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.

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.

How to set new year goals with your significant other

I’ve always loved the end of the year because it gives me time to really reflect and refresh for a new year! What did I accomplish? What went well? Why did it go well? What areas could I have done better? What will I change in order to see that improvement? I ask these questions and more going into goal setting and vision planning for a new year.

How to set New Year Goals with your significant other by Strong Sweet Caroline

One thing that has been different this year is I am not alone. I have taken a different approach to goal setting–it includes my boyfriend, significant other, David.

We each have our own unique goals. We also have goals together as a couple. I wanted to ensure we set aside proper time to discuss, dissect and start planning for them! Otherwise, if we undercommunicate, they might get left out to dry on the side of the “could have done” road.

David is extremely ADD, so when going about this, I knew I would have to be prepared and make it quick and succinct. It is not that he does not like goal setting, because he thrives from doing it. It is more of him being unable to focus for long periods of time.

Here is the method I went about to set new year goals with my significant other. Hope they can help you too!

How to set New Year Goals with your significant other by Strong Sweet Caroline

Step 1: Break the ice

So, before you start with all these goals and plans, have you even asked the questions to your partner? Do they have goals? And are they willing to set them with you?

Since the inception of David and I’s relationship, we both have expressed different goals in life. Different preferences, visions for our upcoming years and ways we wanted to succeed. We had some of them broken down into goals. Others not quite. Breaking the ice to open the conversation is the start to these conversations.

Some questions I find helpful when starting the talks are:

  • I’ve been thinking about my goals for the new year and I was wondering if you’d like to talk through them with me? I’d love to hear yours too!
  • Going into the new year, I know I want to do _____, ______, and ______. What are some ideas for you?
  • What are some things you want to work in this next year? How can I help you with them?
How to set New Year Goals with your significant other by Strong Sweet Caroline

Step 2: Review past year

Before you do any vision planning for the new year ahead, be sure to analyze and give time to reflect on the past year! I used an idea shared by Nate Green for Personal Retrospective for us to go through our individual goals a few goals as a couple and plan into 2019.

Here are the areas to focus in the review:

  • What made us proud or was a success?
  • What were areas for improvement or growth opportunities?

Then, I broke it down into broad categories. We talked about our individual year goals together.

Proud or Success Moments

Quality time spent with loved ones.

  • Went to Miami, FL to celebrate David’s birthday, train at a new gym and see his childhood friend Mark and wife Joanna
  • Celebrated our one-year anniversary at Fogo de Chao
  • Attended the Arnold Classic and got to meet some idols (mine was Amanda Kuclo, his was Lee Priest)
  • Went white water rafting for the first time with David’s childhood friend Kevin and girlfriend Cat
  • Celebrated by birthday with a photoshoot and home cooked lamb dinner with David
  • Traveled to Ohio for my sister Kelly’s college graduation
  • Attended my first Atlanta United soccer game
  • Dressed in costume for first DragonCon, although we ran out of paint and David had to spend more than planned for his
  • Celebrated the love of George and Kathleen at their wedding
  • Took David to a shooting range for the first time, now he just needs his own handgun since we already have our permits
  • Went ice skating with Tara
How to set New Year Goals with your significant other by Strong Sweet Caroline

Supporting others successes.

  • Attended the Lee Haney for David’s clients, Tony and Natan
  • Attended two dress up events as Tara’s guest
  • Celebrated Heather’s 30th birthday

Personal growth and career growth.

  • Started to be coached by John Meadows for bodybuilding goals
  • Starred in my first video shoot for a gym!
  • Owned my own meal prep company and at one point had 15 clients while making profit
  • Participated in first video shoot with Workout Anytime!
  • Completed my first fitness model photoshoot with Rainbow Photography
  • Continued freelancing all year for one large client, keeping me active and writing regularly
  • Spoke at AFA Leaders Conference for college students about productivity and well being
  • Attended A Tribe Called Bliss to hear Lori Harder speak and to meet some like-minded ladies

Femininity and Spirituality.

