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Chances are you've got a Colbie Caillat song on your workout playlist. The California girl has sold more than 2.5 million albums and 10 million singles in the United States thanks to hits like "Realize," "Bubbly," and "Fallin' for You." Her duet with Jason Mraz, "Lucky," earned her a Grammy. Colbie was a featured vocalist on Taylor Swift's album Fearless and wrote the smash "Breathe" with her. And now Colbie is promoting her own third album, All of You. Not bad for a 25-year-old.
These days when Colbie goes on tour, one of the first things she packs is her sneakers. "I used to think running was the worst thing ever," confesses Colbie, who credits her boyfriend, Justin Kawika Young, the lead guitarist in her band, with motivating her to get healthier. "Justin convinced me to go for a jog in Germany while we were performing there two years ago, and it felt good. I don't know if it was because I was in better shape or because I was with this guy I was falling in love with, but it changed the way I looked at running and working out in general. I was no longer counting down the minutes until I was done. I was actually enjoying it."
Today exercise is a major mood booster for Colbie. "I make sure that even if I can't get a full workout in, I go for at least a 20-minute jog every day," she says. "I need it for my mind and body. I can't function without it." Here's how the singer became a fitness fanatic.
How often do you work out each week?
Mostly I run for 25 to 30 minutes on the treadmill three or four times a week. Then I get off and do stretches and sit-ups with an eight-pound ball, or I'll lift light weights. Twice a week I do a full workout with my trainer.
What changes have you seen in your body since you got serious about exercise?
All my clothes fit differently. A couple of years ago I was about a 32-inch waist. Now I'm more like a 28-inch. My arms have thinned out a lot, too. It's nice to have muscle and definition. I think it's from a combination of jogging, lifting weights, and becoming a vegetarian a year ago.
Have your workouts improved your singing performance?
In every way. I've found that running really helps. When I sing the Fleetwood Mac song "Go Your Own Way" during concerts, I'm literally running around the stage, and now my breathing patterns are stronger. Besides that, when I'm in shape I have more stamina, which makes me perform better. It's a chain reaction.
Did you rev up your routine to get ready for our cover?
I did a ton more sit-ups because I knew I'd be showing my stomach. I also did harder runs on the treadmill, running faster and at a higher incline. And I spent more time doing butt lifts and arm exercises with weights.
What do you like best about your body?
My legs. Running has helped me tone them. Now I'm more comfortable wearing shorter dresses and shorts, because I'm confident of how lean my legs look.
What do you like least?
My stomach, because it's hardest to see results there. That's where all my carbs and sweets go.
Have you always had a healthy lifestyle?
When I was growing up, my mom never bought junk food, so we didn't have Oreo cookies or sugary cereals in the house. At times I rebelled and went to Jack in the Box with my friends and generally ate poorly, so my weight would always fluctuate. But by the end of high school, my older sister [Morgan, 30] was going for jogs every day, and she had become a vegetarian. Now I'm just catching on and seeing how important fitness is and how much better working out makes me feel.
Morgan is a Pilates instructor. Is she one of your biggest influences?
Definitely. I used to try any diet; I would do it for a week, lose a little weight and then stop and go back to fast food and lots of sugar. Morgan made me realize that diet and exercise aren't about quick fixes for losing weight. They're about being healthy and strong and maintaining your weight rather than yo-yoing.
What are your go-to healthy foods?
For breakfast I eat granola with skim or almond milk and some strawberries. For lunch and dinner I typically have a quinoa vegetable dish. I also eat plenty of fish and sushi made with brown rice. I love Mexican food, so I'll get grilled vegetable burritos with black beans, rather than refried beans, and no rice.
What are your biggest indulgences?
Ice cream is my favorite. I need at least a bite of something sweet after every meal or I get cranky. I'll have a piece of organic chocolate or a few chocolate-covered raisins or nuts so I don't end up eating a massive dessert.
Do you work out with your boyfriend, Justin?
Yes. We jog and go to the gym together all the time. If I'm not in the mood but he really wants to go, afterward I'm always glad I did. Exercise is kind of like an addiction. It makes you feel good, and you start to crave that high.
What's on your workout playlist?
I don't listen to music when I work out. Watching TV is more distracting to me, so if I'm on a treadmill at the gym, I'll watch The Office or a home-decorating show. If I'm running outside, it's my time to clear my head of everything, including music.
Can you share some tips for any woman who feels self-conscious in a swimsuit?
Just think about the things you do like about your body, and focus on them. Don't let yourself go to that negative place. Nothing good comes from it. I wore a bikini in the music video for my song "The Little Things," and I was a bit bigger then than I am now. I just had to keep reminding myself that everyone has a different body type, and you have to be happy with yours. I've worked for the body I have now, so it's exciting for me to be on the cover of FITNESS.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2011.