Courtesy ConAgra Foods Foundation
Courtesy ConAgra Foods Foundation
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A normal gym workout just won’t do for Kellie Pickler.

“My favorite thing to do is kayak,” the kind country cutie, 26, who dropped 40 lbs., tells me during the ConAgra Foods Foundation’s Hunger-Free Summer Program event. “I love to kayak.”

The American Idol finalist, who wed Nashville songwriter Kyle Jacobs last year, gets her husband involved.

“When I’m at home in Nashville, every time I’m off the road, if the river’s not too low, my husband and I kayak. We get a big group of all of our friends and we load up and go to the river, and we kayak. We just went ten miles a couple weeks ago, down the Buffalo River. It was awesome.”

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She’s noticed major changes in her figure since she took up the sport.

“It works my arms, back and shoulders,” she says. “It works a lot. It works your core. We’ll get out and climb up. They have little cliffs you can jump off of. They had a 45-foot that I jumped off of. I actually  have a video of it — it’s so funny.  Hiking up the side of that thing, climbing up there, and jumping off the top of that cliff. They have a 90-foot one that you can jump off of, too, but the river was too low for anyone to jump off that day. I guess it does work your core if you keep going.”

She continues, “Oh my gosh, it’s so great. We’re getting a workout and we’re drinking at the same time. [claps/laughs] Don’t think we don’t bring our cooler of beer! [laughs]”

Hm, how long does it take to go ten miles?

“Well, it just depends, because we get out there, and there’s other people out there. You meet people and you start talking. [giddy] You’re making friends out on the river. You’ll end up parking your canoe and partying for an hour, and then hopping back and trying to drive — well, you might think you’re driving — but the good thing is that you’re burning the beer calories. It just depends on who I’m with, which I’m always with my crazy friends, so it takes us awhile, but we get there. We get to the finish line.”

She adds, “It’s so great. It’s my favorite thing to do. My husband texted me today, ‘it’s supposed to be raining in Nashville. When you get back, it will be kayaking time.’ So excited!”

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For Kellie, weekends aren’t the only time it’s right for kayaking.

“When I’m home during the week, we go. I mean, if I’m home and the river’s high enough — you get a better workout if the river’s high, and you don’t have to push your kayak! I go whenever the river’s high enough to go and my friends are ready. We just pile up in the truck, and hit it.”

Don’t expect kids to curb her thrill-seeking streak one day in the future if, she cautions, she has them.

“I’m the most adventurous person I know. I will never change — that will never change.”

She continues, “Just because you have children doesn’t mean you can’t make goals and accomplish them. It’s not like having a kid brings you down. It’s a beautiful moment in your life. You can still do the things that you want to do. We can travel. People do it all the time. I would jump out of a plane before or after. When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. There’s nothing you can do about it. I don’t ever want to live my life in fear.”

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Luckily, her husband agrees.

“We love adventurous things. We love traveling. We both have the same passion of wanting to see as much of the world as we can before we die, and we want to meet as many people as we can. We want to embrace and learn about every culture that’s out there. I’m fascinated by the Middle East, just going on this USO tour. I’m fascinated by their culture. It’s a different world, almost. I mean, we all share the same planet, but everybody comes from a different place, I guess. Everybody’s got their own story, and I love hearing about it.”

What’s her secret to maintaining the weight loss?

First of all, I’m happy. That probably makes the biggest difference. I’m in a very good place in my life right now. I’m very happy. I have a great man — a great husband. And great friends. I love to be outdoors. I’m not a gym person. I’ll get bored and start talking to people, and I won’t get anything done.”

Pick up Kellie's latest album, 100 Proof.

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