Paula Lean

It's taken me nearly a half a century to truly be happy. You've got to eat right, train hard, tolerate no bullshit, love and respect yourself first and surround yourself with like minded individuals and life will be good. Questions? I love to share experiences and wisdom gained through living and learning.

Hangin’ w/ my Best “B’s”

Nothing like training with your besties, best bitches that is!  Ya know, the girls you love to hang with.  I need to thank these two ladies this week.  Steph’s (left) got the strongest wheels out of the three of us and I am motivated when training legs to keep up with her as she usually out squats me if only by 5 – 10 pounds.

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Monday’s leg workout had me mapping out my weight progressions and my goal was to get to 140# for 3 reps on our pause squats.  We started off with the same warm up weights and were eyeing each other across the rig seeing what weight the other was going to use next.  We stayed about the same until she jumped a littler further than I intended on set number 3. Not to be outdone I kept pace.

I kept up my mental conversation on how if I wanted these little legs to grow I had to sack up and put some weight on the bar.  Squats were feeling good today so why not.  Bound and determined to keep up with Steph I followed her lead.  And got 3 reps at 150–10 pounds over what I thought I could!

On Tuesday Michelle the little 104 pound ball of muscle on the right decides she’s going to keep up with me on the bench.  Now the bench is my jam.  Ok, I thought let her go for it.  And she did, set after set. We were working up to a heavy set of 4 on the floor press.  I was gunning for 120 as the week before I failed at 125.  Well, the little bit kept up and forced me to take a bigger jump and aim for 125.

She managed to get 4 at 115# which is 11# over her bodyweight.  Impressive.  And she forced me to aim higher and using every fiber in my being I managed to eek out that last rep of 4 at 125#.  Although pound for pound that is only 5# over my body weight.  Either way, more than I thought I was capable of for the day.

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Oh yea, that pic is totally posed. It’s been a great training week and I’m glad to have these two to train with along with the friendship and camaraderie that pushes us all to accomplish more.  We’re not training for any competition other than life and at 46, 56 and 43 respectively it helps us tremendously at a time when many begin losing functionality.

It’s Thursday and you know what that means?  Yep, time for some heavy deadlifts, let’s go bitches!

We Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Food & Fitness Blog to Bring You. . .

Coverage of my experience last night at the Donald Trump rally in Tampa, Florida Friday, February 12, 2016.  This is not a political blog nor will it become one; this article merely states the enormity and facts of what I saw and encourages those reading to share their thoughts.

Yes I am a yuge DT fan; my honesty will not allow me to deny that fact nor would I want to.  I respect everyone’s opinions and for years religion and politics were two subjects I very rarely if ever discussed with anyone other than my husband and close friends and we’re not going to start now.

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In regards to politics I was apathetic because IMO the majority were all a bunch of lying ‘choose favorite expletive’.  Until June 16th, 2016 when Mr. Trump announced his candidacy; a passion for what he was saying ignited a flame inside me that has burned brightly ever since.

Like many things I have been drawn to in my life they tend to be controversial or in the eyes of some ‘extreme’.  So be it, that’s me.  DT has been railed against by the GOP, Democrats, Republicans, the media, activist groups and many others.  I’ve never seen any establishment try so hard to take down their own frontrunner.  Which only serves to validate my beliefs.

He has been called a fascist, misogynist, xenophobic and sexist.  I see none of that.  I see a man that is a pillar of strength, successful, brilliant with honesty and integrity that has nothing to gain monetarily by seeking the office of President.  I see a man that cares and wants to turn this country around.  By the way our country is going to hell.

I have read at least 8 of his books, watched every debate but the one he wasn’t in, listened to countless rally speeches, troll FB and the internet daily and in regards to the 2016 presidential election for once in my life I am politically informed.  When I finally got the opportunity to attend one of his rally’s in my hometown of Tampa Florida I could not contain my excitement.  What an experience. . .

