Competition cut, modeling photo shoot & period health

The time is here and I’m SO EXCITED! It feels like forever and let’s be real, 3 years off from competition for a goal to step on stage as a bodybuilding competitor is a LONG TIME. With many moving pieces in my life, I am ready for it.

I am officially 12 weeks out from a show I have in mind. Coach John Meadows and I have a plan in place, so I can not just hit a local stage and hopefully win a Figure Overall title, but also go to a national stage (or two) and place to win my IFBB Pro Card!

Below is a little comparison of where I was my last show, Jr. USAs May 2016. Weight was 122 pounds. On right, current update from Feb. 13th. Weight at 147 pounds, feeling pretty thick! Ready to decrease the calories, increase cardio and pump some iron to lean out.

Being a female athlete, this is a topic that has become near and dear to my heart. For over 2 years, I did not have a period AT ALL, aka amenorrhea. I have never been on any conventional birth control. For quite some time, I was fine about not having one… until I realized that was an indicator something else must be “off” inside my body.

I started researching, reading and every time I went to a see a gynocologist, they would say, “Oh, you are fine! Let me give you some birth control to regulate it.” Although tempting, I always answered “no”. I got my period back in Feb. 2017, but then it was still on and off for several months. Extremely heavy flow, painful cramps and acne flare ups pre and post menstruation. Definitely NOT enjoyable and made me think, “why the heck didn’t I get on BC?”

Well, because, the idea of putting artificial hormones into my body did not appeal to me. I wanted to figure it out holistically. And now, it is even more important before I start dieting for my next #NPCFigure show.

I will say, this past two months, I have had CONSISTENT, TIMELY periods. Some cramping, moderately heavy flow, acne flares, but the symptoms are DECREASING. It typically takes 1-3 months to see a difference based on the following:
-Stress levels, including training intensity and cardio
-Sleep quality and duration
-Micronutrient deficiencies
-Diet changes

As I continue into #prepmode, I plan to track my period health and share some tips and advice I’m finding helpful for me. Obviously we are all different, so some things that work for me might not work for everyone. Find what works for YOU and your loved ones!

I’m planning to document my body transition and changes to help others in their journeys. I’ve even started to do some modeling and am excited to continue working with Hoot Photos in Atlanta! He’s already taught me a lot about improving my photographability… if that is a word haha! Excited to share the journey with you all. See more on my latest YouTube video here:
https://youtu.be/HOMBkwP95eg

Learn weekly goal tracking, YouTube and protein avocado cookies

I’m not sure if you know, but there are a lot of people out there with goals similar to or just as lofty as yours. Kinda cool, right? Like a fellowship, community, tribe-like feel. This month has been FLYING by and I’ll be honest, I feel on top of some goals and way behind on others! That’s just how it goes sometimes… but other times, it was either proper planning or lack of on my part. Where do you think you stand with your goals?

No matter, you’re kind of a big deal. Maybe I’m dating myself with that quote, which I was first introduced to during my freshman year of college in 2010. But really, you and your goals, they are BIG. Have you tracked where you stand so far?

The top three new years resolutions for 2019 are
exercise/lose weight (38%), save money (37%), or travel (24%). All are very admirable and achievable! But how many actually write down where they are at for certain milestones or progress markers?

We’ve already made it through almost one month of the year, that’s 1/12th of the way there! Now don’t freak out if you think time is flying by. It’s not. It progresses at the same rate each day. We just choose how we will that time. That’s what makes the difference between YOU and your goals and the OTHER people out there. How they fill their time and record their progress to see success.

I have found great results from this uncanny idea that tracking our progress and seeing how we change, develop and excel day by day, week by week, month by month. And once you stick to a goal long enough or have enough time built up in whatever you’re doing, recording that yearly progress is amazing!

Here’s how I go about it for my goals and something you can implement too.

Weekly Goal Tracking

  • At the start of each week, I write out the big goals I want to accomplish. They are not necessarily HUGE in terms of my overall goals. But, they should make a dent in the progress I need to make towards milestones along the way.
  • Now, I review those goals and schedule them into my calendar as best I can.
  • Each week, other things come up and little tasks or to dos will surface. That’s fine! I just stay committed that I have other tasks or projects still requiring attention and devote time to them the best I can.
  • Every evening, I try to take 10 minutes to review my day, what I accomplished and what I need to do the next day. Maybe I missed something that day or a new action item was brought to my attention. I write it down and plan for it.
  • This writing process has helped me a TON in terms of reflection, planning and growing.
  • By the end of the week, I have a good grasp of my progress!

