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Of all the things Carrie Underwood has in her life (seven Grammys! a best-selling book!) time is not one of them. Between slaying at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, working on her fitness app, fit52, and wrapping up her role at the helm of fitness line CALIA, Underwood hasn't had many spare moments to breathe and be with her family, let alone invest hours in the gym. But just because she's short on free moments doesn't mean the superstar singer and exercise enthusiast has given up on movement altogether.
"My current fitness plan is working in working out whenever I can," Underwood tells Shape. "We have so much going on right now. I have two children [sons Isaiah, 6, and Jacob, 2, with husband Mike Fisher] that are extremely active and busy, and I'm also prepping for a lot of different things at the moment: the holidays, rehearsals for my upcoming Las Vegas residency, etc. So, I do the best I can to take care of myself in the midst of all of that."
To make the most of the little time she does have, Underwood says she loves circuit training, weight lifting, and running. "But really, at this point in my life, I do whatever I have time for!" she adds. To keep fueled for those nonstop days, she's also a big fan of BODYARMOR, the sports drink she's partnered with and calls a key part of her fitness plan. "Staying hydrated is something that I feel like we can all take for granted and maybe don't pay enough attention to, so I try to make it easy, always available, and now it's just part of my routine," says Underwood.
Here, the multitalented multitasker reveals some of her secrets to keeping in shape, no matter how packed her schedule becomes.
Shape: Your schedule is so packed. How do you stay active on the days where you're slammed?
Underwood: I try my best to work in something. I feel blessed to have created an app that is all about working out called fit52, and in it, we try to make even short workouts effective and give people an option to do something instead of nothing. The most important thing is to move. If you do that, and you give what you have, your day will be better for it. (Related: The Best Home Workout Apps to Download Right Now)
Shape: You've been a proud vegetarian and, sometimes, vegan for many years. How do you make sure you're fueling your body appropriately for workouts and what kind of foods do you lean heavily on to meet your goals?
Underwood: I've been vegetarian for many, many years and I flirt with veganism, so I'm somewhere in between the two. Honestly, I just make sure I'm eating real food. I love vegetables and fruit — and now there are so many options for people that don't eat meat, but are like meat. Generally, I just try to make good choices and eat real food. (See: The Exact Moment Jennifer Aniston 'Committed to Being Mindful' of What She Consumes)
Shape: You've also been incredibly open about the pressure women, especially those in the spotlight face regarding body image. How has your own body image developed over time and in what ways has fitness helped you feel more comfortable in your skin?
Underwood: When I was younger, I definitely focused more on my outward appearance and not so much on what was going on inside my body. And now I feel like the more I know, the more information and knowledge that I have about health and fitness, the more I focus on what's going on inside my body and focus on getting stronger and staying fit and healthy — those are my priorities right now. One of the great perks about doing that is, when you feel good on the outside, it's because you feel good on the inside. So I try to focus on the inside first. And that is something that has evolved in my journey over the years and leads me to a place where I feel good in my skin.
Shape: What are your top tips for new moms who are just starting to get back into fitness or starting fitness for the first time? What helped you stay calm?
Underwood: I think what helped me stay consistent when I started back on my fitness journey after having a baby was just starting slow and not pushing myself too hard, and definitely taking that time for me. Sometimes my baby would be there in the room with me while I was working out or it would be the two of us going out for a walk. But the most important thing is to start slow, don't push yourself too hard. And don't think you're going to be doing what you did before you got pregnant right away. That's a mistake that I feel like a lot of people that like to work out make. Start slow and you'll get there!
Shape: Do you have a favorite smoothie or pre or post-workout snack recipe you can share?
Underwood: I actually love doing smoothies for lunch. It's a combination of post-workout and sometimes it's also my lunch, cause I'm usually running somewhere and a smoothie is an easy thing to take on the go or in my car. I like to use BODYARMOR LYTE (Blueberry Pomegranate) as my base, then add some beet juice, mixed berries, spinach or kale, protein powder, and some ice. And I'm good to go! (Related: 3-Ingredient, Easy Smoothie Recipes for Fast Mornings)
Shape: Anything else you'd love people to know about your fitness journey that you haven't had the chance to share?
Underwood: I feel like the most important thing to share about my fitness journey is, it is a marathon. And when you focus on your overall wellness, including the health of your body and mental health — that makes everything so much better. I'm definitely the kind of person that likes to push themselves to reach certain types of goals. But when your goal is your health and you realize that you're doing it not to look a certain way, but to live your fullest life — that's when working out really makes the most sense and feels the best. And that makes me feel like I'm at my best.