Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Fitter Than Ever At 41!

Michelle loves challenges. When her 40s started approaching, she kicked it into high gear. This gourmet cook knows how to burn through the weights and sizzles onstage!

Name: Michelle MacDonald
E-Mail: macmichelle@gmail.com
BodySpace: monsteryogi
Location: Montreal, Canada
Age: 41  Height: 5'2"  Weight: 112 lbs
Years Bodybuilding: 3

How did your Fitness Journey Begin?

I've always been active in sports and fitness. I started working out at the gym in university to keep up with the rowers on my team (I was a coxswain at Trent University), but didn't start lifting seriously until three years ago. I was 39 at the time and went to watch a friend compete at an NPC show in Boston, Massachusetts. I loved the glamour and excitement of the show—the girls looked incredible. My friends convinced me to try it out, so I hired a trainer at Boston's Sport's Club LA, joined Cathy Savage Fitness, and got to work.

It was tough at first because I just started an internship at a Boston restaurant and was working on the line from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. It was almost impossible to eat every three hours. I'd have been fired if I'd tried, so I winged it the best I could, sometimes choking down a protein bar while grabbing produce from the walk-in freezer. It was pretty comical.

I won my first show after only three months of training, and that was that. I was hooked. I'm now training in Montreal at La Bat Cave with my current coach and partner, Jean-Jacques Barrett. My body fat hasn't change drastically because I've been practicing and teaching Bikram yoga since 2003, but over the last three years I managed to lose 3 percent body fat and gain six pounds of muscle. My yoga practice and posture improved. I feel much more comfortable with my body. I don't feel worried about my 40s anymore. With the increase of muscle and decrease in body fat, I can eat more than I used to and nothing jiggles but my hair.

How did your Passion for Fitness Emerge?

I love competing. The shows are lots of fun and really break up the monotony of training day in and day out. Before every show, I work hard to improve my physique, my stage presence, and my whole package. I feel like it's a matter of respect to me and the other competitors to bring my A-game to the stage. It makes training a lot more fun, and I really feel like I'm part of something special. I love seeing other women with incredible physiques at these shows. It inspires me to get better and makes me appreciate the work I put into my body. I don't think I'll ever stop this.

What/Who Motivated You?

Originally, I was motivated to improve my body heading into my 40s and to add some excitement to the mix. Now I'm part of a whole team, the Active Protocol, and we all feed off each other. It's fun watching us evolve. We're always testing new exercises, recipes, and training regimens. We work on posing together and go to our shows as a team whenever we can. I'm internally driven to get my message out that you can successfully combine whole foods nutrition with yoga and weights to experience optimal health as you get older. That's really important to me.

Where did You Go for Inspiration?

When I feel unmotivated, there are two go-to videos I watch: "The More You Give, The More You Get" by Muscle Factory and "So You Want To Be Successful." I also have a folder on my desktop loaded with tons of motivations posters I collected over the years. Looking at Pauline Nordin's physique will inspire anyone to get it done. Erin Stern is pretty motivating, too. I wish someone would come out with a truly inspiring video marketed at women, featuring female athletes lifting seriously in real gym clothes.

What are your Future Fitness Plans?

My next photo-shoot is in February, and then I'll be competing at the end of April in the WBFF Quebec Pro/Am Championships. Our team is bringing lots of athletes to the show, so it's going to be lots of fun. We're also working on a team calendar, and I'm currently writing a truly gourmet cookbook for bodybuilding that doesn't involve oatmeal and egg whites; simple recipes with lots of variety in terms of taste, and I'll explain some of the nutritional concepts behind the recipes.

What is the most Important Fitness Tip?

Focus on the positive changes you make and use that positive energy to stay consistent. If you waste time beating yourself up for a mistake, you will end up beaten. Acknowledge your errors, but move on. If what you're doing right outweighs what you did wrong, you will be successful in the end. Don't give up.

Who is your Favorite Bodybuilder/Fitness Athlete?

At this point, Erin Stern wins my vote. She has a really pleasing physique, trains like an athlete year-round, and presents herself as a healthy, balanced individual. Her cleans are damn impressive and she trains hard right up to a show.

How did Bodybuilding.com Help You Reach your Goals?

I first started following the site because of Kris Gethin. I was working in India teaching yoga at a big gym called True Fitness and he walked into one of my classes. I ended up following his DTP Training Program and now incorporate this style into my own programs. From there, I started reading articles on carb-cycling, FST-7, and Y3T and it's now one of my favorite sites for relevant information about bodybuilding. I'm always able to find something informative on the site and I often end up referring people to the articles. I figure once they read one article, they'll poke around and learn more on their own. There are so many ways to do things; you have to find what works best for your own body. There is too much cookie-cutter training going on out there.