Photo Credit: Chuck Kennedy/White House
Halloween Candy and Holiday Treats
The First Lady may be the official spokesperson for healthy eating in the country but that doesn't mean Malia and Sasha -- and the rest of the First Family -- don't get to enjoy sweets around the holidays. "I tell this to my girls all the time -- that when it's time for the holidays and the fun stuff and the birthday party, that you don't have to worry about it because you're doing what you're supposed to do every single day." She said she lets them hang on to their Halloween bag for a day or two but then "I confiscate it, because it's like, you just don't need to have this in your room; it's not good. The temptation is too great."
She joked that the real issue of overindulging on sweets during the holidays isn't really the kids since they are running around, having fun, focused on presents and other things, but the adults who sit at the table and eat one dessert after the next. "So I think we're the problem around the holidays," she said to laughter. "The question is how am I going to deal with the holidays?"
Motivation to Stay Fit
Looking as fit as ever and perhaps even a few pounds lighter, the First Lady said her main motivation for exercise is vanity. "It's like a picture in the newspaper that looks crazy is my motivation. It's like, Oh my God, is that me?" To moms who don't have the motivation of being photographed 24/7, she repeats what she tells her girlfriends who are struggling with their weight. "It takes a few weeks of exercise before it becomes fun, it doesn't happen overnight," she said. "I tell them invest five weeks -- 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," she said, "but there will come a time... where actually it does feel better."
The First Lady said when she's not exercising or eating right, she feels bad, so exercise for her is no longer vanity but a "necessity." Still, it's a "daily struggle," she concedes. "And I don't think it ever changes and I'm really mad about that," she said to laughter. Her "eclectic" iPod selection for workouts includes Beyonce, Jay Z, Janelle Monae, Sting, The Beatles, Mary J. Blige and Michael Jackson. "My iPod are songs that I love so that every song that comes on, I don't have to skip over it."
Late Night Foraging
She also reveals that she would be a "forager" if sweets were around so she instructs the White House kitchen staff not to put "junk" in the residence because she would eat "everything" if they did. "I do find myself searching through those cabinets looking for some chocolate I just need and it's not there," she added. As for her snack of choice, she said she's a salty snack person, so "if a bag of chips were there, I'd eat the whole thing so I just can't have it around."
Making Herself a Priority
The First Lady said she learned, even before getting to the White House, that she "had to put herself higher" on her "priority list to stay sane." For her, that means being healthy, exercising, eating right and serving as a role model for her kids. "I want my girls to see the model of a mother taking care of herself, because, quite frankly, my mother didn't do that. My mother was the traditional stay-at-home mom who never went to the hairdresser... and the thought of spending a dime on herself was just like, 'Oh my goodness, why would I want to do that?'"
She values the flexibility she has at the White House where she traditionally spends three work days on official White House events, leaving two other days of the week for tennis lessons (Malia is getting very interested in tennis), parent/teacher conferences, and other activities involving the girls. "I know how blessed I am and how rare it is to live in an institution that can provide you with that kind of support," she said. "I believe every mother needs a personal assistant," she said, "And a chef." Amen to that!
No Fashion Anxiety
Wearing a smashing sleeveless brown and maroon dress with a brown bow on one side from Target, the First Lady she's not anxious about fashion. She said she focuses on what feels good, wears what she loves, is thoughtful about what she wears and "spreads the love" by highlighting young designers. As for her day-to-day attire, she said it's very practical. "What's the temperature? Am I going to be sitting on the grass? Will I be playing with the kids?" No, clothes don't make her anxious so what does? "It's always am I making the best use out of this moment that I have, and do I make the people that I'm with feel like they're important. It's like, ultimately, did they walk away feeling good and inspired, and maybe ready to think a little bit differently," she said.
Of her main causes, Let's Move, the battle against childhood obesity, and Joining Forces, raising awareness of military families, the First Lady said she focused on what she was passionate about. "There are thousands, millions of issues that I could be speaking to... but I can't do it all so I have to narrow it down to things that really resonate with me, that I feel like I can speak to authentically." She added, "The greatest power that I have is the power of the light that is shining on me and standing in front of things that hopefully people need to see and having that light shine on those issues as well."