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By God I was going to get a good seat, I wanted to be up front and center.  Doors opened at 5:00 pm and Mr. Trump was scheduled to come on at 7:00 pm Not knowing whether the media lies on attendance were misrepresented I took no chances and arrived at 11:51 am.  Lines were already forming in front of Gate A at the USF Sun Dome.  I made camp and quickly made friends.

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What I saw in the next four and a half hours was nothing short of amazing.  I saw not one protester which USF being “multi cultural” was supposed to have their share.  Which I didn’t understand, you’re living in this country because you want a better life? Then you damn well better support it.  Apparently there were some but they must have been in a different area.  Some call him a racist; funny I saw Caucasians, Asians , African Americans and Hispanics all congregating together with a shared camaraderie.  They call him a sexist, really?  At least half of the attendees including yours truly were women.

Newscasters were photographing and interviewing the early arrivals.  I heard passionate speeches of why they are supporting him being given by people of different genders, sexual preferences, races and religions. I even got interviewed by two and photographed by four because of my adorable socks.

The Jag  arrived at 4:30 barely being able to find me in the crowd;  by that time the line was at least ¾ of a mile long.  We connected and the doors opened early at 4:38, we were in the first group allowed entrance.  We made it through a well done security screening and chose the floor over seating.  Only the first 2000 people in got the choice of the floor.

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We managed to get right in front of the podium about 2 rows deep.  Wow.  Time to wait again.  The excitement was ripe and the crowds buzzing with anticipation to see Mr. Trump.  The Sun Dome continually filled up with more and more seats being taken as people waited in very long lines to get in the doors and through security.

At about 6 pm we had a few speakers setting the stage for the main even; retired military and a female veteran that lost her son in Benghazi.  It was now 7:00 pm and there were still people piling in.  By 7:30 Mr Trump had not yet come on and as I looked around in amazement there was not a vacant seat in the house.  Even the nosebleed section was filled.  Yea, media won’t show it but it’s a packed house and a sellout crowd.

There were even about 5,000 people outside that could not get in.  They had a screen viewing for them.  At 7:38 the long awaited Mr. Trump took the stage and he did not disappoint.  There is only one word to truly describe the aura — electrifying.  Mr. Trump has a commanding stage presence, is a charismatic speaker full of passion, honesty and integrity.

After a riveting one hour speech the event was over.  I attempted to get an autograph as he made his rounds along the front row but was getting squished by the overzealous crowd.  I got to see him up front about two feet away which was good enough for me.  Secret Service needs to be commended for handling the crowds and protecting the presidential candidate.  They were not messing around.

The walk out and traffic out of the sundome was similar to any other large sporting event and the excitement of what I just saw stayed with us both on the ride home.  We stayed up to watch the coverage of the event on the local news which was disappointing and biased.  I saw several interviews throughout my wait — ALL positive.  Did I see any of that on television?  No, I saw only a few protestors from another part of the campus’ interviews.  Hmmmm, just as I’ve always thought, the media is dishonest and biased.  And where have you heard that?

That’s okay, I know what I saw and what I believe.  As Mr. Trump pointed out in the beginning of his speech and as many of the people around me proved.  It’s a movement, a movement like no other.  You watch the rally and the 12,000 that attended here. The “Silent Majority Stands with Trump.”

Whoever you’re rooting for think long and heard, read and learn for there’s no denying wherever Trump goes there is love and energy.  The movement can’t be denied.  Make America Great Again.

Our regular programming will continue on Monday. . .

Never take your Eyes off the Ball

Reality check:  shit happens.  Fast.  Yesterday I was in a great mood getting my flexxy Friday wod on and feeling really good.  First week of the new year had me back in full swing.  Especially after a complete recovery of the girls.

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I was on my last set of my seated db presses and I went to grab the db’s off the rack and turned my head for a second; I was in the groove of the song that had just came on and my left hand slipped and the db slammed my finger into the corner of the db rack.  Ouch.

