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As women, we’re used to hearing about fitness in terms of inches and dress sizes. We may know better, but we’re up against near-constant reminders and pressures to look good and take shortcuts to get there.

The truth is, being a healthy woman isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline—and we can’t afford to think that way. Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters–on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves.

For me, improving my health started with an eye-opening conversation I had with our family pediatrician when my girls were very young. He asked me, simply, “What are you all eating?” And as I answered his question, I realized our family needed to make some changes–and so we did. We started eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, watching our portions, and eating less takeout.

I also changed my mindset. I started thinking about exercise as an investment in myself instead of a chore, and I started focusing on the example I wanted to set for my girls. My schedule was dominated by career and kids–not to mention a very busy husband–but thinking about exercise this way made it a priority, even if I had to get up earlier to do it.

That’s what being fit meant to me: feeling good inside and out, and taking control of my health.

Now, I try to work out most mornings with cardio and weights. I also add yoga into my routine when I can, because as I get older I know it’s essential for my flexibility and mobility. I want to be as healthy at 75 as I am now–so I keep on setting, and pushing myself toward, new goals.

To read the rest of Mrs. Obama’s essay please visit: Women’s Health (Taking Control of Our Health)

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Make sure to read: Let’s Honor The Overlooked Mothers Of The Civil Rights Movement

Take a look at our gallery of Elev8’s Inspiring Women. Did we miss anyone?

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