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Athletes of the Month: Jill and Clayton McCullough

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Our Athletes of the Month for February are Jill and Clayton McCullough! These strong parents of two girls and one boy, are two of the nicest people you’ll meet at CFPB. Strongmom Jill worked out in BeachFit throughout her whole pregnancy with their third child, and was back at it just a month postpartum.  She recently made the transition to CrossFit this past September and is attentive to every little detail of the new lifts she’s learned. Clayton is also an incredibly patient and humble athlete, always listening to coaches and working within his limitations. He travels a lot during baseball season as he works for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Jill manages to bring all three kids in for her workout without a problem (or at least she makes it look like that). They make it all look so easy, always with a smile on their faces and gratitude in their words. We are grateful to have the McCullough family in our fit family! Thank you Jill and Clayton!

Describe your work and family life for us? A brief background of where you’ve been and how you guys met? 

Jill: I’m a stay-at-home Mom to three kids ages 6, 3 and 1.
Clayton: I’m currently the Minor League Field Coordinator for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It involves quite a bit of travel during the year and we lean heavily on Jill to keep things rolling at home.

We met in Lansing, Michigan while both working for a Minor League baseball team, the Lansing Lugnuts in 2008. Clayton was the manager of the team on field while I worked in Marketing and Sponsorship in the front office. We moved to Chicago for my job and then got married there a few years later (2012). Because Clayton travels so much for work, we decided it made the most sense for me to leave my position in Chicago and travel together while we could Those couple years allowed us to spend several summers in Vancouver Canada and one winter in Canberra, Australia. After two years, it was time to unpack the storage unit and settle into a “home base” before the arrival of our first daughter, Carson.

What do you do for fun? Any hobbies?
As a family, we love to go to Disney World. Clayton and I love going just as much as the kids do. Our family time can be limited throughout the year with Clayton’s travel schedule, so we just try to make the most of the time we have together when we get it!

Were you both athletic growing up? Did you guys play sports?
J: Yes, I played Volleyball, Softball and Basketball up to high school.
C: Yes, my dad was a college baseball coach and I grew up around ball field. I played baseball and football (definitely my first love) in High School before playing collegiately and a few seasons of minor league baseball with the Cleveland Indians.

Sports or activities with the kiddos?
Our oldest daughter Carson joined Jupiter Dive team last summer. It’s been incredible to watch her learn a new skill and continue to practice each week wanting to get better. The other two also love to be in the water or outside riding bikes.

What did you do for fitness before CrossFit?
J: I started running after college. My Mom wanted to run a 1/2 marathon for her 50th birthday, so I joined her in training. I completed that race with her and then got bit by the bug to keep running. I ran several more 1/2 marathons before taking one full marathon in Chicago.
C: My college baseball workouts were intense; lots of running (way too early in the morning for a college student) and the strength portions consisted of squats, bench, cleans, etc. The professional baseball programming was far less intense, and it became much harder for me to get the same out of them without the team atmosphere.

How did you find/start BeachFit/CrossFit?
We were given golden tickets from our good friends Jeff and Ashley Albert.  After Clayton’s travel wound down in the Fall of 2017, he came home ready to find a program to feel better/have more energy. My only prerequisite at the time was child care that my kids enjoyed. I knew that if they liked going, it would make it easier for us to stay consistent with our attendance.

What was memorable about first starting?
C: Finding out just how out of shape I had let myself become. It was eye-opening the soreness I felt, and general fatigue that would set-in early during workouts. Also that I was able to clear my head for the hour and only focus on what was happening in the moment which became a tremendous stress reliever.
J: When I transitioned to CrossFit, I’ll never forget how much I struggled mentally. The barbell movements were so foreign to me. I finished one of the first workouts in tears and a couple of days later I gave up and left after the warmup. Coach Robby pulled me aside that day and said “ it is ok to be uncomfortable, that means you are learning.” He was right and I just needed to get out of my own head and practice.

Do you have future goals in CF or fitness related?
J: My most memorable accomplishment was working out throughout my pregnancy with Quinn. I was physically more prepared for that 3rd pregnancy because of my time with BeachFit. It also helped my recovery and return to Beachfit 4 weeks after delivery.

Do you guys keep each other accountable when it comes to nutrition?
C: Jill sets an incredible example for our household on the nutrition front. She keeps us all straight and importantly educates our kids on ‘why’ what they are putting into their bodies is so important.
J: I was the junk food kid growing up- way too many Slurpees and bowls of Captain Crunch, but I was active so it never really affected me physically (or not that you could see at least). I never realized what all the sugar and refined carbs were doing to my body until I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) shortly after we got married. It was after this diagnosis that I became very interested in what I was eating and how it was affecting my body. Now I cook most of our family’s meals at home and try to stick to simple/clean ingredients. I also try to include the kids in the kitchen as often as I can. I find that when they make something or are a part of the process, they are more likely to try it.

And be honest, are there Sugarwod score comparisons going on over dinner?

J: We are both very competitive so it’s fun to have a WOD that we can go head to head every once in a while. Partner WODs are also some of our favorite workouts. It’s fun to team up and work towards a goal together.
C: Haha!! Yes, usually any trash talk takes place over coffee shortly after. Once the kids are asleep we are checking out Sugarwod and talking about the next day’s workout.

Do you have any routines, habits or mottos that have helped guide you? 
C: Working out now has to happen for me. I made a point to find a CrossFit box in every city I visited last year. It gave me a sense of accomplishment to start the day and helped maintain my energy levels. Sleep is an area that I have paid more attention to the last couple of years. Now I am more inclined to go directly to sleep when I arrive at my hotel after a game and complete any administrative work the next morning with a clear head after a workout and coffee! I just came to realize that the healthier I was, the more productive employee I could be…so make myself the number one priority.

What advice do you have for the person on the couch who might want to start?
C: Get up! Seriously, I made every excuse in the book to not exercise for the better part of 5 years even as my colleagues were showing me what a healthy lifestyle looked like. Starting is the most difficult aspect. What has made my experience even more rewarding is how awesome the people have treated my family and I. Starting and continuing this is about a lifestyle change and being a positive role model and example for friends, family, and co-workers. Approach this more like a crockpot than a microwave; usually, the most sustainable behaviors take time to bear fruit. “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, he turned into a butterfly.” -Proverb

What do you enjoy most about CFPB?
The positive vibes and amount of smiles each day. Even when a particular WOD crushes our class there is a sense of group accomplishment and pride for pushing yourself through something that others choose not to. I would be remiss without mentioning the amount of time the staff spends coaching even when it may take longer than expected to start showing signs of improvement.