Live up to your rep and keep that GUT in check, especially my fellow C-Section Babies!

For those like me who were born caesarean (aka C-Section), did you know your microbiome started at a disadvantage compared to our friends born a regular/vaginal birth? Here’s a quick snap of how that works.

Regular Birth – the baby gets exposed to vaginal microflora, which “seeds” the GI tract for immunity.

C-Section – the baby gets “abnormal seeding” of GI tract and fewer natural beneficial bacteria from the mother, and more from the external environment.

Some studies suggest this difference can link to allergies, food sensitivities, obesity, and even cancer. Nonetheless, this change in scenery was out of my control and yet, I must be aware now as an adult how that could affect me.

Things I do include:

  • Increase diversity of gut flora with prebiotics and probiotics (BIOHM I’ve been using code CAROLINE for discount at checkout and Just Thrive I’m trying out now)
  • Change up my foods periodically for new, different bacteria and vitamins for the body. Add collagen peptides like Vital Proteins and bone broth to help with gut lining
  • Naturopathic substances like adaptogens, mushrooms, herbs and minerals to assist with stress and balance

Are you a C-Section baby? Have you ever had a food sensitivity or allergy? I was actually allergic to my mom’s milk as a babe.

Those are just a few things I do to help repair and heal the gut. For a customized program, please email strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com. The Gut Healing Guide will be launching very soon!

Source:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110651/

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Hunger vs. Cravings and how to NOT cave

I was HUNGRY & CAVED TO CRAVINGS!

Have you ever told yourself that? Justifying something you ate? Let’s guac about it. Is there a difference between true hunger and cravings? I think so! Lately, I’ve been all in for team #chipsandsalsa or some fresh guacamole. But in reality, I haven’t had much true hunger. What does that mean? You may have heard me discuss the gut-brain connection. Well, I’m bringing it back! B/C hunger and cravings both derive from the brain.

ℍ𝕦𝕟𝕘𝕖𝕣- 2 different hormones cause this. Ghrelin activates neurons to tell us we are hungry. Motilin is the last step of migrating motor complex & triggers rumbling in our bellies. With these, our brain controls our hunger based on what we eat, whether or not we feel that what we’ve eaten is enough to make us full, and the availability of extra calories.

ℂ𝕣𝕒𝕧𝕚𝕟𝕘𝕤- defined as an “intense desire” to eat. Usually these are specific items, ie: chocolate or pizza, sweet or salty foods. Science has found a “network of neural regions” in the brain that affect our emotion, memory and chemosensory stimuli. AKA how we eat food, feel food and remember food can trigger us to want it when we might not! There is some belief it can be sign of a lagging nutrient in our body, but results are inconclusive at this time.

One of my biggest cravings: CHOCOLATE! But I have found some methods to overcome it.

Sources: Medical News Today and Scientific American

What to do to tell the difference?

  • Drink more water. If you think you are starting to get hungry, drink some water and wait 10 mins. It can take 5 mins for our brain to register that our stomach is “full”. If you are still having an appetite after that, eat something!
  • Check yourself. What are you currently doing and what is your mood? People often eat from certain feelings: stress, depression, loneliness, celebration. Just be more aware of why you think you need to eat. And if it’s not true hunger, do something else to overcome that emotion. Meditation, journaling, nature walks or working out are my go to options!
  • Keep a food journal. This helps for many who are doing “if it fits your macros” #IIFYM or are just starting a health/wellness journey. Write down what you eat and be more curious to learn what makes up those foods. What did you eat or drink? How much caffeine have you had today? Are your foods processed or raw ingredients? Combo? How much protein/carbs/fats? Sugar or fiber? All can go into causing more hunger or cravings earlier or later than we desire.

Maybe this weekend, you can start a food journal. Become more aware of your hunger or cravings and eat for fulfillment of your needs, not just your wants! Because you are valuable like that premium guac, not just the free salsa!

If you are interested to learn more from me first hand, sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

I am also taking on new one-on-one coaching clients. Click here to sign up for your complementary coaching call!

Athletic Amenorrhea – Why your period’s gone and how to get it back

Athletic Amenorrhea - Why your period's gone & how to get it back by Strong Sweet Caroline
Athletic Amenorrhea – Why your period’s gone & how to get it back by Strong Sweet Caroline

Growing up a “skinny chick”, I always had irregular periods. I remember getting my 1st period in 6th grade. It was light, and fairly inconsistent. From then on through high school, I was constantly on the move, doing work on the cattle farm, ran track for 2 years, and involved in extracurricular activities like band, FFA, honors society, student council and 4-H. During that time, when my period was “missing”, I did not worry about it. It came back after a few months usually. Sometimes light, sometimes heavy. I was eating what I wanted, when I wanted, without restraints. I was not sexually active, did not have any predetermined health issues and was not on BC. So I went about my life as normal.

Fast forward to my mid 20s. I had some extra bodyfat and was beginning my first ever prep for a bodybuilding competition. After the first month of training and “dieting”, I lost my period. This is was my 1st experience of athletic amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods for 6 months in a woman who had previously been regular, or for 12 months in a woman who had irregular periods.

