Oprah: Okay, shifting gears now. How are you a different woman today than you were when Barack Obama announced his candidacy in 2007?

Michelle Obama: I'm more optimistic. More hopeful. It comes from traveling all over America and connecting with so many different people. And this was long before anyone thought Barack had a chance. This was the kindness of strangers. I think we should all have to get to know one another around kitchen tables. It changed me. It's helped me to give other people the benefit of the doubt.

Oprah: What did you see that changed you?

Michelle Obama: I saw our shared values. We fundamentally want the same things for ourselves and for each other. We want our kids to be safe and to grow up with some resources and aspire to a slightly better life than ours. No one's looking for a handout. People just want fairness and opportunity.

Oprah: That's so good to hear. Because you know what? We live in an American Idol culture where it seems like everyone just wants to be in the spotlight.

Michelle Obama: That's not the America I saw. People value their communities. They're rooting for one another. Even in places where I thought people wouldn't accept or relate to me, I always walked out feeling like, "Wow—that was fun." That changed me. And it helped prepare me for this. Because I think if you're going to be First Lady, you have to believe in the possibility of what this country stands for. You have to see it in action and know what you're working toward.

Oprah: That's so interesting—and it all came from sitting around kitchen tables. Speaking of which, did you change your diet during the campaign?

Michelle Obama: When we first started running, my big concern was making sure we ate well on the road. So we started looking at our diet, trying to eliminate junk, getting seasonal fruits and vegetables that were grown locally. We walked the kids through reading labels. We talked about why one juice might be better than another.

Oprah: What foods did you give up?

Michelle Obama: Things with artificial ingredients. That's a tough change for a lot of families, though, because so many foods aren't real anymore. But lots of people don't have access to a farmers' market, or can't afford to shop at one, so this is a bigger issue. It's really big, because changing your diet makes such a difference. I've seen it in my own family. We have more energy. And I caught only one cold during the last year of the campaign, even after shaking millions of hands!

On the campaign trail, weren't people offering you every kind of food imaginable?

Michelle Obama: Yes, and a lot of times, I'd eat it. Hey, I love pie. I love a good candy bar. And sometimes when you're working so hard, the only thing you have is that candy bar and those potato chips. But if I went home to a balanced diet, then those days wouldn't kill me. I feel the same about the girls. If they're eating healthy most times, I don't panic when they get popcorn at the movies. I don't want them freaking out about food.

Oprah: That's right. In addition to eating well, do you work out?

Michelle Obama: Yes. There's a small gym here that has everything we need. I work out about four or five days a week—and Barack does six. He's a workout zealot.

Oprah: Well, you look better than ever—despite the rumors that you've got a baby bump.

Michelle Obama: [Laughter.] I know—I was like, "Baby bump? As hard as I work on my abs?!"

Oprah: By the way, nobody would be happier if you were pregnant than Gayle King. Out of nowhere, she'll tell me, "Oh God, I really hope Michelle gets pregnant—and that it's a boy!"

Michelle Obama: [More laughter.] Here's the scoop: Not pregnant. And not planning on it.

Oprah: Not pregnant.

Michelle Obama: Not pregnant.

Next: How the First Lady squeezes in a workout

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