When Kenny Chesney wakes up in the morning, he climbs out of a mahogany sleigh bed. He’s got vanilla-scented candles on the nightstand, a 19th-century map of the Caribbean on the wall above his head, and, mussed up on the bed itself, creamy layers of thousand-thread-count sheets. "I didn’t really understand the power of thousand-thread-count sheets until I actually had ’em," he says. "And now I’m spoiled. I have ’em on my bus, I have ’em on my bunk. They’re unbelievable. Feel that." Upon waking, he pads through the spotless foyer of his house outside Nashville—past the autographed memorabilia from Bruce Springsteen, Joe Walsh, and REO Speedwagon—and heads for the kitchen, where sugar-free beverages and carrot sticks await, neatly arranged in his Sub-Zero refrigerator. "I eat egg whites, a piece of wheat toast, and maybe a sliced tomato," he says. "I go work out, and when I get back I drink a protein shake. About three hours later I eat a piece of chicken and some broccoli. After that I eat somethin’ else, maybe a turkey sandwich with some carrots. Then late at night, if I’m hungry, I will drink another protein shake, but one with no carbs in it. Almost every single day I eat the exact same thing, and have for about three and a half years." Six months ago he took up yoga—Bikram yoga, to be precise, which he tends to do after the egg whites. "It’s a real hot room where it’s about 110 degrees," he explains. "It has taught me a lot about balance, and that’s something I look for in my life."

In case you’re confused, this seeker of equilibrium, shedder of carbohydrates, and connoisseur of fine linens happens to be the biggest country-music star in America—and, yes, Renée Zellweger’s new husband. His latest album, Be As You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's pop chart, and most of his previous ones have gone multi-platinum. His tour last year was the second-most-popular concert draw in the country. Country music is a mirror of Middle America, and if Middle America once longed to live vicariously through the outlaw antics of Waylon and Willie, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that a nation plagued by corpulence and attention-deficit disorder now attaches its aspirations to a cowpoke who carefully peels the skin off a chicken breast.

Chesney lives in a shingled Cape Cod manor on about 50 acres of rolling Tennessee hills. He used to live closer to Nashville, but such is the fever pitch of his popularity that yahoos camped out at the curb and fished through his mail. He had to flee. "It’s not that I’m anti-fans," he says, "but I’m very pro-private."

Women have been known to swoon over footage of Chesney’s island-tanned triceps, to compose impromptu odes to the way he wears a pair of jeans, so it can be slightly jarring to meet him. He keeps a couple of signature cowboy hats in his closet—a dressy black Resistol and a casual, sun-bleached one made out of palm fronds—but around the house he wears a baseball cap, backwards, and when he takes it off he’s as bald as Michael Stipe. He also wears a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles, which give him the air of a postwar German intellectual. He stands five foot six ("on a good day") and weighs 144 pounds. He has no problem blending in at the local Walgreens.