Maria Menounos may be best known for her celebrity and entertainment coverage as a correspondent for “Access Hollywood” and “The Today Show,” but she’s dipped into the political arena too. During the 2008 Presidential campaign she was the first -- and still stands as the last -- journalist to interview the entire Obama family.
“I’m the only one and I’m so honored that they allowed me to conduct that interview. What a great family,” Menounos told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column while promoting her new book, "The Every Girl's Guide to Life." “It's funny because up until that point, people were starting to peg the senator and his wife, at the time, as elitists. But when I met them, they could not have been more normal and grounded and down to earth, and when I was speaking to Michelle off-camera, she was like, 'We just got finished paying off our student loans two or three years ago!' When I met them, my overwhelming feeling was, 'This could be my family.' This could be any one of our families. They were so grounded and normal and down to earth, that's what stuck with me the most.”
And although Obama came under heavy criticism for allowing his then 10 and seven year-old daughters, Malia and Sasha, to be interviewed for the “Access Hollywood” segment – and later even admitted it was a “mistake” – Menounos said the backlash was most likely born out of good old-fashioned professional envy.
“I think they (the critics) were all slightly jealous, first of all. I’ve never said that before but it’s true! There were a lot of people who were upset that someone like me, an entertainment reporter, got the biggest interview,” she said. “I think what they (the Obama family) did with that interview was exactly what needed to be accomplished. Sometimes you have to show people who you are, and I think we showed who they are as a family in a very fair way.”
On the note of exposing one’s true self, Menounos captures both her personal and professional trials and tribulations in “The Every Girl’s Guide to Life,” and although the 32-year-old sports an itty bitty bod these days, her book details her battle with the bulge prior to hitting the big time.
“I did struggle with my weight and I got that under control. But it took a year and I did it the healthy way and the right way, and I’ve been able to maintain it for years,” she said. “But I did try everything! I did the Slim Fast shakes, I did the cayenne pepper and lemon diet, and I tried them all but anything extreme is not going to last. They have these starvation camps that people pay to go to now as well. If it’s extreme, it is not going to work. Take your time, follow what I tell you in the book because it helped me on my journey and I lost all that weight, and you can too.”
And her biggest tip? Sipping hot water all day long.
“It's detoxifying, it really keeps you calm, and it helps digest the food in your stomach. It's really been a game-changer for me. I really can't say enough good things about it,” Menounos added. “All day long, just sip on some hot water. It makes me drive slower, which is funny, and because you have to drink it so slow, you stay calm. But it's been amazing. I have an electric tea kettle in my kitchen and it keeps the water warm and you can find it anywhere. It's a very healthy thing to do.”
Deidre Behar contributed to this report.