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Empowering Seniors

Q&A with Joan MacDonald

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What inspired you to want to become a fit influencer at age 70 and promote active aging across Canada/the world? What/who brought you inspiration?

My daughter is who influenced me, and my son in law. She is the backbone of creating train with Joan. She put me on Instagram to keep me interested, not going into the hermit way that I was living. But she has been the one that promotes everything. she writes my comments after we have agreed that this is what and how I’m thinking, but she’s better with words than I am. I’ve never been that social creature. I didn’t have that vocabulary to be able to get my thoughts across like she can do, she can do it so easily. I think, “yes, you said it the way I want it!”. We actually are a pretty good team together. And I just feel like I’m the conduit, people seem to like what I have to say, I just didn’t know that if I could actually say it the way I wanted it to get across. So I let her keep up with the making the comments as long as I agree with them. I figured that was, that was good, she could write in the words even though she does make spelling mistakes! So it’s not perfect, but it’s close. It’s really, really close.

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What have you found to be the most helpful when maintaining a healthy lifestyle? What have you found is the biggest reason aging Canadians may stray from this lifestyle?

So really cutting it down to bare bones is when you’re starting something like this, you take a before picture no matter how much you hate it, because nobody really likes to get up in front of a camera when they’re big and they have to be in a bathing suit, and there was no was I was going to wear a bikini, it had to be a one piece! Anyway, my daughter is telling me, you know, you gotta eat at least five meals a day and you space them out and you have to make sure you have the same protein, protein was steady. Like if you had 30 g of protein per meal, then that’s what you had for the whole day for each meal. It is maintaining that active aging lifestyle with a schedule.

I think they get scared. They actually get scared of the changes and the people around them, there are not too many people when you get old because your friends are dying off as you age. And then if you get someone that’s been your friend for many years but is a negative person and you didn’t even realize it, but you don’t want to lose that friendship, It’s hard to cut them out of your life. It’s very, very difficult. I think fear is the biggest blocker for that. They, they get these negative comments, like, why would you want to start something like that? Then you have, ‘you can’t have this and you can’t have that’. It’s a choice like every decision you make in life, and I found it is a choice that you have to make with some thought. And I decided that I was sick of living the way I was living.

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Mental health has always been an important topic in the space, what is your favourite resource or tool that has helped you during your fitness process?

Well, I used to get a lot of stuff out of just Facebook, like you’d see these articles that would show up and I would go and investigate them sometimes. I didn’t, I didn’t really know about podcasts but the first woman or the first person who ever approached me to be on her podcast was Helen Fritsch, and she’s in her sixties and she’s an air stewardess and is still working, and that really made me think. I also mentally elevate, a mixture of mental exercises and it does help me think. Doing puzzles are another thing that helps the brain, the eye and brain work together type of thing. I also sit and listen to programs about mindful breathing and mindfulness. It’s so great, but just getting other people to actually try it, that’s the one thing I try to get across to people. You don’t know what you could do until you actually try.

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What has been the most enjoyable part of this journey? What has been the most difficult part?

I can easily say that the people I meet is the most enjoyable. There’s such a wide variety of people and it really, really shocks me when I see that there are males that actually follow me as well. And I have seen them even at the gym here in Collingwood, like, their muscle definition is beautiful and, and it’s being able to tell that person you look great. You’re doing your exercises in the proper way, not that I’m an authority on it but I can see that you’re actually doing it with intention. But the worst thing, the hardest thing, the most difficult I would say is being true to my macros. But like I said, I’ve managed, and it’s not for everyone to do it like I do but I found that it worked, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it like it was working for me.

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What advice can you give to aging Canadians who are looking to start their fitness journey, but might be a bit intimidated?

Well, it’s like I told my mom and I told my brother who’s crippled, if you sit around and never move, you’re gonna lose the use of your legs and then you’re gonna lose a lot more, you’re gonna end up in a wheelchair. What does it take to just keep going? You only have to, if you want, take three walks a day, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, that’s good. And maybe you’ll get to like what you’re doing and you will want go for a longer walk, that type of thing. Just keep moving that body and make sure you eat protein your protein if you want to build any muscle – because you can’t build muscles without having the protein.

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