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 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.


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. 

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

Obstacles bring you options and an Enlightened cookie shake recipe

Have you ever felt a moment where you just keep hitting obstacles? That’s been me the past week. From cooking snafus and burning myself to discovering new business needs on permits and finances, it’s been eventful. And I’ve struggled to keep my head above water, physically and emotionally.

I’ve been told this is the beginning of entrepreneurship. Just try and hold on to your seat!

The kitchen is usually my release. It allows my creative mind to work, try new flavors, make foods not only taste good, but look good too. I’ve lost some of that recently with trying to learn new recipes, stay up to date with food safety protocols and cook for clients [and then finally for myself].

Luckily for me, I have managed to keep my head down and continue the grind. What happens when you see an obstacle?

We have fight or flight responses. Our adrenaline kicks in. These are the breaking points we need to beat the plateaus and grow.

This week, I’ve come to realize that obstacles bring you options. You will have more than you can handle at some moments. Ultimately, that gives you the option to more clearly define goals, purpose and action steps as well as see new options you would have never imagined!

The other day, I was feeling like baking and made these delicious protein pumpkin peanut butter cookies.

Strong Sweet Caroline: Enlightened cookie shake recipe

The recipe, taste and consistency were perfect.

I then thought, “what if I added these cookies with some Enlightened Ice Cream for a preworkout shake?

Strong Sweet Caroline: Enlightened cookie shake recipe

Magic. I love all their flavors but for some reason, cold brew coffee and pumpkin peanut butter cookies sounded good and it did not disappoint!

The only thing missing was someone to share them with. David was out of town and I would not be seeing anyone for a few days. That’s when it occurred to me that I am sharing.

As those who have followed for a while might know, I love goal setting, reflection and am very futuristic. I am in the midst of setting my 2018 goals (they are not resolutions because mine continue to evolve). One new goal is that for January, I plan to release my first e-book! This one is a dessert e-cookbook and will feature 50 delicious, tested and proven clean treats you and your loved ones will enjoy.

I am also preparing a 1-month challenge contest based around one of my favorite topics: meal prepping! I’ve had many people reach out about how-to’s, tips, recipes and staying committed to healthier food selections. This will touch on all of those and more and I will present an award to a winner at the end of the month!

Stay tuned for updates on both projects, as well as Meals Beyond Athletes. It’s amazing how when you put your mind to it, you can turn like the flip of a switch to overcome those obstacles and discover new options.

For those seeking a new option for a sweet indulgent but healthier, high protein shake, try the recipe below.

I hope you’ll join me in this excitement because I know the next few months will be full of MANY obstacles turning into options! Never take for granted the blessings and gifts right in front of us. I’m thankful for all of you followers and encourage you to share this message with a friend who it would resonate.

Make it a great day and take time to choose your options!

Strong Sweet Caroline

Strong Sweet Caroline: Enlightened cookie shake recipe

Enlightened Cookie Shake

Serves one, because it’s too good to share. Unless you double the recipe.

Macros: 238 calories, 29g protein, 21 carbs, 4g fat, 4g sugar


  • 1/2 scoop True Nutrition custom whey protein in Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor
  • 1/2 c Enlightened Ice Cream in Cold Brew flavor (discount “STRONGSWEET20” for broad bean crisps ordered online)
  • ~1/3-1/2 c unsweetened Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • 1 Protein Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookie by me 🙂 – replace with cookie of choice


  • In food process or blender, combine ice cream, almond milk, whey protein, and half of your protein cookie.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour into glass and top with other half of your cookie.
  • Indulge without guilt. 🙂

Oh my, Omega! Grind with gratitude.

Phew, this week has been a doozy! From working the two part time jobs to doing more research on my requirements as a food business start up in Atlanta, there has been a lot of information to take in. Some days, I forget to take time for what makes me tick or an even more productive business woman. A few days ago, I decided to listen to a short podcast. This was a “restart button” for me.

When I was a sales rep, I was on the road 4-6 hours per day. Besides having phone conversations or listening to my stations on Pandora, I would often find podcasts to enjoy. As leadership guru Zig Ziglar once quoted, “automobile university” is best to attend when commuting or traveling.

The podcast chosen was by one of my favorite female entrepreneurs, Lori Harder. In “Earn Your Happy” podcast episode 172, the focus was on taking action towards what you want to be doing. We often hesitate to start a new hobby, a new class, a new business, a new adventure until we feel “ready” or feel “qualified”. From my first-hand experience, that is bull shit.

I’ve been known to wait too long to make decisions. I would hesitate, need to “do more research or investigate” and, in a sense, procrastinate. It was from my own insecurities. In this fast-paced world, I cherish time. I have realized that the longer I take to make a decision, the more time I waste on create solutions and solving problems. I cannot afford to do that anymore. Can you?

Strong Sweet Caroline | Omegas and grind with gratitude

After the 10-minute podcast ended, I knew what I needed. I need to keep grinding with gratitude. Even when I’m exhausted, I know that the 24-hour day is for me. It’s for me to conquer.

