Boobs, Pods and a Road Race. THAT got your attention. Or at the very least you’re curious how this is going to end up. Me too….

A little about me – I’m an American model competing in the (HIGHLY) competitive European modeling scene for a bit. More importantly, I run. I run for fitness, I run for mental clarity. I run for Parkinson’s Disease which has sidelined my awesome, athletic father. I haven’t run a road race in a while. I’ve been doing a lot more high intensity (HIIT) workouts because I like the results. I highly recommend lifting heavy weights, often. You’ll thank me.

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I’m 40 years old. I’ve been modeling on and off for close to a decade and here’s what I’ve learned – this business is fickle, highly competitive, hard on the body and self-esteem. It’s also a LOT of fun. At my age, I’ve got one shot left before I get long in the tooth, the face and the boobs. Belting them is not fashion forward. 

I’ve had to cut weight to compete with the younger models, especially the Russians and the French. (An average casting call for a job is like an international gathering of United Nations for Anorexia and Adderall. (UNAA). I snapped this pic of a Russian model on the metro home from an open call in Berlin. I have no idea who got the job but it wasn’t either of us.

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While I get a text from my agency daily reminding me to “think thin!” or “tone and tighten!” or “starve for svelte!” (kidding. kind of…) We all get lectured regularly about eating disorders and the negative effects of low body weight. “Your hormones will shut down and you won’t be able to have children EVER!” (I have a kid. All good.) “Your hair will fall out and you’ll be BALD!” (Our hair is professionally done for every shoot. I’m covered.) “You’ll experience anal LEAKAGE!”

Um, what? Excuse me say that again? Anal WHAT? WTF is that?! Everyone is looking around the room with mixed expressions of fear and doubt and then some more fear. Bald can be beautiful but there’s nothing sexy about any leakage.

Ok, Edna, you win. I’ll eat the steak.

Thankfully, I have access to great resources, nutritionists and this week I discovered….the BOD POD.

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According to my Google search, “The BOD POD is an Air Displacement Plethysmograph (ADP) that uses whole body densitometry to determine body composition (fat vs. lean). Similar in principle to underwater weighing, the BOD POD measures bodymass (weight) using a very precise scale, and volume by sitting inside the BOD POD.”

A significant part of my job is keeping in shape – or being whatever shape they need me to be to land a campaign. I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading nutrition blogs, books and podcasts. I get blood work done at regular intervals to make sure I’m not deficient in anything and I know what foods work for me. The information ascertained from the Bod Pod would be another level of info gathering for my personal nutritional science project.

I had to wear a bathing suit or running bra and underwear and a swim cap. I also had to show up in a fasted state.

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My appointment was at 9am and I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 8pm the previous evening. I get up around 5am so by 9am I would have traded my left breast for an espresso. Thankfully, the paperwork took longer than the actual test. I was out of there in less than 15 minutes and raced immediately to the nearest Cup-O-Caffeine and ordered two of everything.

“Would you like that iced or hot?”

“Yes. Just yes.”

What did I learn? I learned I have 12% body fat and that’s just not enough for a functional female. I also learned that my fat-free mass – meaning my bones, internal organs, muscle – weights 113 lbs. BEST NEWS EVER! Why? Because when my 5’2″ friend is complaining about being 120 when she was 98 in high school or when Edna from the agency shakes her head at my weight I can tell her to SUCK IT because MY DUTCH AMAZONIAN SKELETON IS GIGANTIC AND HEAVY AND WEIGHS MORE THAN AT LEAST ONE OLSEN TWIN.

Suck it, Edna.

Then I ran a road race.

It was the Oktoberfest Dirndl 5k. Do you know what makes dirndls so awesome? Boobs. Those tiny white blouses, cinched in the middle so the cups overfloweth… hold a beer, throw in an apron and you’re instantly the star of every male fantasy.

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I, however, have seemingly sacrificed mine on the altar of Haute Couture modeling.

A moment of silence for my dirndl modeling career.

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The race itself was super fun. My tiny, 98 lb friend ran with me. We encouraged some people along the way and had a great chat about nutrition and exercise (and boobs. We also talked about boobs. When this modeling career reaches its finish line I’m going to want to get a set of those…)

We’re going to the actual Oktoberfest in Germany together this weekend to celebrate all things German. Stay tuned. Or post bail. Both.

Prost.

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Oktoberfest celebrates a new season.  I’m trying to celebrate something every single day. It’s a conscious exercise in thanksgiving that doesn’t involve the bird or a pilgrim. It takes work. Maybe you’re not where you want to be physically. Maybe you’re not where you want to be emotionally or spiritually. There are times I want to hop a plane to Florida, times I want to put down the weights and take a day off, eat the egg AND the yolk. But I’m going to celebrate the season I’m in right now – because every day is a gift. The leaves and the wind are changing but God doesn’t change and that’s something to celebrate too.

