Meet Meagan: A Coaching Story

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Meet Meagan!!!
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Meagan and I went to college together at the University of Maryland and met on the Women’s Club Soccer Team. While we have a similar athletic background and we are now both mamas, I just love Meagan’s story. She is one inspiring lady who seriously does it all…she takes care of animals, takes care of her daughter, she’s an amazing wife/daughter/sister, and now she is back to taking care of herself as well. Meagan is working toward BIG goals, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled that she decided to trust in me to join Team SPARK! and take this journey as a coach alongside me. She is a TEAM player, a HARD worker, and she DREAMS BIG. Not only has she had incredible success with her health + fitness journey (she has lost at least 42 lbs post pregnancy to date of this interview…and possibly more now), she is also building her own team and making great strides toward achieving that type of freedom she craves with the business side of coaching. She has grown so much, and I cannot WAIT to see where this journey will take her next!!
 
Progress Photos:
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Beginning of Coaching Journey:
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Mid October:
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Without further ado, I will let you read my interview with her below and you can meet her for yourself! 🙂
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1) Tell us about yourself (where you live, family, hobbies, interests, anything else that you would like to include about yourself). I live in Baltimore, MD with my husband and daughter. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats. My husband and I are both from PA so our families are atleast 1.5 hours away. I’m the oldest of 6 girls so life for me has always been crazy/busy, non stop, always on the go. Living away from family means that help with our daughter’s childcare can be a little difficult at times. I work three 12 hours shifts in a row as a registered veterinary technician (nurse) at a very busy animal hospital with a very high standard of care. So work can be exhausting (mentally and physically) and stressful but I love it. I also bartend on Saturday nights at Phillips Seafood Restaurant where I have worked since graduating from college (this year makes 9 years!). My husband’s days off are two of the days that I work so he can be home with Charlotte. On Saturdays I go into work with Charlie and hand her off to Daddy and then he takes her home. So we only have to pay for one day of childcare. This plan, however, does not allow us to have any days off together. That has it’s own challenges, of course. I don’t have much time or the ability for activities for myself (I used to play football, kickball, and softball on local social club teams) but when ever I have off, I have my daughter (and daddy is at work) and it’s not always easy to find help to watch her if I need/want to do something. So, I can’t do it, unless I can take her.
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I love sports, animals, being outside and being adventurous. I like doing anything that I can take the dogs along for. They love to swim and fetch, they are very active and energetic but it’s hard to bring them with me sometimes since it’s usually just me with Charlie and both of them.
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2) What is your fitness background? I played soccer for 16 years. In middle school, I ran track and played basketball too. In college and afterwards I played on several club teams for kickball, football, softball, volleyball, soccer. If you need a person on your sports team, I’m your gal. Haha. I may not be awesome at all sports, but I can get by in most of them. My Dad was a soccer player (He played for the San Jose Earthquakes in the 80s) and he always played softball when I was growing up, so my love of sports comes from him— he taught me everything I know about throwing a baseball and football and kicking a soccer ball. My mom was always active also, she was a flamenco dancer in a dance company when I was young, trained with a body builder and would often go on long runs when I was in high school. She used to take me to an MMA gym where we would take a boxercise class and tae-ke-bo class. So my fitness always revolved around sports. I didn’t like running for fun until college which was when I picked up a love for yoga also. Both were a great way for me to de-stress and clear my mind. As great as yoga and running are for my mind, I have always loved team sports.
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3) Why did you decide to become a Coach on Team SPARK? I wasn’t expecting to decide to be a coach that day in May 2017. I saw one of your posts about daring to dream. I think it just hit home for me and I knew I had to jump on it, without much thought, I jumped in. I had been feeling very BLAH for months. I was in a funk, a bad one. I WANTED to workout more, but I just couldn’t seem to get it done. I had started taking regular walks with the dogs and Charlie in the stroller and I was more conscious about what I was eating. I was 160ish pounds in Dec2016/Jan2017 and by April I was hovering around 145. So, progress was being made but I knew regular walks weren’t gonna to get me where I wanted. I just couldn’t seem to figure out how I was going to get it done. My husband is naturally tall and thin and would choose to eat Taco Bell every night if he could (even though he is an amazing cook). He wasn’t going to be the one to motivate me. We had worked half way through P90X twice (we could only ever seem to make it to 45ish days haha). He grew up playing volleyball and baseball. We played kickball together on a social team and he can be very competitive and that’s how we got through P90X. I worked out during the day because I worked nights then and he would workout when he got home from his day shift— we always kept each other on track. Nowadays, he’d rather not workout— so that leaves me to motivate myself. It wasn’t going very well. I didn’t want to get a gym membership, becauseI knew I wouldn’t use it. Plus, not all gyms have childcare and like I said before, I always have Charlie.
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I’d also been dreaming of not having to bartend on Saturday nights anymore. It’s not a bad gig, but I’m just ready to call it quits. The money I make there each month pays my gigantic student loan bill and although we could probably survive without it.. it seems stupid to not work 4 days a month to be able to make that payment. I was trying to figure out what else I could do that would allow us the freedom we have financially without making any sacrifices. After several weeks/months of feeling like there was something missing in more than 1 aspect of my life, there was your post. Dare to dream. I had been seeing your posts for years. Busy mom, fit mom, working mom. Killing it. So I said, what the hell. Why not try it, what could it hurt. I knew just being a challenger would not be enough to make this a lifestyle change. Being just a challenger would probably get me as far as I got with P90X and then I would fall off again. BUT being a coach, being able to motivate and inspire others? That should do the trick. I always loved being a team captain, I loved coaching, and I had been thinking about taking looking into teaching at the local vet tech school. I wanted something to spend my time that was fulfilling, that would allow me to help others. But coaching/teaching was just another something that would take me away from the house and require additional childcare costs and less time with family. COACHING was it! I could check off all the boxes. PLUS, even if coaching wasn’t a financial success, I would hopefully have my athletic self back again. I had been missing since college. So, without overthinking it, I said yes. I’m so happy I did.
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4) What was the first Beachbody program you tried? What did you like about it?  P90X. I liked how challenging it was and I liked that variety of workouts. Since becoming a coach, the first program I tried was 22 Minute Hard Corps, because I knew I liked Tony as a trainer, and I was familiar with him so I picked that one first. Plus the shorter workouts would make for an easier transition into a fitness routine.
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5) What was tough or challenging for you?  The hardest part at first was waking up early to get my workout in before my long shifts. That had been an excuse of mine for a loooooong time. There was no way that I would be able to wake up before a 12 hours shift earlier than I needed to just to work out. I had been working on eating better for a few months, but nutrition was also a big part of what I struggled with. Not because I don’t like healthy foods, but because I was terrible at planning and I would stop at fast food restaurants all the time because I wouldn’t have food in the house. I would stop in the morning on the way to work for breakfast— because I wouldn’t give myself enough time to eat at home— and I would stop when I was out running errands because it was easy. I was getting fast food at least 3-4 times a week AND going out to eat with hubby once a week or every other week. Shakeology has really helped with that, it’s my breakfast in the car on the way to work and my go-to lunch on my days off when we are out and about!
 
