Category Archives: ‘Rite on Point with Tanya

Iron Adaptive Goals

Last Friday I was invited to work out at Boost Physical Therapy and Sports Performance with a few other athletes who have some physical limitations.

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Each of us was given the same workout, but it was adapted to each individual’s abilities and needs.

I met Zac Craig, who is a strength coach and athlete trainer, as well as Travis Neff, a physical therapist, athletic trainer and strength coach. These two guys have big goals, including their collaboration in opening a non-profit program to provide physical therapy and exercise to all levels of adaptive athletes. The estimated opening date for their new facility is January 2020! Hey, that’s right up my alley. I think this is such a wonderful idea for adaptive athletes to get in shape and build confidence! I sat down after my workout for a question and answer session with Zac.

Rite On Point: What inspired you to make a gym for adaptive athletes?

Zac Craig: We all have a story, and I’m really no different. I survived cancer for the third time. The last time they had to put in a titanium scapula and humerus (shoulder blade and upper arm bones). I had to start adapting my own workouts out of necessity due to limited range of motion of that arm. I had been a strength coach from the NFL to high school levels, as well as a strongman competitor. I thought it was pretty cool how creative I had to be with the workouts. I originally wanted to help strictly cancer patients, but then I saw a few gyms that were training adaptive athletes. I knew I had to do that. I thought of the most progressive person I knew in the strength and conditioning world and contacted him about my idea (Travis Neff). Little did I know, he had the same idea. We met the next day and it all started that day. 

ROP: What are your goals?

ZC: To get people to see things in themselves that they may not necessarily see. To have each athlete look in the mirror after their traumatic injury and smile. We all have self-talk and sometimes that self-talk turns into self-doubt. The “new normal” doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I think anyone who has suffered a traumatic injury has probably gone through that a least a little (myself included). 

 The other goal is to create an environment where an adaptive athlete can come in and talk with someone who has experienced the same thing or close to the same thing they are going through. How you learn, grow, and adapt is through each other and “real world” experience. If you can chat with people who know where you are coming from, I believe it can help propel you to whatever your next goals are. Therefore, our goal is to create the gym where if you are an adaptive athlete, you are the norm and not the exception.

ROP: Are any adaptive athletes welcome or are you limiting to certain athletes?

ZC: No, all adaptive athletes are welcome. You just have to be willing to work and have a goal(s) in mind. We can modify anything except your work ethic and grit. 

ROP: How was it working out with a girl born missing legs and deformed hands (Me!) ?

ZC: It was awesome! You have a great work ethic and your self drive to better yourself is obvious. To see someone who doesn’t limit themselves in anything and can be a great athlete, mom, wife, etc is really cool to see. It just proves if you train the mind, the body will follow. I am thinking we need to create a Para Spartan Team!

T: Challenge Accepted! 😉

 ROP: What is your favorite part about working with adaptive athletes? And what is the most challenging part?

ZC: My favorite part is seeing self-confidence rise up. When they can start doing things they haven’t done in years or ever, there is no better feeling.

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The most challenging part is the adaptation of workouts. You have to really think in a biomechanical mindset and usually on the fly as to what other exercise will work for them. You have to make sure it hits the movement or muscle group you want and keeps their body in a stable and minimal risk position.

ROP: What do you want the outcome to be from the athletes you train?

ZC: The outcome that we really want the athletes to achieve is whatever their goals are. That will range on each person. Some people may want to run a marathon, climb mountains, play with their kids or grand-kids, and some people may want simple bladder control. We want to be there to help facilitate goal achievement anyway that we can. For us, training is the one thing we know and believe that if you can train the body, you train the mind.

ROP: How can future athletes find you or reach you?

ZC: As we finalize our website, they will be able to reach us on there. Until then, they can email or fill out the Google form to be contacted if they want to know more or to train with us in the future.

ROP: Finally, how can we help you?

ZC: You can help by volunteering, giving referrals, and/or donations to get this started. We are always looking for people who believe in this mission, and want to be a part of it!

I am really excited to see Zac and Travis’s ambition come alive! And I won’t have to wait long since January is around the corner! See you at Iron Adaptive in 2020!

thanks,

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Things You Should Stop Saying And Doing To Disabled People

Hi friends. Let’s be real. Even if you have the best of intentions, it’s possible to get it wrong when trying to help someone with a disability. So… Here are a few “don’ts” to help you navigate through a world consisting of differently-abled people.

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Don’t disqualify my beauty.

People think that if you have a disability, you shouldn’t associate yourself with anything to do with beauty. I honestly think that in many people’s perception, disability means “ugly” or “unattractive”. Of course, it’s ridiculous. Who said being disabled disqualifies you from being beautiful? Whether a disability is visible or invisible, people with disabilities can be fabulously attractive on so many levels.