Yesterday, I did some grocery shopping and meal prepping for one of my clients (until the full launch in a few weeks). I almost just walked out of Costco with only broccoli and chicken breasts. I pondered for a few minutes (after remembering the piece above about time) and grabbed some salmon. I have been neglecting my own and the health of my client by not including more foods with omegas.

In the dictionary, “omega” is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and is also defined as “the last in a series”. Do not put it last in your personal health!

Here are a few reasons why.

  1. The three “omegas” are needed for life-long health.
    • Essential fatty acids are the omegas. Omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 should all be in your system. They can help regulate cholesterol levels, reduce cancer risks, help in athletic recovery, support joint health, balance mood, brain functionality and more!
  2. Omegas can be supplemented but is best from whole foods.
  3. If heart disease runs in your family, this could help.
    • Dr. Weil and many others have explained it is beneficial (not directly proven) that consuming more omega-3s will help prevent cardiovascular health issues.

These are a few reasons I grabbed some salmon to meal prep and make this chili lime salmon with basmati rice and steamed broccoli. Balanced meal with protein and omega-3s, carbohydrates and one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables out there!

Strong Sweet Caroline | Omegas and Grind with Gratitude - salmon meal

You do not have to eat salmon to get omega-3s in your diet. Additionally, I take fish oil capsules every morning and use flaxseed meal with my oat bran. Dr. Axe and Dr. Weil share more comprehensive lists of foods to consider for increasing your omegas. Thankfully, my fish will help me #grindwithgratitude. How about you?

Appreciate you joining. Don’t forget to subscribe for more updates on my company, leadership, recipes and life!


Strong Sweet Caroline

Precision and cream of rice chia bowl

I’m slowly but surely making my way. I put one foot in front of the other. I take one step at a time. Precision is key. Just like anything worth having, if you don’t take baby steps, one step at a time, how can you learn to walk?

Today, I had the pleasure of talking to a gal on the phone. Similar to me, she is interested in starting a meal prep company in her local area. She wanted to pick my brain about why I’m doing it, how I’m getting started, etc. The current word that comes to mind is precision.

I am become more precise on my vision. I am building the detailed framework and business plan of what I want it to be now and what it will become in two years, five years and even ten years. The more precision I have, the better off I will be in aligning action steps, goals and needs.

When you work with someone on a project, do you prefer they ask a general question like, “how can I help”? Or would you rather they ask a specific question like “what can I work on for your website today”?

For those who enjoy firearms, think about it like target practice. You cannot improve your accuracy until you load the weapon, step up to the line, aim, and fire. Sure, you might be off the first shot. You may be off the first 30 shots. But as long as you are improving on your consistency and precision, you will get better.

I shared an Instagram photo a few weeks back of some sweet potato donuts I made. I was going to share the recipe, but haven’t felt ready yet. It’s not quite to the precise taste and consistency I am confident sharing.

Strong Sweet Caroline | Precision

But, that’s OK. It gives me more reason to keep trying, continue baking, researching new methods to prepare the ingredients, use the oven and get better. Take one more step in the right direction.

Instead, I’m excited to share a breakfast recipe I made with inspiration from acai bowls. This one was for a higher carb, medium protein, low fat day to speed up my metabolism. I enjoyed a few other foods that day also, like nonfat Greek yogurt with rice Chex cereal and powdered peanut butter. If you’ve not tried that, I HIGHLY recommend. So good. Add natural almond or peanut butter for added amazingness.

Strong Sweet Caroline | cream of rice chia bowl

Nonetheless, this recipe featured hydrolyzed caseinate protein in fruit punch flavor from True Nutrition, cream of rice, unsweetened almond milk, chia seeds, and topped with some peaches, blueberries, and Trader Joe’s roasted cocoa nibs. Why the assorted ingredients?

Strong Sweet Caroline | Cream of rice chia bowl ingredients

  • Hydrolyzed caseinate – one of the purest forms of whey protein and most readily digested into your body. True Nutrition has some of the best products if you need pure, quality ingredients.
  • Cream of rice – it’s essentially granulated rice and is easily digested in the body as a carbohydrate.
  • Unsweetened almond milk – delicious and lower calorie milk substitute. I am removing conventional dairy products from my diet again because every time I try to bring them back, my body does not respond positively. I’ll spare you the details.
  • Chia seeds – per serving, chia seeds offer high fiber, high protein, high omega-3 fatty acids. They are unique because they can be consumed raw or like in this recipe, soaked and puffed up and “jell-like” texture.
  • Fruits – natural source of sugar, antioxidants and vitamins.
  • Cocoa nibs – cleaner source for my fellow chocoholics and gives a little crunch.

Time for you to try it yourself! How precise will you be? I’d eat it as a pre workout or post workout treat.

