In her 70s, Joan MacDonald went from struggling to climb stairs to being a fitness influencer on Instagram with more than 1 million followers.
She began her transformation journey five years ago when she was fatigued, suffering from painful arthritis, and struggling to be active, including walking up a flight of stairs.
She said her breaking point came when a doctor told her that her blood pressure was rising and she would need to increase her medication again.
A fitness coach, Michelle MacDonald, was visiting her at the time and challenged her to improve her quality of life by making dietary and exercise changes.
“When Michelle gave me that ultimatum, I knew it was now or never,” Joan MacDonald said. “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was existence, not living.”
Just a few weeks before her 71st birthday, Joan MacDonald flew from her home in Canada to Tulum, Mexico, where Michelle MacDonald and her husband operate a gym.
Instead of sporadically snacking like she had done before, she started following a diet plan designed by her daughter that made sure she was getting enough macronutrients — fats, carbohydrates, and proteins — in five meals a day.
The Wonder Woman, a strength and bodybuilding coaching program founded by Michelle MacDonald, introduced Joan MacDonald to the gym for the first time.
“It was tough at first,” Michelle MacDonald said. Most people don’t realize that my mom was there in the trenches, trying to figure it all out and getting frustrated.”
Joan MacDonald says her motivation to continue came from how much better she felt very quickly.In just a few months, her medication was reduced by half, and she lost 10 pounds in the first month of training.
As soon as she returned to Canada, Joan MacDonald continued her wellness journey by tracking her food with a macronutrient-focused app and by working out.
“I work out five days a week,” she said, noting that two of those days are cardio workouts. It gives you something to look forward to.” “I like that routine.”
She has lost 65 pounds and stopped taking medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux in the past four years.
Joan MacDonald started an Instagram account to document her progress and connect with others while she transformed her health. Her daughter encouraged her to do so.
Currently, her Train With Joan Instagram account has 1.5 million followers. She also runs a website and an app with workout and meal plans overseen by Michelle MacDonald, a coach who specializes in working with women of all ages.
Joan MacDonald hopes people who follow her journey will take away that it is never too late to change your life, no matter your age or situation.
“There is nothing magical about it. It is hard work, but it is work you can enjoy,” she said. “At the end of the day, what matters is that you will be stronger and healthier.”
No matter your age, the MacDonalds shared five tips for people who want to transform their health.
1. Think about your sleep. “We live in a culture that does not prioritize sleep,” Michelle MacDonald said. “But there’s so much research that shows when you don’t get eight hours of good sleep, it really hurts you hormonally, cognitively, and physically.”
2. Drink lots of water and eat protein with every meal. Michelle MacDonald said most women she works with, including her mother, come to her not eating enough calories. She recommends eating five meals consistently throughout the day and including protein at every meal. For example, consume 130 grams of protein if the ideal weight is 130 pounds..
Michelle MacDonald recommends that most people drink at least three liters of water a day.
“Drink more water, and pace yourself,” she suggested. “Drinking mindfully is a great way to attach yourself to the idea that you’re taking care of yourself.”
3. Get active. Michelle MacDonald suggests beginning by simply walking 10,000 steps a day, which can be broken up and done throughout the day.
A few days a week, she recommends adding 45 minutes of strength training.
“Train with intention, not lifting the same weights forever,” she advised. “If you want to change your body using weights, try to push yourself with intention.”
4. Focus on a positive mindset. In order to achieve her goals, Joan MacDonald continuously cultivates a positive inner dialogue.
Mindset is something I am still learning, and I know it’s an important factor in everything,” she said. “It’s something you have to work on.”
As well as her daughter, she recommends journaling in the morning to set intentions and start the day with a clear head.
5. Document your progress. You should take a photo of yourself on the day you begin your journey, and document your progress, Michelle MacDonald recommends.
“Start with a photo … and keep taking photos every week,” she said. “You may not notice any changes, but you’ll see them.”