Go With Your Gut


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!



Green Gardens







Floral Blouse: Express (sold out, but similar here) / Denim: AG Jeans / Booties: H&M / Hat: Vintage / Sunnies: Vintage / Necklace: Amrita Singh / Lip: MAC Rebel

These photos were taken back on Easter weekend, when we had the most gorgeous Saturday at my parent’s house. It was so nice to be outside in their beautiful yard in Maryland where the grass is green and the flowers are starting to bloom. Of course my Nico couldn’t get enough of swinging in the new hammock my Dad put outside. We caught up with friends, dyed Easter eggs, and I even got a (much needed) fresh hair cut. Many thanks to Nikki for the new locks and style!

Since that weekend, it’s been a bit frigid up here in NY. Hoping that spring weather will come back around again soon.

Today is Day 3 of 21 Day Fix Extreme. Whew! It’s definitely challenging. I am feeling the burn, feeling myself getting stronger already, and dialing in that nutrition again. Wish me luck staying on track tonight on my dinner date with a friend!

Hope you all are having a great week!



Homemade Apple Butter


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!


  • 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


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.

IMG_9532_Layers_v1 IMG_9537_Layers_v1

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!



Numbers on a Scale

yes...i'm being serious...

Can you believe this health & fitness coach does not even own a scale?

“Is she serious?”

Yes, I’m serious.

Does this make me crazy?

I’ve never been a numbers girl, and quite frankly I never really wanted to get hung up on numbers on a scale. In the past 8 years since living on my own, I have only weighed myself at the doctor’s (or occasionally in a friend’s bathroom). In my opinion, it’s about how you look and about how you feel about yourself…not about a number on a scale.

That being said…since I started the 21 Day Fix and my post-pregnancy weight loss journey, I have to admit I am a tad curious about all the work I am putting in here! I am thinking I might cave in and get a scale just to see my end result at the end of the 21 Days.

And I promise not to be one of those people who stresses about checking every day, because like I said before, that is not what is most important. Health & fitness is an overall feeling and a lifestyle, and I do not want a lifestyle where I am obsessively checking my numbers each day. So I will buy a scale (recommendations welcome because I don’t even know where to start), check once, make a note, and tuck it away until further notice…

Curious, how often do you weigh yourself?

Hope you all are having a great week!



Transformation Tuesday: A P90X3 Story

Copy of 17 lbs

Meet Caitlin!!!

She joined my Challenge group in May of this year, and dove right into the fitness and nutrition plan for P90X3.  I met Caitlin in high school back in Maryland (her brother was in my class), and she was always active and fit.  However, as many of us women know, having a baby can take a toll on our bodies. She has a beautiful baby boy to show for it, but Caitlin was eager to get her post-baby body back. Plus, working as a pastry chef, it was hard for her to keep her hand out of the cookie jar if you will. I don’t blame her! I was so happy to have her join my group. She worked so hard, and has incredible results to show for us and has adopted a healthy lifestyle for herself and for her family.

Okay enough chatter from me…let me introduce you to Caitlin and let her tell you about her journey herself!

P+P: Tell us about yourself (where you live, family, hobbies, interests, anything else that you would like to include about yourself)

