A few floors up from the Men’s Health offices, she took questions from a handful of editors and even sat for an extended interview with an up-and-coming journalist named Oprah Winfrey. Here’s how she answered some of the editors’ more probing questions.
What’s your definition of strength?
-Liz Plosser, Women’s Health
A conviction about something outside of yourself. Because what does it mean to be strong if that strength is just inside and you don’t use it on behalf of anybody else? And what good is being strong if you don’t have empathy for someone else? You can’t get anything done if you’re not confident, if you don’t have security, if you don’t feel good in yourself.
As I grow older and busier, it’s harder to stay in touch with friends. Any advice?
– Michele Promaulayko, Cosmopolitan
I tell folks that I learned to plan my life like I plan my work. I started planning these boot camps at Camp David every three months. I would have my trainer, one of the chefs from the White House, go to Camp David and we’d set up, like, four days of really hard exercise. We worked out three times a day. I eliminated sugar and wine. And then people were like, I’m not coming back. I put the wine back on.
You even say [you and Barack] argue differently?
-Oprah Winfrey, O, The Oprah Magazine
Oh God, yes. I am like a lit match. It’s like, poof! And he wants to rationalize everything. So he had to learn how to give me, like, a couple minutes-or an hour-before he should even come in the room when he’s made me mad. And he has to understand that he can’t convince me out of my anger. That he can’t logic me into some other feeling.
Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
-Lucy Kaylin, O, The Oprah Magazine
Barack, my mom, Malia, Sasha, my brother. To sit and listen to our kids and to give them that space. It’s so important for us to make sure that our kids and our family know that Barack and I are there for them, and that when we have time, we give it to them. Because we had opportunities for those dream dinner parties. We opted for family.
Let’s say your husband is left home alone with a whole bag of Cheetos. What percentage of that bag is left when you and the girls get home?
-Richard Dorment, Men’s Health
One hundred percent that bag isn’t even taken out of the cabinet. His taste doesn’t even align with junk food. And it could be because of being raised in Indonesia, he even had different flavor palates, as far as I’m concerned. He likes bitter tastes. He doesn’t like chocolate. Chips and fresh guac-that he cannot stop eating. If it were up to him, Cheetos wouldn’t even be in the house. But I have a teenager, so sometimes they get in.