Breast feeding and sports


Ah, brestfeeding.  Such a pleasant experience in and of itself, but add physical activity to it and you have a recipe for pain.  The bouncing, the jiggling, the electrifying sensation of your milk letting down in the middle of a run. 

I train martial arts with a bunch of dudes that really don’t get the difficulty of training with milk jugs attached to one’s chest.  The worst is during jiu jitsu training when they smash on your chest or when you are passing and your abnormally large breasts gets hung up on their shoulder while trying to rotate into a north/south position.  Aside from painful it is awkward, but you roll on as if nothing happened.  I have tapped numerous times for no other reason than my boobs hurt so badly I couldn’t go on. 

They make chest protectors which are nothing more than sports bras with cups in them, like a man wears for his testicles.  I’m reluctant to smash their faces with my molded plastic boobs, though I have damn near chipped a tooth or gotten a black eye from their cups.  I think about how funny I’ll look with a cup for my chesticles, like a Nordic opera singer from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  The guys look silly in their cups too with their crotches protruding like a Shakespearean actor in a cod piece, but we’re all acclimated to that look- not so much with the breast plate. 

When I first began training, my oldest son was 4 months old.  I lasted about 6 weeks before I decided the pain of training while breast feeding was just too much.  I returned as soon as he was weened 8 month later.  I don’t want to do that this time, so I have to figure something out.  I think I’m just going to have to suck it up and wear the chest protector. 

As the only female in the dojo I’m just one of the guys, but I make sure to never shy away from the issues I face as a female amongst them.  I might be one of the guys, but I’m not going to pretend I’m not a female.  Besides, it’s lots of fun to make them squirm. 

Exercise After Pregancy- It Ain’t Easy

I’m free! As of Monday I was released for full activity after having had a c-section 6 weeks ago. This blog is titled, The Tomboy Mommy, so the fact that I get to be a tomboy again is so exciting. I wasted no time and headed back to the dojo Monday night where I train mixed martial arts. It was wonderful and splendid and horrible. Here’s why:

1. I have no core control due to the 9 months of pregnancy and at the end of that time, my abs were cut in half. Doing crunches during the group warm-up and conditioning portion of class made me look like a rolly polly that can neither rolly nor polly.

2. My boobs hurt because I’m breast feeding, so if you even look at them aggressively they cry. This makes using your chest to smash and be smashed feel like your breasts are being tenderized like hamburger meat. I can’t tap out when I’m making the offensive move, but damn it hurts more than the person I’m submitting. They make sports bras with cups in them, like a cup for my chesticles. I considered how awkward it might be to be smashing some guys face with my plastic molded boobs, but then I remembered how many times their cups smash my face. Seriously, I’ve almost gotten a black eye from a dude’s cup.

3. I farted while rolling (because my body does what it wants these days). Passing gas while performing jiu jitsu maneuvers is common among the sport’s practitioners. I have never expelled gas audibly from my body while rolling, though many of my male training partners have. There are three ways to react to this bodily function. The first is, if you know your partner well, make a joke and continue on. Second, you can say sorry and continue on. Or third (and the most practiced reaction), is to just continue on- which was the option I chose especially since the person with whom I was rolling was brand new.

4. My milk let down several times but thankfully I had prepared for such an occurrence. It also helps that when you’re soaked in your own and others sweat, you can’t tell if you have leaky nipples. I debated whether to wear the nursing pads in my sports bras because having one fall out while training would be mortifying.

5. To make it all worth while though, there are a couple of strapping young men who had to walk away reconciling that not only were they beaten by a girl, that girl just had a baby. Boom!

Getting back into an exercise routine post-partum is hard enough as it is. If you’re diving back into a fitness regimen, things bounce and jiggle that neither bounced nor jiggled before. Things chafe and rub that didn’t do so before. You’re knees hurt from the extra weight you’re carrying and from your gate changing from the adaption to accommodate your pregnancy waddle. Oh, and no matter how fit you were before and no matter how active you stayed, your body hates you right now. Ok, let’s not make it personal. You’re body doesn’t actually hate you. Let’s say your body is having an identity crisis and does not know who it is. So, it’s not you, it’s them. You will have a dysfunctional relationship with your body for a little bit. This can make it difficult to really gain momentum in sticking with a fitness routine, but believe me, your body will thank you eventually. You can sincerely look your body in the eye and say, this hurts me more than it hurts you, and it might actually be true (unlike when we say it to our kids).

