going to be packed with wrapping and prepping for the holidays. Happy to take a little breather from the crazy NY life this week.

Hope you are having a fantastic week so far as well!

XO,

Gina

#SUMMERSTRONG

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Holy smokes, you guys…Memorial Day is RIGHT around the corner, and before you know it, we are in JUNE!!!

 

There is never a perfect time to get started on making a change. We are never “less busy” than usual. There will always be parties, and holidays, and soccer practice, and traveling. So the perfect time to get started often has to do with something within.

 

There has to be something within you that wants to make a change. A reason. A why that is propelling you forward. Without that why, you may start something new excitedly, but then quickly fall off because you weren’t serious about making your change or you didn’t fully understand why you jumped in.

 

So maybe you are the:

 

*Former athlete turned mama who wants to get back to her old self again

*The working mom who just can no longer fit in that gym commute

*The gym rat who loves working out, but it somehow just not getting the results

*The one with the sweet tooth who cannot stop late night snacking and wants to improve with healthier habits

*The gal who just wants to feel confident in her bathing suit this summer

*The woman who is daily going through her closet disliking everything she puts on.

*The mama who just seriously is craving some ME time

*The person who is tired of being sick and tired and wants that boost to energy and motivation

 

Because I have been ALL of these women and more at some point and time…

 

And I can say now that:

 

*I am happier + healthier than ever before

*I have found a community that supports each other and lifts each other up

*I have gained a ton more confidence in myself and my capabilities

*I feel excited to get dressed in the morning

*I feel strong in mind, body, and soul

*I have opened my mind to so many more possibilities and have learned so much

 

I may never be completely confident in my bathing suit…but hey we all have our insecurities, and no one is perfect.

 

But it’s not about being perfect. It’s about improving yourself and being the best version of yourself there is.

 

If you are READY to commit to making a change. If you want to reach your full potential. If you want to be happy and healthy. If you want to feel #SUMMERSTRONG…

 

Then I would LOVE to include you in my upcoming #SUMMERSTRONG health + fitness Challenge Group starting June 5th!

 

Each person in the group will be following an at-home workout program that I will help to recommend based on your goals and interests, drink a daily superfood shake packed with clean energy and nutrition, follow a nutrition plan, have my full support as your coach, and be surrounded by other positive uplifiting challengers like yourself who will motivate each other to reach our goals.

 

These groups have been LIFE CHANGING for me, and I know if you are ready, they will be for you too!

 

Please comment below with your email address or email me if you would like to learn more! Make it a great day everyone!!!

XO,

Gina

March Into Spring

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The first photo here is 6 weeks post partum with my 2nd baby. I clearly felt uncomfortable about taking this photo even though I had no reason to. I stayed healthy throughout my pregnancy. I exercised regularly…ate well…I JUST HAD A BABY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. And I had already lost 20 pounds of baby weight after this photo was taken. I had a PLAN of action this time around, unlike after 1st baby when I had no clue what sort of whirlwind I was being thrown into. This time I was prepared. Yet, I was still feeling uncomfortable in my own skin taking this photo. As much as I wish I could have just embraced my body and what it did for me (and trust me I LOVE what our bodies are capable of. I think it’s truly amazing and has brought me two of life’s most greatest blessings)…I still hated seeing myself like this. With my line of work as an online health and fitness coach, I knew that in order for others to see how our programs work, I was going to have to show others what was possible. So I took the photo, but I didn’t love doing it. And it’s still tough for me to share here today…even though in my heart of hearts I KNOW there is absolutely NOTHING I should feel bad about. If anything I should feel proud that my body was able to create two amazing little humans.

That being said…the 2nd photo here is taken about a year later. After a lot of hard work. After ups and downs. After a lot of personal and mental growth. After CHOOSING to make sure that I did not get lost this time. That I remained a priority in my own life. It’s not easy to make a change. But I knew after my 2nd baby, I wanted to feel GOOD. I wanted to feel like myself. I didn’t want to wait around and “see what would happen.” I made a decision to take things into my own hands. Instead of letting life control me, I would control my OWN life.

I know 100%, that without Beachbody, I would not have been able to make this type of change. I would have told myself that I would make it to the gym, that I would go on a run before my husband left for work, that I would somehow, someway fit it into my day…but I wouldn’t. I now know that about myself. I now know that I needed something I could do from home. I needed something that could be done quickly. I needed something structured…that told me what to do each day and how to eat better so that I didn’t have to think too much about it. That I could just get it done in 30 minutes, and move on with my day.

