The stunning transformation of Miranda Lambert

Just a good ole Texas girl living outside of Nashville, Tennessee, country music's Grammy-winning Miranda Lambert is all southern charm, with a little bit of sass, and these days, a whole lot to say. With her latest album The Weight of These Wings hitting the shelves, fans are rediscovering that raw, beautiful spirit they've known for years. She's an old-school storyteller, just 33-years-old, emerging from the heartbreak of divorce like a fiery phoenix, taking no prisoners as she goes.

She has been winning over the hearts of country music fans since she first burst onto the scene in the mid 2000s. She's fought her way up the ranks of a male-dominated industry, relating to women with her spitfire persona and all-too-real lyrics. "I don't know that I am a pioneer," she said in an interview with The Guardian about paving the way for more women in country music. "I hope that I helped keep the door open."

She's the girl-next-door, with that glam Hollywood life. Her feet on the ground, the sun on her face, the fissures of experience only sweetening the rich life she has created. From messy breakup to new love, small town to big league, Goodwill to Givenchy, her fearless confidence and authenticity continues to blaze a trail for women, and for humanity. And according Lambert herself, this time everything's on the table. Here's a look at Miranda Lambert's transformation over the years.

She paid her dues on her first tour

Before 2005, Miranda Lambert was a little known country singer. Little did the then 22-year-old know that her debut album would catapult her to fame, going Platinum and producing hit singles like "Me and Charlie Talking" and "Kerosene." But when she went on to tour with George Strait and Keith Urban, Lambert quickly learned that life on the road can take a toll on one's health. "I gained a lot of weight really quickly!" she told People, admitting that she ate Waffle House every night while on tour.

She dropped six dress sizes

By 2007, Lambert added a tour with Toby Keith and a trip to the Academy of Country Music Awards (where she ended up winning for top new female vocalist) to her ever-growing schedule. She began working with personal trainer Tony Boykin, who helped her stick to healthier habits while out on the road. The result: a 5'4″ Lambert went from a size 10 to a size 4, thanks to lots of running, weight lifting, lunges, and eating salads. "We work out every show day so I'm doing three or four days a week. I'm really active at home too. I have a farm so I'm constantly moving," Lambert told OK! magazine.

The singer also kept a food diary during her travels, which she shared with People. "I used to eat fried anything, sweets, pizza, and cheeseburgers," she wrote. "Now when I eat something bad, I feel it."

She learned how to love her body

Lambert, who was dating fellow country music star Blake Shelton at the time, attended her second Grammy Awards as a nominee. She also chatted with OK! magazine about what it was like getting red carpet ready. "For the Grammys I wore Nicole Miller and I really loved the dress," she said. "The one thing, a lot of the designer dresses are so small. They come in size two, which I'm not. The dress I wore to the Grammys was a size six, sometimes I'm a size eight. And that's normal, but it's not in the fashion world. So sometimes it's hard for me."

Horseback riding has always kept her grounded

To promote her third album, Revolution, which dropped in the fall of 2009, Lambert continued to spend plenty of time performing out on the road. When she was at home, she kept active by riding horses. "When I'm riding, it clears my head and I'm able to write better music," she said in an interview with Horse Channel. "I love being outside. It's always good to get away from the computer and cell phone and just enjoy being with my horses." She also talked about her interest in barrel racing. "I have good friends at home who are trainers, and they have helped me so much in understanding this new sport and training properly for it," she said. "I have not fallen off yet, knock on wood, and I just did a ranch rodeo. It was really exciting!"

She has a passion for rescue animals

A life-long lover of animals — she's adopted seven rescue pups, herself — Lambert founded the MuttNation Foundation along with her mother, Bev, in 2009. "Just like music, animals have always been a part of my life," Lambert told Modern Dog Magazine. "[I'm] just like my parents, who always had an open door policy. If any animal needs a place, [they] can stay here." She'll even go to extremes for these furry rescues, as she told Rolling Stone Country, "I laid on the side of the road for 30 minutes one time trying to get this dog. People were stopping and saying, 'Are you okay?' I was like, 'Yeah, just go away. I've almost got him!'" Today, that lucky pup belongs to Lambert's keyboard player, and has a new name: Batman.

Lambert's thriving organization aims to support dogs in need, through programs directed toward spaying and neutering, medical treatments, adoption, mill rescues, training and placement, as well as food and supplies for shelters. Since its inception, the foundation has raised over $1.5 million for shelters in all 50 states across the US, and has recently partnered with Petmate on a product line. But is Lambert strictly a dog person? "I also have a flock of chickens, two pot-bellied pigs, three minihorses, three horses, and three cats," she shared with Modern Dog Magazine. "My animals totally keep me grounded. They don't know 'Miranda Lambert' they know 'mom.' As soon as I get off stage they are waiting to greet me. They love the person I am, even if I never sing another note."