This is something I do not only for my career and financial goals, but with my bodybuilding and weight training goals! I check in with my coach weekly, so at the beginning of each week, I already know what my workouts are, I have written down the weights I am going to use and I already have a meal plan. Weekly tracking is not just about writing but also I take progression photos and videos to know truly where I am at week to week.

I’m also starting to track my measurements by physically measuring my muscle bodies. Not really a mandatory thing, but kinda cool to think about it! I’m going to measure my waist, chest, quads, hips, arms and calves. As I start to cut down my calories and body fat starts to decline, it will be interesting to see how my physique shapes up!

This is something I am about to get more in depth with for my upcoming bodybuilding competition prep! Check out my new YouTube channel: Strong Sweet Caroline!

The videos will be raw, day in the life style and include all the nitty gritty stuff most people don’t talk about. Cardio, meal prep, relationships (highs and lows), emotional distress, posing practice, check ins, cravings and more.

In the meantime, I’m taking advantage of my 3000 calories per day to enjoy homemade baked goods like these avocado protein cookies. Exact same recipe as this one, except swapped the butter for 1/2 an avocado!

With all goals and resolutions, take one step further than in your past. Make it a common thing and you will succeed! Let me know how I can ever help in your journey.

GREENS DRINK for acne

This post shares my personal thoughts. I am now an ambassador for BIOHM Health and may receive compensation for purchases using my code.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately as we approach the end of the year. One of my constant battles has been with my gut health, digestion and skin. You can see in the photo below that among my freckles, I had some acne on my forehead and even a few spots on my upper chest.

It is super embarrassing and makes me uncomfortable in my own skin. And I’m 26. Why am I breaking out like this?!

Most of it stems from 1) hormones and 2) gut biome. If either are off, this is usually reflected on our faces. I want to treat my conditions from the inside, out. So the process continued.

I’ve spent lots of time, money and energy researching, testing and reviewing what is going on with my body and what has worked a little, a LOT or might just be a marketing hoax. I mostly focused on foods I was eating and trying to get more benefits from things like salmon for its Omega 3s, more leafy greens like kale and spinach and increasing seeds and nuts like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds.

One thing that for a long while I felt was not making much difference was greens powder. There are SO MANY OF THEM on the market. Like, how do you even pick?!?! 

I’ve tried a few and have FINALLY found a product from BIOHM I like and I’ve felt a difference! I purchased during their Cyber Monday deals so I could also get a colon cleanser and gut health kit (aka stool test).

greens drink for acne by Strong Sweet Caroline

During my search and experimenting, I realized that I was lacking a large amount of nutrients, specifically ones call “micronutrients”, that are found in specific foods, like fruits and vegetables. When living by a more “routine” or “restrictive” diet, you often lack these micronutrients and are missing out on additional vitamins and benefits they can bring your body.

Using a greens powder can help bring some of those micros to your daily nutrition. BIOHM Super Greens contains ORGANIC, US-sourced plant extracts, digestive fiber and enzymes. It offers 15B active probiotics, working to break through digestive plaque and help restore and maintain optimal gut balance.

greens drink for acne by Strong Sweet Caroline

One thing I’ve enjoyed with them so far is the taste is subtle and delicious. You might also know from other greens that they need to be shaken or stirred pretty rigorously in order to fully blend the probiotics.

I’m eager to continue using them and see how my skin and body respond. I already know that they have helped with my regularity LOL!

Get them for 20% off for the holidays December 17 through December 19! Look for more updates on my skincare and gut health in the future. This is a front burner issue in my life and I hope to help those of you prevent it from becoming an issue or help you find your solution!

Save on all additional products — code: CAROLINE

greens drink for acne by Strong Sweet Caroline

Why you should give yourself a cheat meal

It’s been months of sweating, grinding, working and slaving away. The gym has become your fortress. The kitchen is the place for meal prepping. And all you really want is a big slice of pizza.

