Joan MacDonald continues to inspire and fascinate us with her incredible dedication and transformation. We have received many emails wanting to learn more about Joan after our recent podcast with her and her daughter. We reached out to Joan to get some more detail on how she went from being on multiple medications and in danger of some very severe consequences from her obesity, to super fit.
At an age when we’re told to walk around the mall for exercise, Joan MacDonald is doing weighted pull-ups. Clinically obese with high blood pressure, acid reflux, and arthritis, Joan decided to make a change and get off her prescribed meds. She started working with a trainer, her daughter Michelle MacDonald and found herself on “an adventure” where every week she feels stronger. She has completely transformed her health, is off her meds, and is inspiring her one million Instagram followers with her story. David sits down with Joan and Michelle to discuss this incredible journey, Joan’s training regime and diet, and how “age has nothing to do with your potential.”
“Do the exercises, get in there and make yourself stronger. Have a better life than you’re having.”
Let’s go back to when you started your fitness journey. How old were you when you started?
I was 70 years old when I started my transformation journey.
Why did you decide to make a change?
I went to the doctor’s office and they wanted to up my medications. I wanted no part in that. I was really upset and I had this new determination to lose some weight. I knew if I lost the weight it would help in getting off my medications.
What were the beliefs and fears you had to overcome in order to begin?
I had to learn technology and a new vocabulary in order to work on my new program provided by my daughter. Learning technology was like learning a foreign language, and at times very frustrating. I had a fear that I couldn’t do it. With Michelle’s constant help I was able to push through.
“I started getting used to eating 5 balanced meals a day”
Could you describe a typical week for you in the first month of your workout journey? Let’s start with your diet.
I started getting used to eating 5 balanced meals a day. A pre-workout meal, post-workout meal, and three other meals. Before, I had been eating 3 meals a day but wasn’t aware of breaking meals up into protein, fat, and carbs. I also was not eating much before starting with my daughter.
How much were you sleeping?
I would sleep about 8 hours.
Were you taking any supplements?
I took whey protein powder, omega-3 capsules, Metamucil, and a multivitamin.
What were your initial goals?
My initial goals were to lose about 20 or 30 pounds and then get off my medications. I had no idea that this journey would lead me far past that.
Day-to-Day Workout at the Start and Now
What would a day-by-day workout for a week look like for you back when you started?
I started with some daily cardio and would train on weights about 4 days a week.
Now let’s fast forward to your current routine. What is your day-to-day routine on a weekly basis?
I wake up in the morning and I meditate, eat my pre-workout meal, and then bike to the gym to train. I like to train in the morning so that I have the rest of the day to run errands, food prep, and work.
Recovery, Macros and Supplements
How do you manage your recovery?
I have two off-days per week for recovery. I will go and relax at the beach and spend time with my daughter and son-in-law. If I want to keep active I may do a yoga class or go for a bike ride.
What are you eating in terms of macros and calories?
I eat around 150 grams of protein, 165 grams of carbohydrate, and 50 grams of fat. I eat 5 balanced meals a day. I eat a pre- and post-workout meal and three other meals.
How much are you sleeping now?
I sleep around 8 hours a night. If I am tuckered out from training I will take a catnap. Give me 30 minutes and I am good to go again.
What sort of supplements are you taking now?
I take a few supplements from Women’s Best including: Fit Pro Whey Protein, Collagen Peptides+, Creatine, Omega-3 Capsules, L-Glutamine, and BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids).
“At 70 years old she was huffing and puffing just to get up a flight of stairs. Now, she is learning how to barbell squat and is hip-thrusting over 200 lbs”
Let’s check in with your daughter Michelle, who is also your trainer. What surprises you most about Joan’s fitness?
How far she has come! At 70 years old she was huffing and puffing just to get up a flight of stairs. Now, she is learning how to barbell squat and is hip-thrusting over 200 lbs.
What are some of the things she had to overcome?
I think like most women my mom had to overcome the stories she was telling herself that kept her spiraling downward. She needed to change her mindset. Without it, she was living her life out of fear. Since working with mom she has been breaking down internal barriers. She is now a woman who takes care of herself out of love from the way she eats, dresses, talks to herself, trains, and more.
How is her training different from someone your own age?
It isn’t. I hold the bar high for all my clients and I implement a basic bodybuilding approach: routine eating, progressive overload in the gym, and taking daily measurements. This is all to teach women how to become more strategic on how to achieve those goals. It works for the 20-something to someone who is 75.
“Other people can make a similar transition”
Do you feel Joan is exceptional, or can other people make a similar transition?
Other people can make a similar transition. I’ve coached many women and have seen many incredible transformations over the years. It comes down to having the right mindset, being consistent, and having a solid strategy and system to achieve your goals.
All photos from Joan MacDonald Instagram feed. Check it out.