  • Balanced my hormones and PCOS naturally
  • Became more in tune with my sexuality through photography, reading and jade egg practice
  • Increased yoga to once per week
  • Stuck to meditating DAILY
  • Improved bible study (almost have been 1 YEAR of daily bible verse via YouVersion Bible App) and watch Life.Church online weekly
  • Started earning about crystal healing and using them in meditation practice

Areas of Improvement & Growth Opportunities

Sticking through the tough stuff.

  • Having trust in my personal relationship and talking about areas I’m insecure, why and working with David to overcome it
  • Skin issues and gut health take time. One meal will not improve my skin overnight, just like one cookie will not cause trauma. Consistency to heal from within. Read a bit about this journey.
  • Preventative care for injuries is a must. Stretching, chiropractic work and deep tissue work will need increased, as well as Epsom salt baths and muscle relaxing creams.

Making the most of time, knowing my value and being present and organized.

  • I have learned my value in my skills and work. I worked part time at a bakery that was not compensating what I should have earned for my skills.
  • I worked at a real estate management firm that had negative energy and was taking away from my time and happiness.
  • If I become disorganized, I do not use my time wisely and am unable to be fully present in the moment with friends, mentors and loved ones.

Write down business goals and be detailed.

  • My meal prep business failed because I did not fully write out my budgets, goals and required profits.
  • I missed income opportunities because of ill-planning.
How to set New Year Goals with your significant other by Strong Sweet Caroline

Step 3: Ask the bigger questions for yourself and as a couple

Now that David knew where I stood on my 2018 plans and goals, what would 2019 look like? We had to discuss these together. And I did so with a quick worksheet, provided by Adam Carroll, and I expanded further.

Here are the questions we wrote down our individual answers:

  • What do you want your life to be like 5 years from now?
  • What’s the one most important thing to get done in 2019?
  • What one thing have you not done that your really want to do?
  • What’s holding you back?
  • What do you absolutely love in life and how can you expand on it?
  • What are you doing to pursue your dreams right now?
  • What are you pretending not to know?

Here are two more questions we came up with individual answers but focused on our relationship:

  • What are the two big focus areas for 2019?
  • What feelings do you want to emit in 2019?

Our focus areas for 2019 are going to be Bodybuilding and Travel. Our feelings we want more of in our relationship for 2019 are fun, positive energy and passion!

How to set New Year Goals with your significant other by Strong Sweet Caroline

Step 4: Put them into action

With our individual goals and team/partner goals, we need to implement them for the new year! That includes writing them down. David is not so much the organized, writing-brained part of our relationship. I took it upon myself to write them out and put onto one page we can print and hang up in our living area to see daily.

Between you and your partner, come to an agreement on who will write out the goals and “manage” the documents. Then, together, you must put them into action!

Break them down, monthly and possibly weekly and daily if you need. I find I’m most productive mapping out weekly goals and putting them into my schedule.

We are finalizing our couple vision board to add in the 5-year goals and ideas, as well as keep us visually motivated, every single day. When you put your plan into action, you will most likely succeed!

This is the first time David and I put down goals together. Now, we must stick to them and see that we succeed! How can this process help you and your loved one be aligned into a new year? Share comments below or reach out with any questions at strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com.

How to balance meals with your macros

Golly I get SICK of food sometimes, don’t you? Just the THOUGHT of eating… makes me tired. That’s what can get to some people’s heads. The constant thought of eating, dieting, cooking, storing, grocery shopping can create challenge, overwhelm and disgust for many. What can we do?

Make meal prep FUN again!

Obviously, it is not always going to be fun. If you have a specific dietary need, a very specific goal in mind (aka a bodybuilding show prep or specific illness) or other circumstance that prohibits food options, it can be monotonous. But, if you are thinking of a healthy lifestyle to LIVE BY, this is for you!

Strong Sweet Caroline - balancing meals with macros

Life Balance through Food

I’m sure you might be thinking, well what does this have to do with life balance? A lot.

First, food is something as humans, we revolved our lives around it. Honestly, who doesn’t go to a coffee shop or restaurant to MEET with someone? To GATHER? To collaborate, laugh and enjoy one another’s company? Everyone does! The meal below was from my recent meeting with a client I do some freelance writing with. Although I did not cook this myself, I have learned how to balance most of my own meal prep with foods I also will be eating out with a group.

