For almost 20 years, Grammy-winning artist Mariah Carey has thrilled fans with her vocal range and heartfelt lyrics. Since her debut album hit stores in 1990, Mariah has topped the charts with songs like "Vision of Love," "Dreamlover," "Honey" and "We Belong Together."
In April 2008, Mariah made music history when "Touch My Body," the first single off her album E=MC² reached the top spot on the Billboard charts. With 18 number one hits, she broke the previous record set by a solo artist...the king himself, Elvis Presley. Now, she's second only to The Beatles, who had 20 chart-toppers during their heyday.
After hearing the news, Mariah says she had a hard time imagining the possibility. "People ask me about it now, and they say, 'Okay, you have the most hits of a solo artist ever,'" she says. "You can't even think about it. I'm like, 'That's deep.'"
Mariah says she'll always think of Elvis as a legend and knows she can't take all the credit for her success. "I'm very grateful to God for everything and realize that the glory goes to him," she says. "I didn't do this. This is not me. It's the grace of God."
Since Mariah attended the opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls—South Africa in January 2007, she says she's been busy working on her latest album, as well as her body.
For years, Mariah's fluctuating weight has been a popular topic in tabloid magazines. "I think the whole body image thing and people expecting everybody to be this thin is ridiculous," she says. "It just isn't reality."
After a close friend made a comment about her weight, Mariah says she was inspired to make permanent life changes and get into shape once and for all. Mariah says she has a secret weight loss weapon—her nutrition and fitness coach, Patricia. "Finally I just said, 'It has to be a life decision if you're going to really lose the weight,'" she says. "So Patricia created a number of things for me...one is a workout regimen."
Mariah says her workouts typically last for 60 to 90 minutes and combine cardio with resistance training. To tone her arms, Mariah uses her own body weight and stretches to sculpt long, lean lines. She likes to hop into a pool for the cardio portion of her workout. "What's great about working out in the pool is the water acts as resistance," she says. "You're actually exercising twice as hard without feeling it."
Mariah says the most important part of her new, healthier lifestyle is her diet. Patricia tries to cook Mariah's food without using oil and butter. She's also helped her stop snacking.
When Patricia told Mariah to cut mac 'n' cheese out of her diet, Mariah says the news broke her heart. "That's the thing that I have difficulty letting go of because that's comfort food," she says.
Instead, Patricia incorporates lean protein and lots of veggies into Mariah's meals. On a typical night, she prepares foods like artichoke hearts with cherry tomatoes, steamed zucchini and chicken marinated with lemon and soy sauce.
On occasion, Mariah allows herself to have one or two bites of her favorite foods—something she calls her "morsel diet."
Since making the commitment to eat healthier and get in shape, Mariah says she's gotten down to the same jean size she wore in 10th grade. "For me, it's not about a number on a scale," she says. "It's not about necessarily even a size. It's about feeling good and being comfortable in your own skin. Right now, I feel really great. I feel better than I've ever felt."
It's no secret that Mariah loves femininity—she even has a closet filled entirely with lingerie! For the first time, Mariah allows cameras into the intimate space for a tour of her nighttime necessities. "Typically, I throw on some pj's or perhaps some boxers and a little tank and call it a day," she says. "But if we're feeling extra good about ourselves after our little diet, we might select another type of ensemble."
Mariah says many of the pieces have come from Capri, Italy, one of her favorite places to vacation. "Sometimes I'll find things there that they don't have [here], so I kind of collect lingerie," she says. "I collect perfume bottles—all things feminine."
Since Mariah writes many of her own songs, her lyrics are often very personal. In the song "Side Effects" on her album E=MC², Mariah opens up about her relationship with her ex-husband. "When I [sing] 'Kept my tears inside because I knew if I started, I'd keep crying for the rest of my life with you,' that's the truth," she says. "If I would have been emotionally present, then it would have been over for me...I had to be blocked."
Mariah says part of the problem was getting married before she was ready. "The song was not about mudslinging toward him. It's from my point of view," she says. "Really I'm just talking about my feelings during a particular time in my life."
Although the relationship has ended, Mariah says there are things she can take away from it. "It taught me that I had to allow myself to feel worthy of being loved and not just live vicariously through success."
Another personal and revealing song Mariah co-wrote on her album is "Bye Bye," a moving song about the loss of her father. Although some of the lines are specifically about her dad, Mariah thinks everyone will be able to relate to her words. "A lot of people are saying it helps them get through the difficulty of maybe losing a loved one, a grandmother, a sister, a mother, and this is something that a lot of my friends and I have kind of gone through together," she says. "I almost feel like it's my job to write these kinds of songs for everybody who will go through it."
Although Mariah says she and her father didn't always see eye to eye, she was able to reconcile with him before he passed away. "I didn't think he cared about the singing thing at all," she says. "My mother did believe in me, and she always encouraged me, and that was why I didn't understand that my father was just trying to be practical and help me. But we learn and we live and we grow, hopefully."
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