Don’t call me ‘brave’.

If you know me well enough, you know that I hate when people marvel at me, saying I must be “brave” or “inspiring” – just because I am out shopping on my own. “You must be so brave.” I find this phrase very patronizing. Don’t say this to me unless I have wrestled a tiger or a crocodile, or done something extraordinary – like fly to the moon and back. I really don’t see how I can be inspiring by getting on with life.

Don’t assume that all disabled people look the same.

I wish people would stop thinking that the world is made up of purely able-bodied individuals, and that the tiny minority who are disabled are easily recognizable. Broaden what you believe in. We don’t all look the same – just as able-bodied people don’t.

Don’t use baby-talk.

When I was younger, it was irritating when people talked to me as if I was a child or I wasn’t able to hear them. Or what about my friend who wears hearing aids. People suddenly think they need to revert to loud, slow baby-talk for my hearing-impaired friend to understand them. It’s okay. We really understand and hear you well at your regular volume and adult speech pattern!

I hope this blog helps you to understand some of the many “don’ts” that differently-abled people would prefer you just avoided.

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It’s Fall Y’all, So Don’t Fall!

Pardon my pun, but we all trip, roll ankles (if we have any 😉 ), step on awkward objects, or slip on icy surfaces, which sometimes leads to falling! This especially can happen to lower extremity amputees because of balance differences! It’s never fun and can be awkward or even painful!

Now, let’s think about the act of falling! There is a good way and there is a bad way to fall. The bad way is to tense up and go down stiff as a board. As you know, it’s not easy to relax when you see future doom. The good way to fall is to remain flexible and bend at the joints if you can.  Try to protect vulnerable body parts. It’s best to have multiple points of impact. For example, when a car is in a collision, there is typically less damage when more surface is affected. The best course of action is to use your arms as a bumper leaving your head and hips to suffer less impact. This is, of course, unless you have been specifically instructed some other technique by a health care provider.

What you should do after the fall? Again, there’s a right way and a wrong way to react once you’ve fallen. If anyone is nearby, they will probably move to help you back up. This is natural. However, if you’ve dislocated a joint, improper help can make things worse. And if your leg won’t support you, or if you’re dizzy, you could quickly be right back where you started from. My advice – take a deep breath, and wait a minute. If there is someone waiting to help you, ask them if they see anything out of the ordinary, such as a wound or bleeding.

If you’re still in one piece, probably the best way to get back up is to roll onto your stomach, bring your feet and knees up beneath your torso, and then rise with support from the person nearby. However, if you‘re alone, it’s probably better to crawl or skootch to a nearby steady surface to sit on. Work your way into the seat and perform a further self-assessment in the seat prior to standing.

Best advice – don’t fall! If you do fall, be careful and be patient!

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Stop Assuming!

I am here to tell you something today – stop assuming! That’s right – you!

Every day it is an adventure for me! I always get random comments, unsolicited compliments and uncomfortable questions! But one thing that always bothers me is when people assume things! You know what they say when you assume…

So here are some of the most common things that people assume when they see me! Enjoy!

My prosthetic running legs are making me faster! Wrooong! No really, you are absolutely wrong! Even though blades give me a spring, and I can jump pretty high with them, they can’t make me faster! I do all the work! Think about it. I am missing a knee, calf, ankle, foot, you know, muscle and bones. Instead, I am using my hip flexors and glutes twice as hard to pick up my prosthetic running leg when I run. It’s not as easy as you think – trust me!

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I am a veteran – I get lots of thanks for my service! Friends, I am not even a US citizen! No, I am not a veteran. I appreciate your thoughts, though. I am going to tell you a secret (shhh) – there are so many ways to lose a limb. Cancer, diabetes, and several other diseases are major factors in limb loss and amputation, as well as car accidents or anything that could severely damage your limb. And don’t forget, you can be born that way, like me! Just ask me instead of assuming. ..or in my case when I tell them that I am not a veteran, awkwardly leave – true story!!

Oh I must be used to having no legs! It shouldn’t bother me that much! Again, wrooong! I actually hear this statement quite often! Just because I was born with missing limbs, doesn’t mean I’ve just gotten used to it. It always bothers me. It bothers me when my friends are able to go do things that I am physically limited at. It bothers me when you stare and secretly whisper to your friends. It bothers me that the first impression that someone has of me is my “legs.” It bothers me that you don’t think to ask about how I’m doing, because you think I’m “used to it.” Being physically and visibly different than the vast majority of people I am around is something I’ll never get used to. I get over it and cope, but guess what… sometimes it still sucks.

Moral of the story, stop assuming and mind your own business on your two legs!

Bye-bye!

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Why Being An Amputee Is AWESOME!?

