Exclusive: Michelle Obama on 'Whirlwind' Year

Photo: First Lady Michelle Obama and Barbara Walters

Michelle Obama is Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of 2009.

Almost a year since the Obama family moved to Washington, D.C., the first lady reflected on the transition to the White House.

"It has been a whirlwind. But it's been amazing," she told Walters. "I mean, if you think about this year, I had to get these two beautiful girls settled into a new city, into a new home, into a new school. We got a dog. I visited eight countries with my husband. I planted a garden. I've started a mentoring program. It has been everything. And now, here we are at our first Christmas in the White House."

VIDEO: Barbara Walters catches up with the first lady discussing her yearlong journey.
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During her tenure as first lady, Obama has promoted healthy living and taken steps to combat childhood obesity -- creating a vegetable garden on the White House lawn and holding health fairs with exercise stations for kids.

"I think I've begun to lay the foundation to a conversation about the health of our kids -- particularly when we're looking at statistics that say that one in three kids in this country are obese, and those numbers increase if you're African-American or Hispanic," she said. "So we're going to spend a lot more time on that issue in the years to come."

Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating '09

The first African-American first lady is also one of the fittest. Wearing a sleeveless dress in her official White House portrait, Obama's toned arms have become part of her signature style -- and the envy of many.

Obama, who often joins her husband in the White House gym, told Walters that her workout regimen began after the birth of their first daughter, Malia.

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"My personal routine hasn't changed much in the past 11 years," she said. "I really started right after I had Malia, our oldest, and some of that was, you know, in all honesty it was a little sort of revenge because I'm married to a man who has worked out all of his life. And regardless of how busy he is, he finds the time to work out. And there was a point at which I got a little resentful of that."

"[Malia] was still waking up for that four o'clock feeding and I'd get up because I'd be the first one to hear her, and he'd be asleep," she added. "And I thought, 'I'm up, I might as well go to the gym. And if I get to the gym, then he'll have to wake up and do that feeding.' I get a workout in and everyone will be happy. So you know, if there's anything that I can attribute these arms to, it's probably just determination."

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The Obamas who have been married for 17 years have had their share of ups and downs. Michelle Obama told Walters that despite her confidence in her husband's natural ability, at a certain point, the grueling demands of politics bothered her.

"I had always had this dilemma," she said. "It wasn't that I didn't believe in my husband as a phenomenal leader. I mean, that was always the pull -- because I always thought, 'Well, if I wanted somebody as my state senator, or as my U.S. senator, or as my president, I would want Barack Obama.' And the only reason he wouldn't do it is if I said no."

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When asked by Walters if the president would have stopped pursuing politics if she really put her foot down, the first lady said, "He would have."

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