How to lose baby weight when you’re not a celebrity

If I see another celebrity picture 6 weeks post-partum being celebrated for looking totally fabulous already, I’m going to squirt breast milk in their eye. Here’s the deal: celebrities are not normal post partum women! It is an impossibly unrealistic goal to look like a celebrity does 6 weeks after giving birth. Let’s make it an even playing field here. Give us normal folk a nutritionist, an assistant to do the grocery shopping, a personal chef, a personal trainer and a nanny to watch the kid or kids while we workout and we’ll be well on our way to being red carpet ready in 6 weeks. I actually heard one celebrity say in a sincere tone that she looks so fab already because of breast feeding…period.

Stop it! Stop the madness! Did she seriously just pretend like breast feeding alone restored her body to the amazingness that stood before us? Did she sit there and pretend like she doesn’t have a team of people enabling her to not only have the time to workout and cook, but place in front of her exactly what to do and eat to attain a stunning figure so quickly? That is the most irresponsible thing a woman in her position can do to another woman.

Look, I was 13% body fat when I got pregnant this time. I was fit, y’all. Now I’m 4 weeks post partum and guess what? My ass is ginormous! My belly is going down well and properly camouflaged to look halfway decent in the right shirt, but, again, my ass is huge. Even if I weren’t restricted from activity more strenuous than walking for 6 weeks due to my C-section, I would not be red carpet ready. It is not realistic to expect that we will be. But guess what? We do of course.

Let’s give ourselves a freakin’ break here. We just grew an entire human in our wombs, which our entire bodies worked in concert to develop. If we had the perfect circumstances and money was no object, like a celebrity, then we might be able to attain some semblance of the bodies we want…THE BODIES WE WANT. Ah, here it is. Let’s be honest, ladies. On top of the pressure we are putting on ourselves to lose the baby weight, we are also adding the pressure that we should lose the pre-baby weight also. I mean, if we’re going to start a fitness routine to shed the pregnancy pounds, may as well tackle those few left over from the previous baby, or whatever caused those extra pounds to accumulate in our trouble areas. Hey, me too and me also.

Guess what? Weight Watchers isn’t paying us to lose that baby weight. We have to pay them. Oh, wait, I have to buy nursing bras or formula, wet wipes and diapers, and start saving for another college fund. So, sorry, there’s no wiggle room in the budget for weight watchers. Besides, even if they paid me to eat well, are they going to watch my kids so I can do it? Are they going to do the laundry, clean the house, cook dinner so I can make losing weight a priority? Are they going to get up at night and feed the baby so I can sleep? Are they going to have the requisite hormonal argument with my husband for me? Nope! So the stress is still going to be there, which contributes to weight retention not only by the body’s chemical response to stress, but because it makes me eat two king size Snickers just for funsies.

I don’t mean to hate here. I am happy for Heidi Klum and her return to size zero clothes 6 weeks post partum. Congratulations, I sincerely hope you don’t turn your ankle in platform high heels while walking the red carpet. Ok, yes, I do, because people falling is funny. Really though, good for her. I’m glad she has the resources to do so. What I’m saying is that the majority of us cannot hold ourselves to this standard. These celebs are not doing this because they have better will power or are superhuman. The point I’m trying to make is that they are not working alone. They are working in concert with an entire support team to get them back into shape. The average mom is lucky to get her husband to wake up once in the night. My big sister would kick her husband then roll over and act like she was asleep to get him to wake up and check on the baby. He was so proud of himself too that he was waking on his own. Hey, we have to do what we have to do, ladies.