I looked down and to my complete surprise I saw a very large gash and bone.  F—K I yelled.  I pinched the skin together and went shouting for Kim (my manager, coach and friend).  Being a mother of two she batted not an eye but asked “what would you like me to do” and “does it hurt”?  I asked her to put a band aid or two on it to hold it together.  Didn’t take a nursing degree to know it needed stitches.  As to the does it hurt she later told me I kept saying F–K so she assumed it did.

She put three steri strips and two band aids on it which held it together and stopped the bleeding.  I grabbed my keys and drove to the convenient urgent care less than a mile from the box.

Upon arrival I had to fill out the forms and wait an hour.  When I finally was taken back the nurse says to me “your blood pressure is high 191/89”.  No shit Sherlock my finger is throbbing like hell and I’ve just waited an hour.

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She finally takes me back and says “so, you have a legitimate cut on your finger”?  With a bland stare I calmly respond ‘I would say it is legit’.  She asked me to remove the band aids and left the room.  Not knowing how long I was going to wait this time I only removed one because I knew the other was holding it together not to mention reducing the discomfort.  When she come back she tells me to remove the other.  Ok I thought, you’re the nurse. When I do she gasps and immediately gets a tray laden with a gauze like placement to catch the gushing blood.  She pales and says “that’s legit”.

WTF I think to myself do you think I’d interrupt my wod and run to urgent care for a scratch?  She’s a little taken back as she attempts to remove the steri strips which were sticking to her gloves.  Her fumbling was starting to hurt so I asked if she’d like me to remove them.  “Yes, thank you, I’m in awe” she replies and went to get the doctor.

He was actually a pretty nice dude.  “Are you ok with looking at this” he asked as he went to examine my finger.  I’d already seen it so I merely answered ‘yes’. My biggest fear was that I had torn a ligament or tendon.  Healing would take ten times as long and never quite be the same.  He had to wait until it was cleaned up but didn’t think so which set my mind at ease.

After a thorough soaking and cleaning it was determined it was just a large deep gash with no damage other than some skin was missing.  He had a sense of humor and said it may put an end to any hand modeling I was doing.

I knew it was coming:  “when was your last tetanus shot?”  I don’t know but we are NOT getting one today or ever for that matter.  I really didn’t want to get into it with the guy.  He was nice and arguing about the negatives and un necessaries of vaccines was not going to be productive.  I know who financed his education.  Big Pharma.  “Are you sure?”  ‘Absolutely’ I replied in a tone that brooked no doubt.  He went no further with it.  Smart guy, I knew we would get through this.

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He gave me 2 choices on numbing it up – just the finger or block the whole hand.  I chose the finger.  As he was stitching it up he said “My, you have very steady hands”.  Hmmm, for starters I’m numb and second you have a needle in your hand holding mine and uh why would I move it?

He actually was able to do a little plastic surgery to minimize the scarring.  “No lifting for 2-3 weeks”.  F–K, no I didn’t say that I just thought it.  They splinted it to prevent movement and back to work I went.

Typing is a tad challenging with one less finger but it could have been much worse.  I am thankful there was no permanent damage and that it was my left hand.  Have to find a positive.  My left grip is a smidgen weaker than my right.  Lifting with 3 fingers for a couple of week should help that.

Lesson learned:  never take your eyes off the ball, target or DB.

Take it Off and Keep it Off

Or at least most of it. . .

What’s your plans?  Have an upcoming competition, special event or just want to lose some body fat?  I’d love to hear about it.  Coming up soon will be Paula Lean’s Weight Loss Series.  In the meantime here’s my initial plan to keep it off!

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Coming off of any kind of caloric restriction whether for a competition or other goal can often have negative effects  if not effectively handled.  Give yourself a week, you deserve it just don’t go ape shit.  I’ve had a fun week; ribs, buttery potatoes, ice cream, key lime pie, chicken wings, chocolate chip cookies and coleslaw.  Ok, not everyone considers coleslaw exciting but that yummy homemade mayo with the crisp cabbage was a treat.