Why you should have a cheat meal - by Strong Sweet Caroline

That’s a normal face David makes. And if I had to pick, I’d pick him over the pizza as the prettier of the two 😀

No more chicken and rice or beef and potatoes. Rice cakes can stay in the cupboard for an evening. Let’s plan to indulge a bit and bump up the calories.

If you have a personal trainer or coach, your meal plan is probably pretty rigid. Sometimes, that is the best way to start a routine! I actually enjoy structure because it holds me accountable and takes the thinking out of eating and cooking. I do more of that for my own clients and boyfriend than for myself. 🙂

With added stress during the week, mentally and physically, how do you determine if you NEED a cheat meal? A downright dirty, greasy, salivating entree?

  • Listen to your BODY. I cannot preach enough that the sooner you can learn your body, how it feels on a daily basis, what effects it positively and negatively, and what it needs, the sooner you will be able to optimize your health. I know certain locations on my body that become tight from daily stress, specific foods that will cause me to bloat and ones that won’t. The more keen you are on learning your body, the happier you will be.
  • Coach told you so. Competing in bodybuilding competitions has given me a new appreciation for feedback. When someone else is accountable to witness and inspect your progress, they often notice things you would never see with your own eyes. We interpret our bodies different than others. Sometimes we judge ourselves too hard. Other times, we don’t see the real picture enough. With build up of cortisol, it can impact the body tremendously. Incorporating a cheat meal can actually help your body’s chemical balance, when done appropriately and within means of your long-term health. Binge eating on the weekend is not appropriate, as I’ve said before. Just need to be careful. We get one body. Let’s care for it.
  • Reason to get out and do something new. I admit, I like to stay at home, spend time alone and work. But, sometimes to get re-energized and motivated, you need to get out of your element, find a new environment and enjoy life in a new form. David and I decided to explore around the Little 5 Points area and to our delight, we tried Savage Pizza. Oddly enough, neither of us had eaten there before. WE WERE MISSING SOMETHING INCREDIBLE! Not only was the food delicious, but the superhero themed restaurant did not disappoint with its eclectic surrounding.

We decided to go all out with some breadsticks, Greek salad and a large Chicken Cordon Bleu pizza with extra chicken of course!

Who wouldn’t see gains from that? The bathroom was pretty neat by the way. Covers of superheros!

Before full out food coma set in, we walked around the town, enjoyed some live music and night life.

Why you should have a cheat meal - by Strong Sweet Caroline

What is your favorite cheat meal? How do you strategically incorporate it into your lifestyle? It works well either right after a heavy workout or the day before a heavy workout. Then, it’s on to meal prepping for the new week!

I am launching a new Meal Prep 30 Challenge! Want to join? Sign up through this link by June 29th and more information will follow. You don’t want to miss out on some great prizes and even better learning opportunities!

Meal Prep 30 Challenge with Strong Sweet Caroline

Recovery mode and why you need to do it

Do you ever feel the need to flip into “recovery mode”? Yeah, me too. Recently, I’ve been running so hard I almost trip over myself. From one part time to another, promoting my meal prep for new clients and caring for the current, making time to go the gym five times per week, preparing to launch a new meal prep challenge program starting January 1, I have a lot on my plate.

When this starts to happen, a few things result. My sleep patterns become inconsistent. My skin starts to break out. My muscles and body tense up. The first two I can control. The last one takes more effort. Yoga and stretching help only so much when I make time for them. The other is visiting with a chiropractor for additional soft tissue muscle tension release.

I met Dr. Svienn Bjorns through David shortly after moving to Atlanta. I have had a handful of sessions with him to improve my mobility, recovery and strength with heavy impact strength training.

When he works on me, it is not pain free. It is often brutal. However, two to three days after, I feel much better! I had not had a consistent chiropractor that could adjust me and also perform cupping.

I highly recommend y’all look into having this done every month or so. See the video now and understand why you might benefit from it!

 

5 tips to succeed in your casted roles

This past weekend, I flew to Scottsdale, Arizona for the third annual Fitposium conference. I discovered it this past spring over James Patrick Photography’s Instagram profile and ponder it for a few weeks before securing my spot. Each year, I usually invest in one weekend for some sort of personal development. To be frank, some of the conferences I’ve attend the past 3+ years have become stale. Sure, I always had some new nuggets of information to learn. But, there was something tugging at me to travel to Arizona.

