Bye Bye Foods – Elimination Diets 101 – Who, What and Why

Do you have any of the following symptoms:

  • irregular digestion or bowel movements
  • feel gassy after certain meals
  • menstruation inconsistencies or pains
  • skin issues or acne flare ups
  • acute migraines or headaches
  • fatigue
  • just notice yourself feeling “off”?

Does it correlate to your eating patterns or you notice symptoms within one day or two? Are you a restricted dieter, bodybuilder or athlete? And have you noticed some of these issues for a prolonged period of time? Maybe an elimination diet is something to consider.

Watch my YouTube video and let me know what you think.

Have more questions about elimination diets? Send me an email at strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com. Accepting one-on-one clients now!

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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!

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.

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

Poor Gut Health and How I’m Healing It

Crap… I mean, I am having a hard time doing that too on a consistent basis. And I had to use that for my stool sample to submit my gut health test.

Maybe it’s just in my head. Or I don’t really have an issue. There is one thing showing evidence of an issue: my skin.

Did you know your skin health is often directly correlated to your gut health? Yeah, I did not either until about 6 months ago. I typically eat a “clean” diet, sort of speak. Mostly whole foods, some protein shakes and protein bars, the occasional pasta or bread, typically whole wheat based, as well as coffee, preworkout supplements and some homemade desserts, not low in sugar. I noticed my skin started to get acne, as well as uneven pigmentation. You may have seen a few blog posts back when I talked about my greens that I drink each day as I am working to balance my gut. Well, that is not the only thing I’m doing and there are a few reasons for that.

  1. Gut healing takes more than just probiotics.
  2. Gut health is connected to the brain. If you are stressed, depressed, anxious, all of the above or more, that can affect your gut and bile production. You may hear the gut referred to as the “second brain”.
  3. It can take a minimum of 6 months before your gut will reach its homeostasis, balanced environment it was supposed to be in.

So, I decided to take matters into my hands and get a BIOHM Gut Report Kit. (Code CAROLINE gets you 10% off at checkout by the way). The process was simple, clearly written on the packaging to collect my stool sample and home and mail it in. In six weeks, I received my comprehensive results by email. Turns out, my gut health is rated a 2/10, meaning very poor.

Most of it was a lack of good bacteria in the gut. This can be caused from a few factors include any over the counter medications or antibiotics (which thankfully I don’t take any), lack of diversity in my diet and stress internally and externally on the body. All that I can do is listen to their recommendations and do my best to abide by a healthy lifestyle with my food, stress mitigation and happiness! Here are the methods I have been actively practicing with 100% follow through.

Constant daily practices

  • Drinking at least 1 gallon of water per day
  • Cut all caffeine (coffee, tea and preworkout supplements) for 3 weeks
  • Creating system for sleep and wake up routines, including reading, meditation and stretching
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Increase vegetable intake to about 6 cups per day
  • Eating clean protein sources, minimizing whey protein to 1-2 servings per day
Daily gut healing practices by Strong Sweet Caroline

New practices for the gut

  • Taking BIOHM prebiotic and probiotic daily
  • Drinking BIOHM greens daily
  • Apple cider vinegar with water before heavier carb meals for digestive help
  • HCL capsules 2x per day
  • Digestive enzymes with 2 largest meals of the day
  • Full day cleanse 2x per month
  • Supplementing DGL and Marshmallow Root
  • Making homemade bone broth and drinking 1x per day
Gut healing supplements by Strong Sweet Caroline

These are the current methods that I’m going to try the next 2-4 weeks. This is just the midpoint in my gut health journey! I am also getting ready for a bodybuilding competition prep to start and want to ensure my gut is as healthy as possible before I start limiting foods and increasing stress load on my body.

What’s something that has worked for you or you’ve been interested to try? I’m going to share this journey through here and some upcoming YouTube videos in my prep series. Go follow to make sure you don’t miss out!