It’s a good mental break after a 12 week diet and losing a grand total of 14 pounds but if I keep eating the way I ate last week it’s going to slowly but surely creep right back on.

Am I going to let that happen?  No I’m not.   I intend to find a way of eating that is sustainable and keeps me within 3-5 pounds of that weight–at least for the summer.  It was way too much time and energy to drop that many pounds.  I allowed myself a week of eating some of the foods I had deprived myself of for the past 12 weeks and it’s really, really easy to get carried away.  I’ve had a full week of calories ranging from 2268 to 3032.  Where do you think all those extra cals will go if continued?  Yep, right on my ass.

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So, after the week I reigned it back in and set some boundaries.  They are not permanent; they will change with the seasons and events/goals I have going on.  I’ve got my 5 day family reunion at the beach coming up 1 month from yesterday.  I’m eating similarly to what I was–I plan to show up at about 115 pounds in my bikini.  It’s for me not my family, they don’t care what I weigh, they think me over the edge but love me anyway.

I began again yesterday and for the next 19 days I’m eating clean.  ‘Clean’ to me means no crap and reasonable portions.  I maintain 1+ grams of protein per pound of bodyweight consuming lean meats, clean carbs to fuel activities and keep a close eye on added fats.  While healthy fats are most certainly good for you, they are my Achilles heel and adding unlimited butter and raw cream to my foods are what wrecks my intake.  Know your weakness(es).

I will continue to measure my portions; when I ‘eyeball’ things I gradually lose sight and my portions begin to grow and are more than I actually need.  I love homemade desserts; a piece once a week is fine on a maintenance program but eating it every night until it’s gone will have the pounds returning quicker than you can wash the empty pie plate.  Allow “indulgence meals” about once a week and plan them in.


On the 4th of July I will indulge for a meal–within reason, not an all day binge by making this King Arthur American Flag Pie then I’ll tighten it back up for the remaining 10 days until the reunion.  On vacation I’ll let loose a little but not go overboard and then return to a more manageable maintenance plan for the rest of the summer.

Stay tuned for Paula Lean’s Weight Loss Series with details on how to take it and keep it off!


Peak Week: final days

2 days left. . .


I’ve done my share of fitness comps and leaning out protocols over the course of almost 2 decades and I’ve NEVER had one go as well as this one has to date.  I’ve stated before–contest prep, especially peak week, is not my area of expertise; I am sitting in here in amazement at how a few things have been different this go round.

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Mood & Emotional State

In the past I have been cranky, irritable, irrational and basically a sonic bitch.   Not so this go round.  I feel level headed, calm, confident and happy.  It’s peak week, how can that be?

Depletion & Energy

I don’t feel depleted.  Oh I’ve had a few days where I didn’t get in as much as much food and water as I needed and tanked in training but after the next day’s adjustments that quickly resolved.  While I am at a much lower body weight, strength levels have  been ‘normal’ up until about 2 weeks ago and I would said they’re probably down no more than 10%.  To be expected at this lowered body fat level and weight.

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Food & Cravings

During every lean out I’ve ever done I have had cravings.  I have had zero this go round.  This is very puzzling to me.  In the past the cravings were generally for something sweet and occasionally salty.  I would spend half the time fantasizing on my cheat meal dessert.  I will honestly say I have not had a single craving this go round other than at times just wanting bigger portions.  Oh I certainly longed for something more exciting than baked cod, rice and salad sans dressing at times but I felt adequately fueled most days.

Hmmm, my only guess is the fact that I increased protein intake more than I had in the past.  A “craving” is generally a sign that your body is lacking in one of the macro nutrients provided caloric intake is adequate.  I believe I needed more protein and this resulted in the lack of cravings.

Caloric Intake

I ain’t young so perhaps I should thank my parents or years of consistent strength training but I haven’t had to take these too low at all.  Throughout the 12 weeks of dieting my average daily intake has been ~ 1800 calories.  The few lows being ~ 1500 and the few highs ~ 2000.

