LeAnn Rimes: How Fitness Changed My Life
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LeAnn Rimes: How Fitness Changed My Life

For too long, LeAnn Rimes let other people set her priorities. Now the Grammy winner (and this month's Mind, Body, Spirit Superstar) is leading a healthy, fit life -- and it shows.

LeAnn's Fit Discovery

For someone who has spent half her life in the celebrity spotlight, 25-year-old LeAnn Rimes seems remarkably un-diva-ish when she takes a day out of her whirlwind album tour to hang with the team from FITNESS. Let's start with the fact that she arrived at our photo shoot half an hour early. Then there's the bit about her waking up at 6:30 a.m. to hit the gym. As for her request to do the bikini cover shot before the lunch break, well, can you blame her? It's clear that these days, LeAnn Rimes is in control of her career and her life. What's her secret? This month's Mind, Body, Spirit Superstar shares how rediscovering fitness transformed her life.

Have you always liked to exercise?

LR: When I was younger, I did. I started playing T-ball at age 4, and I loved it. And I danced until I was 12. Then I went on the road [when her first major album topped the charts] and became very sedentary. Because, I mean, what is there to do when you're on tour? I basically ate and sat on the bus. For me, it was a really lonely experience, and I turned to food at times because I had nowhere else to get that love. I wasn't taking care of my health. I was getting out of breath in the middle of the show, my schedule was crazy, and sometimes I was getting really sick.

Was it hard to deal with all that while in the public eye?

LR: It really was. I tried not to read what people were writing, about how I had baby fat or that I looked fat and needed to lose weight. People can be mean. Still, I knew that I was unhealthy.

What started your health kick?

LR: Meeting my husband, Dean, was a real turning point. He gives me emotional stability. I started working out a bit with him, and I found it was something that really agreed with me. It's fun to exercise with a partner -- we both push each other to be better.

Have you changed your diet?

LR: Yeah, I was working out so hard that I didn't want to ruin it by eating crap. I usually eat a bowl of oatmeal with agave nectar, dried cherries, and walnuts in the morning. I have a protein shake after the gym, then grilled chicken, a whole wheat pita, and hummus for lunch. I have another snack in the afternoon, like half an English muffin with peanut butter and a pear -- I love pears! For dinner, I might have trout with spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil, and a piece of dark chocolate for dessert. Dean cooks -- he makes this amazing turkey meat loaf stuffed with spinach and carrots and tomato sauce on top. We eat organic -- I shop mostly at Wild Oats and Whole Foods -- even when we're on the road.

Her New Healthy Image

Do you feel a responsibility to project a healthy image for your fans?

LR: I think it's a huge compliment when mothers say their daughters look up to me. A woman came up to me in the gym this morning and said, "It's so nice to see you working out. I didn't know you really exercised, I just thought they put that on the magazine covers!" I was like, "Surprise!" My goal is to be a classy, healthy woman. I don't want to be skinny, I want to be strong. For so long I tried to be sexier, or whatever, but I've finally found who I really am.

How does that translate to your new album, Family?

LR: I think the honesty is what's different with this album. I've written or cowritten every single song on it -- that's a first. It's liberating to sing about emotions that a lot of people hide.

What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

LR: Probably that I'm cold. I think my professionalism is sometimes misinterpreted as standoffishness. I am very focused on my work, and people can be intimidated by that. But I swear, outside of my job, I really do like to relax and have a good time.

You're our Mind, Body, Spirit Superstar; tell us about your favorite wellness cause.

LR: I do fund-raising and outreach for an organization called the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that helps reintegrate wounded soldiers into society when they return home. You see these 19-year-old kids coming back from war, some with missing limbs, and all they want is a normal life. As part of my involvement with the coalition, I visited a burn unit in San Antonio, and the hardest thing was watching the families of the injured soldiers try to deal with what happened to the person they love.

How She Stays Fit

How She Keeps Her Body Strong: "In every city I go to on tour, I research a gym or a place to go running."

Her Cardio Routine: "I take a jump rope with me for cardio. I skip rope for 10 to 12 minutes at a time, at a really fast pace, and it burns an enormous number of calories per minute. When I first started jumping, I couldn't do it at all. Two minutes and I was done. Over. Now? I'm like Rocky!"

Her Circuit Training: "I do weights, followed by five minutes of cardio, another circuit of weights, another five minutes of cardio and so on."

Her Abs: "For abs, I do crunches while sitting on a Bosu ball, three sets of 25 reps. Another exercise: Standing with my feet hip-width apart and holding a 15-pound weight in each hand while I bend from side to side. I also do reverse crunches, lying on a bench and pulling my legs in with a medicine ball between my knees. That one hurts!"

What You Don't Know

Favorite Athlete: "Peyton Manning is the sweetest, most grounded guy, and a great quarterback. I've known him for a long time."

Body Idol: "Gabrielle Reece. I'm rarely starstruck, but I saw her in a store the other day, and we both looked at each other -- she knew who I was and I knew who she was -- but I couldn't say anything! I mean, she's a goddess!"

Biggest Marital Pet Peeve: "My husband leaves his clothes everywhere. He'll be in the kitchen, step out of his clothes and leave a trail into the bedroom. It's so random, because other than that, he's a neat freak."

TiVo Picks: "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Grey's Anatomy, and Big Shot."

Secret Clothing Fetish: "Shoes. I own more than 40 pairs."

You'll Never Catch Her...: "With no underwear on. At least in public!"

Unhealthy Habit: "I'm good at brushing my teeth, but I forget to floss."

Food She'd Eat If Calories Didn't Count: "Pizza, cheeseburgers, and mac and cheese. I love cheese."


Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2008.