Champions of Health & Fitness 2010
Pages in this Story:
- Running Buddy: Anne Mahlum
- First Lady of Health: Michelle Obama
- Comeback Queen: Serena Williams
- Morale Booster: Julie Wilkes
- Gadget Gurus: James Park and Eric Friedman
- Mayor on a Mission: Mick Cornett
- Mind-Body Visionary: Donna Karan
- Pedal Pusher: Mia Birk
- Food Safety Superstar: Margaret A. Hamburg, MD
- Play Masters: Jamie Dukes, Rich Eisen, and Scott Hanson
First Lady of Health: Michelle Obama
From the moment last spring that Michelle Obama started digging up the South Lawn to plant a vegetable garden, we knew she was going to be more than a hostess with the mostest. Those chiseled arms are a constant reminder. Obama, a former hospital executive, is serious about health and wants to help American families eat and feel better. She took a break to speak with us about the garden and more.
With the White House kitchen garden, you were hoping to share with kids everywhere how great fresh vegetables are. How's it going?
It's been a joy to see -- and eat -- the fruits of our labor. From what I have heard, the garden hasn't just touched the lives of the students [who helped plant, tend, and harvest], but students all over the country have been inspired to grow their own gardens, to get outside, to get their hands a little dirty -- or at the very least add a few more vegetables to their meals.
Why is eating good food such a big part of your message?
As a working mother, I had struggled with balancing healthy meals and our family's busy schedule. With the advice of my pediatrician, I realized that substituting healthy, fresh foods could go a long way. This experience is something I want to share with others.
What else do you want American women to know?
[One] thing that has made a real difference in our lives is sitting down together as a family for each meal. Barack and I do our best to have breakfast and dinner with our daughters. We tend to eat more healthily when we are all together at the table, and it gives us a chance to catch up, to check in, and to enjoy each other's company.
And don't forget, eating healthily yourself and setting a good example for your children is one of the greatest things you can do [as a mom]. If you are active and healthy, that will influence [your kids] in a positive way for years to come. I want my girls to see me enjoy healthy food, to see me take care of myself.
You often mention your experience as a mother. But does your work experience also inform your efforts?
My professional experiences reinforced all that I know as a mother. While working in Chicago, I saw too many young children brought into hospital emergency rooms for conditions that would not necessarily exist if they had been treated early on. The fact that almost a third of our nation's children are either overweight or obese is unacceptable.
What's planned for 2010?
In the coming years, we want to increase the number of schools [that join the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge], increase the number of children participating in regular physical activity, improve access to and affordability of healthy food options in local communities, and empower consumers to make healthy food choices. We all have to work together as parents, as teachers, and as a nation to ensure that our children get the healthy start to life that they deserve.
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