Trying to make my way to Michelle-Style yesterday, I was intercepted by the front page of Google News: Michelle's arms were at the top of the page.
Admittedly, I was exasperated, caught up in the fact that we had just gotten Lubna Hussein out of jail in Khartoum two days before the arrival of US envoy Scott Gaiton in Khartoum today.
Then I said; "Stop it Anne." This has always been one of my favorite photos of Michelle Obama. I want her to come out of her box again, but I know in a nation crazy about her latest pair of flats, her husband -- struggling, seriously struggling with his Camelot presidency -- has enough trouble keeping his message on track, without front page news about Michelle's shoes.
Nevertheless -- I miss the woman, our First Lady. Hopefully, we'll be seeing and hearing from her again soon.
So -- on the subject of Michelle's arms, I gave myself a lecture and read the article on Women's Health, the Michelle Obama arms scoop from trainer Cornell McClellan.
Our First Lady hit the gym in 1997 and has, according to McClellan's logs, worked out 1,872 times since then. Most of these sessions took place at 5:30 am. Yes, the mom with two daughters and no help at home was in the gym at 5:30 am.
"She's truly committed herself to the importance of health and fitness," McClellan says. "I believe the purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit. To do that, we take a holistic approach that includes strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility training."
Because I, too, am a gym rat, I know that you can't get the First Lady's body without a seriously challenging total body routine. Going down the list of her exercises, there's not an easy one on the list:
In one workout, Mrs. Obama might do one set of 15 to 20 reps each of lunges, bench presses, hip raises, and rows, all without resting--and with short bouts of intense cardio mixed in. For an even greater total-body challenge, the workouts also feature rope-jumping, kickboxing, and body-weight calisthenics, all done at a heart-and lung-busting pace that skyrockets fitness levels and burns tons of calories.
If you log into Rodale, no money but giving your email, you can read body-zone tips. If you want those arms, an email addy is required.
As is always the case with me, how to get Michelle's arms is not the end of my story.
Up to my eyeballs these days in international women's rights activism, I pulled out my earlier writing concerning the larger social symbolism of Michelle's arms and women's fitness in general. That got me going, and the First Lady's arms got quite a showing at Anne of Carversville yesterday, along with my own.
I had just written a "mission statement" of sorts, clarifying our meaning and focus not only around Lubna's case but the new one I'm taking on: Zambian journalist Chansa Kabwela, facing five years in prison because Zambian president Rupiah Banda charges that photos delivered privately to the Zambian ministry of a baby dying in childbirth are pornographic.
Chansa Kabwela is an opposition journalist, responding proactively to a desperate situation of hospitals being on strike in Zambia and babies dying on the steps, due to any medical attention. For having "heart", she's facing five years in jail, as a pornographer.
Writing Shakira & Lubna Inspire Smart Sensuality, Smarty Pants Types Saving Mother Earth, Vanilla Style, I suddenly had a vision of strong-armed women making some kind of breakthrough in a world headed towards self-destruction.
"Eurkea!" I said, with a jolt, suddenly thrilled with the "arms" article. Somewhere back in my mind was the recent news that not only is America still the largest arms dealer in the world, but business is growing, in spite of the recession.
Born on the stop is an article zipping through cybersapce: Soft Gloves Only Will Be Worn By Lubna's Smart Sensuality, International Arms Agents.
The concept of "soft gloves" comes from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's belief in the use of "soft power". I am positive that Secretary of State Clinton intervened in the Lubna Hussein case. I admit that this is only an instinct, but my sixth sense in this case has been "dead on" from day one.
You might say that I'm focused on a different type of international arms-dealer message these days, "soft power".
So much happens over on Anne of Carversville these days. It's no secret on Michelle-Style that I was chilled to the bone by Michelle's Vatican outfit. Being told two weeks ago in Park Slope, Brooklyn that this man would take me to a mosque for a few days, teaching me how to dress underscores my growing concerns about fundamentalism in the world.
At the same time, Egyptian feminists are translating my writing and asking me to write more broadly about self-image and veils. This recent article is one headed for translation in the Middle East: Beyond the Veil -- The Intersection of Sensuality, Culturally Appropriate & Women's Rights.
Women truly are gearing up around the world, and I'm hoping to persuade more American women to support them. I want a strong American First Lady front and center, not a Michelle Obama in public retreat.
The G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh later this month, will give us a good idea where Michelle is headed, in terms of her First Lady persona. Of course, I support her gardening; I always did.
Obesity shrinks our brains. Did you know that? It attacks our critical thinking abilities: Comfort Food, Obesity and Severe Brain Degeneration. On that note, it's time for the gym. Anne