Taylor Swift’s new album, Speak Now, released in late October to huge acclaim from critics and audiences alike, sold just over 1 million copies in the first week, catapulting the 21-year-old star even higher into the stratosphere.
Last year, Swift, was the bestselling musician in the United States, according to Neilsen Soundscan, and Forbes Magazine ranked her the 12th most powerful celebrity, citing her annual earnings of $48 million. Swift’s first self-titled album was released in 2006 and went multiplatinum, setting the tone for what would become the then-16-year-old’s trademark: Disarmingly autobiographical songs that resonate across age and gender. Her follow-up, Fearless, released in 2008, also sold millions and won four Grammies.
Yet for all her success, Swift remains down to earth and relies on her normalcy to connect with her audience. She gives voices to girl-next-door feelings about crushes, heartache, and troubled friendships that resonate with tens of millions of fans across the country.
So how does this young woman keep her feet on the ground, especially when they are so often walking the red carpet in Manolo Blahniks?
By being grateful, Swift says. “I remember dreaming about the possibility that if I worked really hard and things went miraculously well, some day people would care about what I had to say,” she says, “And I’ve never let go of that feeling. The fact that people care about my lyrics is so incredible to me.”
Despite her pressure-filled life with non-stop action and living on the road, here are Swift’s six rules for living healthy and balanced:
- Honor your healthy routine. “Health is a big part of being happy,” says Swift, who is committed to keeping herself in great shape physically and mentally even when she’s touring. Because her life is so busy, Swift knows that staying disciplined about how she eats is crucial to her well-being. While this lanky, 5-feet-11-inch star doesn’t need to watch her weight, she says she still pays attention to what she puts in her body. And regardless of her tour schedule, she makes sure to squeeze in an hour-long run on a treadmill every day.
- Reward yourself. Work for your indulgences, and then enjoy! “I have a need to feel like I’ve earned things, so when I have a week of working really hard, I get to have a day or two off, whether it’s from exercise or watching what I eat,” says Swift.
- Skip the judgment. When it comes to diet and working out, Swift is watchful rather than self-chastising. “I keep an internal gauge of whether it’s been a healthy week or not,” says Swift. Then, she makes adjustments instead of beating herself up. “During the week, I try to eat healthily, so that means salads, yogurt, and sandwiches,” she says. “No sugary drinks. I try to keep it lighter, but it’s nothing too regimented or crazy. I don’t like to create too many rules where I don’t need them.”
- Water it down. “I drink so much water my friends call me an alien,” says Swift, who always carries a bottle with her. Just to make sure she’s never short, the singer keeps a case in her car.
- Find your rhythm. To make sure you stick to your fitness plan and power up your workout routine, download favorite songs or albums that you don’t let yourself listen to until you’re in motion. “I don’t like any other kind of exercise except for running,” Swift says, “And I love that because it’s about the music.”
- Don’t flee your feelings. Recognize that anxiety’s not inherently bad. It’s uncomfortable while it’s happening, but it can also propel you out of a rut and inspire you. “It’s awful to sit there feeling that way” -- at first, says Swift, “But if you can, it can also lead to something that takes you out of that feeling and into something creative.”
- Keep a journal. Putting words on paper helps songwriter Swift keep herself honest -- and balanced, she says. “From a young age, any time I would feel pain I would think, ‘It’s OK, I can write about this after school,’” she says. “And still, anytime something hurts, like rejection or sadness or loneliness, or I feel joy or I fall in love, I ask myself, ‘Can I write a song about this so I know how I feel?’”