Cream of rice chia bowl

Estimated macronutrients (will vary based on amount of toppings)

400 calories | 20g protein | 55g carbohydrates | 8g fat

Strong Sweet Caroline | Cream of Rice chia bowl


  • 1/4 cup cream of rice, prepared as directed on box in the microwave
  • 1/2 scoop True Nutrition or alternative brand hydrolyzed caseinate whey protein in a fruity or vanilla flavor
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup (or just under) unsweetened almondmilk
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 banana, sliced thinly
  • Handful blueberries
  • 2 slices peach, thin


  • Make cream of rice in one serving bowl.
  • With a little water left in the cream of rice bowl, add protein powder until thoroughly combined.
  • In separate bowl, combine almond milk and chia seeds and let sit in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  • While chia sets, gather other toppings.
  • Using a spoon, push cream of rice protein mixture to 1/3 of the bowl.
  • Pour the chia mixture into other 2/3 of bowl.
  • Add toppings as pretty as you like!

What a four-week transformation is really like

Join now for this, lose weight in x time, transform your body today. I constantly see ads and promotions for weight loss programs and “transformation challenges”. I’ve never done one before because they seemed to good to be true and the transformation photos always seemed unrealistic or unattainable.
As someone wanting to learn and grow more as an athlete and coach, it was time to try it myself.
Four week transformation
On August 3, I started the Templebuilders Transformation Challenge. Height 5′ 4″, weight 141. I’ve been in a caloric surplus for about 8 months, basically the whole time David and I have been dating. When I say “surplus”, I mean consuming more calories than my body needs to maintain a weight so I can put on more weight. This has been my goal to add muscle mass in my off season or improvement season of bodybuilding. Nonetheless, with the end of summer and some wedding coming up, I figured it would be a good time to shock my body, speed up my metabolic rate and try my chance to win some cash.

How it works

  • Providing general info. Julius asked for some basic information about me. A few questions included allergies, preferred home or gym workouts and number of meals per day.
  • Complete consent form and payment. This protects you and the coach. And when you pay for something, you’re usually more committed to follow through.
  • Receive your plan. Your coach will use info provided to give a customized plan. Depending on the challenge, some coaches provide more details than others. Take note of that when you sign up for a new program because some might just be generic.
  • Ask questions and go shopping. You’re first glance at your plan might seem confusion or overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! That’s why you hire someone. Go to the grocery store and get the foods and supplements recommended. Everything is purposeful.
  • Train your butt off (or on). Odds are, whatever workout plan you’re provided, it’s different than what you are used to. Follow it. If you have to modify movements to complete it, do it. Just don’t give up.
  • Record your progress and stay engaged with it. When you record what you’re doing, you begin to understand the system. This allows you to track how your body is affected, what’s working and what isn’t. It also helps your coach. Typically you will have check ins with updated and photographs. This aids you and your coach to keep you focused on the prize and making adjustments. But don’t get discouraged if no changes are made. “No news is good news” is similar to “no program change, keep up the good work”. It means it’s working. As said above, keep going and don’t give up.
  • Build support. Tell friends and family your goal and new challenge. Join a Facebook group or online forum (might even directly related to the challenge). It’s true that being surrounded by other motivated, inspired people help you achieve your goals. That support is critical to your success. IMG_20170819_193203_836
  • Get results. When the challenge concludes, you will have results. They won’t all be external. Some of the best transformations are also internally. Reflect on the entire process and your results. It might surprise you how far you’ve come.

My challenge experience

In reviewing the above, this experience opened my eyes to new things. First and foremost, I had never done a true “low carb diet”. It is effective for weight loss. I also had the opportunity to try new workout programs and some change from my usual High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio.
This past four weeks made me feel like I was in competition prep again. Meal prepping became standardized. Repetition and efficiency were key. I’d be lying if I said it was easy. A few family members thought I was crazy but many friends have encouraged me, even in my “hangry” moments.

Strong Sweet Caroline - Four Week transformation
Yeah, legit hangry face.

I have learned even more about my body and it’s response to training and foods. I am lucky with a naturally high metabolism and ended up losing 10 pounds over 4 weeks. That was a bit more than my goal but I also believe I added lean muscle mass along the way.

Strong Sweet Caroline - Abs four week transformation
My abs are usually a good indicator of my leanness

Now, I’m going to reverse diet for a few weeks to put on a few pounds the “healthier” way. In October, I will be headed to Scottsdale, Arizona for Fitposium and could not be more excited! I did not win, but the experience more valuable than a cash prize. Now, I’m more motivated than ever to continue on my fitness journey, as well as my entrepreneurial journey with my meal prep company. The past week has led to much productivity with general business development and brainstorming, menu creation and outreach for branding and marketing. The biggest takeaway I had from this challenge was individual knowledge and learning adds value for those around you.

Strong Sweet Caroline - 4 week transformation
Never forget to enjoy the process and have fun!

Let me know if I can be of service through one-one-coaching and meal preparations (as my business expands). I highly recommend the Templebuilders programs and believe many can benefit. You never know what someone can teach you, but you have to be willing and open to new perspectives to truly grow.