6) What has your progressed looked like in terms of pounds and inches? How did you stay motivated to get to this point?  I’ve lost 15 pounds and 10 inches since becoming a coach. I went from a size 10 to a 4 (just realized I was in a size 4 the other day)! My motivation came from the accountability/support groups. Watching everyone live busy lives and still find time to workout and eat right was great. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I knew it was going to be a constant battle and somedays I may lose the battle was I was going to win this war. It all comes back to my love of team sports. That was this is like for me. We are all on a team, we win together, we lose together, we support each other, we motivate each other. We all have something to learn from one another, and I find that the most inspiring. The honesty and the open-ness of the group allows for a safe place to be honest and open with yourself. Sharing my story has helped me stay on track and hearing how people are inspired by what I’m doing when I run into them, that’s worth it. Even if they aren’t joining my group or supporting my business, they are driven by when I share to be more active and make better choices. That’s huge.
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7) How do you feel today, and what are your goals moving forward?  I feel awesome. My goals are constantly changing, which is so cool! I’ve surpassed my original goals which is sooo surprising! Instead of quitting because I’ve reached my original goals (which is part of the reason I stopped P90X midway through— I felt like I was at a good place and could stop), I make new goals. Now that I’ve lost the weight, I want to build muscle and tone my body. I want to be able to one day do a hand stand and at least 5 pull ups. I want to continue inspiring other people to reach their goals. My ultimate goal is to inspire my husband to join me and start his own fitness journey. Any wife knows that you can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do, so I’ll just wait for him to have the grand idea all on his own. 🙂 Haha. I just want people to realize that if they WANT to do it, they can do it. I’m a TV junkie. I love naps. I love junk food. I procrastinate. I’m always late, and I hit the snooze at least 3 times every morning. But here I am, surprising myself everyday. If I can do this, anyone can do this.
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8) How has your life changed since become a Coach on Team SPARK? My life has changed in so many ways! I LIKE waking up early before work to work out. I feel energized, accomplished, and proud. I make regular trips to the grocery store and keep my fridge stocked with good foods to eat! I plan more, plan meals for the week, plan my days, and plan to be better than I used to be. I’m happier. I don’t feel sluggish or tired (sometimes yes, but not nearly as often as I used to). I’m confident. I like the person I see in the mirror and not just because of my pants size but because of what I’ve been able to accomplish. Being a coach has given me my life back, I feel like myself again.
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So flippin’ proud of this girl, and can you just look at that SMILE!!!! That is EVERYTHING. 🙂
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All it takes is a leap of faith when you dare to dream. This girl is doing it. And this team is going places. Watch us. Or join us. Only you can make that decision spark that fire and FLY.
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Hope you are all making the most of your week!
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XO,
Gina

