Weight Loss Basics: Part 11

Readers, Part 1 of Weight Loss Basics asked you to keep an online food log for 1-2 weeks. Anyone surprised at what they found? I’ve done this periodically since the late 90’s and every time I am surprised and any questions I had were clearly answered. How’s that?

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Well keeping an ‘honest’ – how you’ve been eating that got you to this point log and not how you think you should eat will usually paint a very clear picture. Prior to reigning in my laissez faire eating from about mid November to early March here’s what I found:

• I was consuming too many calories
• I was consuming too much fat
• My carbohydrate intake was inconsistent and did not coincide with my training days
• I was not consuming enough protein

Both nutrition and exercise are important in the weight loss equation but nutrition is at least 80% of the game.

French Fries

Formulate a plan

Based on what that told me I knew what I needed to do. My game plan was clear – eat less overall calories, less fat, manage carbohydrate intake dependent on training and eat more protein.

Simple, right? Yes and no. Knowing how many calories you need and what percentage of each macronutrient are not always so easily determined especially if you haven’t been obsessed with your nutritional intake for a couple of decades. Let’s attempt to simplify and create a starting point.


We already determined in Part 1 that they matter. Eating too little can slow the metabolism and eating too many can increase body fat. And there are many variables that contribute to this; age, gender, activity level, state of health and genetics.  That could be an entire series in and of itself so this ‘guideline’ is very general.

The goal is to lose weight; a general place to start is with 15 calories or less per pound of bodyweight*.

*If you’re somewhat close to your goal weight (within 10 to 15 pounds) and you’re active (working out 3-5 times per week) use that formula. If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose (15++ pounds) and/or are sedentary go off of per pound of LBM and start with about 12-13 calories. If you fall between the 2 examples, adjust accordingly.

Stay there for at least 2 weeks and see what happens.  Scale move down?  Good, continue.  Scale move up?  Reduce incrementally and monitor for another 2 weeks.  Scale stuck?  Could need more, could need less.  Take your best guess, stay the course for 2 weeks and adjust in a small increment accordingly.

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Needs vary. Are you a hard training athlete or a couch potato? Hard training athletes need more protein to repair the muscles they are continually breaking down; 1.0 – 1.25 g per pound of body weight or LBM.  Couch potatoes will be fine with about .75 g per pound of body weight or LBM.  If you’re between the 2 examples adjust accordingly.

Flesh begets flesh.  Argue all you want but you need meat, fowl or seafood.  Beans and peas won’t cut it, it needs to have had a face and a soul.  There is no vegetable protein that is complete (has all the essential amino acids required) no matter how you ‘combine’ them.

Carbs & Fat

Low fat, high fat, low carb, high carb?? What route to go. Most important thing is to recognize that these are both energy sources and need to be balanced.  Some people run better on a higher percentage of one or the other.  Also you must choose the right fuel or energy source for your activities.

The hard training athlete that regularly lifts heavy weights and sprints generally needs more carbohydrates.  That is the fuel used in the dominant energy systems they are working in.  A couch potato or someone that engages primarily in low level aerobic activity will require less carbs and a higher fat intake as that will be a more efficient energy source for them.

Pure meso

Pure meso

Consider Body Type

Yes, body type should also be a portion of the overall macro nutrient equation.  This falls under the ‘genetics’ variable and they do matter.  If you’re more of an Ectomorphic tendency (tall, skinny hardgainer) then you’ll do best with a slightly higher carb intake, moderate protein and a little lower on the fat end.  Mesomorphs (relatively lean and muscular, lose or gain without much difficulty) do best at around 40/30/30 carb/protein/fat.  Endomorphs (not the most blessed genetically, gain weight easily) do best with slightly lower carbs, moderate protein and slightly higher fat intake.

Of course this will still all need to be factored in with your goals and activity type and level.  Confused and overwhelmed yet?  Don’t be. . .

Tampa Bay area residents CF Jaguar is hosting a Paula Lean Weight Loss Basics seminar on Thursday, July 9 at 6:45 pm.  Open to the public.

Non TB area residents:  online coaching available, please contact paula@paulalean.com for details

Pecan Encrusted Grouper w/ Peach Salsa

I’ve had no problem eating my peaches and pecans just plain but before this order was gone I wanted to use them for at least one recipe.  I still had some grouper in my freezer that I bought in Carabelle while on vacation so it looked like a perfect marriage.

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There’s nothing like a light and crispy coating of pecans on grouper or any other firm white fish.  The sweetness of the peaches tied it all together.

