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Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. That’s what I’ve been telling myself over the past 24 hours as I tried to cross off the million things on my “To Do” list to prepare for an amazing opportunity. I’m traveling around the country with First Lady Michelle Obama during her three day nationwide tour celebrating the second anniversary of her Let’s Move initiative combating childhood obesity. I’m one of only five reporters on the trip and the only digital reporter on the plane -- the Associated Press, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and iVillage! How cool is that! Really cool but also stressful.
First, what do I pack? I haven’t done a White House trip in a good number of years now and so I’m out of packing practice. Plus, it’s the Fashionista in Chief. Michelle Obama always looks great so shouldn’t we reporters try to look good too? I packed a few of my favorite dresses – all bargains from Loehmann’s – and hope the First Lady takes notice. Had I had a chance to get to Target, a Jason Wu for Target would have been perfect!
Since I’ll be live blogging, tweeting, vlogging and whatever else I can do in addition to writing stories, I needed some gear. The new iPhone 4S with the better camera for pictures and videos? Check. An aircard so I can be plugged in at all times? Check. Tape recorder? Ugh, totally forgot that so on my mad dash to the train, I stopped at Radio Shack to pick up an old school tape recorder. Since I still haven’t mastered the digital tape recorder I have at home, I figured let’s go with what I know.
Now I’m reading through the research about what’s been accomplished in the two years of Let’s Move (a new law providing low-income children with more access to healthy food, a goal of 6,000 salad bars in schools over three years, getting one million kids to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award to name just a few), some of the challenges ahead (how in 2009–2010, 16.9% of U.S. children and adolescents were obese) and how the First Lady has been pretty much everywhere lately – from revealing how President Obama sings to her all the time on The Tonight Show to doing push ups with Ellen to that hilarious exercise face-off with Jimmy Fallon at the White House. Guess who won?
This got me thinking. I hope the First Lady doesn’t challenge any of us to an exercise competition. What would Mrs. Obama think when I tell her I haven’t exercised since my first daughter was born nearly six years ago? I packed some yoga pants and a T-shirt just in case.
Our itinerary is as follows – and yes, I already mapped it out for my girls at home so they can follow along:
Des Moines with record breaking athletes such as Michelle Kwan, one of my favorites in figure skating, Little Rock for an event on how the military is improving nutrition for service members and then an Olive Garden in Dallas with parents who are changing their habits in their homes and their communities.
Contestants from past seasons of Bravo’s Top Chef join members of the Dallas Cowboys to show how schools and chefs are working together, then on to Homestead, Florida for a WebMD Town Hall and then to Orlando for dinner with one family that has made changes to become healthier.
The final day begins with an event showcasing how faith and community groups are supporting healthy lifestyles and then it’s off to Disneyworld (yay!) to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports for a physical fitness event with local kids and their families. (I promised my kids I'd be on a scouting mission in advance of our spring break trek to Disneyworld.)
During the trip, we may have some chances to ask Michelle Obama questions and that’s where you come in. What would you like to know? What is the one question you would ask Michelle Obama if you could? Chime in below or send your questions to us on Twitter and Facebook and use the hashtag #kellyonaplane if you can. Yes, we're having some fun with this!
I remember the roundtable I, and eight other reporters from women's sites, were lucky to attend with the Mrs. Obama in October. When a reporter asked her about Malia and Sasha’s viewing habits, she mentioned how the president doesn't love that the girls watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians. That nugget went viral, much to my chagrin since I’m no fan of the Kardashians. So will we have another Kardashian moment on this trip?
Let us know what you’d like to ask and follow along. I’ll try to take you behind-the-scenes as much as I can every minute I'm awake!
Kelly Wallace is Chief Correspondent of iVillage. She is a former White House Correspondent and political correspondent for CNN and former news correspondent for CBS. Follow Kelly on Twitter.