What is it with white, male conservatives and Michelle Obama.
File this under, “Not much room to talk.”
Rush Limbaugh called Michelle Obama a hypocrite on his Monday show, saying that, while the First Lady advocates healthy eating, she “doesn’t look like [she] follows her own…dietary advice” and would never be put on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue.
Limbaugh was reacting to a report from Colorado which mentioned that Obama ate ribs at a restaurant during her skiing holiday there this past weekend. He said this was evidence of Obama’s hypocrisy around food.
Obama’s campaign to curb obesity and promote healthy eating has become a bête noire for many conservatives, who have cast it as an example of big government overreach. Last week, a controversial cartoon depicted Obama as overweight and binging on hamburgers even as she talked about eating healthy foods.
What follows is almost too easy, and to obvious. Still, it must be done.
Oh, hell. You get the idea. It’s easy enough to find pictures of Michelle Obama that show more than her face. It’s less easy to find pictures of Limbaugh that show anything from the chins down. Know what I mean.
Look, Michelle Obama is a lot of things — a woman, a black woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, an icon, a symbol, a lightening rod — but one thing she is not is fat. Look at her. She is obviously someone who takes care of herself, through diet and fat burning exercise. She’s a 46 year old woman, who’s had two children. There’s just no way she’d look the way she does if she didn’t take care of herself. Sure, she has the advantage of being tall, but that wouldn’t make up for much if she didn’t work at staying healthy.
Obama has said she exercises in 90-minute workout three times a week with a personal trainer. The first lady told People magazine that during an average day in the White House, she and the president get up at 5:30 a.m. and usually work out and have breakfast.
When Obama emerged with uncovered arms on Tuesday, some grumbled about her showing too much skin on an occasion where other women were wearing long sleeves or suits.
Boston Herald columnist Lauren Beckham Falcone wrote to Obama, “It’s February. Going sleeveless in subzero temperature is just showing off. All due respect.”
But others were amazed, like 25-year-old Jessie Rosen. After seeing Obama at the speech Tuesday, she went to the Adidas store in New York and bought two five-pound dumbbells. “It was her arms being so toned in spite of her life,” she said.
But Limbaugh’s comment about Michelle Obama reveals that he knows little about diet, exercise, and weight control.
“If we’re supposed to go out and eat nothing, if we’re supposed to eat roots and berries and tree bark, show us how,” Limbaugh said. He continued:
“The problem is, and dare I say this, it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice. And then we hear that she’s out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving…I’m trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you.”
This, from a man who lost 80 lbs in 21 weeks by eating 1,500 calories a day.
Let’s see: according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Rush is a 58 year old male, 5’11”. He said he weighed 290 pounds (at the start of the diet) with a presumed sedentary activity level (he’s not a big fan of exercise – see below) and a daily calorie requirement of 2,589 needed to maintain 290 pounds. I figured Rush would have lost about 45 pounds in 21 weeks consuming 1500 calories a day.
… Here’s the math: 2589 calories required – 1500 calorie intake = 1089 calorie deficit every day and 7623 calorie deficit every week; 7623 calories x 21 weeks = 160,083 calorie deficit. Since one pound is lost for every 3,500 calorie deficit, 160,083 / 3500 = 45.7 pounds.)
But, Rush said he lost 80 pounds. Is my math off? Well, Quick Weight Loss Centers explains that their “nutritional plans provide up to 1,500 calories a day,” but by my calculations, Rush would have to eat an unhealthy 650 calories to lose as much weight as he said he lost.
Here’s where Rush reveals how much he doesn’t know vs. how much Michelle Obama does know. He’s picked out one meal the the First Lady was reported — ribs. Now, let’s just assume that on this occasion Michelle Obama consumed 1,500 calories in a plate of ribs. I’m willing to bet my next paycheck that the First Lady doesn’t eat like that at every meal, or every day. She couldn’t, and look the way she does.
There are two things Michelle Obama knows that maybe Limbaugh doesn’t. The first is that straying from your usual diet for, say, one meal is alright as long as you return to a healthy diet plan afterwards. I doubt she consumed a whole plate of ribs, for example, the day before or the day after. In fact, someone who plans their diet might even “budget” for a heavier meal, by having lower calories meals to balance that one out. Someone who’s going out to dinner might have a lighter breakfast and lunch in order to either stay within their planned caloric intake, or to at least avoid going over by too much. My guess is that after that mean, Michelle Obama probably went right back to her usual diet.
She might have also thrown in a extra exercise session. Limbaugh got one thing right. One can lose weight without exercise. But exercise makes it easier to take it off and keep it off. Diet and exercise are the most effective weight loss combination. For one thing, you lose weight by burning more calories than you eat. Exercise means that you burn more calories than you would with diet alone. It also means that you have more flexibility in your caloric intake. If I spend, say, 45 minutes exercising, I can add the calories burned to my calorie budget, which means I either run a higher caloric deficit or have a little more leeway in what I eat.
Also, once you’ve reached a certain weight, exercise can make it easier to maintain that weight. I’m one of millions of Americans who doesn’t get enough exercise. I won’t say it’s because I can’t. It’s because I don’t. I could, but that means I’d have to make different choices, like one less hour in front of the computer at night, or one less hour watching television after everyone’s gone to bed.
It’s come to this. The long downward slide may not end here, but it’s brought us what should — if we’re lucky — be the nadir of American politics: a point at which characteristics that in any other circumstances would be admirable in just about anyone are actually undesirable if that person is running for president.
Never mind being unfit for office. It’s now entirely possible to be too fit for office.
Fast forward to here and now, and we find ourselves in the midst of a presidential race in which being intelligent, articulate, and even physically fit my hurt — not help — a candidate’s chances of being elected. Or so it’s thought. The latest evidence of this appeared in a Wall Street Journal piece I’d initially hoped was satire.
…Does what we’ve thus far applied to intellect in political hopefuls now apply to pounds and pulse rates? I hope not. I hope we’re smarter than that, still. Or maybe we resent being told we are smarter than that, should be smarter than that, or can be smarter than that. Maybe we resent being told we can do better, because the implication is that we should be doing better, which forces us to think about why we’re not. That means thinking about what we’re not doing, and why we’re not doing it.
I call it the “Oprah factor.” Legend has it, her popularity increases as her weight does (comedian Kathy Griffith compares it to “a hug from Jesus”), because she seems “more like us.” On the other hand, her popularity goes down when she’s on one of her “live your best life kicks.” (Unless she punctuates it with another spectacular “giveaway” show.) Never mind that it’s coming from someone who knows from experience a thing or two about improving his or her station in life, because he or she started in a place not too far from where we are.
Maybe that’s what we resent.
Or do we really believe that the most fit candidate — the one most likely to know something about the country’s we have dealings with, to keep up with current events, and perhaps even take in new information and think critically about his own position, as well as being healthy enough for the stresses of the job — is actually the least fit for office?
Just in case, maybe the Obama campaign should keep him off the basketball court, and make sure he puts on a few pounds before the debates. Just to be safe.
And maybe if Michelle Obama gained a few pounds, conservatives would leave her alone…