Barack shows signs of four tough years
Four years in the Oval office has taken its toll on Barack Obama.
The 44th president of the United States is leaner, greyer and looked visibly tired and frail on the election trail, fading like a stone in the first presidential debate against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
However, if POTUS (President of the United States) is showing the ravages of his 51 years, FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States), aka Michelle Obama (48), appears to be handling the stresses of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a lot better .
The 48-year-old mother of two has positively bloomed and emerged confidently from behind her man and her famous vegetable plot to become a vocal advocate for healthy living in a country where two out of three voters are overweight.
Svelte and tall, Michelle doesn't count calories but eats five meals a day. She works out at dawn, pumps iron, does pilates and exercises to J-Lo. Mrs Obama restricts carbs to lunchtime but loves French fries and admits "if there are french fries in the vicinity, I'm done. It's over."
Four years into the job, Barack's face bears the weight of the world he is carrying on his shoulders.
His buzzed hair is more salt than pepper these days. The stress of the job must be huge but he looks to sport for downtime, playing basketball with a mouth guard. Must protect those pearly whites in re-election year.
Chubby as a child growing up in Hawaii, he slimmed down playing basketball at high school and in the political fray, rake-thin Obama has fought the suggestion that a lanky physique is a liability in a country plagued by obesity.
"I'm skinny but I'm tough," Obama, the senator from Chicago declared on the election trail in 2008.
However, fighting for a second term of office, the 6 ft 1" Illinois politician is even lighter than the 180lbs he weighed when he took his oath of office.
He looks plain scrawny now while his wife is the proud owner of much commented upon toned arms that allow her to wear sleeveless dresses, unusual for American women her age. Barack works out for an hour each morning, alternating between cardio and weights each day.
Michelle feeds her man plenty of fresh asparagus, zucchini and arugula from their kitchen garden at the White House. However, Barack has managed to buck the trend and not pile on the pounds after kicking his five-a-day cigarette habit of three decades.
Photographs of the president in Florida last April sparked worries about his health. Shoulders under his trademark loose white shirt looked bonier and narrower than ever. That healthy glow which he exuded as he sank a pint of black with his cousins in Moneygall last year was gone.
The Republicans have tried to play the weight card on him. Four years ago Barack was castigated for being too skinny. Muscle man, former Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, slagged him for his skinny legs and joked "I'm going to make him do some squats". However, that spotlight has eased since Republican VP contender Paul Ryan arrived on the scene. Boasting 6-8pc body fat, a former personal trainer, Ryan is pumped up and follows the intense P90X schedule six days a week.
Somehow skinny Barack's gym passion seems normal and at least POTUS didn't hand the opposition ammunition like the sweat drenched Bill Clinton who jogged into a McDonald's in Little Rock ahead of his 1992 campaign.