Jenna Bush Hager Says She Worried About Her Weight at 9 Years Old — but Now Has a Positive Body Image

Bush Hager says having children, exercise, meditation and getting her veggies has helped her cultivate a positive body image

TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on Monday, December 12, 2022
Jenna Bush Hager. Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty

As a child and young woman, Jenna Bush Hager struggled with her body image — but no longer. She says she has learned through trial and error how to resist the pressure to look a certain way.

"I no longer think that way and I haven't for quite some time," she tells PEOPLE. "I think having children, and your body changing in that way, is such a good reset where you realize, 'wow, I've been doing this incredible thing, and my body is so much more than a vessel to be made fun of, to be worrying about.' "

But Bush Hager says that as young as 9 years old, she was worrying about her weight.

"I found a journal over Christmas break where in fourth grade my New Year's resolution was to lose 5 lbs. — my daughter, my eldest is now in fourth grade and she seems so young," she says.

She adds that her mother, former First Lady Laura Bush, modeled a positive body image by not speaking negatively about her own appearance in front of her, and she "never used the word diet," but still, the pressure to be thin worked its way into her psyche as a little girl.

"Even without the signaling from my mom ... it came in from outside sources," she says. "What a waste that for however many years, that was my New Year's resolution."

George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush pose with daughters Jenna (R) and Barbara (L) prior to the wedding of Jenna and Henry Hager May 10, 2008 near Crawford, Texas
George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush pose with daughters Jenna (R) and Barbara (L) prior to the wedding of Jenna and Henry Hager May 10, 2008 near Crawford, Texas. Shealah Craighead/The White House

The 31-year-old says she is now confident and sure of herself. "I don't think I have a bad body image. I just couldn't believe how different I am in that amount of time since I was nine."

She says that in addition to becoming a mom, the slow evolution to a positive body image was aided by a few factors: exercise, meditation and being conscious of what she eats.

"I used to joke that my children would have kale and broccoli, and I'd be eating a bagel waffle with peanut butter and hoping that that would be enough to keep me healthy. I think as a busy working mom, I just wasn't getting the nutrients, the fruits and vegetables, regularly that I should ... at some point I realized something needed to change."

The co-host of Today with Hoda and Jenna has partnered with Amazing Grass, a greens blend that she says helps her to get her fruits and veggies. "I have it with me on the way out of the door so that I put the little scoops into my water bottle and I get two servings of veggies."

She also stays committed to her workouts. "I love exercise. I'm one of those weird people that love it. I sort of need it for my mind as much as my body."

After her Amazing Grass and the workout, Bush Hager completes her healthy morning routine by meditating in the car as she is driven to set.

"I notice the change in my day if I don't meditate," she says. "I've always meditated, but I make it a must now. It's a must do. Instead of racing to my inbox and my phone and my studying for the show, I give myself a beat first so that I can be with myself and write in my journal."

Bush Hager says all of these small changes have contributed to feeling good each day. "Because I think when you feel good, you're less likely to have any sort of negative self-image."

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