How Carrie Underwood transformed her body since American Idol

Carrie Underwood made history in 2005 when she became the first country singer to win American Idol. "This is the best night of my life, and it's about to get better," a then 21-year-old Underwood told Associated Press (via Fox News) after beating out rocker Bo Bice on the season four finale of the hit singing competition.

It certainly did get better. With 58 million records sold worldwide and multiple Grammy awards to her name, Carrie Underwood isn't just one of the most successful American Idol alums, she's one of the biggest stars in country music today, with an estimated worth of $75 million.

But beyond her career and financial success, the mom to son Isaiah is also in the best shape of her life, looking even more flawless than she did over a decade ago. Let's take a look at how Carrie Underwood went from American Idol sweetheart to country music bombshell.

A country cutie

During her time on American Idol, Carrie Underwood was the epitome of a "girl next door." Often seen performing in jeans, casual tees, minimal makeup, and naturally curly hair, the Oklahoma native was just like all of us — totally average. Still, this didn't stop Internet haters from doing what they do best. "Back when I was on American Idol, I was a bit heavier than I am now," she told Us Weekly (via Toronto Sun). "Apparently I was fat. Of course I wasn't, but sometimes words people choose are not the nicest."

The singer also admitted to the mag that, because it was the first time she was ever in the public eye, it was challenging to ignore all the negativity. "It was impossible not to look online and see what they were saying," she said. Luckily, she was ultimately able to use that as motivation for a new healthier lifestyle.

An American Idol makeover

Just one year after rising to American Idol glory, a noticeably slimmed down Carrie Underwood attended the 2006 Billboard music awards. She didn't just look like a star in her form-fitted purple cocktail dress, she totally slayed at the award show, picking up five trophies, including best new country artist.

So how did the newbie country star transition from her television look to get red carpet ready? Good old fashioned diet and exercise, with a focus on her health. "I gained weight on the show, but I didn't starve myself afterward," Underwood said in a 2007 interview with Cosmopolitan, speaking of her time during and after American Idol. "I may think about it a little too much. I might feel guilty if I eat a pizza. But I've tried to be healthy and exercise as much as I can. If that's made me lose weight, I guess I needed to."

Making vegetarians sexy

By 2007, Carrie Underwood was officially riding the wave of country music super stardom. In addition to her five Billboard awards, the "Before He Cheats" singer had racked up two Academy of Country Music Awards, an American Music Award, two People's Choice Awards, and two Grammys (among other awards). She was also getting plenty of attention for her flawless figure, earning back-to-back mentions (2006 and 2007) on PETA's "Sexiest Vegetarian" list.

"It makes for an interesting Thanksgiving," Underwood told Women's Health about her decision to be meat-free. "At first it was really difficult. My mom would get so mad at me. But now, she's accepted it. Everything she used to make with cream of chicken soup, she now makes with cream of mushroom soup." 

And while maintaining a plant-based diet may have contributed to her physique, a regular workout routine also made a big difference. "I do work out, but not with a trainer," she told People back in 2007. "I just do lots of cardio."

A little work goes a long way

To support her double-platinum sophomore album Carni­val Ride, Carrie Underwood spent nearly a year on tour in 2008, playing over a hundred shows across venues large and small. She told Elle that her schedule was so hectic she often woke up in a hotel room with no idea of where she was.

It's important for Underwood to stay in optimal health because otherwise a hectic schedule like that can take its toll on a body. "In our catering area we have this huge table of supplements for people — little things like vitamin C, echinacea, stuff like that, because if one person gets a cold, everybody's getting a cold," she told WebMD.  She also made plenty of time to sweat it out at the gym. "If I can wake up and I go get a good cardio session in, a class at a gym nearby, or me on the treadmill, I'm happier throughout the day."

Enjoying the fruits of her labor

By the end of 2009, Carrie Underwood had another Grammy win under her belt, and was happily engaged her pro hockey player beau, Mike Fisher. With the help of her personal trainer Tony Greco, who amped up the bride-to-be's pre-wedding workouts to include a balance of cardio and strength training, Underwood earned the title of Fitness magazine's "Best Bridal Body" in 2010.

Stuff she's learned from her trainer? Morning workouts are best. "A lot of stuff happens in the afternoon, so I can get up and have a workout, which makes me feel awesome for the rest of my day," Underwood told Women's Health. Cardio workouts, like boxing and jumping rope, are her faves because "the endorphins make me feel good." She also enjoys kettlebell workouts, especially when she's out on the road and can't get to a gym. "They don't take up much space and work out a lot of different muscles."

