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!

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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 🙂

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!

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 diet during busy season & on bodybuilding improvement season

Woah, how is it already December?!?! I do not know about you, but I think this fall and year has flown by. A lot of it is to do with staying busy each day, every weekend, going none stop. But thing is, I love the grind. I love the hustle.

Strong Sweet Caroline | improvement season dieting

Since August and moving to Georgia, I have improved tremendously at being task oriented and completing action items to advance me towards my goals. This is not just in business but also in hobbies and passions like bodybuilding. I am not competing anytime soon but that does not mean I get to slack on my diet and training.

With that in mind, I wanted to discuss how to diet during busy season and more specifically my experience with bodybuilding improvement seasons or “off seasons”. It is not for the week minded or lazy. Bodybuilding is not for the lazy, period. Even if you are not in the sport, you may have another passion, goal or hobby that requires diligent effort and continued execution. Therefore, to improve, you cannot slack.

Read on for my steps to success in dieting during busy season and improvement season and my new program for January meal prep!


First and foremost, you need to identify your goal.

Are you looking to increase size and mass? If so, where and what body parts? Overall symmetry? This will affect your training routines and eating patterns.

Second, create structure around that goal.

You tell me you want to increase size and mass, specifically in your glutes and hamstrings but also more caps to your shoulders. If I were your coach or seeking to work with a coach, I would adjust the volume of your training to be more leg and glute focused, possibly increasing frequency of workouts each week, increasing time under tension, etc. When you get as specific as possible and outline your path or options, it will steer you in the right direction for execution.

You tell me you want to lose 15 pounds. Do you know what you eat in a day or week? That might be a good place to start is writing down everything you eat each day for one week. Then, you can actually determine how much you are eating and where to adjust.

Third, do not get caught up in social media with shredded friends and athletes who are on a different structure and goal than you!

Just like in a horse race, the winning horse does not try to look around its blinders to see who might be gaining on it. It focuses its eyes on the strides ahead toward the finish line. If that motivates you to stick to your diet for long-term success, by all means, print a photo off and stick it on your mirror! But don’t get caught up in it.

Fourth, now that you have your goal, structure and are focused on YOU, fuel your body accordingly.

It is sad that so many out there think that burgers and fries, pizza and donuts are good for you in an improvement season. I actually cut them out entirely.

Why? Because quality food matters. When you are at a caloric surplus (which most society is overeating not undereating), the nutrients absorbed into your body work to maintain your metabolism. If you are constantly eating foods that are more processed, higher in saturated fats, trans fats, sugars and not nutritionally dense, they will slow your metabolic rate and cause you to store more body fat. I know I do not want that. To prepare for previous shows, I spent WEEKS doing cardio to strip the fat off my body.

So, when at a surplus, what do you do? Eat right. Be strategic. And even if you do not want to do it, eat the carbs. You’ll appreciate them later.

I decided to photograph all the foods I eat in one day. I am at a caloric surplus now and did not realize that including my intraworkout drink, I have eight meals per day. But, here’s where it gets interesting.

Strong Sweet Caroline | How to dietStrong Sweet Caroline | How to diet

Each meal is under 500 calories. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you’re luck if anything on the regular menu is 600 calories or fewer. You can modify and customize orders, but it’s the idea that those meals are often lacking the nutrients you really need and have more filler foods and ingredients than necessary.

I eat pretty close to the same thing every day. I follow “if it fits your macronutrient dieting”, commonly referenced as IIFYM. Does that mean I get to each chocolate and poptarts if I choose? Yes. Do I do so daily? Nope! I’m strategic about everything I eat.

This has been my progress the past two months. Slowly putting on muscle, weight and body fat. The majority comes from consistent eating habits and hard ass workouts.

Strong Sweet Caroline | improvement season dieting
Top was October 1, bottom December 1

I’ve come a long way. And now I’m transitioning to bikini instead of figure. So, there lies another challenge. Learning new poses and as mentioned above, restructuring my programming. Time for more glutes, squats, lunges and plyometrics to build the booty!