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The trees are celebrating with their fragrant fruit and jewel toned leaves. The Germans are celebrating with their pints of Pilsner. Army football fans everywhere are celebrating our team. LL Bean is celebrating sweater season. France is celebrating – actually the French tend to be pissed off quite a lot of the time. Don’t wait for a holiday or a Saturday to choose joy. Find something to celebrate in your life today.  Pumpkin and Pilsner? espresso and Prosecco? Soccer mom lattes and yoga pants? Dirndls and pods and boobs?

YES, just yes.

Celebrate where you are in your journey right now.

 

And Run to Win.

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It’s been a while, race fans. Pour yourself a cold glass of Chardonnay and let’s recap.

I’m a hiker, skier, drinker, runner, ENFP on the Myers-Briggs Personality Test.  I’m running road races around the world – All 50 states (for me) and Europe (for EU Parkinsons) to raise awareness for the disease which has sidelined my awesome, athletic father. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/08/21/daughter-honors-former-west-point-chaplain-father-after-parkinsons.html

I’ve been in Europe now for exactly 8 weeks today. They were rough weeks. Hotels, laundry at friends houses, walking in a jet-lagged induced haze from scary-as-hell German playground to Biergartens featuring… scary-as-hell German playgrounds. Here are a few unique things I’ve learned about Germany (and most of southern Europe in general.)

German Fact #1: Everyone drinks. Want to give your 9 year old their first taste of beer? The waiter will bring you a sippy cup. Want to take your glass of Hefeweisen for a walk downtown? Go for it! And pass some around to others. Just don’t try to drink water – it’s all bubbly and sometimes so packed with magnesium it takes your colon a week to adjust.

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German Fact #2: Everyone smokes. Non-smoking section? There isn’t such a thing. From the kids sand pit to the ladies bathroom someone is smoking. And there are cigarette vending machines all around to enable your desire to smoke with every breath. Everywhere. From the gates of an 11th century castle to the edge of the black forrest – a dozen kilometers from civilization – you will find a cigarette vending machine.

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Germany Fact #3: Sunday is a day of rest. You can not shop – everything is closed. You can not go out to eat – they’re resting too. You can not mow the lawn, paint the house, wash your car or blink. And the old folks around you will call the cops if you do. So best you get your food the day before, hunker down and light up a pack of Marlboros. Because it’s Sunday. It took me a few weeks to adjust. I’m an all-american consumer and I can’t comprehend not being able to buy milk or eggs or zip ties anytime I want. But it’s a good discipline. We should go to church! Read, rest, stop and smell the roses.

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It’s hard to slow down. Hard to switch gears. This adventure has forced me to completely change course. I’ve felt depressed a few times in my life. First, during those awkward teenage years when your hormones are raging and you feel like THE SKY IS FALLING EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE SOMEBODY HUG ME! The second time was right after my daughter was born and suddenly I was responsible for keeping another human being alive. None of that prepared me for putting my entire DC life on hold and uprooting myself and my 4 year old sidekick to another part of the world where we didn’t speak the language and hadn’t prepared our colons for the perpetual onslaught of sparkling beverages. But we survived. How? Because part of this journey is about building spiritual muscle so when the hard times come – and they always come – we can not just handle it but conquer it. I spent a lot of time in prayer. I highly encourage it, whatever you believe. Have a conversation with your creator. Tell him you love him, you believe him, you’re mad at him – doubting him – tell him you feel abandoned or lost or scared. Just like in our everyday relationships, communication is key. And He will respond. It’s not always with the answer we want or when we want. He’s not into instant gratification and he’s not our cosmic cash machine. But prayer works. Try it. God is good, even when the sky is falling.

I’ve run two races here. The first run is always the hardest. I haven’t been training much and the hills are are no joke.  The first one was at the tip of the black forrest with magnificent mountain views. I didn’t do well. It was hard and I wasn’t motivated. But I did it.

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Lesson from Germany: Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump. For some of us, especially perfectionists, people who never fail or people who are afraid of failing, that fear will keep us from doing it. DO IT. Engage that muscle of faith and go. Jump. Run. Failing sucks but character is developed in the struggle.

The second run was a lot more fun. A dirndl 5k. I learned two things about dirndls. First, they are hot as balls. Second, only touristing Americans wear them. My German neighbors thought I had been sniffing schnitzel when I walked out the door.  I didn’t win but my time improved. I came in 3rd place… of the women wearing outfits… had there been such a category…

I’ve referenced before one of my favorite sermons my father would preach at the Academy, around graduation time, about life’s mountain peaks and valleys. The mountain peaks are joyful, celebrations of accomplishments. Life’s BIG DEALS. Graduations, weddings, births, reunions, promotions. But we don’t live on the mountain top. We live in the valley. And to get to the top we have to climb, fall back, get up and keep going. The struggle makes the top more gratifying; the view more satisfying. These first few months represented my climb up and having two races and one country down is my mountain top. It’s all down here from here.

Until the next mountain: France.

Good news, that mountain has wine.

Run to win.

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