4 Years of Motherhood

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Dear Nico,

Has it really been FOUR years since you came into this world and made me a mama? Today you seem so grown up from the little baby I remember holding in my arms. We prayed so hard for you, and I was so nervous the whole time you were in my belly…my little rainbow baby. After complications and scares throughout my pregnancy with you, and a SUPER long time in the hospital with not one but TWO inductions….having you arrive on this day four years was the biggest blessing.

You taught me about unconditional love. The type of love that is so strong that it overpowers you like none other. That you can’t even understand until you are living it. You taught me about selflessness, about true responsibility. I remember your Papa and I thinking…”Oh my God, they are going to let us take this little tiny baby HOME from the hospital?!?!” And re-watching the video of the nurse swaddling you over and over again so we would know how to do it right. FYI…I still can’t swaddle right lol.

You have always been such a strong person your entire life…even when just a tiny little guy. I can’t even get mad at your stubbornness and strength, because I know you got it honest right from your Mama. You are fierce and competitive, but you are also sweet and loving. You have a heart of gold and a smile that is contagious. You make friends wherever you go which reminds me of your Nano and your great-grandpa Frank that you never got to meet. You have a sense of adventure like your Papa and you are always up for exploring and trying new things.

Your sense of humor makes me laugh constantly, and I love how you and your little brother tell each other knock-knock jokes and make them up yourselves. You have taken on the big brother role so well these past two years. While yes, sometimes, you are that typical big brother who picks on the little one…you also always have his back. You make him laugh. You teach him new things (even when those things are how to climb out of his crib lol), and you protect and love him with all your heart. Seeing you and your little brother together makes my heart light up and makes me so happy to see your relationship with each other grow.

You have such an eagerness to learn. You have an incredible attention span for learning and you just soak every little bit in. You remember things that happened over two years ago…things that I don’t even remember and the smallest details. You seriously impress me every day with your ability and passion to expand your mind and I know this quality will take you far in life.

I am so happy to be your mama. You make me proud every single day. I love you with all my heart my Nico, Bonzo, Little Monkey, NiNi (as Luca called you), Nico Nics, and so many other names we have created for you. Thank you for teaching me and challenging me and loving me and I know you will continue to grow and flourish in this world.

Happy 4th Birthday my sweet, Nico. I love you so freakin’ much.

Love,

Mama

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Excited to be spending this special day with family down in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. We have a little rain today, but that won’t “rain on our parade.” Fun times in store for this sweet Birthday Boy and the whole fam! ❤

Hope you all are enjoying this last bit of summertime!

XO,

Gina

NYC-versary: A Decade

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Wow. A decade. 10 years. July 3, 2007 we embarked on a crazy new journey of life. I left everything and everyone I knew and loved (except one) back in Maryland and moved to New York City. The Big Apple. Without a job. To chase my dreams. To discover myself. To pursue a career. To build a relationship. To be more independent.

We honestly thought it would last a couple years. We would experience something new and different. Get a great job to put on the resume. Live it up in one of the biggest cities in the world. Eat all the food. Have all the incredible experiences.

There were lots of trips on the Bolt Bus back to Maryland in those early days. We are both such family/friend oriented people and we never wanted to miss ANYTHING. So we were on that bus sometimes twice a month for different events and celebrations.

