Long before she was a country music superstar with her own fitness apparel range and brand-new fitness manual, Carrie Underwood was an Oklahoma farm girl competing on, and eventually winning, American Idol in 2005. But not even then-judge Simon Cowell’s notoriously sharp tongue could prepare her for the body-shaming comments aimed at her on online message boards.
In a new interview with Women’s Health, Underwood reveals how messages like “Carrie’s getting fat” forced her to re-evaluate her approach to diet and fitness — though at one point she over-corrected to the point that she was consuming just 800 calories a day.
While the singer tells the magazine that “I shouldn’t care what other people think about me,” the comments did make her acknowledge that her energy levels were low, and go-to meals like pasta and quesadillas were causing the longtime vegetarian to put on weight. Throwing herself into a new fitness regimen and meal plan thus became a way to shut down her critics while feeling better from the inside-out.
“I was tired, and I kept buying bigger clothes,” she says. “I knew I could be better for myself, and I let my haters be my motivators.”
As she embarked on a tour with her fellow American Idol contestants, Underwood began counting calories and hitting the gym; “I was sleeping better, and I had more energy for our grueling schedule,” she says. But while she’s careful to avoid labeling her behavior as disordered eating, the mom of two admits sometimes going overboard by restricting her calorie intake to just 800 a day, causing energy dips and inevitable backslides.
“I would ‘fall off the wagon,’ then feel terrible and repeat the cycle,” she recalls. “Your body is screaming out, I need more calories, I need more carbs!”
Underwood has since found the right balance for her, one she documents in her new book, Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong With Fit52Life. While she doesn’t swear off treats like a glass of red wine, the “Jesus, Take the Wheel” performer swears by the meal-tracking app MyFitnessPal to make sure she’s getting 45 percent carbs, 30 percent fat and 25 percent protein. She’s also devoted to her workouts, which she considers her “self-care.”
“I’d love to sit in a bubble bath, but that’s not going to happen,” she says. “My self-care is my gym time, and that’s a stress reliever for me.”
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