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.

2 Supplements for period health and stress

If you’ve ever been concerned about your period health, it may have caused you some stress. I know it has me. During this time of my competition prep, it has put more stress on my mind and body but I have found 2 staple things to keep in my diet/supplements that help regulate it naturally.

Do note, I am not using and never have used conventional birth control. These are natural remedies and if you are currently on BC, you many not have the same results.

2 Supplements for Period Health

1)Phosphatidylserine (PS)

This amino acid is found in brain cells of humans. It’s a fat-soluble phospholipid, especially helpful in cellular functions. It’s very difficult to find in our foods. It’s best known to help cognitive functionality and lower cortisol.

Dosage: minimum 100mg per day, effective at 300mg/day.

2)Diindolylmethane (DIM)

Derived from compound indole-3-carbinol, DIM restores healthy hormone balance by adjusting the balance of bad estrogens to good estrogens, and by blocking aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen. Meaning: it can help with the big issues from hormone imbalance like acne, PMS, and cancer decelopment.

It is found naturally in cruciferous veggies, highest in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and bok choy. But, only getting it from veggies can be hard on your thyroid, as they release  goitrogens. That’s where adding in the supplement can help.

Dosage: 100mg/day up to 400mg/day, take a break after about 6 weeks use

Check out my full description on them in this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/gVuitij79v0

I started using both of these during my first prep in 2016, but the dosage was not as high as I use now. Probably due to increased stress. I am also more aware of my body and its needs.

Questions? Ask away! I have a few products I’ve used I prefer, some including both ingredients. I am also accepting new clients. If interested, please email strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com

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.