Two years passed and we realized we had not even scratched the surface of this city. There was no way we were leaving anytime soon. No matter that we lived in a 350 square foot one bedroom apartment with no laundry or dishwasher in a 4th floor walk up. We didn’t care. This was where we were supposed to be.

Part of the excitement of this city was the endless possibilities…so much to do…so much to see…so much opportunity…new restaurants going up daily, the theatre, the nights of dancing, the history, the people, the culture. We learned so much and we were never bored. There was always another adventure around the corner. So five years passed…then 7…now…today is 10.

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Engagement photos by Misa Me Photography 2010

Throughout this past decade, we have had lots of visitors to give us great excuses to explore our city. We have made many friends (reconnected with some old and made some new). I spent 7 years working in the advertising/animation industry learning SO much about production and creativity and how things work behind the scenes. I was able to travel and work with two amazing people that will forever remain in my life as we shared so much together. I feel very grateful to have had this experience and it was WAY more than just “something to add to my resume” that’s for darn sure.

I played on many soccer teams, had girl’s nights on the Upper East Side, tried my hand at club promoting (which although it was fun turned out not to be my thing ;-)), I lived through the majority of my 20’s here, did rooftop yoga, coached high school girl’s soccer, made a whole crew of neighborhood mom friends in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn that I swear I would have lost my sanity without during those early months of maternity leave when I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

My other half explored SO many different career options and ultimately paved such an incredible path for himself. I am truly inspired by his passion, work ethic and confidence every day. He also threw one of the BEST parties/events I have ever been to in the city (shout out to the Electric Moon Dance! ;-))

We celebrated an engagement, planned a wedding, got married, moved to Brooklyn, got a car (see ya later Bolt Bus!), started this blog, had two beautiful babies, I discovered a new career in online health + fitness where I am truly finding my purpose…all while living in this amazing city. We realized how much time we could actually spend at the beach in the summertime without driving too far. We’re actually sending our oldest child to SCHOOl in the NYC school system this fall, so it feels even crazier to know that we are now really raising kids here.

It’s crazy how many twists and turns, highs and lows, experiences and life changing monumental moments we have had since living in this incredible city. I literally still cannot believe that it’s been a full decade since we made this crazy-turned-amazing decision to move our lives here.

I am grateful for the most supportive, kind, hard working, adventurous, loving partner that has been here with me through it all. Zack, baby, I can believe it, but CHEERS to 10 years in New York City!

Looking forward to continuing our countless adventures and creating many more memories with you and our family. ❤

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Photo by Senshi Photography 2017

This holiday weekend will always have a special meaning for me on top of it being the Birthday of America. It’s basically the birth of our New York life together.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend! Keep safe. Sending love and happy times to you and your families today. We are off to Hershey Park for the day to chase some thrills and meet up with my brother in law, sister in law, nephew and niece! No matter how long we stay in NY, we will always make time for the fam. ❤

XO,

Gina

 

Day Date

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It’s not every day you get a day date in Manhattan. But hubby and I had been wanting to do a “Paint Nite” event for the longest time, and when we saw one with a cool painting for 1:00 on a Saturday, we jumped at the chance. Thankfully, our babysitter was able to switch her plans around to be there for us, and we decided to make a whole day of it, treating ourselves to brunch beforehand. While typically trying to make the healthy choice as a health + fitness coach, I dove into some chicken + waffles and a Bloody Mary at Whitman + Bloom. It’s not every day you get a day date as parents, right? We really got into the painting and became totally swept into the whole experience despite my lack of artistic ability (hubby is pretty good though!) We had a ton of fun getting out of our comfort zones, and I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how our work turned out! Feel free to check my Instagram for the finished product!

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Dress: Forever 21 / Jacket: Goodnight Macaroon / Booties: H&M / Necklaces: Vintage + Stella & Dot / Sunglasses: Brickyard Buffalo

Wow, what a weekend! A day date, and a 60+ degree day in February? Whaaat? Crazy. We are on Winter Break over here, so mama is trying to come up with a plan of action for activities and things to do, while still being able to get some work done around here! Haha. I have a feeling it’s going to be a crazy week, but a fun one!

Hope you’re enjoying the holiday weekend and cheers to an awesome week ahead!