She became half of country's hottest power-couple

In May 2011, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton got married in Texas among a star-studded group of family and friends that included Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire, and Katherine Heigl, to name a few. A month later, she opened up to Self about the pressure she still faced to be thin, noting that she could always count on her husband to lift her spirits."I asked Blake, 'Dude, why didn't you tell me I got fat?'" she recalled during the interview. "He said, 'That would go over like a lead balloon. It's not my job to tell you you're fat. It's my job to tell you you're beautiful.'"

Still, Lambert admitted that staying active helped her be a better performer on stage. "I gained about 10 pounds over the holidays, and when I got onstage in January, I realized I wasn't feeling great." Regular workouts with her trainer helped improve how she felt whenever she fell off track. "I absolutely hate exercise. I love it afterward, of course. But my trainer is so nice, I want to do push-ups to please him!" she said. Still, while staying in shape helps her be a better performer (all that extra lung capacity), Lambert never strived for perfection. "I won't give up what I enjoy to look perfect. I want to find a happy medium between feeling good about my body and still having a beer and some barbecue," she said.

She stunned on the CMA's red carpet

The singer made headlines again, and this time it wasn't about her music. The media went crazy over Lambert's noticeably slimmer figure on the red carpet of the 47th annual CMA Awards. To mark the milestone of her 30th birthday, Lambert told People she worked with her personal trainer for fourth months to drop a dress size. "People think I lost more, but I'm short," she said. So what exactly helped her drop the extra pounds? "We do cardio, a lot of circuit training. We do things with my body weight, like lunges," she noted. She also worked on portion control when it came to her meals. "I haven't given up everything!" she confessed. "I try to just cut everything in half."

She found a way to love/hate her workouts

Amidst divorce rumors, Lambert continued to keep most of the media attention on her amazing body transformation throughout 2014. In an interview with Women's Health, she admitted there was no real secret to her weight loss, just consistency in sticking to simple, healthy foods. "I just literally would make grilled chicken breast, sweet potato salad. There was no miracle." The singer said she also liked switching up her cardio by doing jumping jacks or run-walking. "I hate running," she admitted to the mag. "Like, in huge red letters: I HATE RUNNING." That's why she relies on music to keep her motivated. "If I put on Britney, I can picture Britney's body, and I'm like, 'Oh! Faster!'"

She opened up about her divorce

After officially splitting from husband Blake Shelton, Lambert opened up to Cosmopolitan about how she was handling life after divorce. "I just want to live a life full of everything," she explained. "Some of that might mean nights on my porch crying, drinking whiskey, and going, 'Man, this sucks right now.'" The "Little Red Wagon" singer added, "I don't necessarily want to know that I have had really bad, long, lonely nights ahead of me, but I have had some." Lambert also told the mag that the breakup gave her more time and space to focus on herself and her writing. "I'm more in it right now than I ever have been," she noted.

She found love again

Ever since they met at one of his shows, Lambert and her new beau, Anderson East, have been head over heels in love. While private about their budding relationship, they're not entirely zip-lipped! Just check out her Instagram (— or his!). The two adorable country singer-songwriters even hang out and write, or play music together. She not-so-subtle-y wore his name on a t-shirt during her 'Keepers of the Flame' tour in spring of 2016.

This is Lambert's first serious relationship since she and ex-husband Blake Shelton officially split in 2015. But she has no regrets, as she told Cosmopolitan, "Marriage is a tough business, and [Blake and I] gave it our best college try. I had a great relationship with an amazing man. I know what good is. I have a great launching pad for the future. I will never take that for granted." She continued, "If I ever were to get married again — which is completely not on my radar at all right now — I feel like it's not about it being a step in life. It's not about a piece of paper or a diamond. It's the way you feel about somebody and the commitment in your heart." And according to this caption on her Instagram post, she's feeling quite smitten these days!

She started a fitness fashion line

In 2016, the country star continued to focus on herself and her music. In the summer, she performed at the 2016 CMA Festival in Nashville. She's also starting her own fitness clothing line … well, sort of. According to iHeartRadio, Miranda posted a picture on Facebook of her and Gwen Sebastian sporting workout clothes from Miranda's Pink Pistol boutique in Texas. The line is called Fit by Pink Pistol.

She bought a $3.4 million property

"Growing up, my house was basically condemned when we got it," Lambert shared with Country Living. "It had mismatched carpet, and the halls were creaky. But those little things that were imperfect were what made it perfect." These days, that raggedy carpet is ancient history, as Lambert now occupies a rustic-luxe 3-bedroom home — with two additional cabins — on 400 acres of Tennessee outback, just outside of Nashville, according to Today. There's even a lake, a 60-seat open-air pavilion, a horse barn, and a six-car garage!

