Molly Shattuck opens the front door of her sprawling brick North Baltimore home in a blur of color and energy. It's 10 a.m. on a gray February day, and she's wearing a tight purple dress that highlights her famously firm physique.
Her blond hair is twirled into loose curls that descend past her shoulders, her lips are brightly glossed, and her blue eyes are accented with sea-green liner. Her feet are clad in scuffed pink slippers to protect the marble and wood floors, though she'll slip into nude 4-inch peep-toe Jessica Simpson pumps for photographs.
The former Ravens cheerleader and mother of three has begun a tour promoting her first book, "Vibrant Living," which promises a 21-day plan to "transform your body, burst with energy, and live your life with purpose." Shattuck has just returned from New York, and she's preparing for a book launch event at Pazo before heading to Florida, Texas, Georgia, Colorado and California.
Shattuck, who turned 47 last month, became the oldest NFL cheerleader ever when she made the Ravens squad at age 38. At the time, she was married to Mayo Shattuck, the Constellation Energy CEO who sold the utility to Exelon Corp. in 2012.
The couple is now separated, with Mayo Shattuck, 59, living a few miles away. She won't say what prompted the split, but says the two still love each other and spend significant amounts of family time together with their children, Spencer, 15, Wyatt, 13, and Lillian, 11. Asked when the breakup occurred, all she'll say is, "It's been a while."
For now, Shattuck is focused on raising her family and promoting her four pillars of healthy living: drink 90-120 ounces of water a day, exercise, eat real food and live for others.
Nearly every page of her new book contains at least one photo of Shattuck, sometimes with her children or her fluffy white dog, showing off her toned abs and lean legs as she demonstrates such moves as the Tush Lifter and Squat Pulse, always with a radiant smile.
Shattuck loves a clicking camera and is serious about looking good in front of it, fussing with her hair and seeking lip gloss advice. But she comes across as sweet rather than vain. She is girlfriend-chatty and earnest, notably free of cattiness, humble-bragging or name-dropping as she discusses her book and her charitable work.
After the pictures are taken and the photographer leaves, Shattuck kicks off her shoes, curls up on a cushioned chair with a blanket around her, grabs her ever-present Molly Shattuck-brand water bottle, and settles in for a nearly two-hour conversation, excerpted below.
Tell us about your four pillars for "vibrant living." How did you come up with them?
This really has been formed over the majority of my life. I grew up in a household where we didn't have soda, so we drank water. And I grew up physically active. My mom cooked and we ate real food. And the other element is the volunteering portion, how you can really make a difference in somebody else's life.
After I made the [Ravens] cheerleading squad, I had so many people asking me questions. "Do you work out all the time?" "You must eat nothing." "Why do you have so much energy?" And as I thought through it, it was really quite easy. I realized it was water, it was good food, lots of vegetables, fruit and whole grains, beans and legumes. I don't eat red meat, I haven't eaten it since I was 12, so lean protein, and never coffee, soda or tea.
Not even herbal tea?
Nothing. I just never got into it.
How do you respond to people who say a plan like this is easy for you — you're wealthy, you're beautiful, you don't have to worry about putting food on the table.
I say this plan is for everyone. Eating real food doesn't have to be expensive. Cooking is not that time-consuming. In the time it takes to order a pizza and drive out to pick it up, you can bake a piece of salmon, roast some Brussels sprouts and mash up cauliflower.
I don't believe in deprivation. You need a balance. It's the little decisions that matter. We all get to decide how we are going to live our lives. We have enough time for anything as long as what we want ranks high enough. That's why it's so important to write down your goals and how you're going to reach them. Over 21 days, repeated behavior becomes a habit. It's really about elevating health to the top of your priority list. Living a healthier lifestyle is not differentiated by wealth.
Tell us about your work with the United Way of Central Maryland.
I've been involved with the United Way for 24 years, starting with a campaign when I worked at Alex. Brown. In September 2011, I helped launch the Access to Healthy Food Initiative. I'm the healthy food ambassador. We hold healthy food drives and ask people to bring food to events. In our first two years, we've distributed 5.1 million pounds of food.
I also speak to people as a healthy living ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, and as the Go Red mission and engagement chair of the American Heart Association. I just found out I was appointed the national healthy living ambassador for the diabetes association, instead of just for Maryland. I'm really excited because we can spread this message about healthier living in a fun way.
What about people who say, "You're not a nutritionist, you're not a certified fitness instructor. Why should we take your advice?"
I have lifelong experience. I know what works for me. I know what works for other people I've shared this with. This is something I've been passionate about my entire adult life. And I've gotten endorsements from cardiologists. They think it's good enough. I think we get caught up in these quick fixes that actually end up being more harmful to people than not. I have a very back-to-basics approach that's sustainable over time.
Do you find it more difficult to keep fit as you get older and your metabolism changes?
I do find that if I gain two or three pounds, it's harder for me to lose it than in the past. The scale is your friend. We all fool ourselves that our jeans shrank in the dryer. Weigh yourself, so you know if you need to cut back.
With three children, how do you navigate their busy schedules and still make time for all your projects?
I work between 8:15 [a.m.] and 2:30 [p.m.], and once the kids are out of school, it's nonstop with them. Family is my priority. I'm always behind on my emails.
People are interested in your family. What is your current status? Are you divorced? Getting divorced?
We are separated. Mayo has a home 2.4 miles away. We still love each other and spend time together as a family. There was no animosity in our parting. We have no immediate plans to divorce. Separating was not part of my life plan, but we are in a good place. Neither of us is in a serious relationship with another person. Who knows? Maybe we'll get back together some day.
You say you have been making so-called bucket lists every New Year's Day since you were 18. What's on your list this year?
This year, my list includes selling lots of copies of my book, going to Niagara Falls, going back to the Grand Canyon, taking tap-dancing classes with [daughter] Lillian.
A bucket list prevents our life from vanishing before us. It causes us to pause, to think, to act. It's a way of really thinking, 'What do I want to accomplish this year.' Failure is in the not-trying. The worst thing that can happen is you try and it won't work.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun