workouts that work for me

96ec185faf973c2cf1d317dda89d9792Being toned and fit and extremely hot is not strictly for people of the two-handed variety. But it does require tons of discipline and several hours of working out, the latter of which can be a bit of a challenge for those of us with a limb difference. Luckily, most exercises can be adapted to fit different levels of ability to yield the same results. And we all want flat abs and muscles, right?

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Yes, this is a bathroom selfie.

I’ve tried out many types of workouts, from trampoline gym classes (yes, that’s actually a thing) to kickboxing (don’t try to punch people with a prosthetic fist, seriously) to a Brazilian “bum bum” butt-lifting program. And while I’m not very athletic, I’m definitely adventurous when it comes to trying new things. So I’ve had plenty of opportunities to figure out which workouts are best for me and my body. And this might come as a surprise, but my three favorite workouts are pretty cliche and normal. Also, they’re really easy for anyone, one-handed or not, to do. 

1) Swimming

When I was on the local swim team as a kid, I was hitting the pool three nights a week after school. Swimming laps over and over for two hours at a time was not always exciting, but I did gain a lot of energy and muscle tone. Swimming is easy on the joints and gives you a full-body workout, so it’s my number-one exercise pick. It also doesn’t require me to wear my prosthetic, which is always a plus. And no, in case you were wondering, I don’t sink to one side when I swim. (And yes, someone actually asked me that once.)

2) Running

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I take gym selfies, too. Don’t judge me.

I NEVER ran as a kid. I didn’t think I was capable of running until very recently when I hired a trainer to help me get ready for a 5K. I’m awkward as it is when I walk, so I just assumed that awkwardness would be amplified if I tried to run. As it turns out, anyone can be a runner once they learn the proper techniques. So I started running and have been doing so almost five days a week for the past few months. With a good playlist and comfortable sneakers, I can run for hours. (Okay, maybe not hours. But definitely minutes. Lots of minutes.) And I still get my cardio in, with or without the fake arm.

3) Yoga

Confession: I’ve always wanted to be one of those cool yoga girls who eats a vegan diet and buys everything organic and leads a stress-free, super-zen life. But I’m way too anxious and fast-paced and New York to do that. So I think the second-best thing is making time for a yoga class every once in a while. (It’s also the only place in my life right now where it is culturally appropriate for me to wear yoga pants.) And aerial yoga’s my favorite because you get to hang from a trapeze and it almost feels like you’re doing ballet. The floor poses are a little more complicated because I like to do yoga without my prosthetic. I’ve struggled with a few of the poses that require you to balance on both hands. Jen from Born Just Right suggested I use yoga blocks to even out my body and make it easier. And that makes a world of difference. So if you find yourself at a new yoga studio, make sure you ask for extra blocks to use during the more challenging poses. Besides that, though, I’ve never run into any problems with yoga. It’s incredibly relaxing and stress-relieving, so I highly recommend it if you’re a nervous type like I am.

Be warned: this is what you'll find if you open my gym locker.

Be warned: this is what you’ll find if you open my gym locker.

I also feel the need to add a disclaimer here: I haven’t been working out as often as I should lately. Maybe this post will keep me honest and help me stay motivated? We’ll see about that. I’ve already promised myself a morning run tomorrow (if I remember not to press the snooze button eight times….)

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

(Top image found on Pinterest.com)
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one-handed recipe – healthy chocolate shake

photoI’ve had a lot of new projects and hobbies on my plate recently, and I thought it’d be a cool idea to share some of those even if they’re not related to the topics I usually post about here. I love writing about my experiences living life with a limb difference, but one of my main goals when I started this blog was to not focus only on my disability. My life is still really full and awesome, and I wanted this to be a place where I could share some of my other interests in addition to personal experiences as a woman with a disability. I mean, I’d be a pretty boring person if I just talked about being one-armed all the time, right?

