Self-Defense, Part I


Today I am doing a podcast on self-defense.  This is the first part of a series I am doing, addressing self-defense for women, and how it doesn’t have to be that complicated to learn a few simple moves.  Often I see intricate videos with multiple techniques, produced as self-defense tutorials for women to view online and thus protect themselves from attackers.  The problem is, the people making the videos are skilled martial artists who have thousands of hours of training these techniques and are presenting them to untrained women in the most complicated way possible.  Seriously, I watch most of these videos and can come up with ridiculously easier escape techniques, and I know they know them too.  It’s irresponsible to show off when you can give a much more basic and probably more effective escape to the people watching your video.

So here’s my intro to self-defense.  I will post videos with the next parts and please, leave questions in the comments section if you want to know more about self-defense.



How Often Should I Weigh?

How often do you weigh? Are you paying attention to all your numbers and what they really mean, rather than what our insecure psyches make them mean?

I have had days where I have lost and gained three pounds from one day to the next. Now, do I think I’ve lost or gained 3 pounds overnight? No, not rationally. That would mean I gained or lost 10,500 calories (there’s 3500 calories in a pound).

The likely culprit is water gain or loss. 1gl of water weighs 8.34lbs, so it doesn’t take much water retention to make a significant difference in one’s weight. This is why I believe in weighing more than once a week. Be sure to continue to hydrate though. The body retains water when it is not properly hydrated, so don’t think you should avoid drinking water to avoid water gain.

Many fitness pros will say to weigh once a week and stay off the scale otherwise. Not I. Say you weigh on Mondays and Mondays only. If you weigh 3lbs heavier from a weekend of indulgences, you miss your lowest weight on Friday after a week of eating and hydrating well.

Let’s get away from an idea that we are one set weight. I like to weigh every morning, first thing, before I even have a drink of water, before I even brush my teeth. Then, when I weigh every day, I won’t miss when I hit my lowest weight of the week, and I can start to see a pattern in my weight fluctuation. I can see my low and my high for the week, and then each week my high and low go lower.

So one week my high might be 146.6 and my low 143.6, then the next week my high might be 146.0 and my low 142.8. My high/low has gone down. It’s a much more realistic picture of your weight.

We are not a static number.

The human body is a dynamic organism, not a static one, but we insist on stuffing it into a static measurement.

If your gym offers a body composition test, I highly suggest getting it done every six weeks or so. You can see your body fat percentage change and your lean muscle mass. If you’re gaining weight, it might be you’re building muscle and not burning much of the fat on top, or you’re burning fat and building muscle, so your weight is staying relatively the same.

Most gyms offer this service for $10-$30 for members, depending on their method of tracking body composition. Don’t worry, it’s usually just standing on a special scale that can measure body density, and not invasive at all, like using body calipers to measure skin folds.

Let’s get real about our weight and begin to understand the body as a whole, not just a single number.

“That” Mom…

A Facebook friend recently posted an update, prefacing the post with an apology for being “that” mom, and then proceeded to explain her daughter’s immune system and how she was going to be extra diligent in protecting her infant from exposure to and the possible transmission of germs. It made me consider how many times I had jokingly referred to myself as “that” mom and did so apologetically.

But why should we apologize for being “that” mom? Why can’t we just be “mom”? To whom are we apologizing? The answer is probably a little disconcerting. My guess is, we’re apologizing to other moms. Sorry, but, if you don’t have kids, I don’t care what you think about raising kids. Period. Unless of course you’re Jesus.

Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I somehow do everything the hard way, so that’s saying something. I became a mom as a 33 year old, fully grown (or at least as fully grown as I am capable) woman. I think this “advanced maternal age” (a medically defined delineation), prepared me to deal with the opinions of what others think about my parenting decisions, but I’m not totally immune.

My mom taught me a very valuable lesson that used to drive me nuts, but I find is incredibly effective and succinct:

Get over it.

