At least once per day I receive a note or text that says,

“Your life is SO Glamorous!”

I just landed in Paris. It is the most glamorous city.

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I signed a new modeling contract – I can leave at any time and they can kick me to the curb if I decide to eat all the hazelnut chocolate filled croissants in Paris. And I might.

(insert desperate plea for you to hire me for your next marketing or ad campaign here. I’m not getting any younger…)

So today we’re going to discuss my Oh So Glamorous Life.

My flight to France was 7 hours so the first thing I did was take a hefty dose of melatonin so I could sleep. (It might have been NyQuil but whatever.) Then I saw they had some really good movies that I haven’t seen and 6.5 hours later I was exhausted and drugged  but my adrenaline was pumping faster than a turbine because I had just watched every single new release in the “action/adventure” section. My legs were stiff from inactivity, I didn’t have a drop of makeup/moisturizer/illuminating glow on my face, my hair was in a bun (or was before the seat compressed it into a rat’s nest) and my deodorant expired an hour ago.

Truth is, there are days and times when my life IS quite amazing. I’m in Europe for crap sake. That’s pretty glamorous. I get fawned over for hours with hair and makeup. I get to wear beautiful clothes and carry Gucci and Prada accessories that I DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY FOR. I get to meet incredibly talented photographers from all over the world that inspire me with their art and talent. I have worked with some magnificently beautiful human beings. I’ve met up-and-coming designers who design clothes that, one day,  you might wear. I have a portfolio of lovely photos that I’ll have forever. (You can follow my musings on Instagram @KathyCamp1.)

HOWEVER, IN BETWEEN, my life can SUCK ASS. Let me break it down for you.

1. I still have to interview for jobs. Yes, everyone knows what I look like. But you still have to go on “calls” and see if the designer or rep likes the way you look for their clothes or their campaign. It’s a competition against incredibly beautiful people. I face rejection daily. Yes, daily.

2. I am 5’10”. I have to maintain a size 0-2 with measurements of 34-24-34. At 40 years old, that’s defying most laws of gravity.  I work out a LOT. (This is an exercise and edification blog after all.) I spend a solid hour every morning thinking about what I need to do – cardio, lifting, yoga, Pilates or a combo of them – and then where in my day it’s going to fit in. Currently I’m in a dress with a sports bra on because I know the second I get home from a meeting, I need to do a 40 minute HIIT workout (Fitness Blender on YouTube is my go-to) and then get a quick jog in before the rain comes. Because oh yeah I’m in Europe and today it’s sunny but tomorrow it may snow because God is punishing me for something I did in the 8th grade.

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3. When I’m not working out or thinking about working out or planning to work out or stressing about working out, I’m thinking about eating. I think about food 400x a day. I practice intermittent fasting which is not for the weak. I don’t eat between 8pm and 2pm the following day. Why? Because I’m a masochist and I like pain. No, because there are health benefits to fasting and it means I have a smaller window to eat which naturally limits my calories. I follow the KETO diet. But I don’t really like meat, I’m super sensitive to dairy and I have to watch my nut/seed caloric load so I’m kind of Vegan-esque Keto which is really hard and not really a thing. I eat a lot of cauliflower, spinach, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olives, nuts and seeds. (Last week I was so stressed out I ate half a jar of sunflower seed butter with a spoon.) Winning.

So when I’m not thinking about exercising, I’m thinking about food. I don’t have it all figured out. And what works for me may not work for you – you have to find what balances out your particular issues and hormones. And we all have issues.

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I use an app called Cronometer where I track every single thing I eat and drink. You will see supermodels in magazines tell you they eat whatever they want. They preach moderation. It’s just not true. Or it is and by “moderation” they mean they weighed their one sugar-free breath mint for the day.

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Last week I flew to New York. Since you now know I obsess about food, I can’t possibly eat airplane food.