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

This Envelope

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This envelope right here. This envelope here holds my son’s monthly tuition for preschool. This envelope used to be a bit of a stress factor for me during that first week of the month. While our co-op is definitely affordable compared to many daycares and private preschool programs, it is still a nice chunk of change that I wasn’t always sure we could afford. I knew we would make it happen…because education is so important to me and my husband, and we truly value the experiences that our son had been able to have with his teacher and classmates. But I stressed all summer long about the tuition increase from last year to this year with an extra hour a day, extra day per week, cost to hire an assistant, etc. It all adds up pretty quick.

Building a business from scratch is not easy and it takes time and patience to build. It has been frustrating at times to not be an “overnight success,” but that’s just not how things work. My husband has been so supportive since I became a coach and he truly believes in me. He believes this has been a great decision for our family…even when I have doubted myself. For that I am so grateful. Quitting has never been an option, and I have continued to put in my best effort day in and day both both as a mom and as a business woman…sometimes at the same time.

So when I realized today that this week’s paycheck more than surpassed that monthly tuition we owe today, my heart just filled with happiness. To know that I was able to contribute in such a way toward my son’s education in just one week of helping others reach their goals truly shed light on a big reason WHY I do what I do.

I love helping others, and I also want to create the best life possible for my family and give my children all they deserve to be happy and successful in life. I am holding this envelope today feeling grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and feeling hopeful for the future.

Hope you all are having an amazing week and continuing to pursue your passions and dreams!

XO,

Gina

Jaw Drop

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Holy Thursday!!!
 
My face says it all…today was my first Beachbody paycheck of 2017, and I almost spit out my coffee. This paycheck more than doubled my highest paycheck ever earned since I started coaching.
 
I don’t talk about money or income much, because 1) I think it’s kinda tacky and 2) I haven’t reached my income goals yet…and so at times it can be scary to share the “before” or while you are still on the journey. It’s much easier to share once you have achieved those results you are looking for. But the reality is…there will always be a journey and there will always be goals to reach. And I’m sure others out there can relate…so in an effort to “keep it real” here we go…
 
I became a coach almost to this day about 2 years ago. I had no idea what I was getting into…what to do, how it all worked, etc. I was fresh and new and excited. I knew I wanted to help people. I knew I wanted to work on my own schedule and for myself so I could also be present for my kids…but I honestly had NO idea what it was like to be an entrepreneur. I thought I would easily match what I was making at my old job and then some pretty quickly. But I underestimated how much patience I would need to have. Starting your own business is NOT a “get rich quick” kind of thing. It takes time, and work…LOTS of work. It takes consistency. It takes fearlessness.
 
All of which I have struggled with at times. It’s scary to put yourself out there on a daily basis. To wonder what people think about what you are doing. If they think you are a complete weirdo. I know it shouldn’t matter what other people think, but I’m only human.
 
And then comes the life of being a busy mom, trying to balance two young boys, a hubby, family, traveling, a social life, housework, adulting in general, and everything else that comes with it. There have been times when I thought maybe I just wasn’t cut out for this. That maybe I just can’t do it all. That maybe it’s okay if this coaching thing is just a hobby. That maybe I just am not that great of a leader.
 
But I kept going. And I know now after all the personal growth I dove into at the tail end of 2016 that those are just limiting beliefs. Being a leader starts within, and I needed (and still need) to grow MYSELF before I can help others to grow and succeed. So I will continue to keep going…and growing.
 
Success is a personal definition. It doesn’t always have to be directly related to money. But for a long time I related success = money. To be honest, I thought by the end of 2016, I would have made more money than I did. I thought I would have achieved a higher rank in my company. I didn’t reach some of my big goals. But what I didn’t realize was how much I would learn and grow personally. Apparently, I wasn’t yet ready for all of that. And 2016 was a year of growth for sure.
 
And it’s interesting…when you stop focusing on the money…and start focusing on growing yourself and helping others…then the money actually comes haha. Imagine that.
 
Because quite frankly even though money is not the most important thing…we all need it. Especially when you live in a city like New York and everything is so darn expensive. My husband and I have tons of old debt to pay off, plus our monthly rent, car payment, student loans, credit cards, IRS taxes…and I have goals of traveling around the world with my family…sending my kids to the best schools possible, allowing them to reach their full potential with extra curricular classes, and more.
 