Sodium & Water

1 gallon+ a day and liberally putting sea salt on my food.  I was initially going to cut back on these on Friday but as of today I think I will keep them right where they are.

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I think the pros are right; it’s about the weeks leading up to peak week that really matter.  Did you do your homework and get as lean as you needed?  If you didn’t there are no magic tricks or extreme practices that will help you at this point.  If you did you don’t need to do anything drastic this week.  You can basically manipulate your carbohydrates a little, keep water and sodium consistent and show up hard and lean day of.

We’re not quite there yet, 2 more days — we’re keeping focus and discounting nothing.  Come Saturday it’s Game Day — aka SHOWTIME!

Peak Week

Well, after 12 weeks of dieting I am beginning peak week.  What’s peak week?  The 7 days before your physique competition or photo shoot where you attempt to dial it in and look your best the day of the show.  I am not a physique competition coach nor is this my area of expertise but it’s also not as complex or extreme as some make it out to be.  A more subtle common sense approach is often best.

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First question to ask yourself is. . .  are you lean enough?  If not at this point nothing is going to transform you in a week; you will not gain any more muscle or lose much more fat.  You’ve either done your work or you haven’t.

I think I am lean enough.  I had to wear a belt with my “skinny” shorts this morning and the scale says 115#, a number I have not seen in years.  There comes a point where if you continue losing body fat you will sacrifice too much muscle.  In my best judgement I am there.  I do not want to end up looking stringy and flat.

With that in mind the next biggest factors to consider will be training, water, sodium and carbohydrates.  Let’s take a look at my tentative game plan and we’ll report after the show. . .


Like I said above there is no more muscle to be gained one week before the show.  Time to taper it down.  You don’t want your legs so full of blood and torn down that you have no definition so I will train them with less weight and less volume and last lower body workout will be Monday.  Upper body I will tone down but not as much as the legs.  Cardio?  We’re done here, maybe some light walking 20-30 minutes but no more.  We’re not going to lose much more fat this last week either.  Last training day will be Wednesday.


Fortunately I learned early enough on what the negative effects of dehydration will do for your physique.  I will continue to drink 1+ gallons per day, muscle is 75% water, you want to be hydrated.  Plus the carbohydrates will need the water to find their way into the muscle cells.  Depending on how I look/feel I may reduce slightly Friday midday.


No depleting this vital mineral either.  I will continue to add sea salt to my food.  Again depending on how I look/feel on Friday I may reduce slightly a half day prior.


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For me this is the trickiest one of all; it calls for nothing drastic but depending upon the individual amounts will vary greatly.  I am not going to stray far from what I did the last 12 weeks.  It’s working pretty well.  Despite the low carb diets I have tried in the past I find I tolerate them well, perform better and look better with more of them in my diet.  My average consumption throughout has been around 180+ g per day.  If I go too low on a rest day I tank on the next training day and have to incorporate a re feed day.

History has had me looking small and flat day of — usually from too much depletion.  I inadvertently depleted while on vacation and that’s exactly how I looked upon return.  Immediately after upping the carbs I ‘came back’.  So, we’re going to keep them up there on Monday, Tuesday and add some extra on Wednesday after the last day of training.  That gives me 2 days to adjust should I find I consumed too many or too little.  Taken a long damn time of making the same mistakes but I learn eventually and am going with my gut on this one.  No pun intended.

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Am I going to weigh, measure and carry all my own food with me everyone I go.  Damn right I am, I’ve worked too hard these past 12 weeks to blow it the last week.  I’m headed out today to watch our amazing CF Jaguar athletes compete at WodJamz in St Pete beach and I’ve got my cooler ready.  Fail to prepare and prepare to fail — if it means being weird for a week and letting my OCD ness reign supreme so be it.  Competition is not ‘normal’ and neither am I right now. . .

. . .but today it is about our athletes.  They are at their peak and I am so very proud of them GAME DAY is on!

wod jamz