Blogger Spotlight: Gina Harney of The Fitnessista

by in Blogger Spotlight, April 12, 2013
Gina Harney is a new mom, military wife, food enthusiast and certified fitness instructor. She focuses on eating lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and veggies but fully admits to her love of chocolate and wine too. With the motto “being fit is always in style,” Gina’s blog, The Fitnessista features workout tips and a wide range of easy and fun healthy recipes.
When did your passion for fitness begin?

I grew up dancing, but paired the high activity with often-unhealthy (but delicious!) food. In college, my eating habits took their toll and I started to experiment with different types of fitness to get to a healthy weight. I lost 40 lbs in college after embarking on a healthy lifestyle through walking (which eventually turned into running), strength training and cleaning up my diet.

What are your favorite pre- and post-workout snacks?

It depends on the time of day. If I can squeeze in an early workout, I’ll often have something small (1/2 a banana and almond butter) and the bulk of my breakfast afterwards, making sure to enjoy a balance of carbs and protein, with a little fat in there. I love egg burritos! If I teach or work out at night or during the day, I’ll have a protein-packed salad beforehand, and enjoy a couple of protein balls afterwards.

What has been the most popular recipe on your site?

The most popular is the no-bake breakfast cookie (pictured above); you can make it the night before and eat it in the morning on your way to work or class. While it’s more of an overnight oats-esque creation, I’ve also made a baked version which is more like a breakfast dessert. My “amazeballs” are also a very popular recipe.

Out of all the cities you have lived in, which has had the best food?

Definitely Orlando — they have EVERYTHING. I really miss Seasons 52; their glorious salads, fresh seafood, desserts and wine rocked my world.

What healthy staples do you keep stocked in your kitchen?

Freezer: frozen berries, veggies, chicken, nuts (I store a lot of my nuts in the freezer), Ziploc baggies of chipotle chiles in adobo and tomato paste (when I only need a tablespoon from a can, I put the rest in a bag and freeze it) and coconut milk ice cream. Cabinets: oatmeal, brown rice crispies, grains (I love quinoa and brown rice), soups/broths, garlic-infused olive oil, dark chocolate.  Refrigerator: nut butter (I’m on a sunflower seed butter kick right now), protein balls, salad greens and salad ingredients (I’ll wash and pre-chop everything for the week), raw and steamed eggs (I steam them for 15 minutes instead of boiling; less water/energy use and perfect eggs every time), fruit (especially berries and apples), baked sweet potatoes, goat cheese, almond milk, fresh salsa, herbs (I especially love cilantro and basil), avocados.

What is your advice for busy moms trying to juggle work, family and healthy habits?

It really is a lot of work, and we definitely have nights where we just order takeout or a pizza, but I find that planning leads to success as far as food and fitness go. Of course, everything always changes, but to have a plan in place (like a sample fitness plan for the week, meal ideas) and clean food prepared, it’s so much easier to make healthy choices. Most weeks, I’ll take about an hour on Sunday to prep some food. I’ll make and freeze oatmeal pancakes for my daughter, wash and chop veggies, roast at least one protein, and put together some protein balls or healthy muffins. During nap time, I’ll prep dinner or get it in the slow cooker so that it’s easier to cook and serve. I try to do most of my work while the baby is sleeping, and try to close the computer at night when she goes to bed. This way, I can make the most of family time, especially when I’m not scrambling at the last minute to put dinner or meals together (which hey, still happens, but not quite so often).

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