As her child growing up, I found it a little inconsiderate, but even, and perhaps especially, your kids have to be lumped into the crowd that do not get an opinion about how you raise your kids (especially since they’re cross referenced in those who don’t have them). Of course, now that I do have kids her advice to me is still the same when I lament how she might have done better. In the lack of abuse and neglect, if you have an opinion that thrusts me into the category of “that” mom, and I don’t validate or empower it, get over it.

I’m protecting my child, not you, you narcissistic pain in my ass.

You see, when a woman becomes a mother, she gets a target painted on her back, typically by other mothers and by a few passersby who are just bored. The thing is, most moms are just doing the best they can. So, before you label another mom as “that” mom, consider whether that target on your back has recently throbbed with a direct hit or there is dust on your hands from the last stone you cast. I dust my hands off more often than I care to admit, so this is advice I’m heeding myself. I don’t want to be “that” mom.

The Overscheduled Child

Gray Swimming

In a society of not enough, how do we decide when enough is enough for our children? I am experiencing this with my 3 year old. He is in swimming twice a week and horseback riding lessons once a week. Tee ball is about to start, he would love a gymnastics class and already thinks he’s a ninja, so karate would be great for him. I’d really like to get him started on an instrument, even if it’s banging randomly on some drums. I’m wondering though, how in the world do I offer these opportunities without over stimulating him and overstretching me?

There are articles all over the internet about the dangers of overscheduling your kids and not just letting them be kids. They talk about how our kids are no longer able to entertain themselves, don’t know what to do with themselves if their lives are not planned and scheduled with activities. Yeah, they do.

Kids’ default setting is destructo mode.

My 3 year old is an excellent swimmer and it’s something I hope he retains and chooses to compete in at some point. He loves riding horses and I find it gives me opportunities to teach him about leadership and assertiveness, not to mention caring for animals. Gymnastics would give him an outlet for all the ways he wants to express himself physically. If I can provide him that outlet it would teach him to be aware of his body in time and space (proprioception) and translate into athleticism later. Tee ball will teach him team skills as he does nothing that is team related at this point. I have to come up with activities that cover the most bases without overscheduling and over stimulating him. There has to be time to just go outside and play. He does love to go and throw rocks into mud puddles and find bugs. I think that activity is important as all the others. And, hey, it’s free!


I got to do a little bit of everything as a kid. I played softball, took piano and guitar lessons, did gymnastics and karate, spent most of my spare time playing outside, seeing if I could break my record of how far I could jump out of the swing in the backyard. If I wasn’t playing I was reading.

I am the second of five girls, so I don’t know how my parents managed to make sure we had all these opportunities and time to accomplish them. I can remember my dad coming home (exhausted from working a twelve hour shift making tires in a tire plant) and playing softball with us in the front yard for hours, or coaching our softball teams. My mom was a stay at home mom with five little girls running around, a veritable Miss Hannigan. Cue the music: “Little girls, little girls, everywhere I look things are..little. I would ring little necks, if only I could get, an acquittal…”

I seriously don’t know how she escaped with her sanity. Oh, wait, she didn’t.

Do any of us come out of this parenting thing sane? If you answered yes, you’re not doing it right- I know that much. I apologize to my mom in my head at least five times a day while raising my two boys. (Mom: the Miss Hannigan reference is comparable in how I perceive raising five girls must have been like, not a comparison to how I experienced you). Before I had kids it wouldn’t have occurred to me to add that little caveat.

I think it boils down to just doing the best damn job you can do

I’m serious. If Gray nearly spins to death on the uneven parallel bars (100 points if you know what movie that’s from), because he’s so overwhelmed due to too many activities, at least he didn’t atrophy in front of an iPad screen. Don’t get me wrong, he watches the iPad, but hopefully I can offset any permanent damage with extracurricular activity.

That makes me wonder… what’s curricular in a preschooler’s life to make something extracurricular? I mean, his job is to try things out, to experiment- that is his curriculum. I’ve thought quite often as he nears the age to be in school all day, why can’t he learn from practical applications? Can’t he learn his ABC’s and 123’s without the mind numbing monotony of school? Can’t his extracurricular activities teach him these things? I’m getting into an entirely different post, aren’t I? Let’s regroup.