I was able to make this change not only with the incredible workout programs and nutrition plans (because they seriously are AMAZING), but even more so because of the community of SUPPORT that I have had to stay on track toward my goals and stay consistent with a healthy lifestyle. I don’t have some “insane level of dedication or motivation.” People message me frequently and tell me that they love my dedication, or they also tell me that they wish they were as motivated as I was. But I’m here to tell you that I’m not any different than anyone else. I love ice cream and pasta just like the rest of us. (and I eat it often lol) I sometimes hate to get my workout in. I am definitely not perfect…not even close. But because of this community…because I stay more accountable for things when I know I will be checking in…because I have the support of like-minded people around me…because I’m the coach and I know I need to lead by example…I have been able to achieve things that I never believed would be possible after two kids.

If you are like me and you WANT to feel good about yourself, but:
-you struggle to fit working out into your busy day, or
-you have become stagnant on your journey toward reaching your goals…
-if you think you could use the extra support of a positive community that values individual progress over competition…
-if you cannot afford an expensive trainer at the gym, but want workouts that are going to get results…
-if you need to improve your nutrition habits or need new ideas to make meals more fun…

then please join me and my group as we MARCH INTO SPRING…with our heads held high. Starting March 6th, we will begin our next group based on making progress toward reaching our goals and feeling more confident than ever going into that spring break season. I don’t know about you, but I have Punta Cana on the calendar, and I want to feel my best!

***Comment below with MARCH INTO SPRING and your email address if you want to join or you would like more details about the group! You can also feel free to email me at gina.notes26 {at} gmail.com ***

 

Hoping you’re having a fantastic weekend!

XO,

Gina

One Year Later

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This afternoon I shared my results from my recent Hammer + Chisel program with my Challenge Group, and I came across my first “Before” photo that I took at 6 weeks post partum. Whew! Hard to look at for someone who has always been an athlete and in shape in the past. I am proud that with my body I was able to give life to two awesome little dudes, but I was eager to look and feel like my old self again. My mindset was much different than after my first pregnancy.

After my first pregnancy, I never really tried to get back to myself for a long time…18 months long. To be fair, I had to figure out who I was at a person since becoming a mom and I just didn’t understand how exercise could still fit into my lifestyle. I had many excuses…many of them were legit excuses…work, time, travel, gym commute, etc….but they were still excuses. I finally found a way to find that time for myself again when my son was 18 months old. I started the original P90X at home, and was SO pumped to start!!! …and then 2 days in I found out I was pregnant again with Baby #2. So while I did start my path of healthy eating, exercise, and “me” time, my journey was a little different than planned. 😉

After having my 2nd son, I was SO eager to finally get back to my daily routine and finally get in real shape again. My mindset had completely shifted and I had made that decision to go after some goals. I whipped out that 21 Day Fix and did 3 rounds in 3 months. My journey continued this past year with P90X3, 21 Day Fix Extreme, CIZE, 22 Minute Hard Corps, Country Heat, and lastly Hammer + Chisel. I honestly cannot believe I have been able to stick to so many programs over the past year, and this is the longest I have stuck to a routine in YEARS. I feel amazing, strong, my endurance is up, and even with little sleep and two little ones, I somehow have energy. With my busy schedule, I now cannot even imagine spending an extra time commuting to a gym or classes. These 30 minute home workouts + healthy eating (with treats of course!) + daily Shakeology have truly been a godsend for which I am so thankful!

Looking forward to rounding out my year with the 3 Week Yoga Retreat and the new kickboxing/MMA program, Core de Force. I love knowing what I have coming up, because it keeps me on track and helps me stick to a daily routine. Knowing how I felt after having my first son and then knowing how I feel now, there is no way I could ever go back!

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Hope you all had a great weekend, and you are enjoying this lovely Sunday evening!

XO,

Gina

P.S. The Country Heat Giveway winner was announced on my Facebook page, so head on over there if you want to hear more details about the package and who won the prize!

Country HEAT Giveaway + More!

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Happy MONDAY!!!! I used to get a “case of the Mondays” every now and then, but not so much anymore…and especially not today. Today I am announcing the BIGGEST popcorn and pandas giveaway of the year!

Most of you know by now that I became an online health + fitness coach almost 2 years ago (Jan will be my 2 year anniversary), and trust me when I say being able to get results doing 30 minute workouts AT home while having two children has been a complete game changer. After having my 1st son, it was near impossible for me to get back into shape and to feel like my old self again. I took a different approach the 2nd time around as a coach, and it’s been life changing, for realz.

In an effort to pay it forward and show someone else that it is indeed possible to feel like yourself again and get into a routine with only 30 minutes a day, I’m giving away a COUNTRY HEAT Package on my Facebook page this week! Here’s what you’ll get:

-Country Heat DVD Workout Program

-Nutrition Guide

-Portion Control Container System (this is KEY!)