Additionally, my meal prep company is growing, new clients are signing up and my website will be launching in a few short days! With all this happening, I’ve realized how crucial my meal prep planning is. I want to share that with y’all and help teach others to be successful at meal prep.

I am launching my first Meal Prep in 30 Challenge!

Strong Sweet Caroline | Meal Prep in 30 Challenge

 

This will teach you everything from grocery shopping, macronutrients, storage containers, seasonings I use, cooking methods, and more so that you can start your 2018 on the right food with health and wellness in the forefront.

It is only $30 to enter. There are objectives to complete each week and when you do, whoever completes them, in addition to engagement on social media and other bonus challenges, will be entered for a drawing to win

  • My first ever dessert ecookbook
  • $25 gift card to Whole Foods
  • 1 sample pack of Enlightened Broad Bean Crisps
  • 6 Pack Bag meal prep bag!

Reach out with any inquiries and sign up today!

“Beet” dreary weather with a vibrant protein smoothie

Beet Protein Smoothie by Strong Sweet Caroline

Happy Halloween! Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, I hope y’all have taken some time to enjoy the crisp weather and seasonal joy that’s upon us. Fall is here and it has actually started out rather brutal. I do not know about you, but I do not like the cold. When the weather goes from the 70s to the 40s, that drastic change is too much for me!

Nonetheless, I’m now enjoying a sip of warm tea while I look out into the wooded section near my apartment. We had rain this weekend so it is nice to have some clear air to breathe.

Caroline and David Lee Haney
David and I at the Lee Haney show this past weekend

This past weekend was a doozy with errands, meal prepping, and support David and his fitness clients who competed in the Lee Haney Games. Both of us are overcoming a cold (and he also had a sinus infection). With a lot of moving parts and higher stress, it wore me down. It became a bit dreary getting sick.

What do you do when you’re sick? I try to find ways to first, get better as quickly as possible! I do not use over the counter medication when I can help it. Food and natural products like herbs are the best source in my opinion. Second, I seek ways to occupy my mind.

Vibrant Flowers

David brought home a bouquet for me to liven the apartment! I love the colors so much that I wanted to also eat something that bright, vibrant and healthy. This lead to my latest kitchen creation, a dairy-free protein beet smoothie!

Protein beet smoothie and flowers

Crazy, I know. Where will you get 25g of protein without using Greek yogurt or milk in the recipe?

Strong Sweet Caroline Beet Protein Smoothie

Egg whites. Mine are from Egg Whites International and come in a convenient half gallon jug with a pump. Simplicity is key when baking or eating, right? And a touch of vanilla whey/egg white protein powder from True Nutrition.

Beet Protein Smoothie with True Nutrition

The rest were an assortment of fruits, kale, ground golden flaxseeds, cinnamon and honey.

Beets. Why did I choose them? I felt I’d been seeing recipes and postings about them splattered all over the place. I have never tried making them myself and the more I read, the more healthy benefits they seemed to offer. So why not?

The best beet benefits I like are:

  • Low calorie – per cup is about 60 calories, 17g are carbs, 4g fiber, 9g sugar
  • High in folate, magnesium and potassium
  • Anti-inflammatory and help with muscle recovery

More benefits and details can be found at Dr. Axe’s site. Try out my recipe for yourself or modify to your liking! It will make your day more vibrant.


Strong Sweet Caroline Beet Protein Smoothie

Serving: 1, about 12 ounces

Beet Protein Smoothie

Macros (my version below): 283 calories | 25g protein | 38g carbs | 3g fats | 5g fiber | 22g sugar (all unprocessed, natural sugars)

Ingredients

Process

  • Combine ingredients in blender or food processor, starting with whole ingredients and adding liquid at the end.
  • Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Strong Sweet Caroline Beet Protein Smoothie

Thanks for reading. Please subscribe and share and reach out with any questions. I’d love to help you be strong (and enjoy sweets too).

-Strong Sweet Caroline