Miranda Lambert: Country Star, Dog Rescuer

The singer/songwriter talks about staying healthy, her new album, and why she loves helping dogs.

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 11, 2012
7 min read

On the day of her annual MuttNation Foundation benefit in Beaumont, Texas, this summer, country superstar Miranda Lambert spotted something troubling at the concert venue: "I just saw a really long staircase, so I'm worried." She took a picture of the concrete stairs leading up to the pavilion and sent it to her personal trainer before that day's exercise session. "Please tell me we're not using this," she texted him, alluding to her hunch that he would task her with running up and down the staircase on that brutally hot day. He wrote back, "Yeah, I've already seen it!"

Such episodes are par for the course for Lambert since Nashville, Tenn., trainer Bill Crutchfield started traveling with her in January. Since then, she's changed her diet, slimmed down, and toned up -- and also developed a suspicion of the ordinary. Case in point: A park bench can be exploited for triceps dips or push-ups. A serene beach might be used for lunges. And the stairs! Lambert didn't want to even think about the workout in store for her on the stairs.

Lambert, 28, warned Crutchfield, who also trained her fellow country stars Trace Adkins and the Dixie Chicks, that she would complain. Let's just say she's not the kind of gal who jumps out of bed for a sunrise workout, raring to go. So she told Crutchfield that whenever she starts to whine, he should remind her of her goals. This summer, she was aiming to look her best for the Fastest Girl in Town video from her latest album, so Crutchfield responded to her objections by uttering one simple word: "video."

Lambert knew from a young age she wanted to pursue a music career. Raised in East Texas by parents who worked as private investigators and listened to everything from Motown to Southern rock, she was constantly surrounded by music. Her father strummed the guitar around the house and taught her how to play and write songs, an effective means of communication for Lambert as a teenager. She appeared in local restaurants and in the Johnnie High's Country Music Revue, a weekly variety show in Arlington, Texas. She first charmed country music fans nationally at 19 as a finalist on the 2003 season of Nashville Star, singing "Greyhound Bound for Nowhere," which she wrote with her father.

Today, 'Ran, as her fans call her, is known for electrifying performances and bold, fresh lyrics. In the past year, she was named Female Vocalist of the Year by both the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music, and was recently nominated again for Female Vocalist of the Year by the CMA. Her most recent album, Four the Record, debuted last year atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, making Lambert the first artist in the chart's nearly 50-year history to have each of her first four albums debut at No. 1. She also performs in an all-Southern-girl trio called the Pistol Annies, which toured in September.

Lambert and Blake Shelton, also an award-winning country singer, married in 2011 and live on a farm in Oklahoma with seven dogs, all either adopted from a shelter or picked up off the side of the road. Lambert knew when they got married that Shelton was a dog person. "I just don't think," she says, "he was planning on being a seven-dog person."

Most of the pups are named for artists or songs (including Cher, Loretta, Jessi, Waylon, and Delta, named after "Delta Dawn," a Tanya Tucker song), and the small ones tour with her. "They rarely get scared or nervous," she says. "They hang out on my bus and walk around venues with me like my friends. We are pretty in-tune from all the time we spend together."

Lambert has a soft spot for strays. Her first rescue, a West Highland white terrier or "Westie" mix named Delilah, inspired her to start Mutt-Nation Foundation (www.muttnationfoundation.com) in 2009, which raises money to increase pet adoption from shelters, support spay and neuter programs, improve shelter conditions, and reduce the euthanization of healthy animals.

"The voice of a celebrity talking about these issues can have a great impact," says Emily Weiss, PhD, CAAB, vice president of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). "It can make folks aware that pet stores aren't the best places to go for a new pet."

While there is no national database tracking the number of animals that enter shelters, Weiss estimates the number at 5 million to 7 million per year, 3 million to 4 million of which are euthanized. "That leads us to think that about 50% to 60% of dogs that enter the shelters in this country don't leave alive," she says. "And it's even higher for cats."

There are more than 5,000 shelters in the United States and countless breed-specific rescue groups with networks of foster homes. Some shelters euthanize animals because there are simply far more dogs and cats than there are people coming to adopt them, and they run out of space.

