Yesterday, first lady Michelle Obama held what the White House is dubbing a “Fireside Hangout” to continue her whirlwind celebration of the third anniversary of Let’s Move! Last week, Mrs. Obama promoted her healthy eating and exercise initiatives aimed at reducing childhood obesity across three states, after appearing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in a taped appearance for the cause.
Her participation in his comedy skit “The Evolution of Mom Dancing,” created to coincide with the third anniversary of Let’s Move!, helped the video go viral garnering over 14,000,000 views in a week.
Mrs. Obama’s first ever Google+ hangout, which she conducted from the Blue Room in the White House, was yet another effort in the online space aimed at encouraging healthy families. A project that united parents, teachers, and kids to battle America’s obesity problem among our youth, the video chat session attracted approximately 3,500 people.
Hosted by Kelly Ripa, host of Live with Kelly and Michael, the lively discussion focused on the frank sharing of simple ways to encourage movement and make good eating choices. The first lady was joined by a mother from Wyoming, a dad from north Carolina, and a third grade class from Brewer, Maine, among other participants.
When asked about how to best encourage healthy weight loss among overweight pre-teens, the first lady responded, “the first thing I want to make sure that we do is not make this an issue about looks. We should really talk to kids about how they feel, how they feel inside, so that we’re not just dealing with the physical manifestations of the challenge, but we’re really tapping into what’s going on inside the head of that child.”
Mrs. Obama described her way of helping her daughters maintain healthy weights, noting the importance of taking the burden off children for fitness.
“I never talked about weight in the household,” she said. “We just started making changes, and we made changes in a way that didn’t make them feel badly about themselves. It didn’t even make them feel any ownership of it, because truly kids that age can’t control what they eat. So as the mom… I took it upon myself to just make sure we surrounded them with foods that were healthy, and that they could eat whenever they wanted to… you just have to get the temptation out of the household wherever possible and then just try to make activity fun.”
Speaking of making activity fun, the first lady also used her Google+ hangout to introduce a new facet of Let’s Move!: Let’s Move! Active Schools. A program she described as “an initiative that’s designed to put physical activity back into the school day on a daily basis,” Let’s Move! Active Schools hopes to reach 50,000 schools in five years.
“If we start out with that premise that physical fitness and good nutrition is key to academic success, if we start there, then the choices that we make throughout the day will bear out our understanding of the need for that balance,” Mrs. Obama said. “This is one of the things we’re really trying to focus on with Let’s Move!… not just nutrition, not just diet, but also that other leg of the stool, which is getting our kids moving. Our kids need 60 minutes of activity every single day, and the kids today are nowhere near coming close to that number.”
As though to illustrate the benefits of exercise, the first lady got the Brewer elementary school students moving along with the adults during the chat.
After one student asked, “What is your favorite dance move?,” Mrs. Obama answered, “Well, it’s obviously ‘the dougie,’ you know? Can you guys do a little dougie?” Mrs. Obama said. Then, as if on cue, the students starting doing the dance, which has become a signature move for the first lady.
“There we go, we’ve got the Brewer students doing a little dougie… Come on! All our participants,” she said, getting everyone to join in on the movement.
“There you go! We’re dougiing all over the land,” Mrs. Obama joked, leading the impromptu dance session.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.