HOW WOULD I TRACK MY MACROS? HOW DO I ENTER “MYSTERY MEAT” IN MY APP? IS THAT SAUCE? IS IT OIL? COCONUT? GRASS FED GHEE? RAPESEED OIL FROM RAPE FIELDS OF EUROPE? WHATS A RAPE FIELD AND WHY CAN’T THEY RENAME THAT BY NOW?

I had two planes and a total 18 hour trip in front of me so the evening before I prepared my food for the day. Since I was going across multiple time zones, I didn’t worry about an eating window and just portioned out enough to eat every few hours. I knew I’d sleep a little but mostly I’d be watching an endless loop of movies since I’m too cheap to have cable. And as you know, screen time leads to snack time so I needed to be prepared.

I measured and prepackaged in clear zip lock baggies 8 individual servings of: cucumber and celery sliced and portioned, pumpkin seeds, pecans and turkey pepperoni. (I know it’s processed but dude – airplane.)

Upon entering the mighty United States Of America, my country of birth, the Stars and Stripes that raised me under the banner of freedom, I passed through security…

and was immediately detained by a United States Department of Agriculture Customs Officer. 

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“Brunhilda”, as we will lovingly refer to her, was not a chipper woman. Standing roughly 5 feet tall in both directions, she had seen better days. Her hair was in a bun so tight her eyelids struggled to blink. She smelled of day old cigarettes and pork rinds. For the record, I love pork rinds. This was more “ode to swine anus” and she lacked a basic understanding of personal boundaries.

My passport was confiscated and put into a clear pouch with a green border.  This is apparently important because the color of your pouch will dictate what level of threat you are or how far up the body cavity they will search. I was assigned multiple tax-paid handlers. One was for my luggage that was pulled off my connecting plane for inspection and another to stay beside me at all times as apparently I looked like some sort of soccer mom flight risk in my yoga pants and knock off pashmina.

I was taken to a secured room where my belongings and my body were carefully inspected as if I might be hiding Russian spy codes between my fallopian tubes. While touching places that haven’t been touched since the doctor pulled me from the womb, “Brunhilda” informed me that I was a new breed of terrorist – the kind that brings foreign agriculture into our beloved homeland. The kind that can spread disease and introduce pests and germs to the New World.

Apparently, I hadn’t finished off the last bag of pre measured and sliced cucumbers. And now said cucumbers and I were the suspects of potential mass agricultural and human genocide.

In the holding cell next to me (ok it was a room but stay with me) was a tiny, elderly hispanic woman who had a half eaten apple from Spain. She was crying and shaking in fear. I gave her a raised hand in compassionate understanding.

Solidarity, Eve. Solidarity.

Two hours and a missed connection to New York, my half eaten zip lock bag of sliced cucumbers were ceremoniously dropped into a garbage can of other food soccer moms and yogis have tried to sneak into the country in the relentless pursuit of health.

Eventually, I made it to New York.

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I haven’t eaten a cucumber since.

Body searches aside, my day-to-day life is not all that glamorous. It’s full of stress and emails and meetings and kettle bells and rejection and fake eye lashes.

How we carry ourselves through the stress, the bouts of self-doubt, fear, anxiety, failure, success, and half-glued eyelashes is what people see.

I had someone call me narcissistic recently. And not in love. (Is that ever said in love?) Here’s the truth – we all need a streak of self love. I get told on a daily basis that I’m too fat, my feet are too big, I’m too old, that I need botox or a thread lift, definitely a breast lift, or this and that. Every Single Day. It can be exhausting but the way I look doesn’t define me. And it shouldn’t define you. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter where you are in your personal journey – and we’re all on a journey – you have to first know and believe that you were made perfect for a purpose. Perfect just as you are right now – not when you were in college or where you want to be next year – right now in this moment as you read these words you are beautifully made in the image of God. May that be a freedom for you, as it is for me. 

Glamour is appearance, not lifestyle. And inner joy – the kind that radiates from your soul – is more beautiful than any physical thing could ever be.

Hold your head up high. Pull your shoulders back. Let your light shine.

Live your most glamorous life.