But even with a house of her dreams, this country star is still Jenny from the block. Reflecting on a past economic swing that sent her parents' careers onto the skids when Lambert was just six, she told Good Housekeeping, "My parents lost everything they had…we were homeless. Our whole world turned upside down." Eventually they rented a small farm and thrived, living off the land. A virtual lifetime later, Lambert's hospitality remains refreshingly easy. "When you visit someone in the country, they better offer you a glass of iced tea—in a Mason jar, of course. It's cliché because it's true. Some of my best conversations have happened over the clink-clink of iced tea in a jar. It's the soundtrack of country life," she told Country Living.

She'll always be our Texas girl

The 33-year-old Grammy-winner may be living Nashville-large these days, but Lambert's heart will always belong to The Lone Star State. In an interview with Southern Living, she fondly remembered her roots, "We lived on a farm with a big garden and rabbits and hogs — some were pets and some were for food. It taught me how to live off the land, and that small-town life made me who I am."

These days, some things haven't changed. Her trophy shot? "A 12-point buck that I hit with my bow while hunting in Kansas." And as far as the defining qualities of a bona fide "Southern girl"? "She is sweet and hospitable but also confident and strong. A Southern girl isn't a pushover and will kick your &%! if needed." Even with the money to buy whatever she wants, Lambert remains down to earth. According to Good Housekeeping, she shops at Target and Forever21 (— and sometimes Chanel), binges reality TV, and invents her own cocktails, "It's Bacardi Light with Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade and a splash of Sprite Zero. Low-calorie, low-sodium, no carbs, no caffeine — it's practically a health drink!"

She stands up for herself

"My mom was always saying: 'Be whatever you want to be, but stick with it. Don't waver. Don't change who you are for anybody.' It was sewn into me [as a kid] to be a confident, strong woman," Lambert told Good Housekeeping. From her Dad, she learned, "to always look over my shoulder." She makes good on those values today, firing back at internet trolls and haters trying to steal a piece of her.

Recently on Instagram, Lambert's post of herself and East on the 2016 CMA red carpet garnered an onslaught of negative comments. Lambert took to the 'gram the following day, with a new post of herself, without makeup, atop a Gypsy Vanner horse. She wrote about the red carpet shot, "…I realized so many comments were judgmental and negative. Cowardly people… writing their useless comments about our eyes and clothes and body language. What a bunch of bull****. Thank ya'll for reminding me why I read books, write songs, and spend most of my time with animals and people I trust and love." Slate summed up her fighting spirit, "There's a bravery in her no demographic simplifications can trace. No wonder her wings are heavy. But when they give out, she doesn't crash. She rolls on."

She's a modern feminist

"I'm not naturally small," Lambert shared with Good Housekeeping. "And I'm fine with that, because so many girls come up to me and say, 'Thank you for being normal-sized — it gives us hope that you don't have to be a size 2 to be somebody.'"

Not only an inspiration for female body-normalization, Lambert's passions are entrenched in philanthropy. Having grown up with parents who welcomed battered women and children into their home, Lambert was quick to speak out at her own concert in the wake of Chris Brown's Grammy win in 2006. Before her own performance of survivor-revenge-anthem "Gunpowder & Lead", she held a sign reading Take notes, Chris Brown. She told Good Housekeeping, "Where I come from, beating up on a woman is never OK. I like to say what I think, and if it happens to push buttons, sorry."

And her artistry in her music only confirms her status as a contemporary heroine. She's honest, she's real, and she's "owning her s***," as The Tennessean reported, about her latest single "Vice." And everyone is watching. "Refreshing, isn't it? In the age of modern feminism, after all, it's very much in vogue not to own any of your you-know-what, no matter how dysfunctional you may be," The Federalist noted. "Lambert is a talented artist who wrote a fantastic song. She wrote it as a human being, in order to relate to other human beings… and in doing so, she's placing herself on equal ground with men. Subtle as that may be, it's a quietly empowering act."

​Her new album is devastatingly honest

"I'm nervous as hell," Lambert told Billboard, just as her first single from her new album The Weight of These Wings (RCA) was released in July 2016. It had been 11 years since her very first album, and this would be her first release since her divorce. "I've been hunkered down for a year writing, recording, trying to live a normal life… And now that I'm coming with a song, it does make me nervous, and I hope that people are respectful of it and understand what I've been doing. I feel like the right thing to do was just come out with something really honest." If one song could convey one woman's story of moving on after a difficult break-up, and yet speak to anyone who's ever been there, it is Vice.

She continued in Billboard, "I feel like when you listen to this song, there's really nothing to read into. It says what it says. Everybody has a vice. Everybody goes through a time in their life when they run to it a little bit more than when they don't. I can't worry about what somebody might twist it into, because it's not like I'm hiding anything." Proving her mastery at tugging on her fans' heartstrings, "I just hope that ['Vice'] is something that makes people feel, because that's the most important thing." Her full album The Weight of These Wings, is available now.