The FLOTUS Plan

08.22.12

Michelle Obama’s 11 Diet and Fitness Secrets

The first lady just opened up about her aversion to counting calories. From hitting the gym at dawn to watch ‘SportsCenter’ with her husband to eating five meals a day and packing rubber bands, Isabel Wilkinson picks MObama’s best health tips.

Last week, the world obsessed over Paul Ryan’s extreme P90X workout, which involves intense cardio and yoga for 60 to 90 minutes a day, six days a week—and which has seen a considerable bump in interest since Ryan was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

But on Tuesday, it was Michelle Obama who stole back the fitness spotlight. In her inaugural posts on iVillage.com, where she is guest-editing for the month, the first lady opens up about her diet and fitness routine. It’s all part of a moms-centric back-to-school push in which Obama expounds on the challenges of parenting and being healthy. From her new pearls of wisdom to old favorites, we pick the 11 best Michelle Obama diet and workout tips of all-time:

1. She Doesn’t Count Calories

When it comes to dieting, Obama says she no longer fixates on counting calories. “I try to keep my weight at a certain level,” she tells iVillage. “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 ... I just don’t like to live that way.” As she wrote in a column Women’s Health in 2010, “Being a healthy woman isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline—and we can’t afford to think that way. Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters—on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves.”

2. She Works Out at the Crack of Dawn

Every day MObama gets up at around 4:30 or 5 a.m. to work out before her kids wake up and does cardio and weights. She often meets Barack at the gym. “I usually get to the gym before he does,” she says. “But he is usually there either in the middle of my workout or right at the end.”

3. She Listens to Willow Smith

Well, this is awesome: “Whip My Hair” is on her playlist, alongside J.Lo’s “Get Right.”

4. She Watches ‘SportsCenter’  as a Distraction While She Works Out

“That’s why I know so much about sports, and you start having an opinion about [New York Jets quarterbacks Tim] Tebow and Mark Sanchez,” she tells iVillage.

5. She Eats Five Meals a Day, When She’s ‘Doing What I’m Supposed to Do’

“I try to eat—when I’m being good—five meals, a breakfast, which can be like stir-fried vegetables, tofu, or oatmeal,” she said while promoting her book, American Grown: The Story of The White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. “And then I’ll have a snack, something like this [pointing to a tray of sliced apples and honey from the White House beehive] or a vegetable tray or sometimes a protein shake ... then lunch. This last year I’ve tried to change it so my lunch is my biggest meal ... like today, I had fish and vegetables, stir-fried vegetables. And if I’m going to have a carb, like a brown rice or a potato or something, I’ll have it at lunch.”

6. She Leaves It to Her Chefs

“I give them guidelines, because I don’t have time to think about, oh, I want to have this for lunch,” she said on her book tour. “One of my favorite lunches is veggie pizza on whole-wheat bread. It’s really good, just loaded with vegetables and cheese and tomato sauce. I love that. And then, dinner is again up to the chefs. It will have a meat, a grain, vegetables, salad. If I’m trying to be lean I’ll just do a salad. And if I’m hungry I’ll add a protein on top of that.”

7. There’s Obviously An ‘Arm-Training Superset’ Somewhere in There

According to her trainer Cornell McClellan, MObama’s weightlifting and cardio sets include a rigorous arm segment that includes triceps pushdowns and hammer curls.

8. There’s Somehow Time in Her Schedule for Yoga and Pilates

“I have found that as I get older, I need to work on flexibility, because that’s where you help to avoid injuries,” she tells iVillage. “So I started doing some yoga. I’ve done Pilates before, but I have a hard time doing both, because I just don’t have the time in my schedule. But I always try to do something that really works on that flexibility leg of the fitness stool.”

9. She Pumps Iron

“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.”

10. She’s Packing Rubber Bands

The first lady packs a rubber band and a jump rope in her suitcase on the road. “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,” she says.

11. She Is Not Afraid to Tell You She Loves Her Fries

“Which is good because you can’t just have french fries around, so that’s helpful,” she says. “But if there are french fries in the vicinity, I’m done. It’s over.”