I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing to have lots of activities planned for your child. I mean, we all know a kid can entertain him or herself. Hopefully the exposure to multiple activities as a young kid will give them interests that will prevent them from being zombies as teenagers.

Marrying a Tomboy

So you’ve found the girl of your dreams. She’s cute, confident, kind, loving, competitive… Wait a minute… How competitive are we talking? Are we talking, she enjoys watching football or she enjoys playing football? I mean, is she competitive where you will have a competitor rather than a partner? Will you be challenged daily on something as simple as to who can sink a paper towel in a waste basket from ten feet? Is this really someone you want to marry? Will she always wear casual, probably athletic clothes? Does she clean up nicely? What if she’s better than you at something athletic? What kind of wife will a tomboy make? Hmm… better find out before you put a ring on it, assuming she wears jewelry.

I don’t mean to sound chastising, but I’m curious what the title of this blog post means. My stats on this blog allow me to see some of the search terms people use to find The Tomboy Mommy. Recently, “marrying a tomboy”, popped up. I wonder what that person wanted to find out. I wander what he (presumably), wanted to assuage about marrying a tomboy. Clearly, if he is considering marriage, he must love her, or at leat possess an affinity in an amount that suffices the effort of considering marriag at some point.

Here’s the gist of a tomboy’s love life. We grow up being in tight with the boys because we play football with them on the playground, basketball after school, meet up for a game of shadows(hide and seek in the dark), and generally spend more time with the boys than any of our non tomboy counterparts and still spend time with our girl friends, moving between to the two groups of friends seamlessly. Then, middle school rears it’s ugly pubescent head. All of the sudden we’re spending a lot of time with the guys that our girlfriends wish they could, but without all of the tackling and skinned knees. The boys don’t look at us as girls really, but they’re noticing the other girls. We might have a crush here and there, but not on one of our buddies. Eventually though, one of our guy friends will become attractive to us. One of our girlfriends will think so too and, envious of the time we get to spend with him and our easy relationship, will want to know all about him. So you make your move, only to be told we’re one of the guys and hey, tell me about this friend of yours.

Welcome to the love life of a tomboy.

High school comes and your mom is still waiting for you to outgrow being a tomboy and starting conversations with, “One day when you meet your husband…or life partner”. The boys are too big and strong to play football with anymore, and besides, your old girlfriends don’t like you hanging out with their men. Some of the other tomboys are deciding whether guys are worth the trouble and considering whether they should try out girls (some always knew). The guys are happy to flirt with you one on one, but not in public and certainly have no intention of taking you out. You’re cuter and more compatible with them than their girlfriends, but, they don’t have the self-confidence to date a “strong female”, whatever that means. There are a couple of really nice guys asking you out, but they’re not the square jawed jock you have your eye on, and you don’t have the self-confidence to go out with them.

But high school is a brief stop and life after high school brings new opportunities and opens new doors. Outside of the clicks and clichés of high school, people can be themselves and make choices they wouldn’t and couldn’t make before. You can be yourself and people actually like you for it. You meet a guy who likes you for you, even with your skinned knees.

You fall in love, and with marriage being the next obvious step, the jerk googles, marrying a tomboy.

Ok, maybe he’s not a jerk, but, what the heck?

What is so worrisome about marrying a tomboy? Are you worried she might run off with one of her girlfriends? Will she eat her young? I mean, if you love someone enough to be considering marriage, why would the fact that she’s a tomboy give you pause now? You clearly knew this about her and yet fell in love with her anyway, despite this malady. Now it’s a deal breaker? Here’s what you get when you marry a tomboy:

A woman that is fiercely loyal and passionate.

A partner that not only wants you to watch football, but fights with you over which game has priority on the big TV.

A wife that is easy to shop for, because she prefers a new kayak to diamond ear rings.

A female that doesn’t take 2 hours to get out the door.