So with that said, I’d love to share a simple recipe I tried out the other day in my quest to find healthy foods that still taste delicious. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately, so this is one of many recipe experiments (most of which turned out to be inedible failures) I’ve tried recently. I have a major sweet tooth, so I need something sugary to wake me up in the mornings. Here are the ingredients I used:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa powder

3-4 packets of Truvia (or whichever artificial sweetener you prefer)

I blended them together with my Magic Bullet (I love my Magic Bullet blender), and voila! Sometimes I add a bit of instant coffee too, since I’m also admittedly a caffeine addict. The shake makes for a filling snack or an after-dinner treat on most nights. Whichever meal you drink it with, enjoy.

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Don’t tell Daniel, but I stole his school travel mug.

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

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my life in GIFs: a look back at summer 2013

Summer 2013 has been a season to remember for the limb difference community. So let’s recap all the awesome events with some GIFs, shall we?

 

The season was off to a great start when Nicole Kelly was crowned Miss Iowa 2013:

Now we’re all rooting for her and thinking:

Nick Newell became an XFC champion:

And we cheered for him like:

Tony Memmel released the “Lucky Fin Song,” the official theme song of the Lucky Fin Project:

And we sang along like:

Bethany Hamilton tied the knot with Adam Dirks:

Which had us all like:

Then we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Jim Abbott’s no-hitter:

And we basically did a collective happy dance:

 

So yeah, I’d say this summer was a great one. And I have a feeling the next season will be just as eventful and exciting, so:

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

(Newell, Memmel, and Abbott GIFs made by me; all others were found on Google and Tumblr)
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in the kitchen

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One thing no one warned me about when I was looking for an apartment to move out on my own is this: you’re going to need to learn how to cook. Frozen meals and takeout, while convenient, are not permanent solutions because A) they’re not the healthiest options in the world and B) they can get expensive. So for the first time in my life, it was just me versus the stove. And to give you some perspective on my level of cooking experience, my skills in the kitchen were essentially limited to pouring milk into my cereal bowl and burning toast. I was also very good at warming up leftovers my mom had made, and the microwave was my best friend. That’s about it. So I had a lot of catching up to do when I started living on my own last month.

To be clear, my lack of cooking skills had nothing to do with my limb difference. It had everything to do with laziness and the fact that my mother made all the family’s meals while I was growing up. So I didn’t need to learn how to boil rice or whip up an omelet. Now I no longer have an excuse or an easy way out, so I’ve learned to love the process of preparing food for myself (and sometimes for my family and my boyfriend.) No one who’s eaten my food has gotten sick or died yet, so I’m assuming that means I’m a decent chef.

Check out some of the dishes I’ve made:

Anyway, I’m aware that having a limb difference can seem like a challenge in the kitchen. But I can assure you that cooking awesome and delicious meals is totally doable with a few minor adjustments. I’ve spent the past month trying new dinner recipes and baking like a maniac (making sweets and treats is a WONDERFUL antidote for anxiety, trust me), so I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me out immensely as a one-handed chef. Check them out below.

One-handed cooking problems (and solutions): 

Knives – One thing I learned the hard way is that you should never buy cheap cookware and kitchen gadgets. The plastic spatula I bought at WalMart melted the first time I used it, and my Ikea knife broke in half a week after I bought it. Lower quality knives are more difficult to use because they’re typically not as sharp. So I bought a set of very good and very sharp knives that allow me to easily slice through any food with one hand.

IMG_2140Salt and pepper grinders – These things are the WORST. I hate when I eat out at restaurants and they leave grinders on the table like they expect me to figure them out. (I usually end up either asking for help or just eating a bland meal.) Silly restaurants – salt and pepper shakers are so much more convenient! Seriously. BUT if you absolutely need grinders in your kitchen, then there are options. Several cookware companies now offer grinder designs that don’t require two hands to use. I bought a really cute bunny-shaped magnetized set from Chef’n.