So when I saw that paycheck today, it was a reminder that I need to keep going. That all the hard work that I have put in for the past 2 years has not been for nothing. It was a reminder of all the people I have been able to help to reach their goals. I thought about the thank you notes and positive comments I have received from challengers and coaches on my team. I thought about how I would never want to let them down. I thought about being able to pay those debts off in the future and to be able to give my kids the best education, and about seeing the world. I thought about how supportive my husband has been these past 2 years. When I was down on myself, he always looked at the positive and told me how much money I was saving for our family by working from home or how I was helping to pay off preschool or groceries that week.
 
I thought about how patience is key. And everyone has been telling me that those who don’t succeed are the ones who quit too early. So even those next week’s paycheck will probably not come close to this one…thank you little paycheck for that reminder that what I am doing is important for myself and my family…and that I AM growing…that if I have the belief and the work ethic, anything is possible…and that 2017 is going to be amazing.
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XO,
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Gina

Easy Soups for Fall

 

I recently ran a Crockpots + Squats health and fitness challenge, and it had me experimenting a little more in the kitchen! I posted a few photos which had a lot of people asking for recipes, so I decided to put this together to share. I took these recipes from my cookbook called The Italian Slowcooker by Michele Sciolone, but I added a few of my own twists to them as well to make them my own.

First up:

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 large butternut squash, about 1.5 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut (Mom tip: buy this pre-cut! More expensive, but WORTH saving the time!)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

3 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp dried

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and fresh ground pepper

olive oil for drizzling

*I also added a can of coconut milk and lots of cinnamon!)*

In medium skillet, cook the oinion in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, but not browned, about 10 minutes. If the onion starts to color, add a tablespoon or two of water and lower the heat slightly. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the squash, potatoes, sage, and broth. I also added cinnamon here. If necessary, add water so that the vegetables are covered with liquid (I did not add water, FYI. I just added coconut milk or more broth until it was covered with liquid).

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I actually added cinnamon on top of mine, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Voila!

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The next soup I made last week was:

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Serves 8

2 heads cauliflower, about 1.25 pounds each, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves

3 cups chicken broth

4 cups water

*I replaced some of the water with canned coconut milk instead)*

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Romano because that’s my jam)

In a large slow cooker, combine the cauliflower, potatoes, oil, garlic, broth, water, coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the vegetables are very soft.

Let the soup cool slightly, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with a sprinkle of cheese. Boom!

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And there you have it!!!!

Two delicious soups for fall!!!

The entire family ate all of this right up. Mom tip: If it’s difficult to feed younger children a pureed soup like this, you can also give them the chunks of veggies before you puree! My little guy devoured them!

Enjoy, and please share below any of your favorite easy soup recipes for fall!

Reminder: TOMORROW I will be announcing the WINNER for the Country Heat Giveaway!!! For your last chance to enter, please visit popcorn and pandas on Facebook before the end of the day!

Make it a great day everyone!!

3 Week Yoga Retreat

September (2)
I was an athlete growing up, but yoga is something I discovered in my 20’s after college. Being that person who was always into cardio heavy sports like soccer and basketball, yoga was quite a switch. The quiet, calm music…having to hold balance and stay still in a position for an extended period of time. It was definitely different. But the moment I tried it for the first time, I knew I loved it. There was just something about it that made me feel AMAZING after it was all over. It was a different feeling than I had experienced from exercise before. I normally felt exhausted, tired, banged up, bruised, sore, and more after a soccer or basketball game. But after yoga I felt rejuvenated. I felt a clear mind. I felt a release of stress, tension, and anxiety. I knew that yoga would not be going anywhere in my life.
 
While living in New York, I have had the pleasure of attending amazing yoga classes from my favorite teacher Brian Williams! If you haven’t taken a punk rock yoga class before, or a class on top of a roof in this amazing city, this guy will rock your world. Seriously. I am still dreaming of taking his week long yoga retreat vacation to some beautiful, tropical location. One of these days, I will make it happen.
 
But for now…since becoming a mom, it’s nearly impossible for me to make a yoga class (or any other classes for that matter). When my older son was about 18 months, I finally decided to get back into shape by taking my workouts to the living room. I quickly found out I was pregnant with baby #2 and I was going to need something more low impact than P90X. I WISHED Beachbody had a yoga program at that time, but they didn’t. The closest thing they had was PiYo, and I absolutely loooooooooved it. This combo of pilates/yoga/cardio/sculpt/strength + Chalene Johnson will always have a special place in my heart. However, it was not truly yoga.
 
