Fitness first for the First Lady
As children’s obesity has dramatically increased in recent years, Michelle Obama had made a cause out of fighting the national trend towards bad diet and too little exercise. Two years ago she launched her “Let’s Move” initiative to improve the diet and fitness of our nation.
According to “Let’s Move”, over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. “Let’s Move” states that “today, nearly one in three children in America is overweight or obese. Thirty years ago, most people led lives that kept them at a healthy weight. Kids walked to and from school every day, ran around at recess, participated in gym class, and played for hours after school before dinner. Meals were home-cooked with reasonable portion sizes and there was always a vegetable on the plate. Eating fast food was rare and snacking between meals was an occasional treat.”
My, how things have changed! I see it at my own kid’s schools. Students have limited recess activity and physical education classes that seem to be more about eliminating injury than actually providing exercise. On several occasions I’ve gone to the school principal and requested more exercise opportunities for the kids at school. My requests were generally accepted and appreciated. On diet, my kids have never, to my knowledge, eaten at McDonald’s. Down time…..well….we have a saying in our house….”If the sun is out, so are you.” TV and computer time is closely monitored. Am I being a whacky parent, or were there others that thought like me?
It gave me great comfort and reassurance when first lady Michelle Obama launched the “Let’s Move” initiative. This was something near and dear to my heart. I can do my best to change diet and exercise in my own backyard, but someone like Michelle Obama has some serious pulling power to get the job done nationally. And so she has.
Last week was the two-year anniversary of the “Let’s Move” initiative. To mark the event, the first lady took a three-day trip to Iowa, Arkansas, Texas and Florida to highlight successes and future goals. In a rare move, the first lady’s office invited major media outlets to travel on her plane for the entire trip. This was a rare opportunity, and Reuters agreed to send both a writer and photographer.
After spending the past 12-years traveling on Air Force one with Presidents, it was refreshing to be on my maiden photo voyage with a first lady. Michelle Obama clearly has star quality, so it was a trip sure to produce images that reflect her charisma.
The atmosphere of traveling with “FLOTUS” (White House speak for First Lady of the United States) is far more relaxed than traveling with “POTUS” (President of the United States). Upon departure from Andrews Air Force Base, FLOTUS and her staff came to the press section of the plane to meet and greet us. We were off to a good start, and it was clear how passionate FLOTUS is about the “Let’s Move” program.
In Iowa she wowed 14,000 people as she joined in the “Interlude” dance. In Arkansas she visited an Air Force base and spoke about important changes to diet in the military. In Dallas, FLOTUS participated in a filming of the TV show “Top Chef” which featured healthy school lunches. In Orlando, she sat down to dinner with a family who prepared a healthy meal for her. At Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports, she danced, played tennis, kicked a soccer ball and took part in a sprint.
It was a three-day tour to promote a win-win agenda for our nation. Obesity has become a costly and dangerous “new normal.” The first lady and her team are doing all she can to end this unhealthy lifestyle. I wish them well.