From One Mother to Another – Michelle Obama on her Let’s Move Initiative
On Tuesday, March 15, 2016 I had the honor of visiting the White House to attend a blogger event on the Let’s Move Initiative started by First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. When I was invited initially I wasn’t sure if I would attend, I emailed my husband and he told me that I should go, “this is a once in a lifetime moment” he said, you have to go. Plans were made and fast forward to me sitting in a room with about 150 bloggers, the doors of the meeting room closed and we’re sitting in silence. I don’t think I’ve even been in a room so quite, we heard the doors pull and got excited, it was a false alarm. Three minutes later Dominique Dawes, Co-Chair, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and three-time Olympic gymnast, approached the podium and introduced First Lady Obama.
The First Lady walked to the podium and thanked us for attending the event, she shared her excitement for having us while giving her official welcome and even gave a special shout out to the dads in the room. She briefly walked us down memory lane, recalling some activities Dominique participated in while serving as Co-Chair on the committee.
The First Lady jumped right into the conversation sharing with us her own family’s struggle with childhood obesity. Before they were White House bound, Mrs. Obama was working at a university, while her husband was traveling for work.
“Life back then was a constant juggling act for my family, Barack was traveling all the time running for some office, going back and forth to Washington. At the time the girls were little, and they had those little kids schedules filled with soccer practice, birthday parties, skating, dance classes – we were always rushing. We were always pressed for time and as a result meal times was about what was quick and easy. The drive-thru, microwave, take-out, anything quick and easy, we did.”
Those words stuck with me, because we all have been there as parents, this is our family practically every weekend, or the days when I’m drained from giving 120% of myself to the kids. Hearing her words made me realize that we do have things in common with them.
The Wake Up Call
The wake-up call for the Obamas came with a visit from the pediatrician. Doctor’s visits have a way to changing out perspective on things, and that’s exactly what happened for the First Lady.
“They had just done the routine weight and height checks and our doctor had this look of concern on his face, and he asked me ‘What are you’ll eating at home?’ and right then and there I remember it, my heart sank. The thought that I was maybe doing something that wasn’t good for my kids was devastating!” She described how she was displeased and wanted to know how she could do better and make a change for her girls.
Implementing Major Changes for Her Family’s Health
Change is never easy, I remember telling my husband after watching a horrible video on tilapia, that I was cutting the fish from our diets. This was major because I made it at least once a week in our house but as attractive the price has been I still haven’t brought any back into our house or ordered it when dining out for a year. The First Lady approached the changes in her house in a different way.
I searched for simple, affordable changes to your diets. For starters I started with cooking more. I would make simple meals like baked chicken, salads, pasta, and I tried to cook a nice Sunday dinner every week. We cut cookies and chips from our diets, including sugared drinks and switched to fruits and lots of water. And desert in our household went from being a basic human right to a special treat on the weekends.
The change was rough on the family at first, the First Lady said she remembered her girls looking at their sad apple slices and frowning their faces at their food. They would have conversations about their long-lost beloved snack foods that were no longer in their pantry but she never gave in to their puppy dog eyes. They stuck with their new lifestyle and eventually the girls palettes changed and they became healthier, even their pediatrician was shocked by how quickly they had turned things around.
Bringing Change to the Whole Country
Once the Obamas reached the White House, the First Lady knew she had to find her special project she would work on during her time as FLOTUS, she decided to use her own family experience to start a movement and spark change for the whole country. Six years ago she created the Let’s Move initiative dedicated to help kids and families lead healthier lives.
To achieve this goal we are working to provide better information for parents with efforts like My Plate, we’re revamping food and nutrition labels, working toward building healthier communities for our families, we’re taking on food marketing as well; engaging celebrities like Stephen Curry, and working with Sesame Street using everyone’s favorite furry creatures to promote fresh fruit and veggies.
According to the First Lady over 31 million kids are eating healthier school lunches each day, they are working towards giving parents more control and more choices when it comes to feeding their children.
One of the most important lines the First Lady shared in her whole speech was that as parents we have to be responsible for our children’s health, we created a demand for processed and fast foods, and companies just stepped up to supply that demand. As parents we need to raise our voices and stand up for healthier food options for our kids.
I was very excited about my opportunity to spend the few hours I did in the White House and to hear the First Lady talk to us from one mother to another – oh and father too. She was passionate, down to earth, but serious about making a change in the right direction. If you’re interested in listening to the whole speech, fellow blogger Amiyrah from 4 Hats and Frugal shared it online. Be sure to check it out and come back next week for more on the Let’s Move Initiative and remarks from Dominique Dawes.