You Really Gotta Meet… Kathleen

I’m fortunate to know some pretty amazing people. Thanks to CrossFitRoller Derby, paleo nutrition, this blog, and other wacky/fun/scary/silly adventures, I’m able to surround myself with best-quality people to humor me when I want to do The Murph and comfort me when my frexcitement gets the best of me. Good things are even better when they’re shared, so you really gotta meet…

Kathleen Shannon

Age: 29
Dayjob: Art Director & Designer (freelance)

You know how sometimes you meet someone, and you think, “How is it even possible I didn’t know this person before?!”

That’s how I felt when I learned about Kathleen.

Back in June, I posted an update on my cookbook progress, along with a request for a designer to join our ragtag team. Bethany, one of my readers (Hi, Bethany!),  posted this to the comments:

Mel – meet Kathleen:

“I was recently asked if I am planning on making a cookbook. The answer is no. I don’t have that much faith in my recipes – but I would LOVE to one day style and design a cookbook for someone else. So I’m just going to throw that idea out to the universe.”

[I should also mention that Bethany is a badass in her own right. We’re so lucky to have these women around us! Bethany is a DJ and CrossFitter and paleo devotee. More here.]

So… back to Kathleen… After Bethany’s comment, I sent Kathleen an email that said, basically, “Hi! I’m the universe.” She wrote back an email that said, among other things, that she was also a retired Rollergirl and that she had my first book on her bookshelf. A flurry of emails that contained a ridiculous amount of YAY!s ensued, and here we are: fast friends and collaborators on The World’s Coolest Cookbook™.

Since then, we’ve learned we have the following in common: an affection for tall boots even in hot weather, an undeniable desire for adventures, the ability to talk a LOT, and an insatiable quest to be superheroes.

When I asked Kathleen what her fitness goals are right now, she told me she’s training for “…the zombie-infested post apocalypse. Always…” Then continued with, “Right now I’m really focusing on building muscle. I want to be superhero strong. Like Linda Hamilton in Terminator.”

I can attest to the fact that while Kathleen’s body is strong, she looks great in a bikini, and she has a smile like a 1000-watt lightbulb, the most beautiful part of her is her giant brain. She makes coming up with big ideas look effortless – and she makes sure every detail contributes to the big picture. Plus, she’s got a silly-fun sense of humor. See?

What’s your fitness/athletic background?
I grew up doing gymnastics and was always playing ninja with the kids in my neighborhood. I would play school sports, but was never great at them. In high school, I discovered modern dance and in college I practiced Ashtanga yoga like it was my part-time job.

When I graduated college and started a full-time job, I got a membership at the gym I still attend… I would do kickboxing, muscle conditioning… But it wasn’t until I started playing roller derby (a.k.a., KatAtomic 3000) that I really learned what it was to push myself and really sweat. I played derby for about two years and after that I knew what I needed to do with my own workouts to really push myself hard.

What’s your favorite workout song and why?
Anything Black Eyed Peas. They just always have a beat I can get behind.

What’s the song you love for working out but are embarrassed to admit?
Oh, uh… well, I’m all about working out to Top 40. No shame. But there is this really dirty song called Bump by Spankrock that I really love working out to.

What’s your favorite healthy meal/snack?
My favorite healthy meal is saag tofu “paneer” (a twist on a standard Indian dish using spinach and tofu) or dal bhat (lentils and rice). I feel most comfortable cooking Indian food but I know I’ve got a lot to learn and a long ways to go before it tastes like grandma’s cooking. (Someone else’s grandma, that is. My own grandma doesn’t really cook. Her specialty is filling a pre-made pie crust with whipped cream.)

My favorite healthy snack, right now, is a handful of olives.

[Yes, Kathleen is a vegetarian, but this blog is a “No Food Police” Zone. I eat what I eat, you eat what you eat, and we’re all good. – Mel]

What’s your favorite food indulgence?
Dark chocolate and wine.

Running skirts: yes or no. Why?
I’ve never really thought about it! I don’t own a running skirt but not on any sort of principle. Now I kind of feel like I’m missing out.

No running skirt, but K is ready for a snowpocalypse.


If you could workout with anyone – living or dead, fictional or real – who would it be?
Sometimes when I’m having a hard time with my work out I think about the following ladies working out next to me in this order:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: for her strength and superhero abilities

Madonna: for her endurance and fabulousness

Pink: for her attitude. Do you think Pink would ever feel sorry for herself during a workout?

