At our Portfolio and Pints event earlier this week, I caught up with a good friend of mine, in his mid-60’s. He shared that he and his wife have begun horseback riding as a hobby that they can do together and that has some great health and fitness benefits. Love it – what a great hobby to pick up in that stage of life – as part of their great life.
Shortly after that I read a great Guideposts article on a 75-year-old fitness enthusiast, Joan MacDonald. Only a few years ago, Joan was out of shape, had poor energy and felt life had passed her by. But her daughter, a fitness coach, staged an intervention of sorts and put her mom on a path of incredible transformation. Now, healthy, lean and buff, Joan encourages millions of followers on social media – with a holistic approach to aging well that includes diet, fitness and a positive outlook on life.
Here’s Joan’s story as told by Jessica Toomer in Guideposts.org:
Fitness influencer Joan MacDonald knows the secret to aging well and she’s happy to share it with her millions of followers on social media.
“[I] can’t keep all the good stuff to myself!” she jokes with Guideposts.org.
For MacDonald, whose fitness journey began with a wake-up call at the doctor’s office, getting older used to signal more health problems, uncomfortable weight gain, and an overwhelmingly negative outlook on life.
“I knew I didn’t feel well,” she recalls. “I needed to change things.”
Part of the change included improving her fitness levels, another element involved eating better, but perhaps the most important realization for MacDonald was when she decided to take a holistic approach to healthier living. And that is her secret. It’s not just exercising more, it’s not just consuming fewer calories—it’s both.
“I knew what healthy food was but didn’t know how to break it up in my day, in a way that worked well for me,” MacDonald says. She worked with her daughter and a trained professional, who upped her meal count and helped her calculate how much proteins, fats and carbs her body needed to not only lose weight, but build muscle too.
“I trusted an expert,” MacDonald explains. “Everyone is different and their baseline diet will differ as well. I always suggest working with an experienced professional when getting started.”
Still, she couldn’t deny the results she was seeing and feeling. “I felt good mentally,” she says. “I started eating more whole foods. I was eating five meals a day. I was making a change and seeing results physically in the weight loss. Over time with diet and exercise, I gained more energy and mobility.”
MacDonald said that as she continued to treat her meal plan as a way to fuel her workouts, her relationship with foood changed as well. She realized that more protein meant the chance to build more muscle, and a stronger body meant fewer problems with ailments like arthritis and brittle bones. The more healthy carbs she ate—like whole grains or quinoa—translated to more energy, the desire to get moving, which helped her avoid being sedentary for long periods.
“I’ve always said, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it,’” MacDonald says. “It’s true and I apply that to movement day to day. I have arthritis and I notice a difference when I stretch and train. I still have some stiffness and pain but nowhere near what it would be like if I did not do those things.”
For MacDonald, her popularity on social media isn’t just an accountability tool anymore. She wants to help others realize their full potential, especially older women like herself. It’s why she regularly shares nuggets of wisdom, from workout tips to healthier eating tricks to the products she swears by, such as food scales and blenders, topical rubs for soreness to mindfulness apps. But her best piece of advice for aging well and embracing life as you grow older is fairly simple:
“Build a life that you love! Ignore the naysayers. Dream big, and create action steps, daily habits that continually get you there. Fill your life with love and surround yourself with those who support you.”
If lack of energy and poor fitness is keeping you from all that you want your great life to be, take Joan’s approach and begin your own fitness transformation. You’ll discover that your emotional and spiritual health will soar as well!
Your life is such a gift to you – and to others. So live it with greatness!
Written by Matt Palmer, Partner and Co-founder