Look, this is a pep talk for myself here, I’m not preaching. As I squeeze into my jeans that were my “fat jeans” pre-pregnancy, I hate myself just a little. My belly went down, my ass did not. That’s a serious bummer and I hate it. I find myself berating myself for not already being, if not back to normal, at least well on my way. The train feels like it hasn’t even left the station! But I swear to you, I will not let another celebrity post-baby body influence how I perceive my weight loss. I can berate myself just fine, thank you very much. Besides, the only red carpet I’ll be walking is the one my 3 year old spilled red cool-aid on while I was nursing the baby. Where’s my personal assistant when I need him? Good help is so hard to find.

Don’t Workout, Play! 2 Tips to Stay Motivated and Get Fit.

How is that New Year’s resolution going?  Is the fervor with which you made it starting to wane a little?  Has it waned a lot?  How do you keep motivated when chasing your kids all over hell and half of Georgia and don’t have time to make a healthy snack, let alone meal? Truth is, you have to make the time to be healthy  a priority.  It’s an appointment you must keep with yourself and make others respect.

Is time not your enemy, but staying motivated is? A terrific way to stay on a fitness routine is to join a team or train for a specific event.  It lends some purpose, intent and accountability to your fitness routine.  Here are a couple of ways to get out of a fitness rut and infuse that workout with a different purpose- one of fun and play!

Join a Team

-Check out a slow pitch softball league in your area.  You could even organize a team of your coworkers.

-Join a running club.  Members meet up once or twice a week to run and split into pace groups depending on where you are in your training.  There will definitely be a beginners group, so don’t be intimidated or think you have to first get in shape to participate.

-Try out a martial arts class- yes they have them for adults.  A lot of dojos offer a cardio kickboxing class.  Start there, get to know the place and ease into other classes.  Most dojos offer several disciplines these days and you usually get a week free to see if you like it.  Tae Kwon Do is a great discipline for adults.  Also, try out jiu jitsu.  You can train in a gi (uniform), or no-gi.  Most women are more comfortable starting out in gi.

-Do crossfit.  It’s a great way to learn how to lift weights in a supportive environment while keeping track of your progress.  The only competition is with yourself.  You will find yourself trying to get stronger and more fit to match and beat your previous times.  Crossfit gyms are full of moms getting in shape.  Go check one out.

Sign up for an Event

-Register for a road race.  5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon- whatever size goal you want to go after.  Download a training schedule for free online, let people know you’re doing it (for accountability), and start training.  My mom never ran a recreational step in her life.  She decided to train for a 5K, did a couple of those, and decided she wanted an epic challenge for her 50th birthday, so started training for a marathon.  Her first runs were more walks with a block of jogging thrown in, but eventually she was jogging with a block of walking thrown in.  Within four months she was going on 15 mile training runs and finished her first marathon.

My mom running in her 50th birthday marathon.

My mom running in her 50th birthday marathon.

-Try out an obstacle race.  They are all the rage right now, and for good reason.  They make exercise fun!  Do an internet search for obstacle races coming up in your area and choose the one that looks fun.  Get a group of girlfriends together and train.  You will have a blast!

Once you get a larger goal, losing weight and getting in shape become less of the focus and more of a nice side effect of just being active.  When you train for something else, you naturally become conscientious of your diet and strength, because improving these will improve your performance.  Or, you’ll see that if you can do this without changing other habits how much better you could perform if you just cut out the extra sugar in your diet, or if you ran one extra day a week.  You will think more about fitness than losing weight, which is a much healthier outlook.  The goal is to have fun.  The goal is to go out and play!

For more advice, tips and just general help getting started, give me a shout over at  Free advice, people! Seriously, I’d be happy to help you out.  You can always just drop a comment below too.