I was training hard and heavy, working full time and living in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Coming out of the first show, I did not get it back. I was eating a “fairly balanced” diet, which I now do not consider balanced. Still no period. February 2017, I was back living in Ohio, I had a new coach, new boyfriend (hi David!) and life was pretty busy but great. My period came back after 2 years without one! From then on, it’s been a road of heavy and light flow, a month skipped here, another there. In March 2018, I started with John as my coach and we were able to correct my period problems within 3 months. I had my period from then all the way to March 2019, when I started a cycle and got into the heart of my competition prep. I do not advocate super supplementation, but am fully transparent in this sport. Depending on the woman and her protocol, it can substantially decrease estrogen production and ramp up testosterone. I was also eating WAY BELOW my maintenance level, had at least 45 minutes of cardio 5 days per week, working a new job and getting little sleep. How does all this add up? Amenorrhea.

As a female athlete, there are more variables that can cause this, compared to the average woman:

  • High cortisol, aka Stress, physical or emotional
  • Too low of body fat or weight for your frame
  • Overexercising
  • Undereating, total calories or micronutrients like zinc, Vitamin B, calcium & iron
  • Genetics, some may lose a period while others have theirs on competition day
  • PCOS, with other symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, unwanted hair growth, hair thinning, infertility, acne

Sure, it may seem “convenient” to not have a period. However, you could have adverse affects like:

  • Bone loss due to decreased production of estrogen
  • Malabsorption of Vitamin D
  • Cold body temperture
  • Low libido or natural lubrication
  • Poor sleep
  • Bowel issues

Every woman is different and will need different protocol to recover her period. I recommend starting with blood work and then evaluating lifestyle changes that may be necessary. Here are some common solutions:

  • Eat more nutrient dense foods
  • Decrease inflammatory foods, mostly sugars and processed foods
  • Stress less, which includes changing workouts/cardio types, intensity and duration
  • Improve consistent, deep sleep
  • Increase intake of Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B vitamins
  • Supplement Vitex/Chastetree Berry, as it can aid in normalizing pituitary gland function, which can help ovaries produce normal testosterone levels, take as directed on the label, usually in the morning when the pituitary and hypothalamus are most active
  • Supplement adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha and astragalus to overcome adrenal fatigue and lower stress levels

Share your thoughts below! Send me an email for additional inquires about one-on-one coaching and hormone help.

strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com

Sources:

No Period. Now What? By Dr. Nicola J Rinaldi

Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods by Lara Briden ND

Dr. Robyn Nohling, The Real Life RD

Dana Magee, RD

Victoria Felker

Benefits and Sources of Vitamin D

HELLO SPRING SUNSHINE☀️ & VITAMIN D!

Anyone else ready for bikini season? Yeahhh, I’m over the chilly winter weather! Spring equinox is HERE! Give me some more naturally Vitamin D!

Benefits and sources of Vitamin D by Strong Sweet Caroline

☀️Did you know Vit D could actually be considered a hormone, not a vitamin? That’s because it can be synthesized from cholesterol after sun exposure. Depending on the amount of melanin in your skin, 20 minutes of total body sun exposure produces approximately 10k-20k IU of Vitamin D, which is the minimum dose to produce pink skin coloration. However, that is not always all processed by the body, as it has to go through a handful of processes inside the body.

☀️Benefits: Metabolism, Cardiovascular Health, Immunity, Pregnancy Health, Nervous System, Musculoskeletal Health.

☀️Depending on the source, FDA recommends 800 IU/day, while the Endocrine Society recommends 1500-2000 IU per day. If you are having issues with your period, acne, muscle soreness, you might consider working with your health coach or doctor about increasing how much you get in one day. And when we cannot get it from the sun, we definitely should consider our diet or supplementation to get this important nutrient in our body.

☀️2 types: D2 & D3. The difference? Not a whole lot, except their structure and source, but they are both converted by the liver into the same form of Vit D that is measured in a person’s blood test. Vegans often choose D2 for plant based, as D3 is usually sourced from animals.
☀️D2 Food – shiitake mushrooms
☀️D3 Foods – fatty fish, egg yolks, cod liver oil

What’s your Vitamin D intake right now?

Accepting new coaching clients. Send me an email at strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com to get started to reaching your health goals!

9 Things People Don’t Tell You About the Fitness Industry

The deeper I get into health and fitness, the more passionate I become about specific areas and things individuals or companies are doing. Right or wrong, I compiled 9 facts below that I believe everyone should know that are not explicitly stated by everyone in the industry. I’d love to hear other ones you have in mind and which resonates most with you!

9 Things People Don't Tell You About the Fitness Industry by Strong Sweet Caroline

1- That being a personal trainer, online or in person, requires relationship-building skills for long term success.

2- That these ‘instafamous’ IG models are posing and holding shots for minutes on end, trying to get the right angles and flatter themselves best.

3- That the majority of supplement companies are using very similar or the same recipes & ingredient sources and are just marketing differently to get your dollar.

4- That in order to ‘drop weight quick’, you cannot just hire someone. You have to put your head and heart in it too, and follow through.

