Meet September Athlete of the Month Eileen McMahon

Meet September Athlete of the Month Eileen McMahon

1. Your story. Who are you? What do you do when you are not here (job,school, etc)? Past athletic history.

I'm an Assistant Principal at Maine West HS, and I have two daughters aged 11 and 9. My husband travels for work and is usually gone during the week, home on weekends. I've always been active and interested in athletics but never particularly distinguished: before kids I ran marathons, but slowly; I played club volleyball in undergrad and club basketball in grad school, but have never been what you'd call an MVP. I'm never going to be the one who finishes first in a WOD and I rarely Rx anything. But I am always trying hard to get better at the things I do, and I like the feeling of being in it with others who are trying to do the same thing. I'm one of 9 kids so I am kind of hard-wired to feel comfortable working in groups--but not so much being center stage. I'm not very competitive with other people but I always like to know I'm moving forward.

2. Why CrossFit?? How did you find CrossFit Lake Forest?

I like CF because it's hard, and it's everything--mental & physical toughness, skill, endurance. I can't think of anything else I do that makes me concentrate as completely as I do in a workout. When we're working on skills and technique stuff, I really enjoy focusing so completely on one thing and trying to perfect the details, through multiple repetitions. Every single other minute of my waking life is multitasking--definitely at work, but also schlepping my kids, making lunches and doing laundry and cleaning up. I'm always thinking of the next thing I have to do, when, or who needs to be at which practice at what time, what instructions the babysitter needs, what I have to prep to make dinner or whatever. At the box, I am doing only one thing and trying to do it really well, and I am one hundred percent focused in the moment. I had no idea how much my brain needed that conditioning, as much as my body does (well, almost :) ). 

I found CFLF when my box in Highland Park (Crossfit Autonomy) shut down and turned into more of a Lululemon kind of a place. One of my friends from Crossfit Autonomy, whose daughters are friends with my kids, recommended CFLF. I hesitated at first because there's a box less than half a mile from my house in Highwood and it would probably make more sense to work out closer to home. But I just didn't feel comfortable there, and when I followed Anne's advice and gave CFLF a try, I liked the vibe so much more. At work we talk all the time about growth mindset and at CFLF I feel like the coaches get that. There are more things I can't do Rx than things I can, but I never get the sense that this makes me a less valuable member of the community, and when I hit a milestone or master something or PR, the coaches are sincerely glad for me. I know they're invested in my successes on my scale, and that matters a lot to me. 

I am also really tuned in to how good the teaching is--kind of goes with the job. :) My whole position is organized around improving teaching and learning in my school, so I feel hyper aware of the instructional quality of the classes I'm in. That's not exactly a good thing if the teaching is shoddy. At CFLF, I am usually really impressed with the skills not just in CF, but in actual instructional delivery. It matters a lot. The other athletes might not be able to name all the things that the coaches are doing and point to where they score high on an evaluation rubric, but I know they can feel the difference just as I can.

3. Favorite workout? Least favorite?

I used to hate anything with Burpees, but now that I'm moving a little better I don't even really mind them that much. I used to be embarrassed by all the stuff I couldn't do well, but now I'm just over it because what's the point? I changed jobs over the summer and it's harder to get up to the box than it used to be, so the truth is that I just feel lucky to be there when I'm actually able to make it work. I also have a chronic Achilles tendon issue that kept me out of so many things for a while that when I could go back to them, I was glad to be able to do even the things that I used to hate. I love anything with rowing in it especially, but there's not that much that I really hate anymore. I'm just glad to be there.

4. Goals or things your working on.

My goals are pretty modest--especially now that the school year has started, I just want to make it into the box 3x/week, consistently. At some point, I will get a legit pullup, but that feels a long way off. I'll keep chipping away at it and put myself in a better position to go after it in earnest when I'm a little stronger. 

5. One piece of advice about CrossFit, life, anything!!

I let myself get pretty unhealthy and the reasons had a lot to do with managing stress poorly. The funny thing is, the stressful conditions only got worse, but I got better, and I attribute the difference to Andi and the other coaches, nutritional and athletic, who helped me stay organized and balanced. I'll always be grateful because I wasn't really myself, fully, before. I feel the positive effects of my improved health and strength in just about every aspect of my life. It's humbling and I feel very lucky. It's so much easier to stay healthy than to get healthy after you've let it go. I'm grateful that I got the chance to do healthy over again, hopefully this time for good.

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