A lover that has great cardio and endurance.

A mother that teaches their kids how to be strong, confident individuals.

So, to the guy who googled, “Marrying a tomboy”, unless you were curious for ideas of how to make a wedding exciting enough for her, I suggest going with the instincts that allowed you to fall in love with her in the first place, but be prepared to never have a dull moment. I hope whatever sites you ended up on gave you great advice. I’m sorry I hadn’t thought of writing something about it before now. My best advice is, if you love her, marry her- you’ll be in for a hell of a ride.

Mixed Martial Mommy

The Tomboy Mommy is about being an active, physical female, while raising a family. Today I’m highlighting a woman that epitomizes this balance. She is The Tomboy Mommy sponsored MMA fighter, Ferocious Fatima. Fatima is walking into the cage this weekend in her 5th amateur fight, and a title shot at that (and rumor has it, last before she goes pro). With a 3-1 record, Fatima has balanced fight training, essentially back to back camps, with being a wife and mother to two young kids. I asked Fatima how she balances everything.

Ferocious Fatima

Ferocious Fatima

TBM: How did you get the name, Ferocious Fatima?
FF: It is a name I picked up through training years ago.

TBM: How long have you trained martial arts?
FF: I have trained a bit over three years.

TBM: What disciplines are you trained in?
FF: When we say mixed martial arts, we mean it. I do a bit of Brazilian jiu jitsu, boxing, judo and wrestling.

TBM: Were you a tomboy growing up and do you consider yourself a tomboy now?
Growing up I was a tomboy and still see myself as one. I dress like a girl, but my actions and activities scream otherwise.

TBM: What is your greatest challenge with being a fighter and a mommy?
The commute to training takes away more time than I want it to from the kids. I devote every moment that I’m not working or training to them and they fully understand the training and commitment. It’s something I hope I pass to them- not so much training martial arts, but being consistent in what you commit to.

TBM: Do you think being a fighter makes you a better mommy?
I think it’s the other way around. Being a mother, it doesn’t matter what I feel like when I wake up, I have to do what I need to do as a mother. So when I wake up and I don’t feel like training, whether it’s physically or emotionally, I remind myself that I’m a mother, and I’m able to push through it.

TBM: How do you juggle being a mom and a fighter?
Before training I do homework with my son and at times I take them with me to do a class before mine. We spend a lot of family time over the weekends. What I do in training is a full time job and it’s not any different than the typical working mother that spends 9 hours a day away at work.


TBM: What does your typical day look like?
I go to work, get off, do homework with the kiddos or hang out, go train, and do my drilling/class/sparring/open mat, go to Gold’s Gym for cardio and weights, then head home to shower and sleep, and of course eat in between all of that.

TBM: What do your kids think about you being a fighter?
My daughter especially loves it. They understand it’s a sport and what it’s about. My son tells everyone at school about it.

TBM: Do your kids want to fight someday because mommy does?

My daughter always says, “I want to be a fighter like mommy.”

My son trained brzilian jiu jitsu with me before I stared fighting, but he never expresses any competition desires, and I wouldn’t ever push them to.

TBM: What message do you want to send to other women as a mommy who fights?
My message would be that with balance and following structure, anything is possible.

You can follow Fatima on her fan page at

Swim/Bike/Run/Ovarian Cancer

I write a lot about fitness and staying active and how for me, it is how I express myself and relieve stress. This is true of active women- tomboy or otherwise. A high school friend of mine that I ran track and cross country with is one on of these women. She went on to attended the Air Force Academy and served active duty, meeting her husband and starting a family. I asked her to write up her experience as an active woman who had to face what no one wants to face- cancer. This is her story of reconciling the diagnosis of ovarian cancer and how her experiences as an athlete assisted in her treatment and recovery. At the time, she was the mother of a 2 year old and I am happy to say has since had another child.