Caitlin: I live in Baltimore, MD with my husband, Matt, 9 1/2 month old son, Max, and dog, Buck! I went to the Ohio State University and studied Athletic Training. I did that for a few years but burned out quickly and decided to pursue my passion in baking and pastries! I went to culinary school and I am a pastry chef – which makes it hard to resist my sweet tooth since I am surrounded by goodies all day!
P+P: What is your fitness background?
Caitlin: I was always an athlete and have always loved to workout. I played softball, ice hockey, and when I was younger did everything from basketball to soccer to ballet! I love sports and have never had a problem working out (well sometimes the motivation isn’t always there but once I get going i’m good!). During my pregnancy I tried to stay active though I did not have a set workout routine. I stuck to mostly walking but made sure I did it daily! I still gained weight, as you are supposed to during pregnancy, but it was hard to lose after!
P+P: Why did you decide to try P90X3?
I decided on P90X3 for several reasons. One, I had already done P90X and loved the routines, but they were quite long. Since I liked them, Gina recommend P90X3! I wanted something that was high intensity and had a lot of variety which is exactly what P90X3 offers. Lastly, I needed something that was short and sweet. I do not have enough time between work and being home with my very active son, to fit in a long gym sesh. Having 30 minute workouts that I could do at home was clutch (and honestly the only way I could workout and stay sane!)
P+P: What about the program worked for you? What did you like about it? 
I loved that the DVDs were only 30 minutes long. Like I said I have very little time and working out during my son’s nap is not an option. I nap when he does because I go in to work at 3 am in order to stay home with him. He is great at self play but gets bored quickly, so 30 minutes is the perfect time for me to get in a good sweat. I also loved the variety. There was a bit of lifting, some cardio, and my favorite – MMX (a mixed martial arts DVD Tony Horton style!)
P+P: What was tough or challenging for you? (Particular workouts? Sticking to nutrition? Anything else?)
The toughest part for me was nutrition. The workouts were no brainers, and it was easy to press play everyday. I think mostly because I have always loved to work out and also because the DVDs got me excited (gotta love those endorphins!) The nutrition part was a struggle because I am such a sweet tooth and am surrounded by all the bad (but oh so good!) stuff every day. I found however the more I worked out, the less I craved the sweets (well the more I thought about what I ate because I didn’t want to ruin the hard work I put in that day!)
P+P: 17 lbs and 3 pants sizes is an incredible accomplishment! How did you stay motivated for those 90 days?
My motivation came from several places. One – my support group and coach! It was awesome to see and hear from other ladies going through the same struggles and accomplishments that I went through! It also held me accountable knowing I was going to check in with them later and couldn’t lie! Also seeing the results motivated me big time! It wasn’t even what I saw on the scale – it was seeing little changes – my arms toning up – my legs slimming out – my tummy getting tighter. It started with small differences. Then I took the picture at 60 days and compared it to day 1. I could not believe what I saw! When it comes off slowly you almost forget where you started! I was so glad I took that before picture because it really put things into perspective! That then gave me the courage to try on an old pair of shorts that I had from HIGH SCHOOL! I could not believe they fit! Now 90+ days out those shorts are getting BIG! Yea I still can’t believe it! I also was very highly motivated by my son. I did not want to be self conscious and pass that on! I wanted to be fit and active and have better eating habits for him to learn! I wanted to be able to go to the beach and be happy swimming in the water and playing in the sand with him without any thoughts of “oh I bet people are looking at my belly” Plus just waking up and seeing his cute smile was all the motivation I needed to be healthy and be there for him!
P+P: How do you feel today and what are your goals moving forward?
Today I feel amazing and almost in disbelief. I know everyone says they want to lose weight, or tone up, or run that marathon – but there is always that self doubt. will I actually be able to do it? Can I do it? Now I do not even consider those questions! Yes, I CAN do it and I WILL do it! I am happier, healthier, thinner, more toned, can keep up with my son, and feel fantastic in anything I wear! My goals moving forward are to continue to create healthy habits. I feel like I am addicted to working out now so I want to try new things! I want to start lifting heavier and get more definition! I want this to be my lifestyle, a habit, something I don’t have to think about – just something I do, everyday, no questions asked!

