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Carrie Underwood's Secrets for Healthy Living -- On and Off the Road

The country music star talks about her diet, her exercise, her dog, and how she handles her fear of crowds.
By Jancee Dunn
WebMD Magazine - Feature

When singer/songwriter Carrie Underwood flew to Los Angeles six years ago after making it to the second round of American Idol, Fox TV network's talent competition, it was her first trip on an airplane. Fast-forward to 2010, and the shy girl who grew up on a farm in Checotah, Okla., has blossomed into one of music's most glamorous women. Along the way, she has racked up 10 No. 1 singles, collected five Grammys, and become the youngest member of country music's Grand Ole Opry.

Underwood's critically acclaimed tour to promote her third album, Play On, kicked off in March and will run through the end of the year. Yet despite all the accolades, Underwood remains almost bizarrely normal -- honest, levelheaded, and extremely grounded, thanks to a protective circle of family and friends. Even on the road, she tries to keep her life as consistent as possible.

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"Growing up, I always thought musicians would wake up at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, play a show, and party all night," says the 27-year-old. "It's not what happens at all! There's a lot of work and planning, and no partying. Which is fine -- I'm not a big partygoer anyway."

This is typical down-to-earth Underwood. Her close family includes two older sisters and her parents. (Dad was a paper mill worker; mom was a teacher.) She sang at church and local fairs, but she planned a career in broadcast journalism. While she was still taking classes at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., she decided on a whim to audition for Idol. We all know what happened next: Persnickety judge Simon Cowell predicted that not only would Underwood win, but her music would outsell that of all previous Idol winners. He was right.

Now that she is a full-fledged superstar, Underwood knows that much is at stake if she were to get sick, so she does everything she possibly can to stay healthy.

Being in peak physical shape is especially crucial for Underwood these days -- not only so she can continue to deliver her trademark high-energy, sultry performances, but because she will soon tie the knot with Ottawa Senators hockey player Mike Fisher. (The couple was not married as of press time.)

In her classic low-key fashion, Underwood wants cupcakes instead of a wedding cake, and hopes that her beloved rat terrier, Ace, can be the ring bearer.

How Underwood Stays Healthy on the Road

But Underwood has found that maintaining her well-being on a mega-tour is not easy when the road is a minefield of sleep deprivation, fast food, and grimy venues. Even though she sometimes stays in posh hotels, she occasionally finds herself in places that compel her to keep her shoes on inside her room.

"Here's my test," she says. "My dog travels with me everywhere. If he licks the floor a lot, or tries to roll around and stuff, the socks stay on. It's totally mental -- I'm sure it's fine. I mean, growing up I used to run around with no shoes on, just outside everywhere. I was a disgusting child."

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