4 Tips to Lose That Baby Weight and Get Back in Shape

I have been consumed with thoughts, ideas and reflections of motherhood recently- being 8 months pregnant will do that to you. But the name of this blog is The Tomboy Mommy. That means I go out and get strawberries on my butt from sliding into second during a slow-pitch softball game where absolutely nothing is on the line except my status as a tomboy. It means I train at a dojo, covered head to toe in bruises and the sweat of other people’s spouses. It means I ride a mountain bike and flip over the handlebars and land in cactus. I just never outgrew playing. I am going to share with you 4 tips I used to lose the baby weight after struggling to get back to my pre-baby, Tomboy fitness. First though I’ll share the difficulty of the road back in hopes it resonates with other mommies, Tomboys or otherwise.

Pre-baby body.  This is in a rugby match so this was "heavy" for me so I didn't sustain so many injuries.

Pre-baby body. This is in a rugby match so this was “heavy” for me so I didn’t sustain so many injuries.

I’ve never been much of an organized exerciser, like to just exercise for weight loss. I was active so it just naturally kept me fit. Then I had a kid, via C-section no less, which meant a long recovery. I wasn’t going to get to be in red carpet shape in 6 weeks like the celebs. I seriously thought I would be. What I didn’t realize then was that celebrities have personal chefs, nannies, personal trainers, personal assistants and yeah, the motivation to be on the red carpet in front of the paparazzi in 6 weeks. Hell, anyone can get in shape with that kind of support team. I was arrogant and knew I was too active to hang on to baby weight like most women. Hahahahahaha!

Throw in the C-section, relocating and leaving behind my support system of playmates and familiar places to play. Add a horrible post partum diet and, dadgum if I didn’t end up significantly out of shape. When I say I out of shape, I don’t mean, not fit. I mean, my shape, the actual shape of my body, was bizarro. I couldn’t tell if I was pear shaped or apple shaped. I was more hot pocket and pepperoni shaped, as those were two staples of my post-partum diet.

1 year post partum.  That's me in the background looking like a Jenny Craig before pic.  The fabulous woman in the foreground is my sister, Brooke, mother of 3.

1 year post partum. That’s me in the background looking like a Jenny Craig before pic. The fabulous woman in the foreground is my sister, Brooke, mother of 3.

Finally deciding I had to break into the “playground” in my local area, I began attending an MMA dojo near my house. Having trained martial arts on and off before, I loved it! It was odd making my athletic mind reconcile to my unathletic body. I tried to be quick and agile, because my mind has always said, do this, and my body did it. Apparently hot pockets don’t move that agilely on a 33 year old post-partum body. I loved training at the dojo with amazing people, but outside of the fitness issue, which would not keep me from training- that would be counterproductive, was the breast feeding. Wrestling around on the ground with a bunch of guys smashing you into the mats is uncomfortable. Do it with tender breasts that my husband didn’t even get to look at, let alone touch, and it felt like breast milk was seeping from my tear ducts as they made a simple pass (a jiu jitsu move, not an inappropriate attempt at amorous attention). I quit going with the promise to myself that I would go back as soon as my son was weened (I did, by the way, which is how I got back into shape, but more on that later). I was lost and physically destitute and depressed. I had no one to play with, no friends. I felt sorry for myself, ate another package of pepperonis in one sitting and continued the cycle.

Continuing the cycle.  Notice how the muffin top serves well as a baby seat.

Continuing the cycle. Notice how the muffin top serves well as a baby seat.

I didn’t want to exercise for the sake of exercise. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to play, not run in place on a treadmill or elliptical. At least I would have been active, but no, I’m an all or nothing type so my shape continued to devolve into mush.

I ended up figuring it all out, though it took more than a year post-partum to get back into a shape. So I’m going to share with you the 4 things I did to regain control of my body and mind.

1. Find your support system
You have to find this. You must! I don’t care what your circumstance, you have to have this. This can come in the form of your spouse or other family members, but let’s be honest, family dynamics are not always conducive to building each other up. Single mom? Spouse doesn’t care? Find an online accountability group or engage with others at your gym that are trying to accomplish the same things you are. Do this even if you have a supportive family. Look, not everyone is going to support you. They’re going to make cracks about your new routine and eating habits. Commiserate with your support group, they’ll be experiencing the same things. You think Heidi Klum had people making fun of her for eating baby carrots instead of bread sticks? Hell no, they wouldn’t dare. You don’t have that luxury. People will try to pull you down because they can’t do what you’re doing. Do it anyway and connect with whatever support group you have. Surround yourself with the people you want to be like and the people who are like you.

