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Nita Strauss is far from your average fitness enthusiast. The badass guitarist has been touring for 16 years and has been hitting the stage with rock legend Alice Cooper for over four years. It’s no secret that tour life can be hectic, and it doesn’t exactly facilitate healthy living—which makes it all the more impressive that Strauss managed to lose 50 pounds and get sober while on tour back in 2015.
Over three years later, she’s fitter than ever, and she’s made serious gains in another department: her solo career. Strauss’s first solo album, Controlled Chaos, is set for release on November 16, and it’s safe to call the album and solo tour much-anticipated, considering Strauss’s fans blew her Kickstarter campaign goal out of the water. Her initial $20,000 goal for the album wasn’t just met, it was funded 800%. Strauss also played WWE Superstar Shinsuke Nakamura out to the ring at Wrestlemania, and we doubt her well-received involvement with the WWE will end there.
Despite her packed schedule and constant traveling, Strauss stays in killer shape and sticks to her nutrition goals. We got her on the phone to discuss her new album, on-the-go fitness tips, and adhering to a diet plan while living the tour life.
M&F: First off, what motivated you to start prioritizing fitness a few years back?
STRAUSS: I’m 31 years old. I’ve been touring since the age of 15, and over the years it takes so much wear and tear on your body. Around age 28, I made that switch because I realized my body wasn’t recovering the way that it had. I know it’s only going to get more and more difficult as time progresses, and I was seeing all the effects of the unhealthy lifestyle—the alcohol, the junk food, traveling all the time, constantly being on airplanes and tour buses, and playing six or seven shows a week.
If you don’t take care of your body, your body will break down fast. So in September of 2015, I really decided to make that change and put myself first.
When you made your lifestyle changes in 2015, you lost 50 pounds while touring. Was that on purpose or was weight loss was just a side effect of getting fitter?
It was a little bit of both. I think a big part of it was coming off alcohol. Until you cut it out, you don’t realize there are so many people on tour who are sober and don’t feel the need to have that crutch every day. I was not a super social kid and I didn’t have the easiest time making friends. But when I started playing in bands, everyone would just have a couple beers at rehearsal, at the shows, or whatever, and alcohol is a great equalizer. It’s a great way to make friends and interact with people.
When I cut alcohol out, I think my body was just like, “Oh, thank you.” We were on tour with Mötley Crüe at the time so everyone warned me, “Oh, those guys are crazy. They party so much.” But it was actually Nikki Sixx that when I first got sober I came to him like, “Hey, do you have any tips for me? Do you have anything?” He gave me some great reading materials and all this different stuff that was really, really helpful.
The important thing to remember is you control you. Nothing else can control you. No substance, no liquid, nothing can control you but yourself. Once you make that change and you see all the positive effects that go on in your life, you won’t go back.
What are your personal hacks when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle while touring? How did you learn to make time for it?
The first thing I did was switch my going out to the bar after the show to getting up early for the gym. If you make yourself get up at six o’clock in the morning to go to the gym a few times, you’ll find it very easy to go to bed at nine.
Getting meal delivery was also a huge catalyst. I’ve been eating Trifecta foods for about a year now on tour and that has been the real game changer. When you’re on the go all the time, having a healthy option is amazing because if you have to seek out food, it’s easy to say, “Well, there’s a pizza place or there’s Subway right across the street. I might as well just get it because it’s there.” But if you have healthy food already there in the fridge, it’s very easy to make that healthier choice.
What’s your diet strategy on the road?
I’ve been intermittent fasting for about eight months, maybe a year. I absolutely love it because if all you know that all you’re getting is water then it’s easy to stay on a diet. I love chips and candy and almonds and cashews—anything that I can munch throughout the day, and that’s been my downfall for a long time in my fitness journey. Unless you’re really diligent about whatever you’re using to track your macros, you don’t think about that handful of cashews and what it adds to your daily calorie count.
I don’t eat after 8:00 p.m., so when I get off stage around 10, all I’ll have is water, and I’ll take BCAAs throughout the show too. That’ll keep me satiated throughout the show and the evening. I think it’s really all about mindset. If you have the mindset of, “I’m going to try not to eat,” then you’re already setting yourself up for a possibility of snacking. But if you have the mindset of, “I don’t eat after eight and this is just how my life is,” if you don’t give yourself that option, then it’s easy. It’s as much of a part of life as going to sleep and waking up.
Are there any difficulties there when it comes to traveling?
One thing that’s challenging is going between time zones. Sometimes I’ll go to sleep in Japan and I’ll wake up and get on a flight to the U.S. and it’s like, “Wait a second, it’s noon here but it’s four o’clock in the morning where I just was.”
My strategy is to go by the time zone that you’re in. It might mean being a little hungry, or it might mean eating when you’re not all that hungry, but it’s especially amazing for jet lag. My two little hacks for jet lag are staying with intermittent fasting in the time zone I’m in and getting a workout in as soon as I get to whatever city I’m in. That will cure any jet lag that you have because after a good workout, you’re tired enough to go to sleep.
What does your workout regimen look like? Is it more heavy lifting or cardio?
I lift five days a week. Another huge game changer for my fitness routine was my trainers—Ingrid Romero and her husband Joe from Team Edge. I send them progress pictures every two weeks, and they adjust my routine based on how my body is responding. That’s huge because anybody can follow a workout, and I’ve been following workouts for years—you can just grab one out of a magazine and go. That’s amazing for when you just need a quick one to do, but nothing beats personalized coaching.
Do you have any go-to exercises for if you can’t get to the gym and you’re just going to do something body-weight or quick?
Oh, yeah. I have the DDP Yoga app on my phone and you don’t need any equipment for that. When I do my own tours, there’s no hotels, no gym, nothing. We do this in the parking lot and it’s really easy, there’s no equipment needed. I also carry resistance bands with me, and you can get a great workout in with resistance bands. Another app called Instant Fitness also has some really great bodyweight exercises in it that I love.
What spurred you to work on the solo album, Controlled Chaos, that you’re about to release?
I’ve been touring for 16 years now, and the majority of it was spent playing other people’s music. It’s not that I’m not extremely grateful for this career—I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I love what I do. But I still have that itch to make my own music, tell my own story, and write my own songs.
We had a few months off from the Alice Cooper tour this past summer, which was a blessing in disguise. As a working musician, when you find out you have several months off, your first response is panic. But it became a real blessing because I was able to make my solo record, Controlled Chaos. And that is something I’ve been dying to do for a really long time.
You also played out Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestlemania. How did you get involved with the WWE?
My manager, Josh, has this big vision, and when he gets something in his head, he just hammers away at it until it happens. He had this idea of me working with WWE and once he has an idea in his head, he just moves forward and kicks down doors. If one door doesn’t open, he kicks down the next one. He got in touch with WWE and we got confirmed for Wrestlemania—I think it was less than two weeks before the event—and ever since then, we’ve just had a really strong relationship with WWE. There’s more to come on that.
Both fitness and music were largely male-dominated realms for a long time. What was it like to break into that scene and become a badass female force?
I think it’s the time of the female to rise. If you look up, anything from NASCAR, to mixed martial arts, to WWE, to every male-dominated field, there are now women rising and becoming more respected. Not that there weren’t always women in these fields, but now the girls are rising up to play with the big boys and saying, “Yeah, I can squat the same as you, I can deadlift the same as you, and I can play as many notes on the guitar as you, and I can drive the truck as fast as you,” and it’s amazing to be a part of that revolution.
Controlled Chaos drops on November 16.