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I like to cut my fish into smaller pieces, it’s easier to handle when cooking.  Coat each piece first with the flour, dip into the egg mixture and then roll in the pecan mixture coating all sides.  Heat your healthy fat choice in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and your fish is ready to fry.

Fry?  Yes, you read that right — fry.  Every once in awhile that is an acceptable treat.  What is important to realize is that it’s the type of fat you fry it in that determines whether it’s healthy or not.  I used beef tallow which I rendered myself from leaf tallow from a grass fed cow.  The health component of an animal’s fat and whether you will want to consume it or not depends on how that animal was raised and what it ate.  If the cow ate grass and was not given grains the fat profile will be healthy.   I digress.

Cook your fish in your healthy fat for about 5-6 minutes per side until cooked through and golden brown.

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Meanwhile, make the salsa by combing all ingredients, stirring well

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and placing into serving dishes alongside the fish.


Recipe & Ingredients

1 pound fresh grouper
3/4 cup pecans (mine were from Pearson Farm)
1/2 cup King Arthur gluten free flour
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons raw milk
2 tablespoons tallow, coconut oil or other healthy fat

2 fresh Georgia peaches
1/2 yellow bell pepper finely chopped
1/4 cup purple onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
dash chili powder


Process pecans until fairly fine and place in bowl.   Add seasonings and stir well to combine.  Add milk to slightly beaten egg in another small bowl.  Coat the fish with the flour, dip in the egg mixture, coating well and then roll in the pecan mixture.  Set aside on a plate.

Heat your healthy fat in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, cook the fish about 5 – 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through and golden brown.

For the salsa, combine all ingredients and mix well.

Peach Salsa

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This goes well with both chicken and fish.  Try with pecan encrusted grouper
2 fresh Georgia peaches
1/2 yellow bell pepper finely chopped
1/4 cup purple onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
dash chili powder
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl stirring well.


Anyone that knows me well knows I love to lift heavy weights; I have never been much of a traditional cardio gal. Grinding away on a hamster wheel endlessly bores the hell out of me. Does that mean conditioning is not important and can be neglected? Well. . . that always circles back to what are you training for?

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If you’re a power lifter it won’t be  necessary to engage in as much conditioning as if you’re a CrossFit competitor. If it’s GPP (general physical preparedness) aka “getting in shape and improving health” you’re after or just looking better naked and having some semblance of athletic prowess you shouldn’t neglect it either.


With regards to “cardio” or conditioning the volume, mode, intensity and frequency are variables to consider dependent upon the goals at hand. We’ll focus on the goal of looking good (building muscle while maintaining less body fat) and some semblance of athletic prowess for today. So, how to make it more enjoyable? One of my favorite conditioning tools is the prowler. You can push it, pull it, power walk or sprint with it.

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It allows one to be outside which is an enjoyable switch from lifting inside the gym. It embraces the elements and makes one capable of performing in them; I don’t see how anyone can work out in air conditioning. Shudder.

A couple of my favorite prowler workouts are:

Push/pull: push the prowler 25 yards and pull it back 25 yards, rest 60 s between rounds or long enough to catch your breath.

Recovery: use a light load, walk with it for 100 m, then pull it backwards for 100 m; this one’s not a race. Go at a pace you can sustain for 30-35 minutes without getting completely out of breath. That’s not the goal for recovery


Prowler sprints: my personal favorite; load it up with a weight you can sprint with (that means balls to the wall) for about 25 yards. Take 90 sec rest between and repeat 7-10 times.   Done outside or in this is how you should look when finished.

Prowler 2

Small doses here, a little of that type of effort goes a long way.

Pushes & Swings:  using a moderate load push the prowler 25 yds down and 25 yds back, immediately knock out 25 swings; rest long enough to catch your breath and repeat 4-6 more times.

Prowler Power walking (for recovery):  with a light load walk pushing the prowler 100 m, reverse direction and power walk pulling the prowler.  Switch back and forth for 20 minutes.


Just starting out:  build your stamina gradually; our prowlers alone weigh between 50 – 70#, add to that less than forgiving concrete and the prowler alone will be sufficient.  When it starts to get easy, add weight.

If you’ve never used the prowler it’s well worth investing in one; take it outside, breathe heavy and sweat it out for a more primally satisfying “cardio” experience.


Weight Loss Basics: Part 1

Is weight loss as complicated as everyone makes it? No. It’s pretty simple; eat quality foods in reasonable portions and move on a daily basis. If it’s that simple, why is America so overweight–both our children and adults, why is there so much confusion out there on the correct way to eat? After all eating is something people have always done yet obesity and metabolic disorders have only run rampant in the last 50+ years.

