Gaining weight as we age is normal, especially for women who’ve gone through menopause. Although it can feel impossible to lose those stubborn pounds, one woman is proving we can all embrace health and fitness, no matter how old we are.
Joan MacDonald began her inspiring transformation at 70. “I was on medication for high blood pressure and acid reflux, I had terrible edema in my ankles, my arthritis was extremely painful, and I had difficulty walking up and down stairs,” she explains on her website. “I was tired, I was emotional, and I was in desperate need of a change.”
It wasn’t just her own self-reflection that led Joan to make a change. She was tearfully warned by her daughter Michelle MacDonald, a powerlifter and trainer, that things would only get worse — more pain and more medications as her health issues got worse — which they surely would if she didn’t turn things around.
So the mother and daughter decided to kick things off with a two-week retreat in Mexico (where Michelle lives). Michelle coached her mom through weightlifting and cardio exercises, plus yoga and meditation. The training also included joining an online group of women going through the same process. Learning about technology proved to be just as frustrating as the workouts at times, but the connection with others like her kept motivating Joan to persevere.
The weight loss didn’t happen overnight, of course. “My motto was, ‘I don’t mind if my changes are slow. I am going to go at my own pace and this time the changes are going to last the rest of my life.’” Over the next few months, Joan felt stronger, became more confident hitting the gym, and watched as pounds melted away.
Now, three years later, she’s maintained a more than 60 pound weight loss — and some seriously toned muscles.
“I didn’t realize I could feel this good at 73!” Joan told Insider. “Feeling healthy and mobile is now what motivates me to stick to my routine.” She’s been able to go off her blood pressure and acid reflux prescriptions, and her arthritis doesn’t bother her as much.
As for her diet, she didn’t cut out any food groups altogether, but learned more about the healthiest food options available and switched from three bigger meals a day to five small ones.
Joan continues to work out five days a week, often sharing her routines and tips on YouTube and Instagram, like the video below:
Joan also still loves connecting with people like she did with her original online group. She responds to comments and invites Her biggest advice: “If I can do it, you can do it.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Woman’s World.