CONFESSION: I sometimes keep watching Disney XD shows even after my children have left the
room floor house. But can you really blame me? That witty dog that talks, those crazy kids who found the superhero hospital, bionic teenagers – oh my!
One result of my hours of kid-focused television viewing over the last few years has been my exposure to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.
For the last few years, Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living campaign and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign have been partnering to teach families the importance of making nutritious choices each day as well as getting up and moving to keep our bodies fit. While this partnership was my first introduction to the the First Lady’s initiative, the Let’s Move! campaign goes far beyond this one relationship. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit the White House and hear from Michelle Obama herself along with a panel of experts from both government and non-government non-profit agencies, all working toward the same goal – a healthier generation of Americans.
That’s right – earlier this week I got to go through the thirty-six layers of security, walk into the White House, and listen to the coolest, classiest, most awe-inspiring First Lady in generations talk about the health of America’s families.
I have personally struggled with my weight since late elementary school when I went from a skinny tomboy to a shall-we-say-fluffy girl who was horribly self-conscious and uncomfortable in her own skin. While genetics played their role in my body’s transition and continue to influence my health, I know that activity level and nutrition were key in my life as an overweight tween.
I wasn’t obese. I wasn’t even necessarily unhealthy. But I was learning unhealthy eating and activity habits that became the foundation for a lifetime of struggles, struggles that have followed me into adulthood in the form of borderline cholesterol, borderline high blood pressure, and the approach of my forties when all of those “borderlines” will become full blown health issues without proper nutrition and exercise.
What would have happened if I had reached for an apple after school instead of a couple cookies?
What if my lunchtime beverage of choice had been a glass of water instead of a can of soda?
What if my Saturday mornings had been spent playing basketball in the driveway instead of watching cartoons for four hours straight?
What if I had joined my parents on their nightly walks with the family dog?
These moments of choice are the crux of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign, and perhaps the most poignant moment of Mrs. Obama’s remarks came when she described how personal choices inspired the initiative. Prior to their time in the White House, Mr. and Mrs. Obama were, like many of us, two busy, working parents with small children. And like many of us, there were too many meals grabbed on the run, too many fast choices rather than healthy choices, and quite simply, not enough time exercising. The result? The Obama girls were not passing their doctor’s appointments with flying colors.
Mrs. Obama decided to stop making the easiest choices and began making the healthiest choices. This meant moving dessert from, as she put it, being a “basic human right to being a special treat for weekends.” She went from multiple nights of quick take-out to more home cooked meals, cookies for snacks to fruits and veggies, and sugary drinks to lots and lots of water. The result was that her girls not only became healthier in that moment, but they’ve gone on to continue living the healthy lifestyle that she demonstrated and taught them in early childhood. And when the Obamas moved into the White House, the new First Lady made it her goal – her passion – to bring these same healthy changes to children and families across the nation.
The Let’s Move! campaign is “dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.” The campaign includes a variety of strategies meant to put children on the path to a healthy future and giving parents and communities the tools they need.
The initiative focuses on the following five pillars:
- Creating a healthy start for children
- Empowering parents and caregivers
- Providing healthy food in schools
- Improving access to healthy, affordable foods
- Increasing physical activity
In much the same way that Michelle Obama made small but powerful changes in her own family, we all have the power to inspire change in our homes and communities. Let’s Move! provides resources for families beginning their healthy choices journey as well as for local governments in search of grant funds for programming.
To learn more and join the Let’s Move! movement, visit LetsMove.gov as well as www.letsmove.gov/initiatives to learn more about partner programs from other federal agencies, businesses, and non-profits. You can also follow Let’s Move! and related initiatives on social media at Twitter.com/LetsMove, Facebook.com/letsmove, and Instagram.com/WHKitchenGarden.