But the country superstar had to remind herself of CALIA’s “stay the path” mantra after the birth of her second son, Jacob Bryan, in January, when she felt the societal pressure to have her body “bounce back” right away.
“After having my first kid [Isaiah, 4], I felt like I bounced back fast. And then with Jake, it was like my body took a minute to get back to me. It was frustrating, because I’m like, ‘Why wasn’t it like the first time?’ ” Underwood shared with PEOPLE at the CALIA by Carrie Underwood winter getaway in Aspen this month, celebrating the label’s new winter collection.
She added: “But I’m four years older. That also helped me shift my mindset — I’m still working hard, wanting to be the best me possible, but cutting myself slack and just thinking, ‘Be kind to yourself.’ It’s amazing what we [women] do to ourselves. We’re probably all our toughest critics.”
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Underwood also shared that she thinks it’s important to ban the phrase “cheat days” from modern-day vocabulary.
“I don’t like to call them ‘cheat days’ — you’re just enjoying life,” she said. “I feel like holiday time can be stressful when it comes to health and fitness, but it doesn’t have to be. You can just say, ‘I’m going to enjoy myself on the holidays.’ “
“It’s all about friends and family and food and parties, and indulging responsibly,” she added. “And when New Year’s is over, get back on the horse. It’s like, ‘Okay, I’ve had my holiday fun. Now it’s time to get back on my path.’ “
This will be Underwood and husband Mike Fisher’s first year as a family of four. And while Santa is definitely on his way, the brood will be spending it on the road.
“There’s a lot of travel, but that’s kind of our tradition because we don’t have any family that actually lives near us, so it’s just go, go, go,” Underwood shared.
For more on our exclusive with Carrie Underwood, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands everywhere Friday.