Sleeping in the buff, a new (booze-free!) bod and sexy song secrets: Tim shows us why, at 43, he's hotter than ever
Ask Tim McGraw
his favorite romantic country song and he'll immediately praise wife Faith Hill
's monster hit "Breathe." But his actual answer is something that calls to mind his single days. "I'd have to go with Alabama's "Feels So Right," he says. "It's one of the first songs I played on guitar, and I used it quite often! My wife's not going to enjoy reading that." Maybe it's because he blends that cheeky charm with unabashed devotion to his wife and three daughters. (The best compliment you can pay him? Tell him he's a good dad.) Maybe it's because he makes the move from country to Hollywood stardom seem easy. Or maybe it's because he makes fortysomething seriously sexy. Whatever the recipe, Tim's got it and he shares it with PEOPLE Country:
How does it feel to be country's hottest guy?
I don't feel like I am. I've been around a while. But I'll take it! It certainly makes a guy my age feel good.
Who's your closest competition?
I've always thought George Strait was the coolest guy out there. That's who my wife would pick. She thinks he's gorgeous. Him or Kris Kristofferson-she likes him too. He's got that sexy, outlaw thing going on for her. When we're around him, she can barely speak.
How hard is it to stay in shape at 43?
It's work. You have to be in the gym twice as long and eat half as much. Fifteen years ago I could eat three or four cheeseburgers after a show and be fine. Now I look at a cheeseburger once a week. I work out a couple of hours a day and do a three-mile run before the show. People are paying good money, so you don't want to look like a slob up there.
Are you happy with your body now?
In Four Christmases
I played this out-of-shape backyard cage fighter, and I got up to 215 lbs. It fit the character, but it doesn't do good for your ego looking back at it. Now I'm at 178.
How did you manage that?
It's been two years now since I quit drinking. Alcohol not only has those bad calories, but let's face it, a lot of mornings you don't feel like working out. I don't blow off my workout anymore. A clean system makes a difference.
Any positives to growing older?
You become more secure with yourself. I'm more confident than I've ever been about who I am and what I do. And I think that comes through.
When you look back at pictures of yourself, what makes you cringe?
The worst is seeing myself heavy. When I put on weight, my face looks like a pie dish. I've seen pictures that looked like I injected my face full of fat.
What pictures come to mind?
From 2003 to 2007 were pretty bad. It was the time in my life when I was trying to figure out whether I wanted to go ahead over the hill and get old or if I wanted to fight it. I think I've decided to fight for a little while longer!
You attended the Oscars this year without a hat-what gives?
I've never been comfortable without a hat. I've always felt I had a big head. I don't have a forehead-I have a five-head. But it's about getting more comfortable with yourself.
Might we see more hatless Tim?
Probably. I have thin hair, but everyone my age does-unless you're George Clooney
, and you hate those guys. But I don't mind that so much. I probably have more hair than people assumed.
Hollywood hot vs. country hot?
There's a groundedness and approachability people have in the South. It's not all about how you look.
When were you least hot recently?
Sticking my belly out making my kids laugh by the swimming pool. They just tell me I'm gross. Faith laughs.
Has Faith ever talked you into spa treatments?
I've done a few things, I'm not going to lie! I've had facials. I don't mind those too much. I sleep usually and wake up thinking I've slobbered everywhere.
What do you sleep in at night?
Um...I tried, but I can't have anything on me when I sleep.
What's your favorite sexy song?
"Samba Pa Ti" by Santana. My uncle told me, "Never make love to a woman with this song playing unless you intend to marry her." He was right. And I didn't until I did. When you listen to it, you'll know exactly what I mean. The song feels like making love.
How do you make Faith feel beautiful?
I tell her she's beautiful every chance I get.
Tim Weighs In on His Style Evolution
When it comes to fashion, "I've done everything," McGraw says, "and I've definitely made some mistakes." Notable missteps? "Suit jackets down to your knees with wide collars-not very flattering!" Still, he says, all fashion is relative. "Taken out of context, the clothes are bad, but at the time, they weren't." Besides, there's a certain courage in sartorial risk-taking. "The thing about making mistakes is that it shows you're trying to do your own thing."