As someone transitioning from one industry to a completely different one, I was not sure what to expect. The two-day agenda was full of unique opportunities. And it did not disappoint! I had some powerful takeaways from Fitposium. Watch now for my five tips to succeed in your casted roles. You can also read more details below!

Do not treat your peers as your customers.

I was surrounded by other fitness professionals, entrepreneurs and models during the two-day conference. The industry has become saturated and, even in a conference setting, it can often be competitive. For example, during the casting call, I got nervous about what others were doing for poses and outfits. Should it have mattered? No. My brand is the only one I need to focus on at that moment in time. Do not worry about what your peers are doing. Majority of the time, they are not your customers.

Many of the keynote and session speakers hit on specialization. It used to be about knowing “everything” and being a “Jack or Jill of all trades”. But guess who is now getting all the business? The specialized ones. Speaker, Jill Coleman, creator of Jill Fit, asked, “What is your X-Factor?” Identify your customers, your niche, your true “passion” in the industry. Is it powerlifting? Do you love yoga? Vegan nutrition? Get clear and focus now.  This is not just advice for fitness professionals, but all professionals in their respective industries.

Strong Sweet Caroline | 5 tips to succeed in your casted roles

Know numbers to succeed in business.

I have always been a writer. I love marketing, public relations and photography. Where is my weakness? Financials. Even in my full-time corporate role, I was challenged a lot to improve on knowing my numbers. It helped me make it more of a habit but I need to keep growing it. The biggest reason businesses fail is because they do not focus enough on their balance sheet, profit and loss statement and operating budget. Even as someone in college, corporate or in your home, having a budget is essential to staying balanced and having less worry on financials.

The grind is not sexy.

I am experiencing this firsthand. There will always be things in life we are required to do that we may not love to do. You may have heard the phrase, “the most valuable things in life do not come easy.” This is the same with building businesses, relationships and the life we dreamed of. This is the opportunity to think futuristic and make shit happen. Speaker and entrepreneur Jon Boles stated that you must “position yourself to where you are going, not where you are.” But, in order to do that, you have to trust the process and do the daily grind. Hustle your butt off.

Strong Sweet Caroline | Blog Quote

Do not be vanilla.

One of my favorite speakers was Bizzie Gold. She is a serial entrepreneur who I’d define as a bad ass boss lady. She shared we spend too much time being wishy washy, trying to be all to everyone. You can have whatever ice cream you want. There are many brands and even different types of vanillas out there. We must identify who we are, being creative to showcase our talents and taking action each day that will lead to future expansion. Rome was not built in one day. Our lives and empires will not be either if we do not act DAILY and do not find a way to be unique in the crowd.

Always tell your story.

Past Olympian Erin Stern, Your Marketing BFF Tana Nelson and Chris Powell and Heidi Powell all shared a common message: tell your story. Story telling is the oldest form of communication. It’s how we build relationships. It’s how we impact the world. It is the most important way we communicate to anyone. Never forget to tell your unique story. Many people do not know I have traveled to different countries, spoken on stage in front of over 20,000 people or raised alpacas. They do not know I grew up on a farm, moved across the country three times and that I left corporate sales to pursue a dream larger than myself. But now more than ever, I am empowered to share that message.

Strong Sweet Caroline | 5 tips to succeed in your casted roles

Strong Sweet Caroline | 5 tips to succeed in your casted roles

I am empowered to help other people create elegant strength and joy in life’s journey. I know who I am to the bone. And this allows me to give my best talents and gifts to the world.

 

Become the strong woman you admire

There are many people who never share their true feelings towards others they admire. There are many people who do not know how much they impact others. Most times, these are one type of person. They are strong women.
I’ve evolved as a strong woman myself. It’s taken time to come out. But, deep down, I’ve always been strong. At a young age, I would come up with these big goals for awards, accomplishments and contribution. Then, I would execute. I would not really promote it much. I kept to myself. I focus so hard on my goals, build myself from the inside out, and share my growth with close friends and family. I have always given my whole heart to anything and anyone I support and believe in. I also had a few weaknesses.
I wanted to please others. I wanted to be liked by others. I wanted to make people feel like I cared.
For me, this was making me feel good. But only for so long. I did this through four years of college and even into the first year in a full-time career. It started to make me steer away from my true self. It was shifting me away from my natural abilities as a strong woman. I desire to impact others without sacrificing my personal beliefs and values.

Read more