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If the president can stay healthy through the holidays, so can you

November 04, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • President Barak Obama, shown here playing basketball in 2009, maintains a good fitness routine year-round, says his personal trainer.
President Barak Obama, shown here playing basketball in 2009, maintains… (Pete Souza / EPA )

You think you have a rough time avoiding temptation over the holidays? It's probably nothing compared with the parties the president and first lady have to navigate. But as Cornell McLellan tells it, the First Family doesn't need any diet advice. He should know--he's their personal trainer.

"They get it--this is a lifestyle for them," he said of the Obamas. "Once you prioritize your health, fitness becomes who you are. These are people who work out every day, and they know how to make good food choices. They host a lot of Christmas parties, so it's great that they are who they are--I don't know who else could get through these parties."

When we spoke with McLellan he had just wrapped up the keynote speech at the American Council on Exercise's annual fitness symposium in San Diego. The owner of the Chicago training facility Naturally Fit, McLellan is also co-chairman of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. He had high praise for ACE's part in Joining Forces, a national initiative involving various areas of society to help and support service members and their families, including 1 million hours of free fitness services.

While McLellan said he doesn't accompany the Obamas that often when they travel, he doesn't worry that anyone is sneaking cookies on the sly or slacking off on their workouts. There's usually an adequate hotel gym, or the old stand-by: body resistance exercises.

"The president is someone who is going to work out," McLellan said, "even if he has to get up early. Wherever he is in the world he's going to make sure to get his time in."

Michelle Obama, he added, was one of the first people to complete the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge, a six-week program designed to help children and adults adopt more healthful diet and fitness habits. The first lady, he said, wasn't cut any slack just because she lives in the White House.

"She had to report every jumping jack--everything," he said. "We're not just giving the awards out."

What's his advice for the rest of us who hope to dodge the egg nog and an extra five pounds this season?

"First, understand that your health is your wealth, and make sure to prioritize fitness," he said. "Do it first thing in the morning and get it out of the way."

Starving yourself before a big dinner is a big no-no: "That would be the wrong idea. Keep on your regular routine and think in terms of small portions." Two more tips: drink water before you start eating, and put your meal on a salad plate, which is smaller than a dinner plate. "Have 90% of what you need and 10% of what you want," he said.

So with all this great guidance, we guess there's no way to avoid sticking to a healthful lifestyle this season.

McLellan agreed. "I think all the excuses have been used up."

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