The country star shares details about his fitness journey, family, and why he collapsed on stage in his new book

By Sam Gillette
November 05, 2019 01:15 PM
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Country star Tim McGraw is the healthiest he’s ever been — and he’s getting candid about his fitness journey in his new book.

In Grit & Grace: Train the Mind, Train the Body, Own Your Life, out Tuesday, McGraw explains that more than 10 years ago his wife, Faith Hill, told him that he had to decide between his rockstar lifestyle or his family. The ultimatum shook McGraw to his core.

“When things happen and you succeed beyond your wildest dreams and you’re playing all these great shows and the parties are going on,” McGraw, 52, told Hoda Kotb on the TODAY show. “Then you’re married and you have kids. And all of a sudden your wife looks at you and says, ‘You know, you’re getting a little overboard and you need to make some decisions.’ It makes a big impact on you.”

But the renowned singer said that it was his daughter Gracie’s reaction to an unflattering image that affected him the most. (He shares daughters Gracie, 22, Maggie, 21, and Audrey, almost 18, with Hill).

“I made a movie and we went to the theater during the holiday season,” he said to Kotb. “I wasn’t even thinking about the trailer of my movie, we were just going to see a holiday movie, and sure enough, the first thing that pops up on the screen is the movie I’d done. My face is the first thing that came on a 100-foot screen and it was pretty swollen at that time. My daughter looked at me and she said, ‘Jeez, Dad, you need to do something.’ And that’s sort of a gut shot, right?”

RELATED: Tim McGraw’s 40-Lb. Weight Loss Started After His Daughter Said He Looked ‘Big on the Screen’

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In Grit & Grace, McGraw explains how he turned his life — and his health — around after those pivotal encounters. He decided to work out every day (even if it was just a walk) and reveals how he slowly built a regimen that challenged his body and lowered his stress. McGraw partnered with Roger Yuan, a movie-fight coordinator and former competitive martial artist, to create a “maverick” workout routine. In his book, the artist shares step-by-step workouts, tips to “train the mind,” and healthy recipes that he cooks at home.

Woven throughout his fitness guide is a deeply personal story. In the opening chapters, McGraw explains that the death of his father, pro baseball player Tug McGraw; a battle with his record label; and anxiety about success put him in a dark place.

“I wasn’t comfortable sitting back, watching and waiting in stillness,” writes McGraw. “In hindsight, I think it’s because if things got quiet, I’d hear the old ghosts that tend to follow at my heels like shadows. The ones that say, You’re just a small-town country singer on a lucky streak — what do you know about success? Working hard and playing hard kept things noisy enough inside to drown them out.”

He continues: “But when you’re a partner and a parent, if you don’t leave intensity at the door when you come home, it starts to strain the bonds. You don’t even realize you’re using worldly stresses and pressures as a way to check out of something harder to navigate — like intimacy and being there emotionally for the people who love you most.”

The singer's daughters
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RELATED VIDEO: Tim McGraw and Jon Meacham Discuss Their New Book, Songs of America

McGraw’s interactions with his family started to change after Hill checked him.

“My emotional absence was noticed and it was not scoring any points,” he writes. “[Faith] has always offered unconditional love in every situation and never for a second have I doubted her willingness to support whatever step I needed to take to find my way back to health. Yet in that instance, she knew that someone had to lay down the law. Getting real like only she can do, Faith told me, ‘Partying or family, take your pick.'”

Though he wasn’t sure if the ultimatum would have been seen through, it scared McGraw enough to change his ways. He started exercising daily and stopped drinking — a regimen he’s maintained for more than a decade.

“It’s not about weight, it’s not about fat versus thin, it’s not about any of those things,” the singer said on TODAY.  “It’s about what feels good to you and how you can take ownership of your body.”

Tim McGraw
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As much as McGraw has seen a huge improvement in his fitness and his connection with his family, the journey wasn’t without hurdles. In Grit & Grace, McGraw explains that some of his team decided to walk away after he asked them to workout with him. McGraw also recalls the day he collapsed on stage while performing in Ireland in March 2018. He was too dehydrated.

“Water! The element we most take for granted — the liquid that coffee and beer drinkers mainly acknowledge as the basis of their brew,” McGraw writes. “This part of the health equation took me a minute. How can something as simple as drinking water all day be difficult? Dumb as it sounds, it’s always been a problem for me. It took me a few hard lessons in dehydration, including one very public collapse on stage in Europe, to fully understand how lots of caffeine, hours of air travel, plus intense workouts could add up to do a number on the hydration of the body. After that, I changed course.”

Now, he drinks plenty of water, McGraw writes.

“Be there for yourself so you can be there for other people,” he told TODAY. “It’s all about what you can do, it’s not about what I do. I’m sort of an extreme person because that’s part of my DNA. But I think that anyone can take control of their life.”

Grit & Grace is on sale now.

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