Carrie Underwood is fitter than ever, thanks to her longtime vegan diet and running workouts. Underwood, who has been a vegetarian since childhood, tries to stick to a strict vegan diet without inconveniencing herself or others.
"I am a vegan, but I consider myself to be a practical vegan," Underwood told the November 2013 issue of Women's Health. "If I order something on a menu and it has a sprinkling of cheese on top, I'm not going to send it back.
"I've been vegetarian — no fish, no chicken, no-meat vegetarian — for about a decade now. The vegan thing is something I try to do my best on because it's a cheesy world out there."
Carrie, whose love of animals inspired her to become a vegan, said it's not easy to be 100 percent vegan when she travels, but she follows a strict vegan diet when she's at home.
"We recently went to Italy and they put cheese in, on and around everything," said Underwood, who's married to pro hockey player Mike Fisher. "So I kind of had to be vegetarian when I was on vacation, and now that I've been back home, I've been getting back into my vegan lifestyle.
"I'm a vegan at home. It's when I go other places that it can be a challenge, especially when you don't exactly know what you're ordering. It doesn't say that there's cheese on the menu. But like I said, I'm a practical vegan."
Carrie, 30, has been spending a lot of time in New York recently preparing for her upcoming live TV performance of "The Sound of Music" in December. Underwood, who plays Maria von Trapp, said the idea of doing a live performance is daunting and exciting.
"It's been a lot of work and it's been really challenging," she said. "But I think in the end it's really going to be very rewarding. It's going to be exciting to actually do a musical live on TV.
"The live thing? It's gutsy. It's ambitious. Music is where I live. But doing other things broadens me and my experiences and what I can do. I'm up for anything."
Underwood, who shot to fame after winning "American Idol" in 2005, has undergone a dramatic transformation during the past eight years.
The 5-foot-3 blonde beauty lost 20 pounds shortly after winning the reality TV competition, and has become a fitness and health fanatic who obsessively counts calories and works out daily to stay in top shape. Her workouts include lots of high-intensity cardio exercise such as running on the treadmill and kickboxing. She also strength-trains with five- to 30-pound weights and with resistance bands.
“My favorite thing is cardio,” she said. "Cardio makes me feel good, it makes me happy. It helps the pounds melt off and it gives me so much more energy. If I can wake up and get a good cardio session in a class at a gym nearby or on the treadmill, I'm happier throughout the day."
While most celebrities have their assistants do mundane chores such as food-shopping, Carrie loves grocery-shopping because much of the food that's available to her on the road is processed and unhealthy. “I love to be at the grocery store," she said. “I don’t have a chef on tour; I make my own food on the bus."
"The Sound of Music," which features "True Blood" star Stephen Moyer, airs live on NBC Dec. 5.