At Home With Michelle Obama
She's among the most powerful women in the world, the driving force behind a campaign to end childhood obesity and the owner of a killer set of biceps, but Michelle Obama is also a mom determined to set a positive example for her daughters and raise a healthy, happy family inside the White House bubble.
She shared her thoughts on healthy eating, family fitness and parenting strategies at an intimate gathering of editors from MSN Health & Fitbie and other online outlets at the White House earlier this week.
How she stays motivated
Mrs. Obama arrived for the meeting in the Old Family Dining Room in a bright pink sundress--a Target purchase, she shared--that revealed those famous biceps. When asked how she stays motived to maintain her toned figure given the demands on her time and the stresses of public life, the First Lady was candid. "Vanity," she said to laughter, explaining that nothing sparks her motivation faster than seeing an unflattering picture of herself in the newspaper. “It’s like, oh, my God, is that me?”
The First Lady urges those who are struggling to stay motivated to exercise not to give up. "What I tell my girlfriends that are struggling with it is that it takes a few weeks before exercise is fun. It doesn’t happen overnight. Just tell yourself for five weeks I’m going to do the same thing and I won’t like it. I will hate working out and I will be cursing the name of the people who told me to do it. But there will come a time when you have a healthy jump. You have a cardio pop, an epiphany where actually it does feel better. But it doesn’t happen overnight."
Music that moves her
The right soundtrack can boost motivation and make workouts more fun. So, what’s on the First Lady’s iPod? “I’ve got my cardio people -- so it’s anything from Beyonce to some Jay-Z to Janelle Monae. Yes, her song “Tightrope,” that’s a good cardio song. And then, I’ve got Sting. I’ve got Mary J. Blige. I’ve got the Beatles. I’ve got Michael Jackson. So I try to pick the songs that I personally love. So it could be some crazy song that I hear and I’m like, I love that song. I don’t even care who it is. But my iPod are songs that I love, so that every song that comes on I don’t have to skip over it.”
Keeping it all in balance
Mrs. Obama went from high-pressure careers in law and non-profit management to the even more demanding role of first lady of the United States, so maintaining a sense of balance in her life is more important that ever. “What I learned early was that I have to be healthy. I have to exercise. I have to eat right in order for me to be able to perform at my maximum capacity for my family. And I want my girls to see the model of a mother taking care of herself, because, quite frankly, my mother didn't do that.”
Mrs. Obama also believes that it’s important to get kids moving, since physical activity is necessary for a healthy body and mind. Because it’s hard to get kids interested in fitness for its own sake, Malia and Sasha Obama are required to participate in sports. “With the girls, we find that it’s more important that it’s fun, and it’s more about sports and teamwork. But they take swimming. They take tennis. They're on their teams now -- middle-school sports.”
“But sports are an expectation, and we say it’s an expectation because it’s about good health. It’s about learning how to play on a team; learning how to lose, learning how to win gracefully; learning how to trash talk and not get your feelings hurt,” said Mrs. Obama.
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