All I really want for my birthday is shoulder blades

I’ve written a couple of times about the first time I lost significant weight, back in 2004. At the end of that summer, I spent three weeks with my mom in Northern California. She had this indoor smokeless grill contraption and all I ate was “grilled” chicken and beef kabobs off that thing. By the time I came back to Orange County, I had dropped a few pounds and decided to keep going. From August to October of that year I went from 239 to 202 by working out six days a week with a friend.

As my body started to slim down, I noticed all the fat on my back had started melting away to reveal … shoulder blades! Well, what would have been shoulder blades had I lost more weight.

Unfortunately, that never happened. The stress of working in a college newsroom, then the OC Register newsroom, plus meeting and moving in with Nadia, taking care of my mom throughout her battle with cancer and then becoming a food writer at the paper, provided all the distraction I needed to balloon back up.

I remember being at the doctor’s office and weighing in at 267 lbs. I kept thinking about how close that was to 300 lbs., and how shameful it was that I’d made it to 202 only to take it all back and then some.

In hindsight, had I dedicated a portion of my time to fitness, I likely would have been able to maintain. But just because I was able to work off the weight doesn’t mean I had a true understanding of health and fitness and I think that in itself is the whole reason I was unable to maintain.

Now, nearly eight years later, I’m wondering how it took me so long to get back to this place–the mindset needed to strength train. On second thought, forget wondering why, I’m just glad to be here. I’ve set a target date for slimming down to mid-October when I turn 30, and truthfully, all I really want for my birthday is shoulder blades.

And I’m going to do it this time. I started exercising on Jan. 3. In the past month I’ve managed to walk 40-60 minutes each weekday, plus make it to the gym three times per week for 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. Mid-month I started adding machines for abs and trunk muscles, front, sides and back.

With January in the bag, I’m going to continue with the plan I laid out and start strength training using machines. I know there are different schools of thought on weight machines vs. free weights, but while I’m starting to build muscle I’m going to use the machines. By the beginning of summer I hope to move on to free weights.

I used the Google machine to find results on strength training for beginners, with the best results coming from

Here’s my February workout plan, found on the website:

  1. Warmup
  2. Squat (or leg press)
  3. Bench press (or chest press)
  4. Deadlift
  5. Crunch
  6. Seated cable row
  7. Triceps pushdown
  8. Lat Pulldown
  9. Overhead press
  10. Biceps curl
  11. Cool down, stretch

I walk to the gym and stretch when I get home, so numbers 1 and 11 are taken care of already. Everything in between is pretty simple to start with and each exercise provides a way to build major and minor muscle groups in a broad way. In future months my routines will be whole workouts of one muscle group, with multiple exercises for the targeted area.

But I gotta start somewhere, and this it where it all begins.

Resources: Before you begin that  first weights session Burn more fat–Secrets of exercise physiology Basic strength and muscle weight training program

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