Samir Becic and the Health Fitness Revolution team have put together a list of the Fittest First Ladies in America. Regardless of party affiliation, it is important that our leaders demonstrate healthy lifestyle and physical fitness. Healthy Body, Healthy Mind- we want our leaders to be healthy!
We first researched all the available data on the American first ladies online and narrowed it down to 20 from the current first ladies. Then, we did more extensive research to narrow it down 15, 12, and then finally 10. We used a combination of interviews, internet, library, industry literature, and Samir Becic’s knowledge of over 33 years in athletics coupled with his experience as 4 times Number 1 Fitness Trainer in the World.
The women on this list not only lead healthy lifestyles themselves, but also promote within their leadership roles in their states. We will note, however, that out of all of our Top 10 lists, this was one the hardest to make because of the lack of information that many first ladies put out about health and fitness. Many first ladies did not make this list because although we could tell they are extremely fit themselves, they do not promote health and fitness on their states agendas. We hope that this list encourages more women in leadership to make health and fitness a priority within their states- not only for the well-being of their constituents, but also for the economic benefit of having a healthier workforce.
The following was all taken into consideration: fitness level, nutritional habits, age, their own medical issues and how they coped with them, and involvement and promotion of healthy lifestyle.
Michelle Obama- First Lady of the United States of America
Since Barack Obama’s inauguration into the White House 6 years ago, Michelle Obama has been seen tirelessly working on the fitness of this great nation’s children. Her program, Let’s Move, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.
“In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.”
And it doesn’t just end with her exercising with kids and setting a good example, she is also trying to reform laws- she recently proposed a law on banning Junk Food Marketing in Schools because “Our classrooms should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food,” Mrs. Obama said. Michelle Obama clearly leads by example, and has a well-documented fitness routine herself.
Anita Thigpen Perry- First Lady of Texas
As the longest serving First Lady of Texas, Anita Perry has been an active advocate for nursing (she was a nurse herself) and other health care issues. The Anita Thigpen Perry Endowment at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio focuses on nutrition, cardiovascular disease, health education, and early childhood development. Mrs. Perry has always been committed to health care issues – particularly those relating to women and children and she continues to pursue her dedication to improving the health of Texans. She has been known to show up at interviews straight from workouts, and we know she can keep up with her husband, Governor Rick Perry, who made our list of Top 10 Fittest Governors!
Karen Waldbillig Kasich- First Lady of Ohio
On the night of her husband’s inauguration, every one noticed Mrs. Kasich’s toned arms- and she is the picture of fit. She is dedicated to health and fitness, and happy to convey the importance of health and fitness, as part of her new position in the public eye.
“I’ve seen the effect of wellness on people’s lives, so I’m pretty passionate about it” Kasich says. Her healthy lifestyle is inspired in large part by her family’s health history with congenital heart disease- and she says “while I can’t control heredity, there are things I can control, like my fitness level.”
Her personal workout routine involves cardio, swimming and free weight exercises. She also says that while she will never be the strongest girl in the gym, or the fastest runner, she aims to be a good example and if she can run a marathon, anyone can. Her personal motto is “You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.”
Carol Mead- First Lady of Wyoming
On Carol Mead’s First Lady agenda are projects that improve the healthy lifestyles of children. Each year, she participates in several efforts and events to promote healthy lifestyles for Wyoming’s children. She hopes that, with a little encouragement, kids will make choices that will keep their bodies and minds healthy and ready to succeed. On November 3, 2013 she personally lead a team in the ING New York Marathon to honor the memory of the eight University of Wyoming student athletes who tragically lost their lives when their vehicle was struck by a drunk driver in September 2001. Mrs. Mead also leads effort against teen drinking and is on the “Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness.” We love that she also focuses on literacy and art as part of children’s development, since being well rounded is an important aspect of health.
Ann Scott- First Lady of Florida
Ann Scott is the First Lady of Florida, and wife to Governor Rick Scott, who made our list of Top 10 Fittest Governors. The couple, together, launched the Governor’s Wellness Challenge which recognizes schools making a positive difference in the lives of Florida’s students by promoting fitness, wellness and a healthier lifestyle.
“I know that healthy habits start young, and it is important for me as a mother, grandmother and as First Lady to encourage Florida’s children to be healthy and active,” said Mrs. Scott.