Caitlin (continued):

I have had such amazing results that I am now officially addicted! I jumped right into the 21 Day Fix and have plans on doing another program set to come out in December. I also am going to start training for the Baltimore Half Marathon in October (YIKES!)! I know what exercise, nutrition, and support has done for me, so I want to share that with others. It was pretty much a no brainer when you approached me about the coaching opportunity! I was already doing the workouts and working hard on the nutrition and I LOVED the challenge groups. So the transition into actually helping others do it was so easy! I have always loved to help and inspire others in any way that I can. Becoming a coach just gave me that opportunity.It also help hold me accountable! How can I help others if I am not doing it!? It was all the more reason to become a coach. I also had major support from my husband who knew this was something I wanted and something I would be good at! My son played a major role in my future as well. I want to be able to stay home with him but still provide financially for the family! Becoming a Beachbody Coach has me on the path to that lifestyle – all while keeping me healthy (and my family!) My future is filled with helping others and maintaining this healthy lifestyle – this isn’t a fad, its not a quick fix – it is hard work that I have made in to long lasting habits and I want to help as many people as I can do the same!

Caitlin Family

I am so proud of Caitlin and all the hard work she has put into creating a better life for herself physically, mentally, and financially.  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! I am excited to see what you accomplish for yourself and your family in the next year, and I know you will help and inspire so many others along the way!

Hope you are all having a great week so far. I am on Day 2 of being on my own with my two boys. So far, it’s going pretty well! I am surprised I have actually been productive. I was able to get out of the house two days in a row, get Nico down for his naps, get 2-3 hours of work done each day, and not have the house be a complete disaster upon Zack’s return home. #winning! Beginner’s luck? We shall see how long it lasts 😉



Shakeology Super Sampler!

Shakeology Super Sampler Invite

Have you been wondering about what the heck is the dealio with this Shakeology “stuff” I have been drinking? Are you in need of getting your health and nutrition back on track?

Since I am not yet cleared to get back into exercise just yet, I am going to switch it up this month and run a group based on nutrition and Shakeology! If you have been curious and you are interested in trying out a sampler before making a full monthly investment, then you are a perfect candidate for this group!

I will have all 6 flavors available to ship and try out along with some of my favorite recipes to go along with each flavor. You can also feel free to try out your own recipes and share them with the group.

Why Shakeology? Because it’s a great way to get in all your vitamins, nutrients, and super foods each day. It’s been known to boost your immune system, curb those sweet tooth cravings, lower cholesterol, improve digestion, increase energy levels, help with weight loss, strengthen your hair, skin, and nails…and so much more.

Not only will I be sharing Shakeology recipes in this group, but I will also provide recipes for nutritious meals and tips for healthy, clean eating (because you definitely should not be drinking ALL of your meals!)

Shakeology veterans who are interested in learning new recipes and sharing with the group are also welcome to join!

The group will begin Monday September 21, and I wanted to make sure to give everyone enough time to get their Sampler Packets before starting.

COMMENT below if you want in or MESSAGE me for more information on how to get started, get your sampler pack, and join the group!

Have a great week everyone!



Summa Summa Summatime

21 Day Fix Invite July 13

Summa Summa Summatime!

It’s mid-summer and I am looking for 5 more women who want to commit to the next 3 weeks of healthy eating and fitness! There is still time to feel confident in that summer bikini, at that summer wedding, or at your family reunion, ladies. It all starts with you and your decision to change and make a difference both by being active and making smart choices in the kitchen.

My next round of the 21 Day Fix is starting up on July 13th, and I would love to help you reach your goals! It will include:

-A DIFFERENT workout each day of the week to keep things interesting
-An EASY to follow nutrition plan complete with portion control containers to map out what you should be eating each day
-30 MEALS of Shakeology – a super healthy drink packed with vitamins, nutrients, and super foods
-MYSELF as your personal coach and motivator
-3 week SUPPORT group full of other challengers like yourself where we will share inspiration, motivation, tips, recipes, etc.

Don’t let a busy schedule hold you back from making a change! Some of my best challengers with the most rockin’ results are busy moms, busy professionals, and have full plates. *30 min a day is only 2% of your day and anyone can make time for this program if they are ready to make a change.*

COMMENT below with your e-mail address if you would like to join the party or if you would like more information. You can also e-mail me at gina.notes26 {at} gmail.com if you want in!

Make it a good one!