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Shape up, Mr. President

Two words for President Obama as he tries to reform health care and get us to adopt healthier lifestyles: burgers and butts.

Two words for President Obama as he tries to reform health care and get us to adopt healthier lifestyles: burgers and butts.

The president can't seem to kick either habit completely.

Obama works out, plays hoops, and eats vegetables from the new organic garden at the White House. He looks like he's in great shape. I envy his waistline every time I put down my bag of peanut M&Ms.

But the beefcake-in-chief is sending mixed messages about fitness.

Obama has smoked cigarettes off and on for much of his adult life. Like many smokers, he's found it difficult to stop.

He said early last year that he had quit for good with the help of nicotine gum. But a few months later, he admitted he was again smoking occasionally.

In February, when an interviewer asked Obama if he had smoked cigarettes at the White House, the president answered carefully: "No, I haven't had one on these grounds."

Gotcha, Mr. President. And I never eat burritos with extra sour cream while standing on one leg, either.

I hope for the president's sake that he really has quit smoking this time. As he tries to control health-care costs, it would set an important personal example. Smoking is a harmful behavior that people can change without the government's spending a penny.

If the president really did quit smoking this time, he should preach it. He should remind Americans that smokers his age (47) double their chances of dying early. Public-service announcements are more effective coming from someone who's been there.

Then there are the burgers. Obama is telling everyone to eat better - in between highly publicized presidential excursions to neighborhood grease houses.

He took an NBC crew to a chain called Five Guys a few weeks ago. Five Guys' burgers and cajun fries are great. They advertise that they use no harmful trans fats, but it's not a habit for losing weight. Trust me.

In May, Obama took Vice President Biden out for lunch at a burger joint that offers paper towels instead of napkins to absorb all the grease. The eatery got so much publicity that its sales soared.

A president should be able to grab a burger now and then. And I could understand it if Obama had a secret plan to kill off the White House press corps, one burger run at a time.

But as someone who tries to eat better every other Tuesday, I hope the president's next televised lunch run is at Saladworks.

And no matter what he does, I draw the line at giving up my M&Ms.