2. Fix your diet
There’s a reason why this is number 2. Outside of a support system, if the only thing you did was change your eating habits, your weight would change significantly (the word, weight, is used intentionally here, we change our shape by doing activities that improve our strength and conditioning). It’s also the hardest thing to do. Before we continue it must be emphasized: do not go on a diet! Diets are temporary, which means the weight loss associated with them are temporary. If you want to lose 10 pounds to fit into a bridesmaids dress or into a slinky number for a party, a diet (within reason) isn’t horrible. As long as you are aware it is a temporary fix. For long term change of body composition, you must make a lifestyle change.

Look, changing your diet is hard enough without making it a committed relationship, but think of it that way. Sheesh, let’s make it a little more intimidating, right? Like any good relationship though, it gets easier and more comfortable with fewer awkward moments- like when you drool over a slice of pizza walking by when your grilled chicken Caesar salad lunch date is sitting right there in front of you. You’re going to cheat, in fact, in this kind of relationship, I encourage it at least once a week. You don’t have to go slumming completely, but a smooch on the lips with a donut or the occasional torrid affair with a Big Mac is not going to ruin this kind of relationship. If you completely loose your mind and run off on a week long affair, don’t beat yourself up- acknowledge the infidelity and start again. This is like the greatest relationship ever! Play the field, date around. Find out which healthy foods you like and how you like to prepare them. Don’t eat quinoa because that’s the fad. If you can’t prepare it in a way that is satisfying then ditch it- you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. The fact is, the hardest part is the beginning. If you can gut your way through a month of new eating habits, you gain this momentum that you just can’t stop. Even if you want that sultry, steaming cheeseburger, you realize you don’t want to break the good thing you’ve worked so hard on. It has become a committed relationship. Good for you! But I still encourage cheating.

3. Find your MFEO workout/activity
Have you ever seen Sleepless in Seattle? If you haven’t, why the hell not? Stop reading and go watch it, this can wait. Ok, do it after you read this, but do it. It has nothing to do with fitness but it’s a classic. Anyway, MFEO means Meant For Each Other, and explains why Annie and Sam, complete strangers, should meet and fall in love. This is you and your workout.

My MFEO workout- Mixed Martial Arts.

My MFEO workout- Mixed Martial Arts.

You have to be MFEO, otherwise, why bother? You sacrifice and pine for your workout if you’re made for each other. You look forward to seeing it, to the exhaustion and elation after. You must find each other. “You have to find her, you have to go to her…It’s YOH, your only hope.” Sorry for the direct quote, I could do that for the entire movie. Your workout may be an exercise video, running, obstacle races, crossfit, martial arts. It just needs to be something that you look forward to and enjoy doing- or maybe enjoy once you’re done. That’s an important concept people who don’t regularly workout don’t understand. It’s not necessarily the workout itself, but the feeling when you’re done. If you don’t find the workout or activity you’re meant to be with it’s, “H and G. Hi and Good-bye.”

4. Get Workout Videos
Find a workout video that you really like so you can work out from home when you can’t get out. I suggest you go to, the makers of P90x, Insanity and TurboFire. They have lots of great programs, online support and even coaches to help you find the right program for you and to offer support during your fitness process. I used to be a Beachbody coach, so I know the company pretty well. I have no affiliation anymore and get no compensation for referring them, at all. If all you can afford is a $10 exercise video from Wal-Mart, get it. One of my all time favorites is Sweatin’ to the Oldies. I still do it several times a month! I also really like the RushFit DVD series from Georges St Pierre, recently retired welter weight UFC champ. You’re going to be stuck inside, find a way to workout at home.

2 years post-partum after using the 3 tips to get back in shape.

2 years post-partum after using the 4 tips to get back in shape.