I love reminding people that being an amputee is AWESOME! You ask me why? Well, let me tell you!

– Summer is almost over, and winter is getting closer and closer! You all are stressing out about cold feet, while I worry about what sandals I can wear this winter! … Because I ain’t got no toes, so my toes never get cold. LOL!

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– Speaking of toes, I can’t stub them or have them stepped on. Also, I don’t have to worry about matching socks or my shoes being too tight! Sorry guys!

– Another advantage? Less of my legs means less shaving! Hey, I am just trying to be efficient! Don’t be jealous! Okay, be jealous!

– You can pull some great pranks. And, my list of possible jokes seems to be getting longer each day. You want to hear one? Okay, maybe not.

– With the amount of stares and questions that I get on daily basis, I could place an advertisement on my prostheses and have a company pay me to promote their product. I mean, I might as well give people something to read while their eyes are fixed in my direction!

– And I love giving my husband that look that says “please help this legless girl!” Two thumbs up to using my leglessness (is that even a word?) to my advantage! He seems to be wise to this by now, though. I guess, the honeymoon is over!

– And speaking of using my leglessness (really, is that a word?) to my advantage, how great is that disabled parking pass!? Right? It’s kind of fun too when I am judged before they realize that yes, I really do qualify for this! Ooops!

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– Finally, I get to be part of a great community of people. We include people that have an extra drive to accomplish amazing things. We have run marathons, climbed mountains, and followed our own dreams and passions. But we also do very normal things too. We are firefighters, teachers, parents, neighbors and friends. We are church goers, gym enthusiasts, the family cook, and president of the PTA. It is a pretty great community that I am proud to be part of!

So yeah, being an amputee isn’t so bad! Actually, it is great and it has to be. After all, you can’t really go back, so you might as well make the most of this new great life and find joy in every day.

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September is a National Suicide Prevention Month!

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According to the American Association of Suicidology, there are an average of 123 suicides each day in this country. It’s the tenth leading cause of death in America — second leading for ages 25-34, and third leading for ages 15-24.

Why is this month so important?

It is important because we need to decrease suicide numbers. We can do this with the following:

Awareness. Suicide prevention organizations aim to decrease suicides by 20 percent over the next couple of years. In order to do this, they’re making a conscious effort to talk about suicide — its warning signs, how to prevent it, how to discuss it, etc. – whether it is in school, at the workplace, and in politics.

Dialogue. There’s a stigma connected to suicide. Too often it’s not talked about — and those who suffer from it feel they can’t discuss it. Suicide Prevention Month helps to destigmatize this mental illness and promote conversation.

Change. Thanks to efforts of suicide prevention organizations, the approach to suicide is beginning to change. For example, schools and workplaces are implementing new programs and even pop culture is acknowledging it.

Normalizing mental illness is a huge step toward the goal of suicide reduction.

Tips on helping someone in crisis.

  1. Ask direct questions. Even though it’s hard, ask the person directly if they’re thinking about suicide.
  2. Listen to their answers. People with suicidal thoughts often feel alone, so be sure to let them know that you care deeply about them and what they have to say.
  3. Do a safety check. If you’re concerned for their well-being, try removing anything they could use to harm themselves, such as alcohol, drugs, medications, weapons, and even access to a car.
  4. Don’t keep this a secret. Let them know you’ll help come up with a plan that involves telling a professional who can utilize the many services and resources available to help.
  5. Ensure they seek professional help. It’s important to suggest they seek additional help from other people, such as a doctor, counselor, psychologist or social worker.

 Take a few moments this month –or always – to be aware of those who struggle. Remembering these tips might help you save a life.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

Sources: Devereux.com, Nami.org, Suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Journals Of A “Disabled” Mom

What’s it like raising a baby while being a “disabled” mom?

Awesome! 🙂 I love it! It’s not easy, but it is not impossible! Obviously, my baby, Gabriel, at 6 months, is too young to understand that his mom, according to this world, is disabled! He already loves playing with my right (prosthetic) knee. However, I try not to let him play with it too much, because I am worried that he’ll hurt his little fingers.

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But here’s the thing…. I can’t wait to help him understand that my “disability” is a normal thing for us, and it doesn’t stop me from being the best mom I can be for him. I can’t wait to show my son that my “disability” doesn’t stop me from being active, social and fun.  I can’t wait to educate his friends about my special legs. I will tell them I am a cool robot mom, who loves to run and does an awesome job. I can’t wait to help my little guy learn that his mom doesn’t have excuses, and I’ll be an example for whenever he faces challenges in his life. Finally, I can’t wait until he gets older and starts educating others about my “disability.” He will help them understand that I am not disabled – instead, I am extra abled! He’ll be my champion, just like I’ve always been his.

So yes, raising my baby while being disabled isn’t easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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