Joan MacDonald’s holistic approach to aging well is one we all can follow.
- Posted on Jul 19, 2021
“[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. It wasn’t until her daughter, a body transformation coach, staged a kind of intervention for MacDonald that she finally began taking her health seriously.
“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.”