A New Beginning After 60: “I Was Sick, Tired, and Lost – Until I Started Lifting Weights at 71” | Health & well-being
Joan Macdonald didn’t always look like a bodybuilder. At 71, she weighed 90 kg (14th 4 lbs) and had high blood pressure and kidney problems. She was also taking medication for cholesterol and acid reflux, and her doctor wanted to double the dose.
His daughter, Michelle, put Macdonald’s dilemma bluntly. “You will end up like your mother in a retirement home!” she said to Macdonald. “And people are going to have to take care of you. Do you want that? “
“Of course I didn’t want to,” Macdonald says now. “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Macdonald’s thoughts swirled for two weeks. She thought, “I want to earn Michelle’s respect. I mean, she loves me, but you can love a person without even loving them.
She left her home in Ontario, Canada, to join Michelle and her husband, both fitness trainers, in Tulum, Mexico. Macdonald learned to make protein shakes. She visited the gymnasium. She went through Michelle’s workout schedule, using the machines, then light weights – 2.5 lbs – to heavier weights. She mimics lifting a bar and lowering it behind her head. She can do it with 25 lbs.
“Wow! Your back!” people in the gym told him. “It’s so defined! They took pictures. “I’m going, ‘Wooh! It looks pretty good! I have muscles here. ‘ In nine months, she stopped taking medication.
“There is a misconception that people over 65 cannot produce hypertrophy [growth] muscle, ”says Mark Peterson, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. “Muscle is tissue that can adapt with a stimulus.” The key is to see a doctor first and start slowly.
On Instagram, Macdonald posts pictures of herself in a sports top or hitting the waves in beachwear. It has 1.4 million subscribers and a partnership with retailer Women’s Best. “I tend to do things that anyone else would say, ‘Oh my God! What is she doing now? ‘”
Macdonald celebrated his 75th birthday this year on a zipline. She always liked challenges, always liked “to build something”. In DIY projects, her husband is a supervisor and Macdonald is a “dogsbody”. But now she says, “I’m building myself instead.”
Macdonald lived much of his adult life in a medicated body with varying weight. So why was she able to make the switch at 71? “I think I had hit a new low in my life. I might have hit rock bottom.
“I was busy with my family. You forget yourself. I wish I had known what I know now. I would have been healthier most of my life… You are really fighting with yourself, because you are in this constant yo-yo state.
She looks like she’s fighting back tears when she says, “I don’t want to go back to what I was. She is “90% secure” that she won’t. “My body is where it wants to be. “
Of course, there is an emotional adjustment to adapt to a new physical form. She’s more outgoing, happier, less angry. “I still have to come to terms with myself, that I have changed so much. People say: “You have to learn to love yourself! At first you think to yourself, “What’s there to love? This is what I felt. But I can look at myself in the mirror now and not turn my head.
Does Macdonald feel compassion for his old self? “Some,” she said. “But it didn’t have to be this whole route before I finally came up with ‘you can change’.”
I can’t help but think that her desire for transformation began long before she was 71. “In my teenage years, in high school, that’s when I started struggling with weight. I thought I was really round and fat, and yet I knew I was wearing clothes smaller than some of my friends who put me down, ”she says.
Why did it take decades before she found what she needed to take charge of her youth? “It took so many years to wake up,” she says. “Fifty-five years! But maybe there’s a balance in how late she came to these changes.
As a girl, she says, she had an uncomfortable body image “because my development was very early. I didn’t like wasting my childhood. At 10, you don’t want to be a kid anymore.
As a mature woman, she fuels her own rejuvenation. “People need to know, especially women, that you don’t finish at 40, certainly not at 50 or 60 or 70. You can continue until the day is gone,” she says. “And you should be able to spice it up.”