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Carrie Underwood says she 'stopped trying to be perfect' after baby No. 2

As she preps for her new "Cry Pretty" tour, the country music singer says she didn't let the impulse to get in shape quickly sabotage her feelings or stress her out.
/ Source: TODAY

It's been only three months since Carrie Underwood and husband Mike Fisher welcomed son Jacob to the world, and the country music star is already set to return to the stage Wednesday night for the launch of her "Cry Pretty" tour.

But how did she return to performing and touring so soon after baby No. 2?

As she revealed in a chat with TODAY's Natalie Morales, it's simple — sort of.

For Underwood, who's also mom to 4-year-old son Isaiah, the secret to her success involves both hard work in the gym and readjusting what being ready really means to her.

"The first time around, with Isaiah, it was easier for me to (get back in shape)," she said. "I think that's just the way of it. So you kind of have unrealistic expectations about the second time — 'It's going to be just like the first time.' And it wasn't. And I'm like, 'What is happening? What am I doing wrong?'"

The answer was "nothing." The problem wasn't her body; it was her expectations.

"I hold a high standard for myself," she explained. "But if you set the bar too high and you have unrealistic expectations, at some point you're going to realize, 'I'm not there,' and, again, you're going to feel like you've failed. And it's ridiculous. You know, my son is 3 months old, and I was expecting to ... I don't know what I was expecting, to be quite honest."

But the key was to stop expecting whatever that was.

"I stopped trying to be perfect immediately," the 36-year-old recalled. "And I started putting one foot in front of the other, instead of trying to plan everything out — putting one foot in front of the other, and being on my journey, and being on my path and, you know, thinking about my end goal. And it really doesn't matter exactly when I reach that goal, as long as I just keep putting one foot in front of the other."

A lot of those steps have taken place in one of Underwood's favorite spots: the gym.

The "Love Wins" singer is a devoted workout enthusiast, who even has her own activewear line, but for her, working out isn't just about her post-baby body.

"I'm a better mom. I'm a better performer. I'm a better wife," she said of the transformations that really take place after she hits the gym. "I just feel better when I get to do that."

And when she does it, she doesn't let herself get distracted by those high expectations.

"I don't want to be stressed out going into the gym," Underwood said. "So I'm just going to focus on getting stronger."

And today, she's strong enough to set out on a world tour.