First Lady Michelle Obama is fit and fab at 51, thanks to a healthy diet and daily pre-dawn workouts.
The athletic 5-foot-11 Obama hits the White House gym between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. every morning before her daughters wake up, doing a combination of cardio exercise, strength-training and plyometric moves.
“Barack and I work out every day,” Michelle told iVillage. “When he isn’t traveling, that’s the first thing we do. So we spend time together in the morning. I usually get to the gym before he does, but he is usually there either in the middle of my workout or right at the end.”
The First Lady says lifting weights is an integral part of her training. “You don’t have to be a weightlifter,” she says. “I know a lot of women get worried about muscle definition. But actually, I’ve been told by fitness experts that the average person will not bulk up on the weights that we can lift.
“You want to have some weight training in your routine, especially as women, to make sure we’ve got strong bone density,” said Michelle. And it helps with that toning, those little areas that we don’t like that flap a little bit, that aren’t as tight. That’s where lifting comes in, once you’ve gotten your cardio in there.”
Obama also tries to do yoga and Pilates regularly and maintain a steady weight. “I try to keep my weight at a certain level,” she says. “And I’ve found that as I get older I don’t like to diet. I like food. I don’t like to have to worry and count every calorie.”
Michelle doesn’t let anything keep her from her daily workouts–not even a hectic travel schedule. “I bring a jump rope and some of those rubber [exercise] bands,” she says. “They’re really inexpensive. And I can usually do some rope-jumping in the hotel room.”
The First Lady, who launched the “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign in 2010, underscores that being active on a daily basis is doable, no matter how busy you are.
“What people should know is that it just doesn’t take much,” said Obama. “It doesn’t have to be that complicated. If I don’t have a rope or if I don’t have space, I might do a 30-minute routine that includes a minute of jumping jacks alternating with a minute of pushups, or however many you can do, and then some sit-ups. And you keep doing that circuit again and again, and you’ll find that you’re going to build up a lot of sweat. You’re going to be burning calories.”
While Michelle follows a healthy diet most of the time, she has a weakness for french fries. “If there are french fries in the vicinity, I’m done. It’s over,” she says.
“Barack, his [vice] is chips and salsa and guacamole. And peanuts, almonds, pecans. And there’s a way that he eats that we tease him about: He kind of shakes them in one hand and creates, like, a little dispenser with his index finger where he can just pop them in his mouth. He’s a nut guy. That’s what he’s munching on all the time.”
The First Lady enjoys gardening and picks vegetables for her meals straight from the White House Garden, which she detailed in her book American Grown.