5- That many of these pros promoting an abundant, jacked and tanned, luxury lifestyle with sports cars and scenic backgrounds usually have one or two photoshoots to get the pics and may really be living a life of the complete opposite, and similar to you, are just trying to make ends meet.

6- That there is no magic tea, pill, waist trainer, workout program or nutrition guide to replace consistent, hard work.

7- That ‘free advice’ from a coach you aren’t paying is usually surface level information until you become a paying, dedicated client to have access to their knowledge.

8- That many workout videos online of ‘secret movements’ to grow or tone a body part are just eye candy… These people used normal compound movements first to develop their physiques.

9- That it’s no one else’s responsibility but your own to do the research, verify information and have dignity for yourself about who you follow & hire and what you purchase for your goals.

Would love to hear your thoughts on these! Comment below 🙂

How to grow your arms or any lagging body part

What can help you grow your arms?

Trust me, I used to have little BB gun arms. And it’s been a LONG process to see them grow!

How to grow your arms or any lagging body part by Strong Sweet Caroline

Pretty much like any body part, some people and genders are more naturally blessed. I can grow my calves and legs pretty quickly. But when you have a stubborn or lagging area, these are the rules I follow.

How to grow a lagging body part

1) Emphasize training volume. What do I mean? Increase the number of reps and/or weight load used to train the muscle. If you keep doing 10 lbs dumbbells for 3×10 curls, your arms probably will stay the same size, and maybe get some definition, depending on rest periods and time under tension.

2) Eat to grow! Primarily in my off season, I ensure my food intake is high enough where my muscles can soak it all in and grow! Figure out how many calories per day you need. Multiply your weight by 14-16 (16 for a high metabolism if you don’t store a lot of bodyfat naturally, but average person use 15). Then, if you want to gain weight/muscle, add anywhere from 150-400 to start. That’s your calorie goal.

3) Stretching the muscle. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of stretching. In your workouts, make one set focused on the stretch. This can be done by slowing down on the negative, manually stretching between sets and stretching at the end of your whole workout. 20 seconds per stretch for a muscle body is usually sufficient.

Some specific exercises I have found the most results to grow my arms are:

  • Barbell curls
  • Single arm dumbbell hammer curls
  • EZ Bar skullcrushers
  • V-bar cable tricep pushdowns

What’s one of your lagging or weaker body parts? Try implementing this and let me know how it goes! Accepting coaching clients for nutrition, workouts, meal prep and hormone balance. Send me an email at strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com.

Homemade, low carb, high protein pizza during prep

PIZZA on PREP?!?! YES, I DID!

The past week has been CRAZY for me! Just a few variables.

  1. I had my first full week in a new corporate job. I am doing staffing/recruiting in healthcare and it is just a whole new world. But I’m really excited about it!
  2. I got sick after coming home from the Arnold… boo! With that, has come sleepiness, aches and pains and lots of whining and moaning.
  3. I have increased cardio to 5 days a week for 50 minutes fasted.
  4. My calories have decreased to about 1800 per day
  5. ANNNNNND I’m 9 weeks out from a show, which I have just changed which one I’ll be doing!

With all this going on, I’ve had one craving: pizza. Now, before you run up saying “OMG you are promoting pizza?!?!” no. I am just saying that a food I’ve missed making and having a healthy option of is pizza. Like, my own homemade crusted pizza. And I made one. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. I was craving it
  2. I made it myself
  3. The ingredients were “prep friendly” and the recipe fit my macros
  4. It was an intermittent fast day & my total calories were lower
  5. It helped me avoid cheating on my diet & reaching my goals

ANNNNND you can too. Believe me, it’s tough sometimes. But if you have a big goal, only you hold yourself back or propel yourself forwards. Head over to YouTube at this direct linkh and subscribe to Strong Sweet Caroline to see it and learn some tips on how I made it. Recipe is also below.

Homemade pizza low carb crust by Strong Sweet Caroline

Low Carb High Protein Pizza Crust & Toppings

This was the first time I actually made the crust and cooked the pizza toppings completely separate. And guess what? It turned out AMAZING! I start with the crust, as that is the most important part, holding it all together.

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 Tbsp egg whites
  • 1/3 cup fat free feta cheese
  • 1 cup raw spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour, I used mostly almond flour with about 1 Tbsp being coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp arrowroot starch
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp oregano

Toppings, modify as you see fit:

  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Fresh basil
  • More feta cheese
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 slices Turkey bacon
  • Broccoli sprouts

Process:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Prepare a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper. This is a MUST for this recipe, as the dough will stick… to everything 😉
  • Using a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  • Slowly add in dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly
  • Batter will be very wet. This is fine! It will create a fluffy dough consistency
  • Using a spatula, scrape the bowl and pour onto the pan and spread into a square or circle
  • Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until edges become slightly browned and it is firm to the touch
  • While the crust is in the oven, cook toppings on the side. You will combine with the crust after it is baked.
  • Place toppings on pizza crust and place back in the oven on BROIL setting to blend together if you choose. No more than 5 minutes should do.

See the pizza explanation here and enjoy!

Low Carb pizza yummy! Strong Sweet Caroline blog