The author and mother of three on how she became an NFL cheerleader at age 38
Before giving birth to three children, Molly Shattuck worked in investment banking.
Then, at 38, she started a second career — NFL cheerleader.
Shattuck visits both the G2 Gallery in Venice and Veggie Grill in Santa Monica on Wednesday as part of a national whistle-stop tour to promote her new book, “Vibrant Living,” which is designed to encourage readers along paths to healthier lifestyles.
“The book is about the split-second choices you make every day to fuel your energy or dull it,” said Shattuck, now 46.
Among the book’s top advice: Drink lots of water. Shattuck credits staying hydrated as a key to getting and staying in shape for two seasons (2005 to 2007) with the Baltimore Ravens.
Shattuck said she chose to speak at G2 Gallery — a destination for eco-conscious photographers, artists and filmmakers — because of its support for Earth-friendly causes.
“In an unconventional way, [G2] is very much in line with our message of going back to basics and living in a healthy environment. They also support nonprofits like Heal the Bay, which is working on improving the ocean’s water quality,” said Shattuck, who last month became an honorary healthy living ambassador for the American Diabetes Foundation.
Shattuck’s concepts about healthy living also caught the attention of G2 Gallery owners Daniel and Susan Gottlieb, who donate art sales proceeds to environmental groups.
“I liked her attitude about clean living. She talks about the importance of organic food and she’s very philanthropic,” Susan Gottlieb said.
Shattuck is donating 21% of book sales during the G2 event to Heal the Bay. She’ll also give 21% of her sales during the Veggie Grill stop to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a gift the restaurant is bolstering with 21% of its food sales during the event.
— Gary Walker
What made you want to be an NFL cheerleader — and at 38, no less?
I had been a cheerleader in high school, and becoming an NFL cheerleader was one of the original 10 things that I wanted to do [in life]. I never lost sight of that goal.
When I moved to Baltimore there was no NFL team. The Colts had left years ago, but then the Ravens came. I tried out in February 2005, and I didn’t really realize that I had more age on my side than the other girls. I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t take this wonderful opportunity, so I went after it with a vengeance.
You write that “water has transformed you.” Can you explain what that means and how you started on that journey?
I grew up in a home where we drank [only] milk and water. So I always drank water, but not to the degree that I do now. When I was pregnant with my first son, I read somewhere how important it was to stay hydrated for the health of the baby and the mother. There was this woman who was a lactation consultant who had 11 children, and she told me that water was crucial to having a good milk supply. And she was right. I found the more that I drank water, the more my milk supply increased. So there was a direct correlation there.
I also discovered that the more water I drank, the more I began to lose the birth weight very quickly. I began keeping track of how much water I was drinking and found that it was 90 ounces [2.7 liters] a day. If I drank less than that, I would feel tired and sluggish. It completely changed my life.
Is it fair to call you a clean living advocate?
No one has ever asked that before, but I love it. Yes. I had never thought of what I do that way, but I do advocate healthy living, eating healthier and a vibrant lifestyle. It really is clean living.
What unhealthy foods or habits tempt you the most?
I actually eat chocolate every day. I have a desire for dark chocolate, but I don’t go crazy with it. I strongly believe that you can eat whatever you like — it’s the portion control that’s important.
What’s your advice for people approaching 40 who want to look and feel their best?
Water is absolutely the key to getting or remaining healthy. Adding water to your diet and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day leads to a healthy diet. I recommend that you also exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. I also recommend drinking water before you eat, because water fills us up and we tend to eat less when we’re full.
I’m not bringing any new science to people — it’s the approach that we’re taking that makes it work.
Cheerleaders work hard but don’t get paid a whole lot. Do you think that’s fair?
I think it is absolutely unfair. When I was cheering, we didn’t get paid for a lot of practices — and we practiced a lot. We would get paid on game day, and when I was cheering it was $75 a game. We also had to make a lot of appearances for the team, and we didn’t get paid for a lot of them. And some teams make their cheerleaders pay for their uniforms.
Some organizations might say that to cheer for a professional football team before thousands of fans is the experience of a lifetime, but I think in many ways cheerleaders are under-appreciated.
Was becoming a ‘clean living advocate’ one of your initial life goals?
I couldn’t have envisioned or dreamed what’s happening now. I’ve never belonged to a gym or had a personal trainer. But healthy living has always been a big part of my life, and throughout my life I’ve just tried to stay with what’s worked for me.
Molly Shattuck signs copies of “Vibrant Living” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Veggie Grill (2025 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica) and from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at G2 Gallery (1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice). Both events are free to attend, but email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for the G2 Gallery event. Call the restaurant at (310) 829-1155 or visit veggiegrill.com. Call the gallery at (310) 452-2852 or visit theg2gallery.com.