NEW YORK, Aug. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- First Lady Michelle Obama reveals to iVillage, one of the largest online communities for women, that she speaks openly and honestly with her daughters, and feels there's no limit to how much positive feedback you can give children. Kicking off iVillage's new guest editor series, she also shares her feeling that women should be supporting – not judging – one another. The personal anecdotes will be incorporated into the family, food, and health content she is curating on iVillage, and relates to the overall theme of "Rev Up Your Back to School Routine." Her role as iVillage's guest editor, which began Monday, August 20 and runs through Sunday, August 26, marks the first time Mrs. Obama will participate as a guest editor with any media outlet.
Many of these revelations took place during iVillage chief correspondent Kelly Wallace's exclusive interview with Mrs. Obama, conducted at the White House on Monday, August 20. The interview will run across the site throughout this week. The conversation was shaped by the questions submitted by the millions of women on iVillage's active audience, who were invited to submit inquiries for the First Lady via social forums on the site. The First Lady shared additional personal stories during working sessions with iVillage editors leading up to her weeklong role.
"The First Lady wanted this to be her most informal interview ever – she took off her shoes and relaxed on the sofa as we spoke woman-to-woman, mom-to-mom, about what is on the minds of iVillage's community of millions of women," said Kelly Wallace, iVillage Chief Correspondent. "Previously, she mentioned that the importance of iVillage is that so many women live outside their networks of support, and our site is one way women can reach out and find connections. In our interview Monday, we covered so many topics that really resonate with women in our community – from giving our girls a healthy body image to whether women 'can have it all.' Mrs. Obama believes women should be open and give each other a break, not judge each other."
The First Lady's "Rev Up Your Back to School Routine" theme for the week will be brought to life through special daily themes: Monday – Food shopping 101; Tuesday – Get your family moving and energized; Wednesday – Embrace a new healthy habit; Thursday – Get your family on a sleep schedule that works; Friday – Recharge your most important relationships; Saturday – Make ME time; Sunday – Get out to garden no matter where you live.
The site will announce future iVillage Guest Editors -- including prominent figures representing a broad cross section of experience, opinion and background -- in the coming weeks.
HIGHLIGHTS OF FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA'S PERSONAL ANECDOTES EXCLUSIVELY FOR iVILLAGE
On Quitting Smoking:
(Barack) stopped. And I have to say that I know that his ability to ultimately kick the habit was because of the girls, because they're at the age now where you can't hide. It's clear.
So when it comes to smoking, we're very clear -- it's not good for you; it's addicting. And Barack used himself as an example of how difficult it was…I think that he didn't want to look his girls in the eye and tell them that they shouldn't do something that he was still doing.
So they played an important role in him finally saying, I've got to get this done. It wasn't the presidency; it wasn't the pressure from me; it wasn't even his own health because he wasn't a big smoker.
Asked if she's read "50 Shades of Grey:"
You know, you can't live in this society without hearing about "Fifty Shades of Grey." Everybody has heard about that book, including me. Neither of us (the President or First Lady) have read it, because I haven't had time to read anything. But I have a lot of friends, staff, people who are reading it, so it's all around.
Asked why she thinks it's so popular:
Not having read it, it's hard to know exactly what's going on. But it's obviously tacked into something, and giving people permission to explore parts of themselves that maybe felt a bit taboo. But I don't know, that's just a good guess.
What healthy habit has been easiest to form since coming to the White House?
Surprisingly, the best healthy habit is eating dinner together on a regular basis. And I think we underestimate the importance of families sitting down around the table at a set time. And it's hard for many families.
It was hard for us until we got to the White House, but we talk about this all the time. Barack can at least control that part of his schedule. He can stop whatever he is doing, come home at 6:30 p.m. We kind of structure our lives around mealtime. And right now, the people who mess that schedule up these days are the kids, because they're busy and they have things that they're doing and afterschool activities, and sports and games and things like that.
And also just having a kitchen full of healthy snacks -- and I say this all the time -- I need it more than my kids need it, because if there's a bag of chips in my cabinet, I'm going to eat them. I'm going to eat them, and I'm going to eat them until they're gone, right?
On the First Family's Healthy Habits and Vices:
Malia is juice…I suggested to her that she cut her juice in half, that first of all she drinks water first when she's thirsty and not just juice. And then, when she has the juice, do like one-third seltzer water or water just to cut the sugar content….