Second, because food is so prevalent in our society, it is easy to fall into eating something out of habit or because it’s available. If you see it, odds are, you will crave it or eat it. That is why in an office or local gathering place where food is visible and accessible, it makes it tough to overcome temptations. Who wouldn’t want to grab a cookie or slice of cake if it is just sitting there, calling your name? That is where create this “lifestyle” comes into play.

Third, if you are following specific health goals or dietary needs, sometimes you feel pigeon-holed to specific foods and specific places. With the expansion of social media and the Internet, there are WAY more options to get ingredients from local grocery stores or health stores! But the best thing you can do is start to experiment with different foods to see how your body responds. I know right now, I can’t go near avocado because my skin breaks out in about an hour of eating it! I know, sad day. That little green fruit is one of my favorites! That’s why becoming aware of foods and your body’s response is helpful. But, let’s get into macronutrients and making meal prep FUN!

What are macronutrients

Food is made up of and starts with calories. The production of energy is a calorie. Each food differs in calories, based on its ingredient and chemical make-up. The large building blocks are macronutrients and micronutrients. We will focus on macronutrients.

The three macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each of these equates the following calories per gram:

Strong Sweet Caroline macros-breakdown

Macronutrient Calories per gram: Protein 4 – Carbohydrate (carb) 4 – Fat 9

When beginning to learn about food, knowing these three macronutrients (aka macros) is the simple way to understand what you are eating and how to meal prep balanced meals.

Today’s nutrition labels have been used for over 20 years. The Food and Drug Administration recently redesigned the label to make it clearer on what is in your foods from a macronutrient level. This can also help you identify the correct serving size for each meal. Understanding what makes up different foods, whether processed and prepackaged or whole ingredients, will allow you to better prepare meals for you and your loved ones. As you learn more about your own personal goals and health, you can adjust your daily food intake and macronutrients.

Take your macros to the meals

Once you start to learn about macros, you can transform your daily eating. Take a look at the labels on foods, research on the Internet for standard serving sizes for foods and see what each one equals.

I work with a coach who prescribes my macro goals for the day. Depending on your goal of weight loss, weight gain, body composition change or macro maintenance, the calculation is a bit different. One free calculator I recommend is from the website, “If It Fits Your Macros“.

Take your goals or your meal plan and analyze the different proteins, carbs and fats for each food. Once you have those down, you can begin to explore new foods! One of my meals I made was mashed potatoes using almond milk, dill, sea salt and black pepper, green beans, and some “chicken tenders” using egg whites, flour, spices, salt and pepper, sprouted grain bread and cooked in my air fryer.

Strong Sweet Caroline Macros and Meal Prep

Use an app to help you learn at the speed of your finger tips! I like MyFitnessPal for a free option. One that has a few more offerings is MyMacros+ and you can put in your specific meals, create recipes (that’s how I know all the macros of my healthy baked goods), water intake and more!

Real Life

I eat the same meals 90% of the time. The other 10%, I add some type of variation in the protein source, vegetable or carbohydrate. That’s just what works for ME. And I don’t prefer to eat out, I like to cook myself. Right now, I’m eating chocolate DAILY. Mind you, it is between 70-85% dark cacao, organic chocolate. Not a cheap food! But I’m embracing the change.

This also gives me some flexibility to bake some healthy treats from my Healthy Desserts Ebook! Special holiday offer, get it for $12! Send me an email at strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com if interested.

Strong Sweet Caroline 50 Healthy Dessert Recipes Ebook

My meals did not used to be that way. But through learning and time, I know that my body can digest it and my mind and body benefit. This is what works for me right now. It could change within the next year. Only time will tell! But for me and others who learn tracking macros and flexible meal prep, it creates much more balance in life.

One of my meal prep clients texted me the other day to thank me.

Just wanted to say, you have really had a great impact on my eating. Better choices.

Julie

She worked with me for about 6 months and I was able to help her understand different foods to swap and eat that could benefit her body. These are just small steps for someone wanting to make a lifestyle change. She does count her macros with an app, but is now learning outside of the app with her own recipes and home cooking.

Use the above to guide your fun, healthy meal prep! Let me know how else I can help.