These 4 tips should get you started. I get to start all over in 6 weeks, so I’ll be utilizing this advice again shortly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared that I could spiral back down into that self-loathing and depression after I have my baby, or even just plain ol’ complacency. I don’t care if you’re 6 weeks post-partum, 1 year post-partum or 10 years post-partum. You can get back in shape. We can do it- we deserve it.

I’d be happy to help. Shoot me a message at or just leave a comment. I’ll be the first person in your support group and your number one fan!

Women in the Workout Place

We could discuss women in the work place, and that is a viable topic I would love to tackle, but today we’re looking at women in the workout place. You know, that place you rarely get to visit because you’re too busy working and taking care of other humans.

Ladies, are you lifting weights? Please, for the love, lift weights and lift heavy weights. Don’t let the men at the gym intimidate you. In just the last month at the gym I’ve seen a guy working out in a polo and gym shorts (showing off his pencil legs, because body proportion is wack) and a guy who looked like he came in right off the job site in steel toe boots and a work shirt with his name over the pocket. I’ve seen men using the machines improperly, lifting weights that were too heavy so they were not working the intended muscle group and I’ve worked in on machines with guys that I had to up the weight when it was my turn. You deserve to be there and I promise you, you know as much as they do… and besides, being women, we’ll ask if we don’t know rather than do squats on the leg press machine.

Here are a few survival tips for women in the workout place.

1. This is the best kept secret to surviving at the gym and one that men use. It’s a pretty complex concept: ACT LIKE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THERE!

2. Go in with a plan. Create an idea of what you want to accomplish at the gym that day. This helps to keep you from feeling lost or aimless. Google some exercises and write them in a note on your phone. You will look like you’re changing music instead of checking notes. Really though, anyone who knows what they are doing keeps notes of their exercises anyway. Record the exercise, how many sets you did and how much weight lifted or the duration of the exercise. This helps you see progress and keeps you motivated.

3. Every machine has a picture with how to use it. I have been lifting weights since I was 12 and am a personal trainer yet I still have to read these from time to time. When you stop to read it, you may feel like everyone in the gym is judging you for having to read it. It feels like when the teacher would call you up to the board in front of the class to do a math problem, but no one is watching you. If the room is full of men, they’re watching themselves in the mirror and other women are reading their own machine’s placards. If you still don’t understand how to use the machine, ask someone. Find a trainer (they usually have on a shirt with “trainer” on the back) or go up to the desk and tell them you have a question about a piece of equipment.

4. Schedule a free session with one of the gym’s personal trainers. Most, if not all, gyms give you a free first session with one of their trainers. They will assess your fitness needs and take you through a sample workout. They will offer you a training package but do not feel compelled to sign up for it. This assessment will give you a few ideas of how to use some of the equipment. You can even request a session specifically to show you how to use the equipment. You may even get this service free from your gym, just ask. If you can afford to continue working with a personal trainer, sign up for 5-10 sessions (the per session rate should decrease the more sessions you sign up for). You can get a jump start on being in a routine with some accountability and learn how to put together a workout. You will be well prepared to go it on your own after that.

5. There is etiquette in the gym that you should be aware of. Some people ignore it, but don’t be one of those people. Take turn on machines: If you are doing three sets then be aware of others who want to “work in”. This means they want to get a set in in between your sets. Don’t just sit on the machine texting between sets and if someone else is, just ask them to work in. Wipe your sweat off the machines: Carry a towel with you and simply wipe down the seat when you’re done. There will be antibacterial wipes around too so when you’re done with your sets you can grab one and wipe it down that way. Re-rack your weights: If you are using free weights, put them back where you got them.
These tips should get you started, and that’s what’s important: to get started. A couple weeks of getting used to the gym and you’ll be a regular. Don’t be intimidated, act like you’re supposed to be there, go in with a plan, ask for help and do work. The quickest way to change your body is to lift heavy weights. That means heavy weights by your standards, not Joe Muscle over there using his back to do curls that are entirely too heavy for him. You can do this! Need some extra motivation or suggestions? Drop me a question in the comments or for more regular posts, head over to facebook and check out AvengerFitness!