Cracking eggs – Okay, this one wasn’t an issue for me. I actually found out just a few days ago that most people use two hands to crack an egg. Really?! Why would you use twice as much energy and effort when it’s so simple to do it with one? I guess I’ve had a bit of practice with this. I can recall plenty of times when I was a kid and helping my mother bake cupcakes for school, eagerly cracking the eggs over the bowl and hoping that one of them would contain a baby chick that I could keep as a pet. Anyway, click the image below to see how I crack eggs just in case you were wondering:

How to crack an egg with one hand #cooking #eggs #food #onehanded

Cutting steak/chicken/etc. – This one’s not really related to cooking, but it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I suck at using knives to cut up my food when I’m eating dinner. I mostly just use the side of my fork to slowly cut through whatever I’m eating until the piece comes off. But recently, my cousin gave me a set of Knorks that have made the process easier. Knorks (knife/fork, get it?) are basically forks whose sides can double as knives to help cut through food. The company makes a variety of flatware, but the forks are the ones I find to be the most useful. The utensils are heavy as heck too, so prepared to grow some muscles. See? They even have fitness benefits.

So those are my super-secret one-handed cooking tricks, for now. As I continue to try more recipes and projects, I may run into different issues specific to my one-handedness. And hopefully I’ll be able to find solutions and alternatives in those cases. But if anything else comes up, I’ll be sure to let you know.

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

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what i’ve been up to

Hello there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I don’t think I’ve blogged here in about a month. The past few weeks have been really stressful, but they’ve also been pretty exciting. Some big changes have happened in my life, and I feel like I owe you an explanation for my absence. So here’s what I’ve been up to:

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Launching a channel:

Back in January, the company I worked for at the time was sold to news network Al Jazeera in the hopes of bringing their unbiased and in-depth brand of journalism to the U.S. We quickly got to work on building the news channel Al Jazeera America and embarked on a journey that would take several months of hard work. The process was always thrilling and often grueling, taking up most of my time and energy. We just launched the channel on August 20th, so the stressful pre-launch days are over.

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Getting in shape:

I’m the first to admit that I don’t have an athletic bone in my body. I’m clumsy and uncoordinated and have stupidly hurt myself with objects as harmless as knitting needles (it makes for fun stories, trust me.) But something I’d been meaning to do was get my body in shape. And when a friend mentioned a 5k run he wanted to do, I figured it was as good a time as any to get fit. So I worked with a personal trainer at a local gym to become a better runner and tone up my muscles in time for the big race. Amanda created a personalized workout and diet regimen, and she helped me adjust to a healthier lifestyle. She’d never worked with someone with a limb difference before, but she was up for the challenge and adapted many of the exercises so that I was able to train both arms equally. My arms became toned and my legs grew strong under her guidance, and I continue to work out all my frustrations on the treadmill. I could barely run for 30 seconds when I met her, but now I’m running two miles at a time without resting.

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Furnishing my new apartment:

After 21 years of living at home with my parents, I made the decision to move out on my own. This is not something that is typically done in my traditional, conservative Cuban family. (My parents still think a woman should move out of her childhood home only after she gets married.) So I’m something of a trailblazer in that sense. Let me be clear here: it’s not like I’m moving across the country. My new place is literally five blocks from my old house. But my newfound independence is exciting nonetheless. I’ve even discovered a passion for cooking, particularly baking, that I never knew I had before.

Spending time with my boyfriend:

I don’t think I’ve introduced you to him yet. Blog friends, meet my boyfriend Daniel. We’ve been dating since May, although we didn’t see much of each other in that time. Daniel’s from Norway and spent the summer working there before moving back to the U.S. for school. He got back last week, so we’ve been hanging out a lot since then. He’s a pretty cool guy, I have to say.

So yes, that’s what’s been happening in my life lately. But now that I have some more free time post-launch, I promise I won’t neglect this blog the way I have recently. I’m going to write and write and write much more often. That’s a promise.

 

Peace,

Caitlin

 

 

 

 

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