There were many things that I expected when I decided to train to do a half ironman triathlon; long training sessions, pre-dawn wake-ups, a sore body, and falling asleep exhausted at night. I certainly did not expect to find a lump that would lead me on a completely different journey. I first found the lump one night after a weekend of having a stomach bug my daughter brought home. It was just above my pelvis on the right side. I thought it had something to do with the bug and ignored it, eager to train for my race. Nightly, I felt the lump, wondered what it was, but I was never worried.

My training was going great and I didn’t want an excuse to quit training.

After about six weeks I thought to mention it to my mom, a retired nurse. She thought it was a hernia from the training I was doing and encouraged me to have a physician look at it. Cancer never crossed her mind, it doesn’t run in our family and I felt great. She thought at worse I would have to have a hernia repaired and could probably still compete in the half ironman.

I went to see the physician the day after completing a 52 mile bike ride followed by an 11 mile run, my training was exactly where I wanted it to be at that point.

When I went to the doctor’s office, I intentionally avoided using the word “lump” or “tumor” to describe what I felt, after all, there was no chance it could be cancer.

The doctor gave me a pelvic exam and confirmed that she felt something and calmly left the room. So far, so good, I waited for her to come back to tell me I had a hernia. Instead she returned with her nurse who started asking if I was free the rest of the day and that she was ordering a CT and blood tests “stat”. There was no hernia diagnosis; I had the complete attention of my doctor and nurse while they figured out what the mass was.

At the end of the day with my blood tests and CT results my doctor asked me to come by her office so we could talk. Obviously it was time for me to acknowledge that this wasn’t a hernia.

She told me I most likely had ovarian cancer and referred me to a specialist.

Soon I came to find out how fortunate I was. Nobody feels a tumor attached to their ovary; it just doesn’t happen. Women don’t go in until they are sick, and then hopefully the cancer isn’t too far advanced, but often it is. So the fact that I found the lump and had no sickness from the cancer was extremely rare and very fortunate for me. When I met with my gynecologist, I asked him if I could still exercise. I’d realized that the half ironman was not going to happen,

but exercise is my stress relief, and it was clear that I was going to need a lot of stress relief.

That’s when he explained to me how vascular tumors are and if it ruptured I would bleed out on the spot. I thought about all the swimming, biking, and running I’d been doing. I felt blessed that I was still standing. My surgery was scheduled as soon as possible and all I could think about was getting rid of the tumor before something awful happened.

In order to enjoy endurance sports, or any sport where pain is routine,

you have to be able to accept that your body is going to scream for you to quit well before the race is over and you just have to endure the pain.

You also can’t spend time dwelling on how hard the training is, you just have to get down to business, and again, accept the pain that comes with achieving your goals. I think this above all helped me get through after the surgery and during chemotherapy. I was up a few hours after my surgery, with 43 staples in my stomach in excruciating pain, taking my first steps back to recovery at my mom and Will’s encouragement. I went for walks several times a day, regardless of how I felt, so that I could expedite my recovery. I was in training again, but this time I was training so that my body would be prepared for the upcoming chemotherapy.

My dedication to endurance sports also helped me immensely during chemotherapy. Before chemo started I was released to run again, provided I did not run too hard or too fast. I soon found out that between the Florida summer and chemo, running far or fast wasn’t even an option. Regardless, it was wonderful to have my first love by my side while I went through chemo.

In a sense chemo was a race of its own.

In a race you suffer so that at the end you feel alive and exhilarated so much so that all the suffering to get to the end was worth it. At the end of chemo, I was alive, but to get to the end my hair fell out, I got sores inside my mouth, food tasted like metal, I was in quarantine for one out of three weeks between treatment so that I didn’t get an infection, I went in for almost daily shots to keep my white blood cell count above 0, and I got progressively tired so that by the end it hurt to keep my eyes open the weekend after a chemo treatment and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I probably would not have gotten out of bed were it not for my husband and daughter there to smile at me when I didn’t feel like smiling and make me laugh when I wanted to hide away in my bedroom. At the end of chemo I was exhausted and run down, but most importantly

I was alive and that made it all worth it.