This year, she may have had her biggest growth spurt yet—she fell in love with another man (actor Eddie Cibrian), got divorced from Dean Sheremet, and as a result, faced an onslaught of criticism from the media and her fans. But with the support of her family and friends, a little therapy, and a lot of exercise, she's come through stronger and wiser. Here, LeAnn (whose new album, Lady & Gentlemen, hits stores October 5) explains how she discovered her true inner voice—and got in her best shape ever.
SHAPE: You've had a stressful year with all the media coverage surrounding your divorce from Dean Sheremet. Did exercise help you cope?
LeAnn Rimes: Absolutely. Going to the gym and punching out some of my aggression on a pair of mitts has been a lifesaver. Sometimes I felt so depressed I didn't want to get out of bed, so just getting to the gym—even for a few minutes—was a big accomplishment. It really did make me feel better and kind of saved me. It gave me a bit of sanity. Even now, on days when I'm really frustrated, I'll walk into the gym and say to my trainer, "We're doing a boxing workout today. For an hour. I need to hit things."
SHAPE: Boxing workouts are killer…
LeAnn Rimes: Boxing is one of the best workouts you could possibly do. A two-minute round doesn't sound like much, but when you're moving constantly and throwing punches, it wears you out. And boxing workouts really build up your stamina.
SHAPE: Do you work out with Eddie Cibrian?
LeAnn Rimes: We go to the same gym, and sometimes we take group cycling classes together, but when it comes to weight training, we pretty much do our own thing. He's going to kill me for saying this, but when I ask him to work out with me, he always says no. And when I ask why, he says, "Because your boxing workouts are too hard." And he's right: I'm serious about my exercise. I don't just doodle around. I see people at the gym talking on their cell phones. If they think their bodies are really going to change...I mean, you've got to put in the effort!
SHAPE: How are you caring for your inner self? Do you journal? Pray? Meditate?
LeAnn Rimes: All of the above! I find writing to be one of the most cathartic things I can do. I get out my feelings on paper, and then I don't have to carry them around anymore. I'll write a letter filled with things I want to say, and then rather than mail it, I burn or erase it. I also pray, and I meditate when I can actually shut down my brain. It's a matter of finding the magic combination of what settles you, relaxes you, and makes you happy.
SHAPE: Do you think the criticism about leaving Dean Sheremet for Eddie Cibrian has been fair?
LeAnn Rimes: My relationship with Dean was great, but ultimately it wasn't a fulfilling marriage for either of us. We got married so young: I was 19 and he was 21, so as we got older, we grew apart. I understand why people are disappointed in me, especially since I grew up as America's sweetheart. I think any relationship is hard to get out of, and I don't think the way I did it was right. I truly believe there are lessons in it for me to learn. Cultivating strength from rough situations is the most important thing. After going through this, I know I can face anything.
Find out how cover model Leann Rimes toned up and got her best body ever in the October issue of SHAPE, on newsstands September 20th. Bonus: Leann reveals her favorite foods—both healthy ones and spurges!