The Stunning Transformation Of Carrie Underwood

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Carrie Underwood has come a long way from growing up on a farm in Oklahoma to winning "American Idol" to becoming one of the biggest stars in country music.

Underwood shot to fame after clinching the top spot of the TV singing competition in its fourth season and hasn't looked back, thanks to such hits as "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and "Before He Cheats." She's, without a doubt, one of the most successful, if not the most successful, winner of the "American Idol" franchise, and her star only continues to grow as the years unfold.

Now a Grammy winner, wife, and mother with a devoted fandom, Underwood has garnered tremendous success — not to mention endured tons of changes — since she won our hearts and votes in 2005. She's received numerous awards and accolades, including being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the same year she began co-hosting the Country Music Awards alongside Brad Paisley, due to her popularity. "How is this my life?" she asked the crowd as she accepted her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018 (via Billboard).

Let's look back on Carrie Underwood's life and how it's been dramatically transformed.

Carrie Underwood grew up in Oklahoma

Carrie Underwood was born on March 10 of 1983 in Checotah, Oklahoma, to Steve and Carole Underwood. According to Underwood's book, "Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life," her hometown was small and filled with nature, family farms, and, "best of all, decent people who look out for each other" (via Showbiz CheatSheet).

In the book, Underwood describes her childhood as one where she was free to spend a lot of time outdoors with her friends hunting for snakes and toads and "chasing each other through the pastures." Unlike many other kids, Underwood spent a lot of time "roam[ing] the countryside" because her family didn't have cable — an ironic fact since TV later helped catapult her to stardom.

In the book, Underwood writes that she's grateful for her "free-range childhood," because it gave her the opportunity to "explore and learn about what I loved — animals, sports, and singing" — all things the singer continues to be passionate about to this day.

She became a vegetarian (and almost vegan)

Carrie Underwood is one of the most famous vegetarians in the world. In fact, she was crowned PETA's sexiest vegetarian twice — in 2005 and again in 2007. But, unlike the majority of celebrities, Underwood has been committed to her plant-based diet since she was a teenager back in Oklahoma. She told Self magazine it was her family farm that caused her to make the switch when she learned the cows they raised would be slaughtered for beef. The discovery "freaked" her out, and she immediately cut beef from her diet at the age of 13. She would later become a vegan at 22 when she moved to Los Angeles for her "American Idol" experience, thanks to the wide array of vegan options available there.

Today, Underwood does her best to stick to a vegan diet most of the time. She occasionally eats eggs from her backyard-raised chickens and prefers to know where her food comes from (via Women's Health). While she said she wants to commit to being a vegan "so badly," her busy traveling schedule makes it tough (via Self).

She studied broadcast journalism in college

It's hard to picture Carrie Underwood as anything other than a mega successful country singer. But back before "American Idol," Underwood dreamed of being more like Diane Sawyer than Dolly Parton. The singer majored in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism at Northeastern State University (NSU) and was, in fact, three credits shy of obtaining her college degree when she dropped out to appear on the reality TV singing competition (via Taste of Country).

While we know what happened next (Underwood won the show), the singer ended up graduating from school school magna cum laude, with NSU recognizing her time on TV as the practical experience she needed to receive her degree — even if she's never had to use it in her professional life since. At the time, she told People that she obviously had done enough with television, given her time on "American Idol." "There was my internship right there!" she said (per Taste of Country).

Nearly a year after being crowned the winner of "American Idol," Underwood received her bachelor's degree along with 1,800 of her classmates (via USA Today).

Carrie Underwood won American Idol (but almost didn't compete)

Carrie Underwood is one of the most famous "American Idol" winners of all time, but she almost didn't compete on the TV show. When she learned the closest auditions to her home in Oklahoma were in St. Louis, she initially thought it was "out of the question." However, when she told her mother why she wanted to go, her mom instantly said, "I'll drive you," she shared with Guideposts.

While she aced the local audition to land her the "golden ticket" to Hollywood, Underwood shared it wasn't smooth sailing, recalling she was "terrified." "Every time I had to sing in front of the judges, I'd get nervous the way I did in church that first time. Then I'd say a prayer and leave it in God's hands," Underwood wrote for Guideposts.

Of course, the rest is history. Underwood clinched the title of "American Idol" in 2005, and it's something she says she'll never regret. "It was so outside my comfort zone. I took this big leap, and it's worked out in the most incredible ways," she told Seventeen.

She lost a lot of weight after American Idol

Carrie Underwood is almost as famous for her toned legs as she is for her stunning voice. But she confessed to Women's Health that she didn't always prioritize her fitness or nutrition until she read a message board online criticizing her weight while she appeared on "American Idol." While she knew she shouldn't care what other people think, she also realized the carb-heavy diet she was eating didn't make her feel good. "I knew I could be better for myself, and I let my haters be my motivators," she said. 

She started paying more attention to her food intake and fitness and soon noticed she felt better. So, she kept pushing herself by exercising more and eating less, admitting to consuming as little as 800 calories a day. "As soon as you start making little tweaks, people immediately go, 'You look so great!' Then you start wondering, 'How bad did I look before?'" she told People. "Then it's like, 'Well, I guess I should keep on going.' Then you start eating less."