Commitment is key

Few things are more motivating than a wedding to kick your fitness into high gear. But once the festivities are over, many people might fall into bad habits. Not Carrie Underwood. "I'm a very regimented eater. I've kept food journals for years now," she told Self. "I'm 95 percent vegan. I'll never eat meat again, because I look and feel better without it."

As for making it work with her hubby and his very different eating habits? It's all about compromise. "My husband would rather go out to restaurants than eat at home — it makes me mad! I really enjoy cooking and eating together at home," Underwood told the mag. "If he's watching TV and I'm cooking, I'm like, 'Hey, you're being lazy — come help!' It's a nice time to be together and talk. Plus, I don't know what to do with meat, so if Mike wants it to taste good and doesn't want to end up in the hospital with food poisoning, it's best if he makes it himself."

Legs for days

If there's one part of her body that Carrie Underwood receives the most attention for, it's got to be her gorgeously toned legs. While the star is known for her powerhouse voice, her legs go a long way in helping her steal the show whenever she performs. Just ask her fans on Twitter, some of whom use her legs for their own fitness motivation.

But it isn't just great genes that have left Underwood with her now-iconic legs. It's also a lot of hard work and Underwood's trainer Tony Greco can take at least some of the credit, but he doesn't take all of the credit. "Carrie is very knowledgeable in the world of health, and she does a lot of workouts on her own," Greco told Shape. "It's really a lifestyle for her.

To get sexy sculpted legs like Carrie, Greco suggests, "a series of lunges, squats, step-ups, and toe taps combined with a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and fats."

Sexy arm secrets

While Carrie Underwood's legs may arguably be her most famous body part, it isn't often you'll see Underwood hiding her arms on the red carpet either — and why should she? Underwood's arms are sleek and sculpted, perfect for those strapless and one-shoulder dresses and tops. But just like her goal-worthy legs, arms like these don't come without some sweat and hard work. If you're looking for her secret for fit and fabulous arms, and willing to hit the gym, you're in luck!

In 2013, Underwood chatted with Women's Health about her latest fitness discovery — Tabata. It's this high intensity interval training that Underwood credits for helping her tone her arms, along with the rest of her body. "When I do pushups, I'm dropping to my knees halfway through," she told the magazine (via CMT). "When I do abs, it hurts. But I like it. It makes me work."

Pregnancy goals

While some women use pregnancy as an excuse to eat more and exercise less, not even pregnancy could keep Carrie Underwood from looking absolutely flawless. The mama-to-be didn't let her baby bump become an excuse for skipping out on the gym. "She's a champ!" Erin Oprea, who trained Underwood during her 2015 pregnancy, told People.

And not much changed from Underwood's pre-baby bump workouts to those she did while expecting. While their intensity was taken down a notch, she still lifted weights and hit the punching bags just like before. "We're going for lighter weight, higher reps," Oprea, who also mentioned Underwood was eating "clean" and staying hydrated, told the magazine.

"I'm looking forward to reclaiming my body," a pregnant Underwood told People in 2015. "I've been saying it's been on loan for the past many months… I'm excited to take it back." But on loan or not, Underwood's focus on health for herself, and her little one, clearly showed in the ways her body transformed.

One hot mom

A year after giving birth to her son Isaiah, Carrie Underwood was looking more gorgeous than ever. Maintaining her workout and eating habits during her pregnancy no doubt made it easy for the star to bounce right back after giving birth. How many other moms do you know who can rock a skintight, nude minidress just months after having a baby? 

"I've been really lucky too because I had good core muscles and good balance before, cause I've been working out for so long," she told Glamour in 2015.

And she hasn't let motherhood stop her. "I normally work out for one-and-half to two hours a day," the new mom, who launched her own fitness lifestyle brand called Calia by Carrie Underwood, told Culture Map Houston. Besides weights and mixing up her intensity training, Underwood also enjoys going for long runs outdoors. "It's the thing I do for me."

"Not quite looking the same" after a 2017 fall

In November 2017, Carrie Underwood was injured in a fall outside her Nashville home. According to a spokesperson (via the Tennessean), Underwood's injuries included "a broken wrist and cuts and abrasions." Nearly two months later, Underwood wrote to her fan club fans (via the Tennessean), revealing the extent of the injuries to her body.

"In addition to breaking my wrist, I somehow managed to injure my face as well," she wrote, going on to reveal that underwent surgery the night of her fall that resulted in between 40-50 stitches on her face. Underwood wrote that she was healing, but "not quite looking the same." The star added, "When I am ready to get in front of a camera, I want you all to understand why I might look a bit different."

But on April 15, 2018, Underwood made her triumphant return in her first public appearance since her fall with a performance at the 2018 ACM Awards. Fans took to Twitter to confirm that Underwood looked as fit and gorgeous as always, with no noticeable difference to her face after the stitches.