Joan MacDonald’s story is as inspirational as they come. After receiving a serious wake up call about her health from her physician, she decided to transform her body in a major way. That pivotal moment came in 2017, and Joan now looks like a completely different woman. Yep, she’s proving that you’re never too old to get abs!
So, how old is Joan? Well, as she noted on the SuperAge: Live Better podcast in the early part of 2021, she was approaching 75 at the time. No, that’s not a typo – she really did start her journey in her 70s. We can only hope to have that same drive when we reach her age!
A resident of Ontario, Canada, Joan’s jaw-dropping transformation has captured the hearts of social media users across the globe. You see, the septuagenarian has been sharing her progress online since she began to work on her body. And the numbers are truly staggering, as Joan quickly became an internet sensation.
What kind of figures are we talking about here? Well, Joan boasts roughly 1.1 million followers on Instagram at the time of writing. Unbelievable, right? The inspirational Canadian also has her own website and a YouTube channel to boot.
Regarding Joan’s YouTube page, she also started that up around the time that her fitness journey began. Now, a little over four years later, the channel has nearly 60,000 subscribers. And on top of that, the videos have accumulated almost 2.5 million views. As you can see, she’s certainly found an audience!
Mind you, we can’t help but ask: what was Joan’s health like prior to all this? As we suggested earlier, her physician was quite concerned back then. To shed a bit more light on that period of time, the social media star spoke to Glamour magazine in November 2020.
Joan revealed, “[My doctor] said they were going to increase my medications because my blood pressure was not being controlled properly. But I didn’t like to be on medication.” And that wasn’t the only thing that she had to worry about when it came to her health. There were other issues, too.
As Joan explained on the SuperAge: Live Better podcast, “I had high blood pressure, I had acid reflux which choked me all the time. And my kidney doctor wanted me on high cholesterol medication. I’m not sure if I really needed it or not, but they were professionals, so I listened to them.”
“So, I was on those three [medications],” Joan continued. “And then they wanted me to up my medication because I wasn’t keeping my blood pressure at an even-keel. That affects my kidneys as well. [But] I wanted to get off the darn things!” Meanwhile, the septuagenarian’s weight was also a problem.
According to Joan, she weighed more than 200 pounds during that period of her life. She realized that something needed to change, but one person in particular looked to steer her in the right direction. And the individual in question was her worried daughter.
Michelle MacDonald stepped up as her mom was facing all of those health issues. Joan informed the podcast, “She laid it down on the line. Like, ‘You’re going to end up in a home, and I’m not going to be there to clean you up! Do you want to live a good life or not?’”
With those frank words ringing in Joan’s ears, she decided to make some significant alterations to her life. And the mom didn’t do it alone – Michelle tried to aid her as best she could. You see, the latter is an expert when it comes to crafting fitness and exercise programs.
Michelle is a health coach, and much like her mom now, she’s also got a pretty sizable social media following. Then again, while she boasts close to 160,000 followers on Instagram, that’s some way behind Joan’s numbers! Anyway, the latter highlighted what happened off the back of their earlier conversation.
Joan told SuperAge: Live Better, “[Michelle] said, ‘I could give you a program. You could join my program [and] I can give you a way of making yourself better.’ I put it to my doctor, and I asked her if she was willing to monitor me and get me off of the medication [if things improved].”
Thankfully for Joan, her physician agreed. But here’s the thing – Michelle wasn’t just focused on helping her mother’s fitness. She really pushed her to make the jump to social media as well. Why’s that? Well, the expert believed that she could link up with other people in similar positions online.
Though Joan was skeptical about getting engaged in social media. After all, we can’t forget her age – you don’t see too many ladies in that bracket opening up Instagram accounts to share their workouts! Yet despite her understandable doubts, Michelle’s mom listened and created a social media page.
Reflecting on that decision, Joan told Glamour, “No one likes to be doing something that you’ve never done before and have it be made public. That was really hard. It still is in a way – but I started getting people communicating with me, so I would chat back [with my story].”
Joan then added, “[Users] said I was ‘influencing’ them and I’m going, ‘Really?’ When I got to a thousand followers, I thought that was really fabulous.” We can only imagine how she reacted to reaching over a million! But what kind of programs did Michelle put her mother on at first?
In truth, Michelle eased Joan into her new fitness regime. And we know what you’re thinking. She only did that because of her age, right? Well, not really. The septuagenarian’s health status at the time was a bigger obstacle to overcome – meaning they had to keep that firmly in mind.
To explain more, Michelle joined her mom on the SuperAge: Live Better podcast in January 2021. Plus, she offered some insight into the type of clientele that she usually takes on as a health coach, too. It’s safe to say that Joan stands out for a particular reason in that regard!