What’s your trick for getting motivated when you’re just not feelin’ it?
I have a couple of tricks. The first is to go through the motions of putting on my gear, tying my shoes, and getting out the door. Once I’m at the gym, if I’m still not feeling it, I’ll pretend like I’m one of the three ladies above – training for a superhero role or upcoming world tour. I also always like to remind myself that I never regret a workout.

Do you have any advice/tricks for people who are thinking about working out but need a kick-in-the-pants to start?
My main advice is to forget about the scale and the clothes. Instead, focus on a goal that makes you feel capable and strong. My most recent one is to be able to do 10 chin-ups in a row.

K practices superhero skills.

Got a favorite quote?
This is pulled from a longer piece of writing that is beautiful, but these lines really stood out to me recently and have become my M.O.
“Boldness has genius, power,
and magic in it.” – Goethe

Workout, schmerkout. What do you like to do that doesn’t require a) punching a time clock and b) counting reps?
I’ve been really into trying new activities over the past couple of years, like rock climbing, paddle boarding, and hiking. Jeremy and I hiked to Mt. Everest Base Camp last October and the experience has captured my imagination ever since. I would love to go on another trek soon. Or bicycle around Europe.

Everest Base Camp with Jeremy

But before I run the risk of sounding too cool I should also let you all know that I love TV. From True Blood and Weeds to Sex and the City and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sometimes nothing is more satisfying than getting lost in a well-crafted story.

Kathleen writes an utterly charming food/design/style blog that you really should visit – and be sure to check out the photos of her beautiful (and well-designed, of course) home. You will wish you could move in with her.


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  • Meghan says:

    Is this the same Kathleen that designs/advertises on A Practical Wedding? If so, my blog worlds just collided and exploded into a supernova of awesomeness.

  • Shannon says:

    I am SO HAPPY I just found your blog! I’m newer to CrossFit and am currently dealing with thyroid cancer (had the whole thing out in August ’10 plus lymph nodes and had more lymph nodes taken out in March ’11). I’m only 26 and can’t wait to get rid of this disease. I feel like CrossFit and eating clean have played such a huge role in my cancer-fighting process and hope to emerge even stronger and healthier from this experience.

    • Mel says:

      Hi, Shannon!

      Welcome! I had my thyroid removed due to a nodule in November 2009. It turned out to not be cancer, but I’ve been dealing with the fallout of no thyroid… I’m with you, sister. Stay strong!

      And I agree: eating clean has helped tremendously with the “no thyroid” situation. Keep me posted on how you’re doing!

      Did you have your thyroid removed surgically? If yes, I bet we have matching scars!

      • Shannon says:

        Yeah I had read about your thyroid issue. Haha I call the scar my “necklace” 🙂 because it stretches from under one ear to the other (unfortunately it’s quite large since I had two surgeries). I was excited to find a fellow CrossFitter with stupid thyroid problems. I love your blog and am excited to follow along!

  • Bethany says:

    YAYs all around! <3

  • Christine M. says:

    Lol, I’m left-handed but do right-handed cartwheels.

    Since Kathleen is a vegetarian, are there going to be some extra-yummy, paleo-friendly vegetarian recipes in your cookbook?

    • Mel says:

      Hey, Christine! There are quite a few vegetarian recipes in the cookbook. It’s divided into sauces & seasonings, protein, vegetables, fruits. Everything except the protein recipes are would work for paleo vegetarians (although they don’t contain any protein)… there are two recipes in the protein section that include variations for making them with vegetables only, and if you’re a veggie that eats fish/seafood, there are 4 more recipes in the protein section that will work for you.

    • Kathleen says:

      I’m definitely going to challenge myself to use some of Mel’s recipes with vegetarian substitutions such as mushrooms in place of animal protein – all while trying to stay 100% Paleo (when I’m cooking from her book). I’ll keep you updated!


  • Janice says:

    Yay for the cookbook (hope it comes out soon) and serendipity! It’s also nice to know that someone else is training for the zombie apocalypse. This is how I justify training at CFA and at Sun Dragon even though it would be more cost effective to choose one or the other. I think about this often enough that my gf bought me a wicked machete for my birthday. I also tend to choose new friends based on whether or not I think they would be pleasant and/or helpful company during the zombie apocalypse. As a result of this useful litmus test, most of my friends are both lethal and really nice.

    • Mel says:

      There is so much awesomeness in your comment, I barely know where to begin.

      1. Cookbook will be out first week in December as both a softcover and an ebook. Available on Amazon and my site.

      2. A machete for your birthday shows both extreme love and extreme trust. I dig it! And please, machete a coconut open and have someone take a photo while you do it.

      3. “As a result of this useful litmus test, most of my friends are both lethal and really nice.” GENIUS!