-A 7 Day Supply of Shakeology in all 7 Flavors

-A Shakeology Cup

-A Spot in My Monthly Challenge Support Group for the Month of November (the support is MAJOR!)

HUGE!!!! Not only does this program guarantee you an amazing cardio dance workout, but it’s FUN! You’re so busy movin’ and shakin’ that you don’t realize how hard you are working until you are done and in full sweat. Not a dancer? No worries. The best part about this is that you’re in your living room! LOL. So you don’t have to stress about looking silly dancing in front of others 😉

“Okay, enough already. What do I have do to WIN this program, Gina?”

Alright, here you go. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Go to my Popcorn and Pandas Facebook page and click LIKE.
  2. Comment on the Country Heat Giveaway post which will be pinned to the top.
  3. In the comment TAG 3 friends to let them know about this giveaway, and let me know WHY you want to win this program! (do you need something fun to mix things up, do you love to dance, are you stuck in a rut, do you want to work off the baby weight, etc.?)

That’s it!!! Simple as that.

Winner will be announced on my Facebook page this FRIDAY.

For more details on Country Heat, check out this link here.

In other news…our new KICKBOXING program, Core de Force will launch on Halloween! Today (and for the next 3 days) we are opening up a FREE sneak peek of the program if you want to check it out! Sign up here if you want to try it out. I have personally tried it out, and it’s awesome!! I will be the first one buying that complete program on Monday!!!

Okay, hope this little post and giveaway has officially cured your Monday blues today. Can’t wait to draw a winner on Friday for this amazing Country Heat giveaway!!

Make it a great day!

XO,

Gina

Homemade Apple Butter

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After our recent trip to Fishkill Farms, I knew that this was going to be the perfect opportunity to finally make homemade apple butter this season. With fresh organic apples from the farm and a recipe from Skinnytaste, I decided to spend a Sunday afternoon making this delicious spread that reminds me of my childhood days. I was nervous with how it was going to turn out, but I have to say, it was pretty spot on!

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Ingredients:
 
  • 6 large apples, peeled, cored, finely chopped (honeycrisp, gala, ambrosia) – *I used a couple extra apples and the apple type was whatever we found at the farm
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg – *For all the spices, I had an Apple Pie spice that I used instead which had these ingredients

Directions:

Place the apples in a slow cooker. Top with sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and mix well. Cover and cook high 5 hours, or low 10 hours, stirring once halfway, until the apples are tender and dark brown.

Uncover and puree with an immersion blender. *(I do not own an immersion blender, so I actually had to spoon it out and blend it in my regular blender…not really recommended, as it’s hot and this is a difficult procedure! However, it got the job done.) Cook on high uncovered 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

Spoon into jars or containers, cover and refrigerate.

Makes 2 cups.

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Nico has been enjoying peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches for lunch as I did as a child, and he absolutely loves it! I have enjoyed some on toast as well. If you have other great ideas for how to enjoy apple butter, please share!

Hope you all had a fantastic Halloween last night. My boys dressed up as Curious George (Nico) and the Man in the Yellow Hat (hubby). Luca was a skeleton (with a pumpkin hat), and I was a panda (naturally). We enjoyed our neighborhood Halloween Parade, which was fabulous, and then took off for some Trick or Treating. Nico had his first candy this year, and had no idea what to do with a lollipop. It was a pretty funny experience to say the least. We let him have a few pieces…and then my husband and I had a few too many pieces…and now I need to GET IT ALL OUT OF MY HOUSE!

21 Day Fix Round 2 starts tomorrow as well as my Thankful for Fitness Challenge Group, and it’s healthy eating and living from here on out so that I am going into the holidays feeling happy, healthy, and strong.

Who’s with me?

Happy Sunday!

XO,

Gina

7 Day Push Up Challenge

7 DAY Push Up Challenge

It might be the end of summer, but there is one work out that you can take with you ANYWHERE! On the beach at vacation, on your office floor, in your living room, Saturday in the park…no matter where you go…you can take your PUSH UPS with you!

Join me on Monday August 10th for a FREE 7 Day Push Up Challenge! Strengthen and tone that upper body with one simple exercise each day for a week. I promise you are stronger than you think!

I will share proper techniques, and no matter what your skill level or athletic ability, you should be able to participate. I will also be sharing modifications for beginners, and for the advanced, there will be tips for making your push ups more challenging. Our push ups will increase each day and we will motivate each other to get through the week one day at a time.

So who is ready to PUSH YOURSELF?!?!?!

Comment below with your email address for more info or email me at gina.notes26@gmail.com to get in on the challenge 🙂

Hope you are having a great week!

XO,

Gina