I have to switch up my workout routine often or else I get really bored, so I base it around what I naturally feel like doing during that time of year. In the winter, when I just want to cozy up inside and eat carbs, I do mainly indoor exercises like weight lifting. Then, when the weather turns warm and I’m more motivated to get outside and be active, I shift to cardio. My philosophy is to build muscle while you’re covered up in the cold months so you can show it off once spring arrives.
I’ve definitely changed my approach to fitness as I’ve gotten older. In my 20s I was all about cardio and anything that made me sweat. Now that I’m 37 and have two kids, I’m focused on getting the most out of my workout time. I do lower-impact exercises with higher weights, and I try to maximize each and every rep. I like doing leg presses and weighted squats. These days it’s less about the burpees and sprinting around — my knees can’t always handle that.
I exercise when I can. Sometimes I’ll do it seven days in a row; other times it’s only twice a week. I take the opportunity when I have it, knowing that some weeks I won’t be able to exercise as much, because I am not the 5 a.m. workout type. I need my coffee and breakfast first, and then I get my children on their way, so I’m a midmorning-workout person. But I weave fitness into my day. I always take the stairs, which firms your legs, and at home I’ll do lunges as I go from one room to the next. No one is judging you in your own house, so why not make chores active? I turn it into a game, like if I’m picking up my kids’ toys off the floor, I’ll do a squat each time I lower myself down. These little moves keep up my energy, especially on days when I can’t get in a full workout. That’s why Fit52, the health plan featured in my book, Find Your Path, and in my new fit52 app that I developed with my trainer Eve Overland, takes a week-by-week approach. When you have 52 chances a year to make it a healthy week, you’re less inclined to scold yourself over one bad day. It’s designed to help you stay on track while allowing you some grace.
My two other secrets to looking lean and muscular are, first, I keep my macro numbers — which is your calories, carbs, and protein intake — in check. The second is a good self-tanner or body bronzer. I like Ofra Cosmetics RCK Body Glow, a tinted lotion with a bit of shimmer. If you want your legs to look toned, believe me, a little shimmer goes a long way.
Carrie Underwood’s new book, Find Your Path, and her fit52 app both come out this month.
For more stories like this, pick up the February issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Feb 14.