A Conversation with Camila McConaughey
Philanthropist, wife, mom of 3, model and founder of digital community hub Women of Today, Camila McConaughey sat down with CE to talk about her journey into wellness, her philanthropic work and tips for holiday hosting in the midst of a pandemic.
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Moving from Brazil in your teens to modeling around the world, you’ve had an exciting life. Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Brazil, born and raised. I moved to the United States at 15 and began modeling at 19. I’ve lived in Paris, Milan, Athens, Israel and across Africa, and from those places I’d travel to other places for work. I was living out of a suitcase! Eventually, I got married and had kids. It was really after I started having kids that my mindset changed in terms of how I looked at food and wellness. When you’re young, you have this sense of immortality. But the body compounds what we do. We may not see the effects of lifestyle changes tomorrow, or even in a few years. But if you start a healthier lifestyle right now, your next 10 years are going to be easier.
Tell me about Women of Today. What inspired you?
Women of Today is an online community for sharing knowledge about food, health care, exercise, business practices – a bit of everything. I’ve lived around the world and felt the sense of community women develop among themselves. Coming back to America, I thought, “We need this sense of community here. How can we share knowledge to create a community that is focused on the greater good for everyone involved?”
What philanthropic projects have you engaged in, past and present?
I grew up doing work like this. It was part of growing up in Brazil, seeing the poverty around you. Throughout the years, I’ve done it on many different levels with many different organizations. Through Women of Today, we are running a campaign called Feed and Protect, focused on feeding people and donating PPE to first responders. Up to today, we’ve donated over 300,000 masks and over 51,000 meals in support of medical workers, fire departments, law enforcement, seniors’ facilities and families in need.
How can CE readers take part?
Readers can visit womenoftoday.com/donate/ to help fund Feed and Protect.
What are your holiday plans for Women of Today?
We’re figuring out different ways of celebrating under the circumstances we’re in [during coronavirus]. We’re focusing on the challenges faced by the host during the holidays. We’re also focusing on ways people can crack the holidays and make it easier on themselves.
What are some tips for improving your mental health as a hostess during the holidays?
You have to prep and make sure you set yourself up [for success], so that on the day you’re receiving guests, you’re only working on the final touches. Another tip is to remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re with your family not to celebrate the food or decorations but to celebrate each other and the meaning of the holiday. Keep your priorities straight. Lastly, your guests just want to help. Whether it’s helping you in the kitchen or setting the table, participating really makes your loved ones feel like a greater part of the whole experience.
How do you indulge and maintain your physical health at the same time?
I think the key is to pick and choose where you will be indulgent. For the holidays, I make this bourbon pecan pie, and it’s horrible for you! But I know that this is going to be my indulgence, so I’m going to try to be as healthy as I can be otherwise. Try the 80/20 rule: If I know I’m going to go crazy on a couple of things I can’t say no to because this is just that time of year, then I’ll go easy on everything else as much as I can. For example, if you’re going to indulge in lots of decadent food, go easier on the drinks, get enough sleep and drink lots of water.
Everyone has a different festive tradition in their home. What are your family’s favorite holiday traditions?
Brazilians celebrate Christmas on the 24th, at midnight. We eat Christmas dinner before midnight and then we open the gifts at midnight. Having a family that’s half Brazilian and half American, what I’ve done, which the kids love, is that we celebrate on the 24th the Brazilian way and then again on the 25th the American way!
Aside from the bourbon pie, what’s your favorite holiday recipe?