Cucumbers optional.

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and Run to Win.

 

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While running the European Union (what’s left of it) for EU Parkinsons Foundation, I’ve been based out of a small village in southern Germany. My little town is great for a lot of things like bakeries, wine stores and biergartens. I’ve consumed so much beer and brats I’ll need a large, Hungarian electrolysis to keep me from turning into a middle aged man. We have farms, horses and goats. (So many goats.)

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Eight months later, it’s time to go home. I need to check on my little Florida flop house, replenish my resources, (working remotely is not for the weak) hug my friends and eat my mother’s casseroles. I’m thankful for my little village and the good Germans who have embraced me. It’s been an amazing but often difficult few months. There is only so much planning you can do before the kid gets sick, the plane gets canceled and you find yourself, out of cash, on a city bus in the middle of Italy with a box of bread sticks and day old fake eyelashes.

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I haven’t stopped running! I’ll share my race experiences in the States over the next few months. Keep running with me. We’re in this together. Exercise isn’t just necessary for my physical well being, it’s important for my emotional and spiritual self. It’s where I emote, process the day, lament that I don’t work hard enough, try hard enough, don’t measure up to who I want to be. By the end of the run, with my well empty, I talk to my creator. You may not hear God but I do. It’s the gentle nudge that says, “you’ve got this.”

Today, during a brief respite from the rain, I grabbed the dog, launched my kid in the jogger and we went for a 5 mile run up through rocky trails and over pine needle strewn paths.

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At the top of an intense hill was an incredible vista – the sweet reward for the upward climb.

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Then I had the satisfaction of the downward slope, reveling in the exhausted joy of having completed a long, tough run.

At the bottom of the steep hill, I came to a sign:

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DANGER! I couldn’t continue into town. There was construction or an accident or I was being punished for past sins.

I had to turn around AND GO BACK UP the mountain and down the OTHER SIDE.

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I had just climbed the hill. I hadn’t prepared for having to climb it again. I didn’t have the motivation. I didn’t have the physical muscle to do it all over.

I’ve talked a lot about spiritual muscle. It’s how we deal with peaks and valleys of rugged terrain in life and in sport – how we engage our muscles of hope and faith to get up the hill when we’re stuck in a rut. But what happens when you don’t reach the top? Or when you crest the hill only to find another, bigger climb? We’ve all felt that depression. Sometimes, even when we do all the right things, we don’t reach the summit. Or if we do, it’s not what we’d hoped. The promotion you didn’t get. The job that isn’t fulfilling. A crumbling marriage, a troubled teen, sickness, adversity, hopelessness. That’s when spiritual muscle becomes crucial. We need help from friends, neighbors, family, church, music, reading, respite, running…  to start the climb back up the hill. Running Europe has been amazing. We’ve seen so much. But my tiny tot and I need to plant our feet on American soil. We need Green Tea Smoothies and Whole Foods. And Target! Oh how I’ve missed one-stop shopping for needless things, endless waste and American’s propensity for hoarding consumable goods.

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I need a break from the constant math of converting kilometers to miles. I need a break from all the speeding tickets because I suck at math. This story isn’t over. We’re just on to the next chapter – Run South America! Kidding, kidding. My Spanish is worse than my math.

Keep running with me. Keep running to win. God’s not through with us yet.

I offer up my favorite poem, abbreviated, by Annie J. Flint. I memorized it at a young age before I really understood what it meant. The language is dated but the message is clear – we’re not alone. There’s water in the well – an eternal supply! Read it, then read it again. Print it out. Put it in your desk drawer at work and your sock drawer at home. We all have “multiplied trials,” and we all need His “multiplied peace”.

He gives more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sends more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He adds His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun!

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

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And Run to Win.

It’s fashion week in Milan, Italy. That means 3 things for me.

  1. I wish I was still young and thin and wrinkle free enough to walk a runway or pose outside Jimmy Choo with a pair of shoes three times my income.
  2. I wish I were wealthy enough to buy said pair of shoes
  3. I wish I had picked a different week to visit the city – because at this time in this city, I had to stay…

IN A YOUTH HOSTEL.