In November 2005, she started to binge eat after skipping meals, telling Women's Health, "​​Your body is screaming out, 'I need more calories, I need more carbs!'" When asked by People if she had an eating disorder, Underwood said she did not because she wasn't trying to starve herself intentionally. "I just didn't know how many calories I should be eating," she said.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

The singer went on to achieve mega success

Winning "American Idol" in 2005 was just the first of many wins for Carrie Underwood's career. Her debut single, "Inside Your Heaven," topped the charts in 2005, followed by her debut album, "Some Hearts," which made it to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 that same year. In 2006, she won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in addition to Best Female Vocal Country Performance for "Jesus, Take The Wheel."

Since then, according to her official website, she has sold more than 66 million records worldwide and has seven RIAA-certified platinum or multi-platinum albums along with 28 No. 1 singles. Additionally, she's won over 100 major music awards, including seven Grammy Awards and 15 ACM Awards.

When asked by Rolling Stone what's changed since her 2005 win, Underwood broke it down to time and confidence. "Now I have a lot more confidence in myself as an artist and a songwriter, and now we just have a lot more time to make sure everything is perfect and just the way I want it," she said.

Back in the day, the star struck out in the love department

While Carrie Underwood's career was soaring high, her love life wasn't. In 2008, she told Cosmopolitan that, when it came to dating, she was "pretty useless with guys," admitting she only talked to guys when they approached her first. "If I see somebody who I'm attracted to, generally I just think, 'Oh well, he's not interested in me,'" she said.

Since her "American Idol" win, the country singer was briefly linked to football player Tony Romo and actor Chace Crawford, whom she dated for eight months. She told Glamour that ​​she constantly doubted the guys she dated in the past, saying she'd get worried when "'he didn't answer his phone. What's he doing? It's late.' I'm not the crazy-girlfriend type, but there was a little voice in the back of my head," she explained.

Maybe that's why Underwood told Cosmo that, while in past relationships she would be the one to typically dote on her partner, she was now looking to be spoiled. "I want to be appreciated. It's the chivalry thing and the extra attention that I like," she said.

She met the love of her life in hockey player Mike Fisher

Carrie Underwood's life certainly changed when she finally got lucky in love after meeting, and later marrying, Canadian hockey player Mike Fisher. Underwood called Fisher the only man she's "never had to worry about."

The couple got engaged in December 2009 after a year of dating and married in July 2010 at the ​​Ritz Carlton Reynolds Plantation in Georgia in front of 250 guests (via People). In a statement to People, they wrote, "We could not feel more blessed to have found each other and to have shared this day with our friends and family that mean so much to us!"

They celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary in 2021 with gushing Instagram posts, with Fisher writing, "Here's to many more with the best partner I could imagine!! #happyanniversary." Underwood replied, "11 years sure have flown's to many, many more. Love you!" ​​

Spending tons of time together during the COVID-19 pandemic cemented just how compatible and in love they are. According to Underwood, Fisher told her they "were really good at being together all day, every day" (via People).

She became a mom of two boys

Carrie Underwood's life certainly changed when she became a mother of two boys. The singer welcomed son Isaiah Michael in February 2015 and gave birth again to son Jacob Bryan in January 2019, writing on Instagram, "Our hearts are full, our eyes are tired and our lives are forever changed. Life is good."

Some of the physical changes Underwood experienced from having her sons is a C-section scar with "a little pooch" and a "nicer bum." The lifestyle changes included balancing her superstardom with motherhood. ​​"I give motherhood my all. I give entertaining my all. Hopefully everything will be [okay] and so far it has been," she told Today. "We are figuring it out as we go."

She also admitted to Today that motherhood means her life isn't as glamorous as people might believe, citing her house being a "mess" with toys "everywhere." "I'm constantly trying to make it not a mess, but it is and that's [okay]," she said.

The country superstar had a scary accident that resulted in 40 stitches

Carrie Underwood had another major physical change when she experienced a scary freak accident in 2017 that resulted in 40 to 50 stitches and a broken wrist. Underwood told Today's Hoda Kotb that the accident could have happened to anyone, as she tripped and fell down steps at her home as she was taking her dogs out for a walk (via People).

During her recovery, Underwood was quiet on social media until she went public with her accident the following January. Underwood, who initially thought she just hurt her lip, called her injury not "pretty" and revealed in an interview on Sirius XM (per People) that she also chipped a tooth. "It was just my skin, thank the Lord. Stitches and all that stuff," she said.

While the incident was traumatic, Underwood told Redbook that it led her to do some soul-searching. She said she realized that "nobody else looks at you as much as you think they do. Nobody notices as much as you think they will, so that's been nice to learn."

The singer is also a health and wellness style icon

Carrie Underwood is known to turn some heads on the red carpet for her style and toned body. So, it's no surprise that she's also an icon when it comes to the wellness and fashion worlds. In 2015, the singer launched her Calia by Carrie Underwood activewear, athleisure, and swimwear line with ​​Dick's Sporting Goods in over 600 of their stores and continues to grow her collection with its new shades and styles (via WWD). ​​

Underwood's wellness empire continues to expand, thanks to the book she wrote with her personal trainer called "Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life" as well as its accompanying workout app, Fit52. In 2021, she signed on to be the ambassador for BodyArmor Lyte, a new sports drink brand (via InStyle). When it comes to achieving optimal health and wellness, Underwood told InStyle "it is a marathon. It's not a sprint" — which, looking back at her life over the last two decades, would also best describe her epic transformation.