I am THRILLED that as of yesterday, Beachbody has launched a new *** 3 WEEK YOGA RETREAT *** that you can do inside your own living room!!!! This is the program I have been waiting for!!!! Now I don’t have to feel left out because I can’t make the classes, but I can do them from home. 21 different yoga workouts for 21 days. On demand, so you can not only do them at home, but wherever you need to go. Pretty amazing.
 
The super yogis will love this, but it’s even better for those just beginning or those needing a low impact workout.
 
I’m currently doing Hammer + Chisel as you may have seen from my posts yesterday, but I seriously cannot wait to rock out this yoga program as soon as I am finished! I already know that I will love it. ❤
Hope you all had an awesome Labor Day Weekend! I cannot believe they are already serving pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. I am sad for the summer to end, but I do love the fall. School also starts this week for my oldest guy which is crazy! He will be in a 3’s program this year, and it will also be my first experience as a mom packing lunches! Is it weird that I oddly excited about that? I am also a bit excited to get started in our new routine. Yesterday, I was feeling all “Bring Back the Summer,” but today I think I’m embracing the new season.
 
Namaste!!!
Gina

Dreams into Reality

Team Spark Happy Hour June 23

About a year and a half ago, I felt a little lost. The company I worked for had folded 6 months prior, I had an 18 month old and was newly pregnant with baby #2. My mother had always worked outside of the home, and naturally being the person I am, I always wanted to do the same. I never wanted to rely on anyone else and I wanted to “be successful” in my own right.
 
Before becoming a mom, I also could never have imagined how hard it would be to balance work and life. Going back to work was easier said than done. I liked my old job, but it was definitely hard to leave every morning. During those 6 months of “soul searching” I realized I didn’t want to go back to working in advertising full time and leaving my son (and future son to-be) 5 days a week for incredibly long hours.
 
My blog and a couple writing gigs told me that I wanted to do something from home…and on my own…but I just didn’t know what. Because the blog was certainly not paying the bills…
 
At the same time I was also incredibly out of shape. Aside from walking, I hadn’t done anything since I got pregnant with my first born. This was a heck of a lot different from my athletic past life, and I did not feel like myself and was quite sure I would probably never again.
 
It was then that I stumbled upon the coaching opportunity. A fellow blogger started her journey and I quietly followed until I saw she was looking to mentor new coaches. I thought to myself “WHY NOT ME?!” What did I have to lose? If I hate it, I will just find something else.
 
So I took the JUMP. A year and a half ago, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into…but I knew that I would be helping people and I would be getting healthy at the same time.
 
Fast forward to the present day, and my life has completely changed. I am able to stay at home and raise both of my kids AND also have a full time job that I work in part time hours. I have helped over 200+ people start their health + fitness journey and achieve incredible results, and I have trained and helped mentor 20+ coaches to build their own businesses and start their own journey toward financial freedom. I have been able to take multiple vacations so far this year and have at least 5 more trips on the books for the rest of the year. We are paying off debts from old houses owned in Baltimore, hubby’s student loans, and more. I have made so many new friends (pictured above) from across the country who are positive, uplifting, supportive and who I look forward to talking with every day.
 
The journey is not over, and it’s hard work, but it’s work that I LOVE, so it doesn’t actually FEEL like work. It’s something I can do on my own time, my own hours, + create and design by MY standards. I wake up each day excited to check in with my challengers and my team. I love seeing the lives transform each and every day, including my own. It makes me feel happy that I can provide for my family and be a positive example for my boys.
 
Are you looking for something MORE in your life? If you have ever felt the way I did…if you want more time with your kids, more travel/vacation time, a chance to do something for yourself, the opportunity to feel as if your success is limitless, to surround yourself with an amazing community of people….
 
Then PLEASE JOIN ME + Team SPARK! – THURSDAY night 6/23 at 8:30pm where we will share our stories and give you a behind the scenes of a day in the life of a coach. How we help others, why we love it + how you can fit coaching into your already busy schedule.
 
***Comment below “I want to learn more!” with your e-mail address***
 
Come learn how to turn your DREAMS into a REALITY – And don’t forget something to say “Cheers!” on Thursday! 🙂
Hope you all have an AMAZING Monday!!!
XO,
Gina
 
***Team Beachbody® does not guarantee any level of success or income from the Team Beachbody Coach Opportunity. Each Coach’s income depends on his or her own efforts, diligence, and skill.***