Barack, his is chips and salsa and guacamole. And peanuts – nuts – almonds, pecans. And there's a way that he eats them that we tease him about -- he kind of shakes them in one hand and creates, like, a little dispenser with his index finger where he can just pop them in his mouth. And I kind of imitate him when he does that. But he's a nut guy. That's what he's munching on all the time. And if there are chips and salsa, he really can't stop eating those.
For me, it's French fries, which is good because you can't just have French fries around, so that's helpful. But if there are French fries in the vicinity, I'm done. It's over.
For Sasha, she's kind of a free for all.
Nurturing Important Relationships:
On her incredibly important bond with her girlfriends:
We started developing this playgroup when the kids were in carriers, because it was more of a mommy play date then. And we found that many of us -- we were all working women. We had husbands who traveled -- sort of similar stories. Some were single-parent mothers. And we just found that being able to meet once a week, and kind of debrief and talk about the kids and talk about the challenges of motherhood and what we were worried about….
I rely on them implicitly to be able to talk frankly and complain without being judged, and to let off steam knowing that you really don't mean it. And you sort of get a pep talk from your team and you get pushed back into the game. It's like, you'll be okay and dust it off.
It has just been essential for me in this role, being in such a highly visible, highly scrutinized environment to have people that you've known for that long where you can just be yourself and be vulnerable. And that's one of the reasons why I encourage women to take care of our friendship, because while my husband is my best friend -- and I love and respect him dearly -- my female friends just provide a different kind of support. He is grateful to those women in my life as well. And he is somebody who understands my need to have my girls around me.
On support systems:
I think sometimes we, as women, feel like we're not doing it right unless we're doing it all ourselves. And I had to throw that out the window a long time ago. I had to sort of understand that getting help wasn't a sign of weakness. In fact, our generation, we're probably one of the first generations where we're growing up trying to do everything.
On quality family time:
A great weekend is spending time together and listening to the girls, and hearing their ideas and talking about them and thinking about the future.
Can women have it all?
My message to women is: Be open. Give yourself a break. Stop thinking that there is an answer to that question, "Can women have it all?" Stop trying to answer it. Just live your life and figure out what's in your heart and what do you need. And that will change every year, and you've got to be okay with that.
Doing it right:
There isn't a day, there's not a minute that goes by that I'm not hoping and praying that I'm doing what's right for these girls so that they grow up independent and confident and loved and just ready to embrace the challenges.
And it's important to me that they learn lessons from everything. It's like, say, if they're going to watch a show, I'll probably sit down and watch it with them just to see what lessons they're learning from it. And if they're learning the right lessons, then I'm kind of okay with it. If they're starting to take in stuff that's not healthy, then that's when I'd be more inclined to intervene. But I haven't seen that yet. They're pretty level-headed kids….
Exercise and working out:
On whether or not she feels pressure to keep her iconic toned arms in shape:
I just saw two weeks of Olympic athletes who have real arms, so I always wonder, well, what is it? My arms do not compete with people have "real" arms. But obviously, people know that exercise is important. For me, it's a de-stresser, first and foremost.
On working out with her husband: (Mrs. Obama gets up at 4:30 to work out; a friend of hers we spoke to confirmed she has been dedicated to this early morning workout routine for years)
Barack and I work out every day. So we spend time together in the morning. I usually get to the gym before he does. But he is usually there either in the middle of my workout or right at the end. And we're watching Sports Center and we're catching up. That's why I know so much about sports…and you start having an opinion about Tebow and Mark Sanchez.
On working out on the road:
I bring a jump rope…I can usually do some jump roping in the hotel room. If I don't have a rope or space, I might do a 30-minute routine that includes a minute of jumping jacks alternating with a minute of pushups, then some sit-ups. You take a 30 second break and do it again.
On Body Image:
I try to provide a good example for them. I want them -- part of the reason why I work out is that I want them to see a mother, a woman who is working out, who is embracing the physical side of herself…. That's why you see me jumping rope and hula-hooping with kids, because I think that they just need to see this is fun, it's a game. It's not that serious. You don't have to be a great athlete. You just have to be willing to get out there and do it.
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Semonti Stephens, [email protected] (202) 456-6313