She’s brilliant, well dressed, chief-of-garden growing, jumping jack champion, and in the best shape of any member of the white house staff, or even the late night talk show circuit. Hopefully, by now, you know to whom I am referring? What was Jimmy Fallon thinking of taking on First Lady Michelle Obama? Some men never learn. Not only is the first lady in excellent shape, but she’s been putting in extra cardio sessions gearing up the 2nd anniversary of the “Let’s Move” tour. Mr. Fallon should have known he was not a match for our first lady.
We are honored and humbled that the First Lady made two stops in the DFW and graced us with her presence overnight…I stood with a select group of the press core that came from all over the country to cover this rare event. Could it have something to do with the president’s pending election? Yes and no, as Mrs. Obama is passionate about her cause, but as she said many times she wants her husband to be her president for another four years. I wonder where she stayed?
Oh, how much joyful noise she has brought to our city…from snipers on the roof, style-scouting bloggers, secret service agents, bomb sniffing dogs, a traveling core of staff and security and the list continues. In just the past few days, she’s danced with cheering school children, chatted with troops, swapped ideas with parents and engaged in a friendly cooking competition with stars from “Top Chef”. The first lady took on the issue of childhood obesity because almost a third of U.S. children are at least overweight and about 17 percent of those are obese. In the two years since she launched her campaign, she has brought substantial new visibility to the childhood obesity issue and has prodded schools, families, restaurants, grocery stores, doctors, local communities and vested others to do more to tackle the problem.
Michelle Obama’s first day in north Texas started with an hour long drive from the airport to an Olive Garden restaurant fifteen minutes from my home. After hugging the small select group of parents invited to this dinner, she exclaimed ” I hope you’re hungry, I’m starving.” Fellow diners ordered off a set menu with options from 100-500 calories. Mrs Obama had a salad, minestrone soup, venetian chicken and limoncello for dessert. Mrs. Obama, like her husband, is a master story teller, sharing personal tales of her father, revealing how active he was growing up with boxing and swimming before he developed MS. “Let’s Move”is a result of her own experience as a working mother whose husband was out of town a lot.
“For me, this is personal.” she said. ”Getting the family back to the dinner and table and making healthier options is everyone’s responsibility.” Although the First lady was speaking to parents Thursday night, she is also speaking to chefs, restaurants, and schools to get involved and make big changes. Darden, the largest national casual dining company owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouses and other several other chains, is in the process of revamping their children’s menu to include healthier options. This national chain conglomerate also has pledge a 10% calorie and sodium reduction in the regular menu within five years, and a 20% reduction in ten years. As a mother of a toddler, I am always looking for healthy kids meal options, and this is a step in the right direction.
The first lady’s next day in Texas began with a very early press call. I would like to imagine that the First Lady was sleeping in her plush Dallas hotel room, enjoying a workout, and healthy breakfast while I rose at 4:30 a.m to get ready for the day’s events. I haven’t awaken this early in a really long time, but who needs sleep when you are going to meet a fashionista like our First Lady? To my surprise the room was small which made our encounter more intimate, and harder to get into. Check point, after check point, after check point with bomb sniffing dogs, snipers, and secrete service agents partnered with the energy from excited children from the Nancy Moseley Elementary School dressed in red, white and blue and chanting as the festivities began.
Team Emceeing by White House chef Sam Kass and CRAFT Dallas chef and Tom Chef host Tom Colicchio, the healthy cooking competition featured Top Chefs former and current contestants. Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio continued to fake the crowd out announcing Mrs. Obama presence. I am surprised that an annoyed crowd of children, throwing tomatoes, didn’t erupt after a series of fake outs. Finally, happy, star-struck cheers erupted as Mrs. Obama entered the school in a tangerine blouse, turquoise high waisted skirt and kitten leopard hells. Her style is unremarkable, but her smile out shinned her style. With Bravo producers and camera men rolling a Top Chef styled quick fire competition began with Top Chefs Richard Blais, Fabio Viviani, Jenn Carroll, Spike Mendelsohn, Grayson Schmitz, and Paul Qui, while students from Nancy Moseley Elementary School in Dallas watched and cheered from bleachers. In the end, no winner was picked: When kids eat healthy food, “everybody’s a winner,” Obama said. Hugs and high fives went all around. Dallas Cowboys players DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Felix Jones, and DeMarco Murrary also participated in the competition.
“Now, this is the third state — the third state — that we’ve visited in just a little over a day, so we’ve been busy. We’ve been to Iowa. We’ve been to Arkansas. And right after we leave here, we’re going to be in Florida. And we’re doing this because we want to see what folks across this country are doing to eat healthy and to get active.” The first lady began. “ As everybody here knows, this challenge is run by the Department of Agriculture, or the USDA as we call it. And it recognizes schools that meet the highest national standards for nutrition and physical activity — the highest standards. These schools are the schools that are finding creative, innovative ways to serve healthy meals and to get kids active. But right here in Dallas, more than 150 schools have been recognized in this challenge. That includes 78 schools that have earned Gold Awards, which go to schools that meet the highest levels of standards. And that’s more than any other school district in the entire country.”
Dallas is really leading the way for schools and we want schools across the country to start following your lead. Programs like “Chefs Move to School” which brings local chefs into our schools to prepare healthier food (options) – just like we did today- and to teach our children about healthy eating. So far, more than 3,400 chefs have volunteered through out the country.” In the past two years our athletes have been stepping up as they are some of the best role models we have. Particularly, the NFL has been (helpful in) finding ways to get you guys to move and understand the importance of nutrition.” Whether or not you are a fan of the current administration, coming away from the First Lady’s pep rally you couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed with support for her healthy lifestyle initiatives.
For more on the Let’s Move programs, visit here.