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Healthy Living On The Road

Canada's Healthy Living Guide cover As a child growing up, Shania Twain had three dreams: to live in a brick house and eat roast beef, be kidnapped by Frank Sinatra and to be Stevie Wonder's back-up singer. None of those dreams have come true, but most would agree that it has been for the better.

Today Shania - award-winning singer and songwriter - stands at the forefront of the stage, in a limelight of her own creation and although her twho multimplatinum albums The Woman in Me and Come On Over, combined have sold over 20 million copies worldwide and have earned her more than enough money to buy a brick house and all the roast beef she could possibly eat, she lives in a Mediterranean-style ranch house in upstate New York and has been a devout vegetarian for the past five years. Even when she is on the road and on a tight schedule, while her crew may chow down on take-out, she has brown rice and vegetables. She loves to cook when she can.

In addition to her nutritious leanings she works out regularly; her passion is riding her horses. She doesn't drink or smoke, preferring a clean life over all the easily-attainable excesses that seem to prevail in her industry. This is not only because of the usual concerns about her appearance ("I don't like my legs," she says) but her hour-and-a-half, two encore show requires a fair bit of stamina. So she also chooses to surround herself with supportive people - her touring band was personally handpicked for their youth, talent, energy... and their ability to keep up with her.

And, having spent the last year on the road travelling through over 100 cities around the world promoting her 1997 release Come on Over, Shania amazingly enough still has energy to burn. She recently taped her own TV special and has been doing guest appearances including the Grammy Awards last February, a performance that landed her on the front page of most newspapers across the continent.

Success Hasn't Spoiled Her Yet
The past five years have been a heady rocket ride to stardom. She released her first album in 1993, which achieved moderate attention from country music fans, but special attention from producer/songwriter Robert John "Mutt" Lange. Their subsequent professional collaboration developed into a personal collaboration, resulting in marriage six months later and the release of The Woman in Me a year later, launching her career to the next level.

But while Shania is enjoying the sweet life now, spending her free time (when she has it) at home with her husband swimming, canoeing and hiking, it hasn't always been so good. Growing up in northern Ontario with her parents and four siblings had not been easv. Work not always available and even when her parents were really strapped for cash they refused to go on welfare. There were days that Shania and her brothers and sisters would go hungry. Sometimes they would take mustard sandwiches to school for lunch just to have something between the bread, and to avoid embarrassing questions from classmates. Things started to look up when her father started a treeplanting business and the income became more regular, but the lessons of poverty and hunger remained ingrained.

"In my house, it was so wrong to take more than your share," remembers Shania. "If vou decided to take an extra potato, someone didn't get a potato at all. One day a visiting friend poured herself a whole glass of milk... [we were horrified.] To us, eating like that was only on TV."

Success has given her the opportunity to help others facing the same childhood she had. Proceeds of her recording of the lullaby God Bless the Child are donated to food banks in Canada and the United States to provide nutritious meals for underprivileged children.

Shania has had more than her fair share of hard knocks over the years, but she hasn't let that stop her. The messages of strength and positivity that she relates through her songs are the same philosophies she lives by. Not content to rehash bad times, she looks for the better times ahead, believing that life is meant to be lived to its fullest, to share with those less fortunate and to have a little fun. "My childhood was difficult," she admits. "But it has driven me."

by Tanja Hutter, Canada's Healthy Living Guide, June/99

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