It’s never too late to start your fitness journey — and all the proof you need is 73-year-old Joan MacDonald.
At the age of 70, doctors told this Ontario, Canada resident that she had to make big lifestyle changes for the sake of her health. She was on multiple medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux, and she was given a choice: take even higher doses, or develop healthier habits.
Fox News reports that, at the time, she weighed 198 pounds and wore a dress size 22.
“I knew I had to do something different,” MacDonald told Shape. “I had watched my mom go through the same thing, taking medication after medication, and I didn’t want that life for myself.”
So MacDonald made some changes, with the help of her daughter Michelle, a yogi, competitive powerlifter and professional chef. She started by joining Michelle’s online workout program, with a focus on building strength and endurance. She had to get an iPhone and learn how to use apps for this part. Then she began going on walks for cardio, practicing yoga and lifting weights.
To date, she’s lost 62 pounds and no longer takes any medication. MacDonald’s transformation is incredible, as you can see on her Instagram account @trainwithjoan. (FYI, she’s something of a star on Insta, with 97.1K followers and counting.)
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Flashback Friday! ð±ð±ð± I just can’t remember being this big! ð³ð³. How did I even manage to walk around with that extra 60 lbs on my back for so long? What was it like to not be able to move around quickly? To not be able to bend my knees properly? To huff and puff going up and down stairs? What was it like to be in this body? To see my face like that? ð¢ What was it like? . If you know of anyone suffering from being overweight, give them hope. No matter how old we are or how stubborn and set in our ways we are, we CAN CHANGE! ðððð . Encourage. Support. Protect! . #transformation #fitspo #fitspiration #inspo #fitover70 #aginggracefully #aging
“I never let people take photos of me because I couldn’t accept where I was and yet, I also couldn’t seem to change,” she says in the post of how difficult it was for her to start working on her fitness levels. “It was a very tough place to be, and I stayed in that place for a very long time.”
Over the last three years, MacDonald has built up to her current fitness routine, which includes at least five workouts per week (she goes to the gym first thing in the morning and her session takes around two hours, but she explained that this is because she’s “very slow”). Two of her daily workouts focus on cardio — typically the stationary bike or the rower — and the other three include a mix of cardio and strength training, training different muscle groups each day.
Check out these arms, on this Instagram image. She’s ripped!
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When I landed here in Tulum I weighed 148 lbs. Now I’m down to 141 lbs just from eating more vegetables and hanging out with @jeanjacquesbarrett and @yourhealthyhedonista . ð ð This Sunday morning I’m off to the gym with my daughter for a lower body session, and then we are off to the beach (they promised). ð¥³ð¥³ð¥³ I already started me day with 1) meditation using @headspace 2) Spanish lessons with @duolingo 3) prepping some carrots and broccoli for today’s meals 4) chatting with my husband who is back home . I am far from perfect, but I’m sure happy to be able to say that my life has more meaning and punch that it did two years ago. I dont think I knew just how good life could get when I started my weight loss journey. All I knew was that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and it was up to me to make the change. Have a wonderful Sunday everybody. I hope you all conquer your challenges and grow! ðð Love Joan ððð . . . . #silverhair #fitness #fitover70 #back #inspo
As well as exercising, MacDonald makes sure she sticks to healthy meals — without depriving herself of anything she likes. She says she eats five small meals a day.
“I think one of the main reasons I’ve been able to be so successful with my weight loss is that I follow a macro-based meal plan and then I get to chose all of my favorite ingredients to build my meals,” she said on a recent Instagram post.
She also shared some of her favorite foods in the post, with a picture showing off her daughter’s homemade “Hattie Cakes.” She sometimes includes food images and recipes on her Instagram, too.
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Hi everybody ð¥° I’m getting so many question about my diet, especially since my before-and-afters have been showing up on many diet pages selling weight loss programs, keto diets and who knows what else ð ð So here is the gods honest truth about my diet folks. I eat a balanced diet. There is nothing I can’t eat other than foods I don’t like. ð I eat a lot of yogurt, chicken, eggs seafood, beef, vegetables, fruits (especially banana and mango), and also Nutella, toast, Built Bars , protein powder, icecream and delicious homemade treats like my daughters Hattie Cakes pictured here ðð . I think one of the main reasons I’ve been able to be so successful with my weight loss is that I follow a macro-based meal plan and then I get to chose all of my favorite ingredients to build my meals. ðð Would you like to see a YouTube video showing you how to plan your meals for a day using the @my.macros app? Here’s the cupcake recipe: Ingredients: 45 mL water 40 g egg whites 40 g soft butter 20 g Waldens Caramel Syrup 40 g pure cocoa powder 20 g @hardmagnum chocolate protein powder 20 g gluten free pancake mix 6 drops stevia 40 g xylitol 90 g black beans (drained) 1 tsp baking powder 36 g chipits . Blend everything but the chipits in a Ninja until smooth. Spoon into 6 Silpat cake molds, sprinkle 6 g of chipits in each and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. They should still be soft in the center. I usually cook a couple and freeze a couple uncooked to have later. You can also use Toblerone squares instead of chipits. Macros: 6.5 g P, 18.5 g C, 8.5 g F . Give these a try and if you make them, tag me girls! ðð . For more free recipes visit my daughters website www.yourhealthyhedonista.com . We are a month away from having an e-book guide for beginners on weight loss and meal plans! Hang in there!! ðð
It’s common to hear people who’ve made fitness a big part of their life talk about the “journey” they’ve been on, and that’s certainly the case for MacDonald. Although her original goal was to lose as much weight as possible, her priority now is to feel strong and powerful, and she likes to set herself specific goals to challenge herself. And some of those goals are seriously tough.
“I’ve been working on doing unassisted pull-ups,” she told Shape. “I was actually able to do a few just the other day, but I’d like to be able to do it like all the young ‘uns. That’s my goal.”
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How many do you think I can do by the end of the year? ð ð . Okay the big trick here is us using a bench so I’m starting from the bottom position but not hanging. This has helped me a lot because I have a trick shoulder that gives me a lot of pain. Two years ago I started with the machine. Then I moved on to heavy rubber assistance bands. And finally at my daughters gym I worked my way up to unassisted chin ups. They are now one of my favorite exercises and I have a real sense of accomplishment from them. I’d love to know what your favorite exercise in the gym is, and if you do chin ups, how many can you do? Would you like an instructional video on how to do these? I think I could do that for you! ðµð¼ðµð¼ . #progressnotperfection #olderwomen #silverhair #oldermodel #fitover70 #chinups #inspo #fitspo #stronggirls #trainwithjoan
The senior’s advice for older women who want to get into fitness — and it applies to men too — is simple: don’t let your age hold you back. “We are strong [and] capable of change, but we’re often viewed as fragile,” she said in Shape. “I hope that more women my age embrace being pushed and appreciate that someone is interested in seeing you try harder. Even though you can’t turn back the clock, you can wind it up again.”
That’s great advice — whatever age you are!