Where do you start when one has lived such a long life? At the beginning decade by decade. . .
The 60’s: born January 24, 1960 to Gerald & Grace Jacobs. I had a very happy childhood and home life; mom stayed at home and cooked all our meals from scratch. I had an early introduction to and immediate love of cooking. She would always let me help no matter how messy I got her very clean kitchen.
The 70’s: the teen years–my love of cooking continued and I started baking pies from scratch at about age 12 using an egg & vinegar pie-crust recipe which I still have the worn & yellowed recipe from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette circa 1972. The teen years were also fraught with uncertainty, insecurities and just learning to grow into myself.
The 80’s: graduated from college in 1982 with a BS in dental hygiene; to this day I have no idea what prompted me to choose that. I supposed I still believed in fairy tales such as I would get married, have 1 or 2 children and not work outside the home. Yea, right. I moved to Key West, Florida immediately upon graduation where in my mind, life had just begun! I got a job as a cocktail waitress in a local haunt known as the Full Moon Saloon. I hooked up with a modern day pirate gone bad and sailed the Caribbean for 2 years before moving to his home town of Tampa, FL. Fortunately for me that relationship ended very soon after arriving.
I stayed in Tampa and took a job as a bartender at another local haunt where I met my husband Rick aka the “Jag” in 1985. My love of cooking really began to bloom as we all know the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Weekends were spent at the beach, barbecuing and entertaining friends. I also joined a gym (Mademoiselle Fitness) and started working out a couple of days a week although I had to no plan, no program or direction.
The 90’s: I turned 30 and figured it was time to grow up a little. I left the bar tending scene and finally got a job as a dental hygienist. And hated it immediately but it at least it was 8 to 5 and only 4 days a week. The cooking and entertaining trend continued, we traveled a bit with our friends and there was never a dull moment. I continued to work out on/off. Cooking found me embracing “healthier” foods and falling victim to the lowfat craze of the 90’s although everything was still made from scratch.
In late 1994 and nearing age 35 I saw a picture of myself on a boat in a bikini and things just weren’t as firm as they used to be. It was time to get “serious” in the gym. I was in awe of a girl at our gym that had recently transformed her physique through body building. That was exactly how I wanted to look. I was making a few not so smart choices and I needed something to strive for. I chose a competition 1 year away and under her guidance my transformation began. Life would never again be the same.
In 1997 I competed in my first ever competition. My mentality through the entire year was I will either get up on that stage and do this or die trying. I meant it. I ended up taking 2nd place in the novice division. In 1998 I changed to a more athletic route and continued to compete in a fitness style obstacle course competition. I received my first fitness certification from AFAA. Wouldn’t it be great to do this for a living I asked myself?
2000 — the turn of the century: if I thought turning 30 was a milestone 40 hit me even harder. I was focused, I was fit but I still hated my job so I left it June of 2000 and took a job as a personal trainer at a private studio. In 2002 my dreams came true and I opened my own personal training studio called Jaguar Total Fitness and received my CSCS from the NSCA. In 2004 I made a very bad decision and became a vegetarian. That precipitated a slow but steady downward spiral in health, mental well being and my life in general. I added some fish back in but cooking and eating were no longer fun, I had put all my beloved roasters, stoneware and dutch ovens in storage and nothing tasted good. Fitness was the only thing that kept me going.
I continued to compete in the Women’s Tri Fitness running obstacle course competitions until sidelined in 2007 by a knee injury at the age of 47. But I had reached my goal of running the course in under a minute with a score of 59:69
After 3 1/2 years of steady decline I decided to make a complete 180 and brought the 3 foods I missed most back into my life: beef, butter and bacon. Within 1 week my health and well being were coming back. I then found CrossFit and the Paleo diet. As soon as I took out grains/wheat which were pretty much all I ate as a vegetarian life started coming back and I began to heal. I took my last few $ of credit, took my Level 1 CF cert, affiliated and became CrossFit Jaguar. That was November 2008. For the first time in my life I experienced a sense of calm, peace and happiness. Fitness had been in my life for awhile — it had to be the dietary changes.
2010’s: Holy hell, I turned 50, that sounded like the “F” word but life is better than it ever has been. It took me half a century to figure out that diet and exercise are the keys to well being and happiness. One with out the other does not make for completeness. We outgrew the space we were in and moved CF Jag into a 10, 000 sq ft facility in 2013. A few members that transformed their lives through the program have become our top level coaches. The community which continues to grow is am amazing group of people that I feel truly fortunate to be surrounded by. And being able to share my 2 passions — cooking and fitness on a daily basis is a reward in itself.
2014: the birth of “Paula Lean” and the person I have become because diet & exercise–it really is enough.