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!

GREENS DRINK for acne

This post shares my personal thoughts. I am now an ambassador for BIOHM Health and may receive compensation for purchases using my code.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately as we approach the end of the year. One of my constant battles has been with my gut health, digestion and skin. You can see in the photo below that among my freckles, I had some acne on my forehead and even a few spots on my upper chest.

It is super embarrassing and makes me uncomfortable in my own skin. And I’m 26. Why am I breaking out like this?!

Most of it stems from 1) hormones and 2) gut biome. If either are off, this is usually reflected on our faces. I want to treat my conditions from the inside, out. So the process continued.

I’ve spent lots of time, money and energy researching, testing and reviewing what is going on with my body and what has worked a little, a LOT or might just be a marketing hoax. I mostly focused on foods I was eating and trying to get more benefits from things like salmon for its Omega 3s, more leafy greens like kale and spinach and increasing seeds and nuts like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds.

One thing that for a long while I felt was not making much difference was greens powder. There are SO MANY OF THEM on the market. Like, how do you even pick?!?! 

I’ve tried a few and have FINALLY found a product from BIOHM I like and I’ve felt a difference! I purchased during their Cyber Monday deals so I could also get a colon cleanser and gut health kit (aka stool test).

greens drink for acne by Strong Sweet Caroline

During my search and experimenting, I realized that I was lacking a large amount of nutrients, specifically ones call “micronutrients”, that are found in specific foods, like fruits and vegetables. When living by a more “routine” or “restrictive” diet, you often lack these micronutrients and are missing out on additional vitamins and benefits they can bring your body.

Using a greens powder can help bring some of those micros to your daily nutrition. BIOHM Super Greens contains ORGANIC, US-sourced plant extracts, digestive fiber and enzymes. It offers 15B active probiotics, working to break through digestive plaque and help restore and maintain optimal gut balance.

greens drink for acne by Strong Sweet Caroline

One thing I’ve enjoyed with them so far is the taste is subtle and delicious. You might also know from other greens that they need to be shaken or stirred pretty rigorously in order to fully blend the probiotics.

I’m eager to continue using them and see how my skin and body respond. I already know that they have helped with my regularity LOL!

Get them for 20% off for the holidays December 17 through December 19! Look for more updates on my skincare and gut health in the future. This is a front burner issue in my life and I hope to help those of you prevent it from becoming an issue or help you find your solution!

Save on all additional products — code: CAROLINE

greens drink for acne by Strong Sweet Caroline

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.