How Joan MacDonald Transformed Her Life at 70
- Written By:Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
When it comes to inspiring women, Joan MacDonald has quickly earned a spot at the top of our list. Three years ago, at age 70, she made a commitment to transform her life through exercise and nutrition. She went from 198lbs to 149lbs thanks to the expert coaching of her daughter, Michelle (a chef, Canadian yoga champion and professional health coach), who encouraged her to change her habits and put herself first. Today, Joan shares her tips, tricks and words of wisdom with her 900K followers at @trainwithjoan — where she posts about everything from ab exercises to macro-based nutrition. We caught up with the 73-year-old wellness guru to hear more about how she does it all.
Tell us about what your life was like before you made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle:
Unhappy in every sense of the word. I found myself angry, negative, and in denial of my current situation. I knew what was going on was wrong but on another level I knew I needed to do something.
How did you get started on this transformational journey? What was the most challenging?
It started when my doctor told me she wanted to up my medications. I spoke with my daughter Michelle and she challenged me to join her transformation group. She told me with her help she could help me change but that it was not going to be easy.
How long did it take for you to start feeling better after beginning your fitness/wellness journey?
Not long at all. I would say it took three months when I saw that my clothes were getting really loose on me.
What were you surprised to learn about yourself as you made these lifestyle changes?
I think I was surprised to see that with some guidance I could change my outlook.
Now that you’re on a new path, where do you look for inspiration?
I look for inspiration from my followers, especially those who tell me how much I’ve helped them or someone they love.
Describe your wellness philosophy:
Something I used to say a lot but seemingly ignored was: if you don’t use it as you age you’ll lose it. This really hit home watching my own mother decline.
What’s the first thing you do every day?
I get up and do my meditation which sets me up for the day. And the calmness I receive stays with me longer each time.
What fuels you?
I keep my meals simple, I use alternatives for different foods I had in the past, and take my vitamins and omega 3s.
How has your diet changed since starting working out?
My meals are more balanced now. I eat five meals that all have appropriate amounts of protein, carbs, and fat for my lifestyle and fitness regime. My two bigger meals revolve around pre and post workout. I also don’t eat any starch in my last meal.
What’s your treat meal / cocktail of choice?
Grilled octopus is delicious as well as ceviche. My daughter’s homemade decadent ice cream, sushi at Tora here in Tulum.
Let’s talk about your workout routine — how do you structure your day/week?
I like to do my workout in the morning so it leaves me with the rest of my day to get chores done or looking after and any other business that crops up.
Do you have a go-to or favorite workout?
Not really, I just like that my daughter changes my routine daily. Upper body, lower body, glutes, quads, hamstring emphasis, and some cardio mixed in.
What’s on your Spotify playlist?
Easy. John Legend, Eagles, The Beatles, and Shania Twain, etc. 60s, 70s, and I like all kinds of music except heavy metal and most rap.
Your Product Obsessions:
Ninja Blender: It makes the creamiest smoothies & protein fluffs. It makes getting in fruit and veggies easy.
Cuisinart Ice-cream Maker: Homemade protein ice-cream is delicious and satisfying.
Lipstick: It is a great way to accentuate the beauty of a smile. Eyeshadow: It’s versatile and makes my eyes pop!
What’s your advice for someone who has found themselves needing to make a life change?
Go into the process whole-heartedly with self-love. Ask for help when you need it and keep your sense of commitment. Know that you are going to make mistakes, but it is not the end of the world just learn from them and pamper yourself. You are and will always be worth it.
Your Life Mantra:
You can’t turn back the clock but you can wind it up again.
What does the next year look like for you?
I think it looks pretty exciting! I am going to launch my e-book for beginners and older people who are interested in keeping active. I am hoping to do a collaboration with some people in my generation to get the word out that we can enjoy aging!