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Couple of reasons; mainly people don’t want to do the work. It takes planning, cooking, making the right choices, consistency and discipline. There are no pills, processed foods or easy fixes that will do the job. And in today’s age that’s what a lot of folks are looking for.

Simplicity and basics often rule supreme in the majority of cases. If you want to lose some weight let’s break it down into a few simple steps. . .

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  • You have to know what you are eating: so you are 5’1” and weigh 225 pounds chances are you are not happy with your weight. “But I have 2 egg whites and a few pieces of celery for breakfast, a salad for lunch and cereal for dinner”. Really? Keep an honest detailed food log online for a week. Change nothing. Find out what you have been eating and how much you have been eating. Without doing this you will have no idea what you need to change and what you don’t.
  • Calories: they matter. Period. Too little you slow the metabolism down to a crawl. Too many you get fat. How many should you eat? This will depend upon a variety of factors: age, gender, activity level, lean body mass, current state of health or dis ease and genetics.
  • Macronutrients: you know—what food’s composed of. Protein, fats and carbohydrates, buzzwords you’ve surely heard of in the media. Some tout fat as evil, some carbohydrates, some shun animal proteins. Well, they are all necessary and excluding any one of them is generally not a very good idea. Amounts of each again will vary based on a person’s health, goals, activity levels and genetics
  • Goals: set some. “I want to lose weight” will not cut it – make it measurable and give it a realistic timeline. i.e.“I want to lose 15 pounds in 15 weeks.”
  • Be realistic: I know you want to lose 15 pounds by next week for your 20th high school reunion. Well, it ain’t gonna happen.  You need to plan that out. Rapid weight loss by starvation diets will result in the loss of weight – along with precious muscle weight which if you haven’t been weight training consistently you cannot afford to lose. Thus the term “skinny fat”.
  • Choose a level of commitment: we’re all different and this must be sustainable for you, not for me, not for your best friend but for you. Some people are willing to work harder and sacrifice more to get what they want.  They will more likely succeed and quicker.  Yet this is about you—think what you can maintain long term.
  • Exercise: we all need it. Not so much to lose the weight but to facilitate the weight loss; to build muscle, strengthen bones, get the blood flowing, keep the heart healthy, maintain sanity and build and maintain functionality. Move. Everyday in some form or fashion. In a gym, outside, at work, at home but move.
  • Sleep:  I cannot overstate the importance of this.  7-9 hours a night in a dark room of quality sleep.  Avoid technology and all overly stimulating activities (except for sex) right before bedtime.
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Where to start?  Start by keeping an honest 1-2 week online food log.  Knowing what got you to where you are is the key to knowing what you will change, what you will keep and how to begin.


& EXERCISE, it really is enough. . .

Start moving.

In the meantime, stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 of the Paula Lean Weight Loss Series AND. . .

For those of you in the Tampa Bay area Paula Lean is hosting a free seminar on the Basics of Weight Loss on Thursday, July 9th 6:45 pm at CrossFit JaguarSign up here!  And for those of you not in the bay area, email paula@paulalean.com for online coaching or a Free Quick Start Guide!

Mango Rum Barbecue Sauce

The first time I made this sauce it was for my Mangoed Ribs; since then I’ve found it goes equally well with chicken, beef and shrimp!  The kitchen is a place for creativity to shine so if you can’t find a ripe mango a papaya works equally well giving a slightly different flavor.

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Melt your choice of healthy fat in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook the chopped onion until tender.

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Stir in the ketchup, mango puree, rum, lime juice, maple syrup and reserved rub.

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Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 20 minutes stirring once or twice.  Add in the 1/4 cup chopped mango.  Baste your favorites meats, fowl and seafood and serve extra on the side!

Recipe & Ingredients

1 1/2 tbs raw grass fed butter
1/3 cup chopped onions
1 cup organic ketchup (no added crap)
3/4 cup freshly pureed mango
1/4 cup chopped fresh mango
1/4 cup Myers rum
1 – 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbs Grade B maple syrup
1-2 tbs rub (suit to taste)*
The rub mixture for sauce only (triple is using on meat or fowl, reserving 1-2 tablespoons for the sauce)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground sea salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
scant 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
scant 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
scant 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper –

Personally I find 1 tbs of rub to be perfect and I save the other tbs for later in the week to be used on chicken or fish along with any leftover barbecue sauce