She has also said that as a mother, she knows that healthy bodies make healthy minds. She urges Floridians of all ages to eat healthy and get out and play.
Ginger Beebe- First Lady of Arkansas
First Lady Ginger is currently involved with groups that share her goal of reducing childhood obesity. Mrs. Beebe is working with fellow Top 10 First Lady to promote First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She promotes the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise when she visits school children.
“As First Lady of Arkansas, I care deeply about the well-being of the children of our State. They are our future and our greatest responsibility. We must teach them how to lead healthy, productive lives, and encourage nutritious habits at home and at school” says Beebe.
To accomplish this goal, she is currently working with several entities to develop an approach to combat childhood obesity in Arkansas. She hopes to work with schools and parents to provide healthier menu options in cafeterias across the State and encourage children to make healthy food choices. She even gives access to her healthy recipes on her website!
Lori Easley Otter- First Lady of Idaho
This former Miss Idaho USA Lori Easley used to teach physical education, health, and English in addition to coaching girls basketball and volleyball at the junior high and high school levels for thirteen years. While she has run in 3 marathons, arthritis and back issues have pushed her to try other healthy activities- now Otter does Pilates two to three times a week and spin classes when she can fit them in. Both are low-impact workouts, which means she can give her heart a workout without jumping around. All of this is what Otter calls fitness. Health is more about knowing your genetic history — in Lori’s case, bad backs are a family affair — and maintaining your energy levels, a healthy weight and a healthy emotional and social life.
“Healthy practices don’t have enough time to turn into habits unless you start when you are very young,” Otter said. “That is what I used to tell my kids,” she said about her students. “If you aren’t doing it at 14, you’re not going to be taking care of it at 40,” she said. “Am I taking care of my body? Because I only get one.”
This first lady plans on being active well into retirement by jogging, playing tennis, and horse-back riding.
Crissy Haslam- First Lady of Tennessee
Crissy Haslan believes wholeheartedly that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher and knows that a child spends 70% of their time outside of a school building, which is why, as first lady, she started a Read20 Family Book Club. In May of 2013, she hosted an event with UnitedHealthcare which featured a series of interactive lessons, integrating the complementary missions of The First Lady’s Read20 Book Club, Sesame Street’s Food for Thought: Eating Well on a Budget program and UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to helping Tennesseans live healthier lives through education on nutrition, fun and fitness activities.
“Reading, healthy eating and fitness are all vital components of a child’s ability to learn, grow and succeed, ” said Mrs. Haslam and I’m hopeful the children will take the lessons they learned today and begin applying that knowledge to their lives at home.”
Dorothy McAuliffe- First Lady of Virginia
In her role as first lady of Virginia, Mrs. McAuliffe is focusing her work in the areas of childhood nutrition and food security. She is particularly interested in improving food delivery systems so that nutritious and fresh food products are more accessible to Virginia’s children and families with the added benefit of promoting local agricultural economic development opportunities and improving health and education outcomes. On Jan. 15 First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe served as keynote speaker at the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s (VFHY) fifth annual Virginia Healthy Youth Day celebration which was attended by about 1,400 local school children- at the event, she reminded the kids that being physically active should be a year-round goal for Virginia’s young people and not limited to just warm summer days. On April 2, 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, and Jake Steinfeld, Chair of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils announced that they were collaborating to combat childhood obesity in Virginia.
Tonette Walker- First Lady of Wisconsin
As First Lady, Tonette most enjoys using her role to help improve the lives of the people of Wisconsin. Part of this life improvement is health and nature, and we love that she is setting a good example to the people of Wisconsin with her monthly “Walks with Walker”. In an effort to promote health and fitness and to showcase some of the beautiful but lesser known sites across the state. Each month, the First Lady is joined by local residents, visitors, and friends and family to walk a short trail and explore Wisconsin’s most picturesque scenery. Her and her husband, Governor Scott Walker, declared 2013 as the “Year of Well-Being” and focus on four main areas of well-being: be active, be connected, be informed, and be part of your community. At the start of 2013 Mrs. Walker announced:
“There are many ways people can improve their well-being. Over the next year, we will focus on four areas: being active to encourage people to move whenever possible, being connected to engage with those around you, being informed to understand what is best for your own health, and being a part of your community to offer your time to better the place you live.”