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

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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

New YouTube series

What’s life if it isn’t fun? Since moving to Georgia, there have been many moving pieces (literally and figuratively). Thankfully, David makes it fun. Both he and I want to start sharing our daily experiences. We thought there was no better way than to start a new YouTube series!

Strong Sweet Caroline | New YouTube series
All the meal prep gains is discussed in a new YouTube series with David.

This first episode includes:

  • Grocery shopping at Buford Highway Farmers Market
  • Pre-workout meal
  • Brutal leg day workout
  • Taste testing at a new local restaurant (can you say dessert find?!)

Strong Sweet Caroline donut inspiration
New gourmet donut shop in Atlanta called Scream’n Nuts! Better check it out. These flavors discussed in YouTube video below.

Obviously part of our shopping includes ingredients for my new meal prep company. I’m blessed that things are moving along smoothly. I have registered for a trademark and LLC. I have one client and onboarding another new customer!

Strong Sweet Caroline - Sweet Potato Donuts and intro to YouTube series
When inspired by donut shop, bake your own homemade sweet potato donuts!

I am also working two part time jobs, freelance writing and living the American dream, because I love what I do and know I am contributing to the world in a positive way. Stay tuned for more updates.

Strong Sweet Caroline - new YouTube series and meal prep
Shopping haul to cooked meals. Lots to learn still but enjoying the process!

Let us know what you think and if there are any specific topics you’d like us to cover!

Four things to do when you move to a new city

I have moved four times since graduating from The Ohio State University in May 2014. Each time, I have gone to a new city. Three of the four I never actually visited before moving there! A while back, I blogged about my largest move to Nebraska. Now that I have moved again (this time in Atlanta, Georgia), I’ve done some thinking on the trials and tribulations relocating can create. I think it can often be easier to do than we think.
Below are four things I recommend doing when you move to a new city. BONUS: I discuss one of my favorite healthier alternative ingredients to use when creating baked goods.
  1. Get acclimated with the area
When moving to a new place, especially a large city, it can be very intimidating. The first thing I like to do is pull up Google maps and see what the surround area, towns and roads look like. Then, hit the road. It serves you well to drive around, take in the local businesses and get a feel for your surrounds and directions. I even allow myself to get lost. Usually, that’s how I find new coffee shops, backroads and fun places to explore. When I lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana for my first job territory, I found a neat coffee shop called Firefly Coffeehouse. The more comfortable you can become, the more quickly the “new” factor will wear off and you can normalize your area.

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