Kelly Clarkson is building a new life — and a new look — in the big city.
As a single mother to daughter River Rose, 9, and son Remington Alexander, 7, Clarkson, 41, now calls New York City her home. “I was very unhappy in L.A. and had been for several years. I needed a fresh start,” she told PEOPLE in this week's cover story.
After moving her hit talk show from Los Angeles to New York City, “I'm not trying to sound ungrateful,” she told NBC, “I can't be here anymore for my mental health; For me and for my children.” “They weren't in good shape either. For the past few years, I've been showing up and smiling and doing what I'm supposed to do, but you can only be broken for so long until you break. ”
Her typical non-work days now revolve around exploring the city with her kids (whom she shares with ex-husband Brandon Blackstock, 47). “We go walking the dogs a few times in the park. We'll go get ice cream because my daughter will tire me out. We'll make slime and go to the museum,” she says.
Clarkson credits her on-the-go activities for helping her get back in shape. “Walking in the city is great exercise,” she says. “And I'm really loving infrared saunas at the moment. I've been taking a cold plunge because everyone has exhausted me.
As for her diet, she says: “I eat a healthy mix.” I lost weight because I was listening to my doctor – and I haven't done that in two years. And 90 percent of the time I'm good at it because the protein diet is good for me anyway. I'm a Texas girl, so I love meat – sorry, vegans of the world!
The move to New York City gave Clarkson the opportunity to “be present” on her show, which had just been nominated for a Critics' Choice Award for Best Talk Show (the only daytime show and female host in this category).
“I've had a really tough few years, and even in the first season it was tough behind closed doors,” she says. “Just so I can go into Season 5 feeling good and knowing that my kids feel good — and the dust has settled. Season 5 is the first season where I've enjoyed every minute of it.
What advice would you give her now 15-year-old self? “It will get easier,” Clarkson says. “I've always been the kind of person who's a little hard on themselves. I'll be like, 'It's not going to happen anytime soon, but eventually it's going to get easier.' At almost 41, you're really going to get your act together.”
“Lifelong beer expert. General travel enthusiast. Social media buff. Zombie maven. Communicator.”