How Carrie Underwood Found Her Path, Built Her Brand and Fueled Her Soul

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood is having trouble sitting still. “Relaxing is so hard for me. If there’s one thing I do not do, it is waste a moment,” the record-breaking country entertainer says, checking the hour-by-hour intake marks on a one-gallon water bottle by her side. Pleased she’s on track with her hydration, she says, “Nobody else notices, but I feel personal satisfaction setting and meeting goals.”

Oh, we’ve noticed. The seven-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter is the most successful American Idol winner ever. She’s sold more than 64 million records worldwide and recorded 27 No. 1 singles (14 of which she co-wrote), and she became the first female country artist with four No. 1 albums on Billboard’s all-genre top 200 chart.

She’s also a fitness apparel designer (she launched CALIA by Carrie Underwood, an athletic apparel line with Dick’s Sporting Goods, in 2015) and is now adding author to her résumé with the release of Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life. The memoir, fitness guide and cookbook combo is accompanied by an app called Fit52—a fitness platform with live demos by Underwood and various trainers. The book’s comforting lifestyle philosophy and year-round plan reminds us that you don’t have to be perfect every day to be healthy 52 weeks out of the year. “One bad food choice, one lazy day on the couch isn’t going to wreck everything,” she says.

The Search for Balance
Find Your Path is really a primer for those learning how to be the best they can be—with balance, says Underwood, 36. The Checotah, Oklahoma, native has had her own challenges balancing life as an entertainer, wife to former NHL star Mike Fisher, 39 (they married in 2010), and mom to their kids, Isaiah, 5, and Jacob, 1.

During her 60-date Cry Pretty tour in 2019—which included a 360-degree stage, pyrotechnics and dazzling costume changes—it wasn’t just the performance that required stamina, but life on the road with a 4-year-old and an infant, which involved breastfeeding on a cramped tour bus and a husband relegated to the couch. But she was proud of these moments when she balanced being fully present for 15,000 fans per night—and being with her family.

Underwood has come to realize that perfection isn’t possible and downtime is necessary. “Sometimes moments do need to be wasted. You need to take a breath and stop. That is an area of self-care that I am awful at,” she admits, with the kind of honesty that runs through her new book.

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“We wanted to give readers permission to be practical and real and honest.” You won’t find crash diets or quick fixes, but you will find healthy ingredient swaps, meal plans, recipes, weekly workout programs (an entire chapter on her leg routine) and weight-lifting playlists.

“I’ve seen crazy diet suggestions, and I’ve tried some that are entirely unsustainable. No, I’m not going to puree my own peas or make my own hummus,” Underwood says, laughing. “They have it at the store. You know what I do? I eat microwave burritos multiple times a week because they’re easy. It’s about finding those solutions and doing your best.”

The lifestyle apparel, the new book, recipes, the app—they’re all Underwood’s way of sharing her health journey: “They’re all part of the same story.”

A Storyteller at Heart
“I love strong women,” she says. “In a lot of my songs, the woman has to be pushed to her limit. She fights back and overcomes. And I love that. Hopefully nobody has lived out many of my songs, and while I don’t advocate for violence or destruction of property, we all have our own situations where we’re just done—and we have the ability and the strength and the power to fight back.”

When the otherwise guarded entertainer spoke openly and intimately about the three miscarriages she suffered, she didn’t anticipate the strength she would draw from the community of women who’d had similar experiences. “The entire time I was making Cry Pretty, I was going through all of that,” Underwood says. “For a year and a half plus, that was my world, and it felt like some secret I wasn’t supposed to talk about. But that’s what you do as a songwriter, you open your heart in the form of music and you talk about it. The response that I’ve received from women, it’s helpful to know that you’re not alone. That they’ve experienced the same things you have.”

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Underwood co-produced that album and co-wrote nine of its tracks, a rarity in country music, where only 12 percent of songwriters are women. That underrepresentation was part of the reason her 12th and final time co-hosting the CMA Awards last November was alongside Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire rather than good friend Brad Paisley, with whom she co-hosted the show for 11 years.

“I wanted that show for women,” she says. “This is a time in country music where we are told no constantly, and it’s not because there aren’t incredible, talented women with amazing songs. I don’t know what it is, but I scratch my head on this daily. I got to stand up there with Dolly and Reba and represent women in this genre throughout the decades. I was beyond proud and still emotional about it, and I didn’t know where to go from there. It was like, mic drop.”

Today, on a busy health and fitness and business path, she is proud to have a career that means something. And proud that motherhood has shaped the way she views success: “I’m done doing things that are not important,” she says. “I want to do things that are just for my heart.”

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Bless Your Heart!