According to Weiss, the vast majority of shelters strive to be "no-kill," which generally means they only euthanize an animal if he is suffering.

One of MuttNation's biggest successes was raising enough money to help the Humane Society of East Texas -- once a shelter that euthanized animals -- become no-kill. MuttNation has raised a half million dollars over the last four years for the shelter. Lambert says it's frustrating that some people have preconceived ideas about shelter dogs. "They think the dogs are used, or they're not as good as purebreds, and that's just not true," she says. Rescue pups have a unique appreciation that you don't find in dogs you'd get from a breeder, she adds. "Any kind of rescue dog -- they really know you've saved their life."

"Stronger," Kelly Clarkson

"Before He Cheats," Carrie Underwood

"Hell on Heels," Pistol Annies

"Run the World (Girls)," Beyoncé

"Love in an Elevator," Aerosmith

"Man! I Feel Like a Woman!," Shania Twain

"Smokin' the Boys," Audra Mae and The Almighty Sound

"You and I," Lady Gaga

Crutchfield has also helped Lambert change her approach to food. "Oh my God, I have tried every diet," she says. "I feel like if you're on one of these diets where your heart's not in it, it's not going to help you. Now, I know making a lifestyle change will work better than a diet in the long run."

Lambert is proud of her Texas roots -- she boasts about her hunting and fishing successes, and she loves her cold beer and barbecue. But these days she eats fewer carbohydrates and more fruits, vegetables, and animal protein. She might have a grilled chicken salad while the rest of the band eats pizza. The only snacks she allows on the bus are almonds and low-fat string cheese. Crutchfield, who advocates small meals every few hours, works with the band caterer to make sure Lambert is getting the right foods. He whips up drinks for her in the juicer at lunchtime, occasionally slipping in beets or greens.

Crutchfield feels the same way about food as he does about fitness -- that life is too short to miss out on things you enjoy. So if there's a big bag of Cheetos -- Lambert's biggest weakness -- he'll suggest she put some in a cup for herself and walk away from the bag. "Having a cup of Cheetos helps her psychologically," Crutchfield explains. "Then she won't ask for it for another two weeks. If I'd told her she couldn't have any, she probably would have taken the bag on to the bus and eaten the whole thing." Lambert also allows herself "cheat meals" (chicken-fried steak, a cheeseburger and fries, a Dairy Queen Blizzard) when she's back in Oklahoma.

Trainer and client both joke about her resistance, which usually ends with a lot of laughs and a "thank you" text later in the day from Lambert. In Beaumont, apprehensive about the stairs, she texted Crutchfield again, saying that she only wanted to do a 30-minute workout that day. His reply: "Video." She laughed. "All right," she texted. "We'll do an hour."

1. Ketchup

2. String cheese

3. Unsweetened tea

4. Milk

5. Sprite Zero, which she mixes with Bacardi, Crystal Light, and water for her signature drink, the Randarita.

When you find yourself away from home, keeping up with fitness and diet routines can be a challenge. Crutchfield offers these tips for staying on top of your health regimen.

1. "No matter who you are and where you are, think ahead. Preparation is key because we're not very good at 'I'll play it by ear.' The night before, look at your day: Do you have time to work out? Do you have a gym at the hotel? Is there a park close by? Just take your workout clothes out the night before."

2. "Do the same thing nutritionally: Plan it out. If you anticipate a busy day, make some snacks to throw in your bag, so if you're going from one meeting or activity to another and you're hungry, you're prepared. Homemade trail mix is great. I always have a banana or apple with me."

3. "A tip for eating out: If you know you're going to a particular restaurant, go online, look at the menu, and decide what you're going to order before you're sitting at the table, starving."

4. "If your body is able to walk or run, you can do that anywhere, and it doesn't cost you anything."

5. "Use the environment around you: park benches for triceps dips, a tennis or basketball court for lunges and jumping jacks. You can do the same thing in your hotel room -- dips off a chair, push-ups between the beds. Be creative!"

6. "Pack an exercise band. It's lightweight, portable, and allows you to do a workout from head to toe."

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