Michelle said, “Mom was definitely my oldest client. She’s at the top of the list there! To be honest, though, age isn’t really the factor. Her blood pressure was a concern, so [I had to] make sure the programming – especially the cardio – was not exacerbating [her] blood pressure until that was under control.”
“That’s not really an age thing, that’s a condition thing,” Michelle continued. “[Joan] had really arthritic knees, [and] a lot of swelling. A lot of people when they get that overweight, and plus with their kidneys, they get a lot of swelling in the lower body. So knee flection and ankle flection is an issue.”
You’re probably now wondering how Joan got around those physical issues. It couldn’t have been easy, right? Well, as Michelle revealed on the podcast, “We had her do a lot of leg-press type movements [to begin with]. So the weight of the leg-press would help her joints move.”
Joan’s weight and her conditioning led to some additional challenges, too. For instance, when she took her first bike ride from Michelle’s house to a nearby beach, she barely finished the trip. As the parent noted in a video on her YouTube channel, she had to pull over “many times” because of her low fitness levels.
Yet things started to get easier for Joan as time went on. Despite her health concerns, Michelle got her mother on a four-day program that was solely dedicated to strength training. And she had a yoga day alongside that, too. Each exercise period apparently spanned between 60 to 75 minutes.
Joan subsequently began to adopt tougher exercise regimes thanks to her improved fitness. Now, she looks like a completely different woman. To say that she’s ripped would be an understatement! What about her weight, though? How much has she actually lost over the last four years?
Well, Joan informed SuperAge: Live Better that she weighed a little over 130 pounds in January 2021. What an incredible drop! The regimens did their job and then some in reducing her size. Mind you, while her weight loss is certainly impressive, the inspirational Canadian’s workouts are simply unbelievable at present!
For example, Joan told the podcast, “I can do three [dead hang pull-ups] in a row. Like this morning, I did three in a row and my daughter asked me, ‘Could you put weight on?’ So I put on a belt with a 5-pound weight, and I was able to do it! I was really happy about that.”
Naturally, doing dead hang pull-ups with a 5-pound weight would be tough for most people – let alone a lady of Joan’s age. Meanwhile, her current gym schedule spans the entire week, and she has one day dedicated to yoga. Then, she alternates between cardio, upper body and lower body work – spending two days on each area.
The hard work has clearly paid off – Joan is in fantastic shape. How does she feel about her appearance, though? Is she pleased with the results of her hard work? To answer those questions, Michelle’s mom opened up to Glamour during their chat in November 2020.
Joan said, “I used to think, ‘Oh, these women, they’re so beautiful because they’re so thin,’ and all the rest of it. But each of us has a different body shape, and I think as long as you’re really happy with the way you are, then you don’t have to worry about anybody else.”
“I’ll never be skinny,” Joan continued. “I’ve got too much meat on my bones. Who cares? I wasn’t ever considered pretty and I hear that all the time now. But I feel good about myself now. I feel more confident about how I dress and how I act – that’s why I look better.”
Sticking with Joan’s comment about her dress sense, her remarkable transformation led to an unexpected business opportunity. Yes, the septuagenarian formed a surprising partnership with the Women’s Best brand and became one of their “athletes.” Due to that, she’s often pictured in the company’s workout gear on her social media page.
Anyway, Joan’s positive mindset continued to shine through while she spoke to Glamour. Their conversation soon turned to the subject of online trolling and overly harsh criticism – something many of us are all too familiar with. Yet it’s safe to say that Michelle’s mother has no time for either.
Joan revealed, “If anyone is negative to me, they’re out of my life. It’s not often I get negative comments, but it always impacts me. It’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of negativity. You need people [to be] encouraging to you and to let all the negativity go.”
“When you feel loved, I think you can give it back and it just magnifies,” Joan said. “I don’t want to be the one [who] says, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ So I surround myself with encouraging people because I want to try.” If you can’t mirror her intense workouts, then following her wise advice is surely the next best thing!
Going back to Joan’s exercise sessions, though, we can’t help but ask: how would a younger person cope with it all? Well, a writer for the Insider website named Zoë Ettinger implemented some of Joan’s regimes over a seven-day period in June 2020. And the results were truly fascinating.
Zoë informed Insider, “I was able to follow [Joan’s] workout very closely with just a yoga mat and weights. Though anyone looking to follow it exactly will need a medicine ball and resistance bands. Trying [Joan’s] routine made me realize that I’m not in as good shape as I thought I was.”
“I initially thought the workout wouldn’t leave me feeling sore, since I run or jog about three to four miles and do squats and crunches each day,” Ettinger added. “However, the soreness I experienced on the second day showed me that there are muscles I haven’t been working.” It was tough going for her, then.
And in fairness, Joan recognized the difficulties of her regimes as she offered a final thought in the previously mentioned YouTube video. The social media star admitted, “It’s not [been] an easy journey, but it’s well worth it.” Plus, it’s never too late to try – the 75-year-old is proof of that!