For those of you who have never back packed across Europe, visited NYC on NYE or ran out of money a week before pay day, let me enlighten you to the realities of hostels.

  1. You’re sharing a kitchen, living area, bathroom and sometimes bedroom with complete strangers who sometimes lack the finances (and possibly hygiene) to stay at the Four Seasons or even the local HOJO.
  2. Strangers can be a gift from God. They can also be s&m dungeon masters who rock the bed from 11pm – 12am, 2:15 – 3am, 4 – 5am? pausing for a smoke break on the shared terrace 2 feet from your bunk bed.
  3. see “bunk bed.”

Thankfully, I was traveling with a good friend and 3 children so we had a private room and I had someone to commiserate with at 1130pm, 230am, 430am….

Italian drivers are insane. Mopeds will hit a pedestrian for sport. But I take my hat off to this local. Because the birthplace of modern fashion means getting home from the runway …. on a bike …. at night … in 3 inch pink heels.

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Italy is beautiful. The architecture on the main roads is lovely but most captivating are the tiny archways tucked between store fronts that expose incredibly beautiful courtyards – hidden gems that are mostly missed by the greedy millennials racing around looking for the best bargain Prada to impress their friends back home.

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The expresso was invigorating but the cup so small I felt less glam drinking it and more like I had taken the blue pill and gone down the wrong rabbit hole. The food was incredible. Smoked meats, artesian cheeses, crisp, local vegetables soaked in home grown olive oil plucked by Sophia Lauren. Heaven.

I didn’t run in Italy. Partly because I couldn’t find a race in the area and partly because I was so sleep deprived I would have finished some time the following day.

Enter Switzerland.

First, I have been shocked by how close the countries are. I drove from Germany to Italy in less than 5 hours and went back to Germany via Switzerland in the same amount of time. The Alps are incredible. St. Moritz is probably the most beautiful part of the world I’ve seen thus far. The mountains climb so high they disappear into the soft, fluffy clouds. The alpine water below is the most captivating color of blue/green I’ve ever seen up close.

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The villages are full of stone and plaster cottages heavily adorned with detailed mosaics harking a time of skilled artists and craftsmen. Every mile was a chapter from a fairy tale and the children were awe struck at every mountain switchback turn.

On Sunday I ran. It was less than 3k but it felt like a marathon. Partly because I was exhausted, partly because it was all hills – IN THE ALPS. My friend and I were trying to find any excuse why it was so difficult. Altitude? Only 5,000 feet. Distance? Ridiculously short. Sometimes I run and finish first, other times my legs feel like lead and I think back to all my past sins for fear of an impending stroke. I do it all to raise awareness for Parkinsons Disease but sometimes it sucks.

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I was completely alone after the first 400 meters. The cobblestone hurt my knees and I was grateful when I got onto the trail up the mountain. Then the fear set in. The fog was thick and the rain started to fall. Mist – Rain – Huge mountains – Quiet – Hillside… Lions? Tigers? Bears? Loch-Ness Monster? SHIT. I’m totally going to die up here.

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Then a thin elderly man wearing a grey hat with a green feather (can’t make this stuff up) ran past me. THANK YOU JESUS! As soon as he appeared he was gone into the mist but I instantly felt better. Sometimes a good friend calls just when we needed to hear their voice. Sometimes it’s the break we need at work or the cash you find in an old pair of jeans. Sometimes the serial killer runs past you with a stupid feather in his hat because it’s just not your day today.

Sometimes, God shows himself right when we need a reminder that we’re not alone. Maybe it’s a friend that grabs her kids and sleeping bags and says, “hell yes i’ll road trip with you!” Maybe it’s the accolade that comes when you were feeling unappreciated at home, a hug from a partner you felt drifted, a note from an old friend. We all need to be reminded to keep the faith, keep on keeping on, Run to Win.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121.

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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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